The Man in The Mirror by Mariana W., 710

She dashed into her living room, tearing through it to put together her school supplies, which were scattered everywhere. Once everything was messily shoved into her backpack, she made a mad dash to her front door. She was excited for school, because she knew she was going to be working on a group project with her friends. In English, the students were assigned to write a fable, and they were allowed to choose their own partners. As she bolted down the short block in front of her house, she was thinking of all of the people she would like to work with.
When she got to school that day, she was practically bouncing in her seat. As this was happening, Mrs. Mason was taking attendance.
“Miss. Pazano, would you please get your head out of the clouds?” She asked as she looked up from the attendance. If someone wasn’t laughing or snickering by then, they definitely were then. She sunk into her chair, all of the joy from earlier draining away.
Later on, she practically flew into her English class, ready to start. As Mrs. Penny re-explained the project to refresh their minds, Lilly’s mind was swirling with ideas. She had already solidified with Parker and Angelica that she was going to work with them, because she was the closest to them. All they had to do now was come up with an amazing idea, and they would ace the assignment.
“Any questions?” Mrs. Penny asked in her sweet voice. It was quiet for a moment, and then, the class burst into action, desks and chairs scraping against the floor to make a better arrangement for working space.
“So” Angelica started, “What do you think we should do Parker?” “Well…” As the time went by, their idea for the story solidified, and all three contributed so that everyone could participate.
“Oh my gosh!! Guys! Time is up! The be-” **Ding!Ding!** Lilly, Angelica and Parker took their time picking up their things and chatting, seeing as they had lunch next.
“What happens to the seahorse then? Does he just disappear?” I asked, genuinely worried for the well being of our seahorse character which we had named Rhonda.
“I don’t know, but you should.” Angelica retorted. Lilly was shocked. She stopped mid-step, and after a moment, headed towards the bathroom with tears in her eyes.
Running into the empty bathroom, she headed right for the full length mirror. “Has Angelica been holding onto this grudge/dislike for a while?” She wondered to herself out loud while holding back tears. Looking up to check whether she looked like she was going to sry, she was shocked by the face staring back at her. Whoever that was looking back at her, was definitely not her. Nobody else was in that bathroom at that moment though.
“Hey Lil are you ok?” Someone called from the outside. She chuckled, as she knew Parker would be too scared to come in.
“Yeah. I’m fine. I’ll be out in a second” she responded, meaning it. The curiosity of what happened to her had definitely overrun the sting from Angelica’s comment. She tried to cover as much as her face as she could with her hair, and gave up when she wasn’t able too see through it. She then wiped the stray tears from earlier away, feeling a lot better as she walked out of the bathroom.

