I pack the last thing in my bag and walk out of the door, carefully shutting it behind me. Ruining my expectations, the sky is a dull shade of grey and slightly breezy. I’m late for the train by 13 minutes 45 seconds. Not bothered. I don’t want to catch the train. I’d rather walk. Maybe I should introduce myself now. Let’s just call myself Anonymous, it’s better to avoid unwanted complications. My age…never mind.
The road ahead is empty. No, it’s packed with people. Nobody notices me. They are busy doing whatever. I slow down, eventually stop. A middle-aged lady selling sweets. She’s slightly stooped. A light aroma fills the air. Peppermint and Jalebis. I turn my gaze to another man wearing a scruffy hat. Green with orange baubles. Hat seller. Behind him are another lot, talking loudly, practically screaming. I must’ve entered a market. It seems vividly bright. Clothes, jewellery, people….I continue walking. I have no business here. I reach the far end of the crowd. This is also the entry to the woods. Perfect. Adjusting my backpack, I step on the grass. This leads nowhere.
The landscape changes, so does the sky. Strays of soft afternoon sunlight fill the area. Minutes later, it seems as if the clouds had never existed. Strong winds billow, messing up my flyaway hair. There is a sharp pain in my left leg. I ignore it.
“Look, Look! It’s her, that awkward girl, reading a book. What a wimp.” One shouted.
“You bet she is. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that.”
“And look at her hair..my dog is better- looking. I’ll never take her on my team.”
“Agreed.” They snickered, went off.
The girl slammed the book shut. She’d heard everything. Miserable gits, she thought. Unfortunately, everybody liked them. They were the best players on the football team. Picking up her bag, she went to the window. The match was in an hour. She loved it. But now, she’d rather spend it in the library. Everybody hated that; wouldn’t come all the way there to pick on her. Walking there, sensed everyone’s eyes on her. She loathed being pointed at. It hit a nerve. Vice-principal found the begonia pot shattered on the floor, a bleeding kid. He sighed, jerking his head at the nearest door. The girl walked towards it. The others sniggered, even the one hit with the pot. The door read ‘detention’.
The girl bent down to inspect her grades. Average. This can’t go on. But it has, for the past three years. Her ears went red. She stuffed it inside her bag, watching the smartest kid explain the answers. She promised herself she’d work hard. But she’d been saying the same thing. For the past three years. The flush darkened. The teacher patted the smartest kid on the back. This time, the hands went sweaty. The others clapped and laughed, not noticing. Later, she walked over to her only friend. Another awkward girl. Eyes closed, the latter was memorising the latest chapter.
“You could’ve done it before.”
She opened her eyes before closing them again. “I don’t have time.”
“Me neither.” The girl sat beside her, taking her books out.
“How long are you gonna sit here?”
I turn back. A man. He’s wearing tattered, shabby clothes. Has a smirk on his face, eyebrows with questions. Tall.
“Nothing, nothing, just…. I’ve been observing you.”
“Following me, you mean.”
“Sit.” I pat the grass. He does so. There’s an odd silence. He breaks it.
“You seem sad,” he says.
“You don’t have to know.”
“Lousy school. I hate that place.” I wince.
He nods, then mutters, “You wanna kill yourself, don’t you?”
“Don’t see any other choice.”
“It’s not nice, that.”
“Ironic coming from someone who’s already killed himself.” I look at him. He catches my eye. Chuckles softly. “Interesting point.”
I take my eyes off his brown ones, glancing ahead. “People don’t like me.”
“They make fun of me.”
“I’m terrible and useless.”
“Uh-huh. So, how will you do it?”
“What you planned to do, of course. There are many ways, see. I jumped off a cliff. What about you?”
“I thought you said it wasn’t nice.”
“Yes. But it’s your choice.”
“I don’t know.”
He nods and stretches. Yawns widely. “Brilliant. Take your time.”
“What about you?”
I look sideways to look at him. Empty. I glance at my watch. I yawn before getting up, picking up my bag, brushing the grass off my clothes. I begin walking back. The sky is now deep navy with a hint of crimson, bright stars and constellations twinkling.