Elementary School

She held her hands tightly together, one on top of the other as they grasped at the warm plastic handle of the Fraggle Rock lunchbox and chewed on her lip. Everything was different here; different names, different styles, different looks from the eyes of her classmates as she walked by them one by one. Each step she could feel their eyes crawling over her, judging her.

A movement caught her attention, and she turned her head just in time to see one of the boys flick his tongue against his lips. She thought of lizards, and snakes, and all things slimy in the world and shuddered against the thought of his touch but she kept her gaze true.

Instinctively she knew that wavering would have been the nail in the coffin, knew that they would pounce on her and tear through the tender flesh of her abdomen like a hyena. The room was still, each child’s breath held in collective anticipation of her next move. She could hear their combined pulse thrumming around her like a current and knew that even the eyes pretending not to follow her were keenly aware of her presence in the room.

When she reached the far table she carefully skirted around the edge, walking so that her back was against the wall when she sat down. Then she opened her lunchbox, sat up, and gazed upon the kingdom that she would eventually make her own.

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