Fifteen Minute Ficlets (#15MF) is a weekly Sunday writing challenge hosted here on The Literary Phoenix. Based on a single word, write a short story in fifteen minutes. The word count is irrelevant. Just write your heart out for 15 minutes and be inspired by the word. You never know what you’ll end up with!
1. become aware or conscious of (something); come to realize or understand.
2. interpret or look on (someone or something) in a particular way; regard as.
The first day of fifth grade was difficult for Charlotte.
Her locker was located in a dark, dusty hallway nearly the woodworking class, far from the lobby entrances or any of her own classes. She was placed in remedial English, even though she had done well in all her English classes previously. Her guidance counsellor wouldn’t see here. The crowd parted when she walked down the hall.
Charlotte knew why this was happening – she knew why the students and administration treated her like a poisonous reptile. It was because of the checkmark her parents had supplied on the new student survey over the summer.
Is your child Gifted (optional).
Her parents had dutifully checked the “yes” box and that had been the end of any of Charlotte’s hopes for a fresh start.
The locker squealed when she opened it, as though the hinges had endured a thousand years of rust and nobody had shown up with an oil can. She thought of the the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, frozen solid in the woods outside Munchkinland. All he had wanted was for someone to come and oil his rusted limbs. And a heart, of course.
Well, Charlotte wished for both those things. Oil for the hinges on her locker so it didn’t sound like nails on a chalkboard, and a heart for her frightened, prejudiced parents. Her ever-present anger bubbled to the surface, and the iron-laced gloves she worse absorbed her electricity with a cramped pain her her palm. Charlotte winced.
“Margie, stay away from the freak!”
Charlotte hadn’t heart the girls approaching, but the comment made her whole body stiffen. She’d been called worse things, but she preferred to be invisible than to be called anything at all.
“Hey freak,” a different, harsher voice came from right behind her. She took a deep breath and didn’t turn.
“Hey freak, I’m talking to you.” A finger jabbed in her back.
“Oh em gee Margie don’t touch her! You don’t know what she can do.”
Another deep breath. Charlotte hugged her copy of Island of the Blue Dolphins clutched to her chest. It was the book she had gone to her locker to fetch. She’d read it in full last year at her old school and written a book report on it, but her remedial English teacher didn’t care.
The girl who had poked her – Margie – had sharp brown eyes and a pointed nose. Her hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail. “What?” Charlotte asked. She didn’t bother being polite to bullies.
“My big brother was put in the hospital by a freak like you,” Margie spat in her face. “I think you’re unnatural. Don’t you dare try out for the field hockey team, because I will make sure you are destroyed.” She pushed Charlotte hard back against her locker, leaning in so she was close enough to Charlotte’s face that her eyes blurred together. “Got it?”
“Okay,” Charlotte said quietly. She hadn’t planned on joining any teams or clubs – what was the point? – but she had learned that being silent would get her punched or kicked or knocked down. And the teachers always assumed she had been injured in an act of self-defense. That one little check box changed everyone’s perception.
“Good.” Margie turned to join her friend, who had been covering uncomfortably on the other side of the hallway. “Oh, and one other thing. If you even think about trying to eat in the cafeteria, I’ll tell all the teachers that you tried to poison my food.”
The other girl snickered. “That’s how she got the freak at out last school kicked out,” she chimed in. The two girls laughed together, as though it was all a marvelous joke. Charlotte just nodded. It was another thing she expected, and had planned for. But these two girls didn’t know that.
Her heart thumped hard again her chest, the book a small shield to protect her. She watched as the girls disappeared down the hall at a brisk walk. The five minute warning bell sounded overhead. Charlotte groaned. She was going to be late for class.
I want to be able to connect a bit more with Charlotte as I am working on this WIP, and her history – her parents, the bullying, mistreatment because of her gift – are all a strong part of what makes her jumpy and cynical. The events in this scene occur eight years before the beginning of Ashes to Ashes.
To join, link up in the comments below with the URL to your blog POST (not your blog), and I will make sure that you get added to the post!
Remember to read everyone’s ficlets, and to have fun! 🙂