The Herd Mentality of High School by Deanna Salser

Photo by moren hsu on Unsplash

I tell myself I don’t understand why they all want to look alike. I stubbornly maintain that I like my differences, with my dark curly hair and my freckled skin, where the popular girl’s hair is sleek and blonde and they all have peaches and cream. I like that I stand out. I use it to my advantage whenever I can. Not that it’s all that often. It isn’t. Most of the time, I, like the proverbial cheese, stand alone. And, of course, that isn’t helped by the fact that I wear handmade clothes, while they all sport labels like Alexander McQueen and Gucci. Nor do the livid scars on my face, my legs, and my hands, which I take pains to cover whenever I can. They are mine, and I don’t want anyone staring at the puckered skin, the melted look of the shriveled ear, or the twisted digit sticking out. The questions are worse.

Children, I don’t mind, but a lot of adults are rude enough to ask and don’t bother framing their inquiries tactfully. A blunt blurting of “What happened to you?” always entertains and delights. Even if I was perfect and had the right clothes, everyone in town knows I live with borrowed parents and the local preacher, to boot. My own mom and dad didn’t want me. That’s what the substitute mother says, with a self-satisfied grin of bitter delight. The sole intention of which is to hurt and she watches to suck up my pain like some kind of treat, my shell only half-grown around me. No one told me how thick it could get, that I could be in danger of becoming trapped inside.

The milestones pass and I watch them from the shadows of my solitude, wrapped like a blanket around me. Freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. Always apart, never within, amid the crowds that occupy my life. Alone in the eye of the storm of existence, wanting to be yet never a part of the teeming, heaving throng. Hoping for a word, a glance, any acknowledgment that I am actually here, a real person maneuvering through them. Aching to be noticed beyond the obvious physical variances that are all anyone sees when they look at me, though inside I am so much more.

Inside where I keep my real self, I start the dream, and the noise of reality fades, along with the bleating of the sheep in wolves’ clothing.

Deanna Salser has always loved to read. She has always had a fantasy about being a writer and actually has a few good book ideas but she never felt like she had the time to write a novel. Now she has and she is hooked. Nothing is as fun as writing.

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