I am currently sitting in math, trying to understand what Mr. Robins is talking about. “Eighth grade math is so hard, why did they put me in this in the first place?” I thought.
The door suddenly swung open, taking all of the tired students by surprise. A brunette boy stood behind our principal, Mrs. Anderson. She entered the classroom, the boy following behind her. She turned to the class.
“Everyone, this is Jackson. He is going to be a new classmate of yours, and I want to be sure you’ll make him feel welcome.” She then turned and briskly walked out of the classroom.
“Jackson, please take a seat next to Mrs. Pazano, who is in the red sweatshirt, and open a notebook.” Mr. Robin stated. So that’s what he did. He sat down right next to me, and prepared himself. The teacher continued with his lecture, unaware that I was fuming.
After class, I rushed to homeroom. As usual, I was the first person there, so I put my things on the desk, and started to do my homework. The rest of the students eventually filtered in, and soon it was time to leave. As I left the building reading a book, I crashed into something, scattering everything across the floor. I went to go pick it up, and was met by a pair of brown eyes. It was the brunette boy from math class. We silently picked up my stuff, not speaking to each other, and I mumbled a quick thanks before walking away. Or at least I tried to. He caught up to me, matching my pace when he got to me.
“Hey, I’m Jackson. I sat next to you in math class. You didn’t talk much,” he commented, a feeble attempt to start a conversation. Interestingly enough, it actually worked. I am not a social person that likes human interactions, so it went against every rule I have for myself to reply. But I did.
“Yeah. Sorry about that. I’m just not a very social person.”
“Oh, so the girl does talk,” he said, trying to lighten the mood of the conversation. The self consciousness that I had lost just a moment ago then hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Yeah. I don’t do it often.” I stated dryly, and tried to walk briskly away. But he caught up again. This guy just can’t seem to take a hint, can he? I thought.
“Why are you shutting me out?” He asked.
“I told you before, I am not a very social person,” I replied. He kept pestering me, as if he didn’t know I was starting to get really annoyed.
“There must be a reason that you are not social person,” he almost asked. “Why?” I thought for a brief second that if I talked to him, he would just go and not bother me again. I should have known better.
BEEP BEEP!  A car horn honked in the distance. “Oh, that”s my mom. I better go.” Jackson left with a bounce in his step, and he was off as soon as he had come.
The next day at school, the bell had just rang for last period, and I was glad I had started an assignment in homeroom because I was loaded with homework today. I entered my math classroom, not enthusiastic at all about seeing Jackson again. His chair scraped against the floor as he pulled it out to get in, and he sat in it like he was at home. He also went as far to put his feet on the desk. “Hi” he said. I didn’t respond.
Later on in the lesson, the teacher gave us an assignment that would be a large part of our participation grade. It would have been fine if I didn’t have to work with anyone, but of course he gave us partner assignments based upon where we were sitting in the classroom. This meant that I had to work with Jackson. Of course the entire time we were working, he was pestering me as to why I was so quiet and didn’t like to talk to others. At one point I got fed up, and couldn’t take it anymore, so I went to the one place I could think to escape and be alone.
I stepped into the bathroom, which was empty except for a  strawberry blonde haired girl. When she finished washing her hands, she left, leaving me alone. I finished using the bathroom, and I went to go look in the mirror. Everything had changed had changed when I saw myself in the mirror that day after Angelica insulted me. The appearance hadn’t changed in the least, as the only thing that did change is the fact that I looked a bit older.
“Hey Lilly?” I heard outside the bathroom, which gave me a sense of déjà vu. It was almost the exact circumstance in which Jackson came to comfort me after what happened with Angelica, except this time I wasn’t being made fun of. This time, the person outside had almost the same intentions as the one two years ago.
“Lilly?” The voice called again, sounding less confident in itself.
“I’m in here,” I replied.  He answered, sounding clearer, “Why did you leave? Why did you run? It seems as if every time I bring up the subject of you being closed off to people, you just walk away or end up finding some sort of excuse to get rid of me. Why can’t you just open up?” At this point I had peeked outside the bathroom trying to sense the sincerity of his words. He was leaning,with  his back, on the wall with his eyes closed. He seemed as if he was just trying to help, but was also feeling hopeless and broken himself.
“I was bullied in my old school,” he said, grasping my attention and opening his eyes to focus on me.
“The other kids would bully me because of the way I looked, or the way that I acted. At first, I got so hurt by it that I would be sent home in a miserable mood in which nobody could bring me out of. Then, I learned to suck it up and put on a happy face. I blocked out all of the mean comments for years until an adult found out. When they did find out and asked “are you ok?” I completely broke down. I told her my entire story, not caring that the kids would beat me up after school when they found out what I did. From then on, I vowed to myself to help anyone that seemed as broken as I was. You are that person. I want to help you, but I need to know what is happening or has happened first.”
I have no idea what compelled me to talk, but I did. I told him about how I was so happy for that project only a few years ago,how Angelica started the whole thing, and how Parker came to help me, just like Jackson did now. I also told him about how we became closer than we already were, becoming basically family. Then came the hard part to talk about. In fifth grade, Parker and I had a huge fight, and we stopped talking to each other. It was pretty dumb actually, and I don’t even remember what it was over. We ended up launching the most horrible insults at each other, qiming at our weakest spots and insecurities until we decided that we were done. He left the school, never making up with me about whatever happened.
He turned to me, looking sadly. It seemed as if in that moment, he knew about the demon living with me. I’m guessing at some point, he went through the same thing. Knowing this, I wasn’t as surprised as I would have been when he said,
“You see the demon, don’t you?”
I replied by saying a simple “Yeah.”
“You know, that is not how people see you. That is only the way you see yourself. People see you as an intelligent girl who gets amazing grades, while you see yourself for your insecurities.”

I looked back into the mirror, surprised to see everything flicker for just a moment. “So all of this is just the result of believing the insults that other people say to me?” I asked. “Yup,” he replied with a sheepish smile. “It’s been your fault all along.”

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