Constance – by Chloe Rich

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Illustration by: Quyen Than

She didn’t know anybody. She was new to the system. She was left all alone, and the one boy that stood out in the crowd, had left her wondering daily. Who is this boy? Why was she so intrigued by him?

As Constance walked down the quiet halls of West Brook High, her books were smacked out of her hands and strewn across the floor. Scared, she met eyes with the people who had done it: typical jocks and their gorgeous cheerleader girlfriends. But one boy in particular stood out to her, the one in the back, that had no girl hanging off his arm. He stared at her, his eyes apologetic. As she bent down to pick up all her books, they laughed. They laughed at their superior authority over her. They laughed at the mere idea of someone so scared of life. Except him. He didn’t laugh. He just watched. And then they walked away, his eyes lingering on her face.

The days that followed were very repetitive. No matter what Constance tried to do to avoid them, the group always found a way. And each day, as they walked all over her fragile and breaking body, the mysterious boy stood back with pity and remorse for what his friends were doing to the poor girl. As he stared at her, she stared straight back, and the look she saw in his eyes was intimidating. It was as if the unknown male was daring her to know more about him. And she wanted to, oh did she want to, but Constance knew from the words being thrown in her face that if she did, all she would receive is humiliation.

So, each day, she pushed aside her curiosity and took the pain head on, ignoring the pleading look he sent her each and every time. She wondered, if he was so desperate for her, why hadn’t he reached out? Why hadn’t he done anything to stop the pain being inflicted on her? He was bad. An addictive drug—one she had never tried before, but was drawn closer and closer to with each encounter. She had to deny. She had to deny the pleasure she could enjoy from him. It was for her own safety. And so she did.

In the weeks that passed, this boy, also called Jack, had attempted interaction with Constance. And each time, he had that same pleading, desperate look, like a call for help. It gave her hope, but she knew it was a joke. It had to be, because he didn’t try to help, since she was worthless. She was just atoms taking up oxygen helpful to meaningful human beings. At least, that’s what they had said to her. High school was a ruthless place, each day coming with more and more insults. Constance felt herself falling into a darkness that was ready to engulf her — and she was ready to let it— until she heard him speak as she was lying on the ground, blood on her cheek.

“Enough! She doesn’t deserve this. Any of it.”

The students backed away as Jack helped Constance to her feet. He brought her to the bathroom, cleaning the cut on her face, and staring into her eyes once again. This time, though, his look wasn’t desperate, it was filled with remorse and guilt; guilt for not helping Constance sooner. He was going to make up for it. He swore to himself he would. Jack decided he would make Constance see her real self. He promised himself he would show her all her beauty.

He brought her back out into the hallway, a hand on her petite waist protecting her.

“Hi, I’m Jack.”

“Constance,” she said smiling. Smiling. For the first time in months. It had been so many days, she had lost count, but Jack made her smile. Jack made her see she had worth. He helped her see her true colors. She wasn’t what they said she was.

Looking at everyone still crowded in the hallway, she understood what she had to do. She walked to the center of the hallway where everybody could see her, and she stood tall.  

“I matter, just as much as every single one of you standing here do. I’m not worthless. I’m not useless. Someone out there needs me, just like you are all needed by someone.”

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