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An introvert that turns into an extrovert *SHORT STORY*

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I
“Serena, come down, it’s time for school!” My mom’s voice cried from the kitchen. What she doesn’t know is that I don’t wanna go to school, not now; not ever. I bet you guys that once I get dressed and ready to school, she will start on ranting about how sad I look; how beautiful I am, and that I shouldn’t feel blue, as today is a new day. “I’m coming, mom. Wait a sec” I dressed hastily, and got ready in about five minutes. I guess you’re picturing me as a Goth, or emo kid, don’t you? Well, let me disappoint you, guys, I’m not.
Let me present myself. My name is Serena, I’m 16, and a sophomore in High School. I live in the suburbs, with my mom, and my little brother. My parents divorced when I was a little girl, and although my dad is a nice guy, we don’t see each other often, since my mom holds a grudge on him because he cheated on her. In complete honesty, that’s not my fault, and I hate when my mom compares me with my dad, saying that we are so alike.
We tend to move a lot since my mom’s job requires she’s on different locations quite often. She is a travel writer, which means that we have visited a lot of places and lived in some of the weirdest places. For instance. We lived in Hong Kong for two years and I still have nightmares in Chinese. My dad was my mom’s editor, and they seem to make a good team. However, he started seeing a young writer behind my mom’s back, and when she found out, she got super mad. I don’t blame him, my mom can be quite neurotic sometimes. After that, my mom found a new editor and carried on with her life. The thing is that I feel like baggage, like my opinions didn’t matter, like I’m not old enough to call the shots of my life.
My little brother doesn’t seem to be very aware of the things; he’s just happy we move a lot, and he gets to meet new friends each year. Sometimes I wish we stay in a place for more than a year so I can live a normal life. Hang out with some friends; work an underpaid job; have a boyfriend. My mom told me we’re gonna stay here in the States for a while, she’s about to publish a new book, and she needs to remain in the country to promote it. My brother doesn’t seem quite happy, he was getting used to have a lot of new friends, and that made him happy. He even chats with them often. Me, I couldn’t get a friend, I’ve had acquaintances, people, to hang out, but never a friend. Most of the kids my age are interested in partying and getting wasted and I’m not quite into that. I really much rather staying home watching videos and playing video games. Call me a nerd if you want but that’s what I like. Besides, being a nerd is highly overrated these days. Everyone is a “nerd” or an “outcast”. I kinda hate all those girls on Facebook duckfacing while wearing Star Wars tees. I’ll show them what a true nerd is! I imagine that until now, you’re dying to know how I look like. Given the fact that you know all the other details of my life, I’ll tell you. I’m 5 feet, 5 inches tall; jet black hair; heart-shaped face, light skin, and hazel eyes. In my eyes, I consider myself quite average, but people say I look pretty sweet, which is good, I guess.
My mom’s voice broke my musing “Are you going to come down, Serena?” she asked. “I’m coming, mom,” I told her as I grabbed my bag. I forgot to say you that this is my first day, in a completely new school. I was scared out of my wits. I told you I moved a lot. That made going to a regular school, almost impossible. That’s why my mom used to homeschool me and my brother. Nevertheless, with all the hassle of the book, she considered I could use some “high school experience” as she would put it. I’m ok with school, but I suck at making friends. I remember once in London, -where I went to school for a month- I was speaking with a girl about my favorite bands, and when I got up, the lunch tray decided to get up with me and land on her face. After that, I decided I could live without regular school.
Now you can understand why I feel this way. I feel like a regular teenager, and in all senses, I am. The only thing is I have a hard time making friends.
