pearls around the neck 195
school. Despite being the loudest person in my grade, I was pretty shy around my peers. I’ve always been
afraid of saying the wrong thing and being judged or labeled as “annoying” or “weird”. No matter how
hard I tried, I was never popular or had loads of friends like other girls, who seemed to do it without lifting
a bony finger. Around middle school was when I accepted the fact that I didn’t like the person I was. I soon
fell into the wrong crowd of kids. And as cliché as it sounds, I lost myself. I hate what I’ve become—a weak
burnout who can’t handle the simple challenges of the real world. Sometime in the process, my misguided
virtue wandered out of sight and out of mind.
Nausea floods my body and I stumble towards my bedroom door. Faded whispers roll around through
my head: a lost conscience. It’s as if multiple conversations are taking place within myself and I can’t
silence the loud echoing buzz of discussion. I come to a halt in the middle of the endless corridor and
cup my pulsing forehead. Pressure builds in my ears and behind my eyes to the point that I fear my skull
will burst. When I look up, my vision unexpectedly doubles and my hallucinations accompany waves of
colored patterns that trail everywhere I look. I can’t seem to elude these indefinable illusions. Pink powdery
elephants twirl and pirouette before me, but slip just short of my grasp every time I reach out to them.
They harmoniously serenade me, but I can’t seem to make out the lyrics they repeatedly chime at me. The
lively performance abruptly ends, and the infinitude of elephant heads falls woefully. Waves of sobs and
hysterics break out through the crowd. I fearfully sprint across the treadmill floors, fighting the lingering
sense of suspended motion. Laughter erupts from behind me and as I whip my head around, I forcefully
smack into the wall like a head on collision on the freeway—helplessly pivoting between the borders of
“Wake up, Ali.
I let out a short choking gasp as I take in my new surroundings and jump to my feet faster than
humanely possible. My ears seem to perk up as I search for the source of the wakening whispers. I pull
the sweat soaked curtain of hair off my face and let my eyes scan the room. My stomach twists, and I
silently twitch and contort my body in pain. My joints lock up and I am suddenly immobile. My heart
is pounding, and I can’t help but cry. All it took was one small muscle spasm to send me into an episode
of wildly buckling knees and hyperventilation. It’s not long until I lose all composure and kneel down in
physical exhaust.
After some time, my eyes flutter open and I can sense that something has changed. The dust had
seemingly settled and my atmosphere was noticeably mellower. Strange, I thought, I could’ve sworn I was
in the hallway. I hadn’t gotten far past the bathroom door before my incident, but now I find myself in
the living room, sprawled out contently across the floor. Angelic grace lifts me gently up from my presently
stable knees. I have never felt this light on my feet before. My trip must be over, because my head is clear
and I am calm as can be. Although I hate being sober, I feel different: happier, rested, and extremely at
ease, skating and gliding about effortlessly. It doesn’t even faze me when my gaze sets on a seemingly empty
body lying blank face down in a sinisterly toxic crimson pond. The ragged battered corpse lies completely
still; drained of any and all life it had once held. You mustn’t sympathize; she brought it upon herself. This
is what she wanted.
Author: Kelly Dal Pozzo, 15 years old, California, US, 2012
Illustration: Tim Gallo
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