The moment I entered the kitchen my mom bombarded me with questions “Did you sleep well? Are you prepared to school? Are you excited?” “Yes; no; kinda” I answered. She hugged me and put a plate full of fruit in front of me. My mom’s last boyfriend, a tall Brazilian yoga instructor, had taught her how to eat “vegan” and she was still trying to make my brother and me, follow her new lifestyle. I ate the fruit while looking at my brother who was happily eating his cereal, blissfully ignorant of the storm inside of my brain. “Mom, I don’t know, this whole school thing seems a little too much for me to handle at this moment,” I told her, looking at my reflection in the now clean plate. “Come on, Serena, you know you can do this. I bet you’ll met new friends, and maybe a cute boy. Like that girl from the movie, the one with vampires”, she told me cheerfully. “Twilight? Mom, I hate that film. The books suck and the movie is no better. However, I wouldn’t mind getting new friends”, I said matter-of-factly. “Maybe you’ll get to know new people, dear. I think you need to get some fresh air, do new stuff. Also, if you’re feeling a little blue, we can get you some therapy or something.”, she said. “Gee, thanks, mom. I’m not crazy, I just fell outta place, cut me some slack. Ben, are you ready, I’ll take you to school before going to mine.” I grabbed my backpack, hugged my mom and waited for my brother. He did the same, and we stepped outside. My mom was not mean; she was rather cool. The thing is that we tended to clash sometimes. She is a new-edgey mom, who tries natural things and believes in astrology and that kind of things. On the other hand, I consider myself quite the opposite. I tend to overthink things, trying to calculate the outcome of the situations before they happen. Today, it was also my brother’s first day of school. He was starting junior high and was really excited. He was chattering about all the new things he was gonna do, and all the friends he was gonna make. He was a really talkative boy with a big heart. I didn’t doubt he was gonna turn out into one of the most popular kids in his school. He could talk about everything, and to everybody. Once he got lost in an airport and befriended a lady who helped him find us. They got along so well that the lady still calls my mom to see how Ben is doing. Oh, I forgot, my brother’s name is Benjamin, just like my father. “Serena, we arrived. Here’s my school. See you in a while, text me if you’re not gonna pick me up, kay?”, He kissed my cheek and entered his school. Ben is a lucky boy, he’s a sweetheart, and hiss oblivious nature make him pretty unaware of the things around him. Once my brother left I resumed my walk to school. I was listening to music on my iPod when suddenly someone nudged past me. “Hey, look where you’re going!”, I thought, but no words came out of my mouth. I stood there frozen, wanting to scold at that rude someone who ran me over. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. Are you ok?”, A voice asked. I realized that who trampled me was a guy. One of the cutest guys I had ever seen. I froze again, unable to utter a word. “Here, let me help you.” He picked a couple of things from the ground and handed them to me. I haven’t noticed that my iPod was on the floor. Luckily, it was intact. “Cool! You like Sonic Youth. Oh man, it’s so late. See you later” The boy ran past me, who was still frozen on the spot, thinking what to say. Indeed, it was quite late, but if I rushed I could get into a class at without tardiness. I doubled up and walked to school. I had seen it when we got to the town, but I hadn’t seen it from the inside yet. It looked good, like a regular high school from any movie you might have seen. A red building made of bricks, with a big door; and ample windows. Today it was my first day, but I didn’t want to go in. What if people made fun of me; or if I failed all the subjects? Apparently I wasn’t prepared. “First day, huh?” I can tell, you don’t look familiar. This school is good, there are some kids with whom you shouldn’t mess, but there are some others that are cool. I’d advise you to go inside and see for yourself”, the mysterious voice came from a man sweeping the stairs. He looked in his mid-50s, with salt and pepper hair and a warm smile. “Thank you, sir,” I answered. Weird, I had answered something. It’s been a while since I don’t speak to a stranger without making a mess. This might be a good beginning. “Call me Steve, if you need something mopped, I’m your man. I give advice from time to time if you’re interested.” He was wearing a janitor suit with his name embroidered on it. I took a deep breath and entered the building.
II
The school didn’t look anything but ordinary. Don’t get me wrong, it was ok, but it wasn’t great. In the walls, I could see some posters that said “Go, Cows”. It seems that this school mascot was a cow, which was a weird selection of a mascot, if you ask my opinion. The first class of the day was English. I was an avid reader, and I think I could ace that class effortlessly. Besides, most of the English teachers don’t want us to think, but to memorize things. I wish this guy wanted us to do things differently. If not, I had to prepare for a boring class an entire year. However, I was not gonna speak in class, not even if he asked, I will not make a fool out of myself, not again; not anymore. The minute I thought about English class, I started shaking. I had to go to the bathroom to control myself from running home. “Listen, Serena,” I told myself, “don’t ruin this, this might be a new opportunity to start again.. Picture yourself as a clean slate. Nobody knows who you are, you can be whatever you want to be”. After giving myself a pep rally, I was ready-ish to go to class. I just hoped the principal hadn’t told the teacher about me, so I could inconspicuously sit, and attend to the class without making waves. I entered the classroom and every single person in the room locked their gaze on me. I felt like if I was in a spotlight. I blushed and ran to the next available desk, being careful to not to drop something, and draw the attention even further.
The teacher entered the room, and the class got suddenly silent. If my previous experiences counted, this guy was gonna be rather strict. If he was, he didn’t seem like it. He looked rather juvenile with a crisp white shirt and a bottle green blazer. He sat down and looked at the classroom. “Hi guys, I see a couple of new faces today. Please, all those students I haven’t met, introduce yourselves to the class”. Three girls and one boy stood up and introduced themselves, they looked a little shy, but in my opinion that had to be more with them being anxious to be known, more than anything else. After they had introduced themselves, I knew it was my turn. I also knew all the class was looking at me, and I couldn’t make a sound, I felt like fainting, but I managed to get a grip. I told myself “Don’t mess this up again, at least not in the first day” I took a breath and answered “Hi, my name’s Serena”, and hushed down. ”Well, class. For those who don’t know me, my name is Andrew Johnson. You can call me Andrew, but make sure you call me Mr. Johnson outside the classroom, the principal says teachers should be teachers, not friends. Although I disagree, rules are rules. Today we will start with the Classics and their influence in English literature”. The class went smoothly, and the teacher seemed to be a great one, he managed to keep everybody entertained, and the hours flew past us. Before I knew it, it was lunch time. I grabbed a few things, and although my mom is a “proud vegan” as she says, I’m not.
I sat by myself and started eating when I heard a voice calling “Let’s sit here, guys” I focused on my lunch, trying hard not to draw attention toward me, but the group seemed to notice me before I could escape. I started playing with my food, as the nerves made me lose my appetite. “Hi, aren’t you the girl from this morning,” the same voice called my attention. I saw him for a second and shifted my gaze to another place “Yes, hi”, I began to stand up but he said “Please stay, have lunch with us. My name’s Dean and these girls at my side are Alexis and Gina.” He tried to shake my hand, but I shuddered when he touched me. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you”. One of the girls who was blond-haired told me “Call me Lexi, only Dean calls me Alexis. He’s a dork, don’t ever pay attention to him” They sat and began chatting animatedly about things I didn’t know. It felt warm, but I still felt out of place. What if I didn’t like them; What if I messed things up by saying something I shouldn’t. I was getting more anxious with each second and I knew a panic attack was inbound. Luckily, the bell rang, and I had an excuse to run. “Wait up! What class do you have now?”, Gina asked. “Biology, gotta run,” I said hastily, longing to escape once and for all. “Me too, let’s go toge- “Before she could finish the sentence I wasn’t there, I had run away from them, fearing I might do something that destroyed the fragile balance of what I had accomplished today.
I entered biology class and sat down in one of the stations. I noticed Gina sat beside me, in the same station. “In case we have to work together, we can be partners, don’t you think,” she said dreamily. “Yeah sure, alright,” I answered, being careful not to reveal how I felt. Gina was a little like my brother; she enjoyed talking about everything and everybody. She was smaller than me, and a bit chubby. Her face was round, and she had a gorgeous curly red hair. She began asking questions about me, and I didn’t know whether I wanted to answer or not. When I was debating on answering or not, the teacher entered as if sent by heaven. The biology teacher was a stern dark skinned man who would yell if he listened a sound different than his voice. That didn’t give Gina much room to talk about things different than those required in the class, which soothed my nerves. The class itself was rather informative, but I gotta say I’m not really into biology, I’m not a really science kind of girl. Nevertheless, I had determined myself not embarrass myself once again, and I did everything according to the teachers every whim, to avoid being noticed. In class, I couldn’t help to notice that a group of two girls were ogling at me, their faces looked fierce as if they already hated me. I started to get nervous, wondering what I could have done to entice their anger. Maybe I didn’t respond to something they asked. There were too many maybes in my head, and I started to feel confused, like if I was about to cry. “Are you ok, Serena?”, Gina whispered. I tried to compose myself, as I didn’t want to make a scene and answered “Yeah, don’t worry”. “Alright. By the way, we’re gonna hang out for a while after school. Are you in?”, She asked. I didn’t know what to answer, a part of me wanted to say yes, and have fun with them, and the other kept thinking that they might have asked me just to laugh at me behind my back. “My mom’s quite strict, she won’t let me,” I told her, surprised that I was able to talk in complete sentences with a stranger. “Oh, bummer. Well, ask her and we can go out any other time”. The bell rang, and the class was over. I was getting better at packing my things fast, and leaving the classrooms like a ninja. I’m the leaving ninja. That sounded lame, doesn’t it? Well, that’s the kind of jokes I do, you can’t stop wondering why I got no friends now.
Before going home, I decided I could go to the bathroom, once I entered a stall, I heard a group of girls entering. A zip opened, and I heard they talking about makeup and the new movies they had seen. However, their conversation shifted, and they started talking about Gina and Lexi. “I don’t know why a guy as cute as Dean hangs out with those losers. Those girls are weird”, one of them said. I started getting mad at them and decided to peep through the bathroom slit to see who they were. “You are so right, did you see the new girl they’re hanging out with? She looks as lame as those girls, I bet they’re all a bunch of geeks and weirdos”. They were talking about me. ABOUT ME! And I didn’t even know them. I couldn’t help it, and I broke down and started crying silently, I had done it, I had embarrassed myself. I messed it up. Those girls didn’t even know me and they were talking about me, I surely was a horrible person if they kept on saying those things about me. They kept telling, now wondering what “weirdos” like us did in our spare time. “I bet they play video games and all that boring stuff. I’m sure they read comic books and dress up like weird things in those books”. They were actually describing some of the things I enjoyed. Nevertheless, the way they spoke about it made it seem so lame, so stupid that I was ashamed of being who I am. After the girls had left, I spent ten minutes in the stall, crying. I couldn’t help to think that all the things I liked, all the things I am, meant nothing to them. And if those things meant nothing to them, why should they say something to the rest of the world? I left the stall and went to the sink to wash my face, that way, nobody would notice I had been crying. The door opened, and a girl entered. It was Lexi, who said hi and looked at me. “Serena, were you crying?”, she asked, trying to keep her voice down. “No, no. I was washing my face, that’s all”, I answered. “Serena, don’t lie to me, your eyeliner is ruined. You were crying”, she pressed on. I left the bathroom before she could ask further questions and went home, praying I didn’t find any more people who’d want to ask me what happened.
III
I got home and my mom was there. She looked at me, and with that sixth sense that all moms had, she knew. From the moment she saw me, she understood that something had happened. I was afraid, I felt horrible, and I didn’t wanna speak to her. I loved my mom, but today I felt hopeless. I felt like if I didn’t exist. “Serena, how was your day?”, my mom asked. “Good, mom, I met a couple of girls who invited me to go hang out later,” I answered trying to hide my emotions. “That’s fantastic, dear, but that’s not everything that happened, and you know it” “I don’t wanna talk, mom. I just consider that I’m better off with homeschooling. Can we return to the way things were?”, I chided. “Serena, dear. I don’t have time to homeschool you, and I know that despite what happens, going to school is going to make you feel better”, my mom reasoned. “You know nothing, and you clearly don’t care about me!”, I stormed to my room and closed the door. I felt horrible. I didn’t want to yell at her, but she clearly isn’t understanding what’s happening. How could I tell her how humiliated I felt? Those girls only told me what I feared. That if I kept on being like that, I wasn’t gonna have friends. However, I didn’t want to change either, I like being who I am. I like my tastes in all matters, what if those girls’ perception is flawed and they only wanted to trash talk? That could be a possibility.
Nevertheless, I still felt horrible. I log on Facebook and saw that Gina wanted to add me as a friend. I accepted, I’ve always felt more comfortable talking on the internet than in the real world. “Hey Gina, what’s up?” I asked her. “Nothing much. Hey, Lexie told me she saw you crying in the bathroom, is everything alright?” I could feel the anxiety building up like a stone in my stomach. I wanted to tell her, but I was afraid she felt I was a crazy, or a burden. However, I wanted to make friends, and according to the internet, to make friends, you have to trust them. I had done my research, and I think I suffered from some depression or social anxiety. However, I don’t want people to believe I’m crazy. If my mom believes I’m part of her baggage, why would someone wish to be near me? “Hey, you there?”, Gina asked. “Yeah, I’m here, sorry. I was just thinking”, as soon as I sent the message I felt relieved. In a way, telling at least a bit of how I feel made me feel better. On the other hand, if Gina used whatever I had to say against me, I was done. If this failed, I was out of the friendship business. “This is not easy, Gina, but you and Lexie have really friendly to me, and I think you are really interested in getting to know me”, I told her, as my heart beat furiously. “Go ahead, Serena. What happened?”, She asked. I could even picture her gently voice, urging me to speak. She was such a great girl. I wish I could trust her. “Today, while we were in biology class. Those girls who were in front of us gave me the stink eye. I hadn’t even met them, and they looked me dirtily at me as if I had done something bad to them”, I told her hastily, feeling about to faint. “Those girls are “Regina and Elisa, they are the “popular” girls, you shouldn’t worry about them. They have been trying to make Lexie, and I feel bad since fourth grade. One day, I got tired of their nagging and threw a lunch tray to Elisa. That got me detention for the rest of the year, but I enjoyed every second of it”, I laughed at the image of the girl covered in spaghetti and calmed down a little. “The thing is, Gina, that after biology, I went to the bathroom, and they entered when I was inside a stall. They started trash talking about you and Lexie, telling that they didn’t know why Dean hung out with you, that you were a couple of nerds, and he was too cute to be hanging with you. They also said pretty nasty things about me; that’s why Lexie found me crying. “Oh, poor thing. Don’t worry about what those witches say. They only want to make you feel sorry. You’re a sweet girl, and you shouldn’t feel bad about being who you are. Imagine being something else for the rest of your life, that’d be horrible. Besides, Dean is not interested in any of them. In case you’re wondering, neither Lexie nor me, are interested in him I noticed how you looked at him”, she wrote. I blushed and laughed nervously. “I’m not interested in Dean, Gina. Let’s talk tomorrow, and I’ll tell you the rest of the story. The thing is, I’m not comfortable around people, and every time I try to meet someone new I feel incredibly anxious and mess things up. I’m a total failure around people.”, I wrote. “Serena, let me tell you something. Lexie once puked in class; Dean sat, and the desk broke, and me, everybody is making jokes about my weight. Sometimes we care about the things people say, but we have each other. Having friends and family that care about is one of the most important things in the world. We will always be introverts, but that’s who we are. The things we like are part of us; they define who we are. We will always mess things up and embarrass ourselves with things. Feeling ashamed of ourselves is not going to make things better. Besides, those who want to be your friends will be your friends for what you are, not because you fake being someone else. Talk you tomorrow, Serena. Have a good afternoon.”, I closed the chat window, and suddenly a warm sensation invaded me. I had found a friend, I had found a group who was willing to accept me for who I am, and I didn’t have to fake it. Being an introvert is not that bad if you have someone to share it with. Perhaps large crowds are going to make me feel anxious all my life, but that’s who I am, maybe trying to fit is not for everyone. I closed my laptop and went to bed, thinking of him.

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