By Easter U. Obioha
The Price of Popularity
If someone had told me that I was “cool” about a week ago, I would’ve given them the side eye. Now? Not so much.
Growing up, I’ve always kept to myself. I did what I needed to do. I nodded my head from time to time, and I spoke when I was spoken to.
I allowed my thoughts to consume me and I cut myself out of the “real world”. I sat in the back of the class, ate lunch in the nook of the library with my headphones on, avoided the mainstream hallways when going from class to class. You would think I was miserable.
Thing is, I wasn’t.
I like thinking to myself. In a world where everyone is moving at mile a minute, it’s kinda nice to know that I could talk to someone who’s going at the same pace, even if it’s myself.
I mean think about it, you know yourself better than anyone else. All your inside jokes, your memories, your fears, can’t be used against you- if you only share them with yourself.
But no matter how content you may be, everything can’t live in the parameters of your mind. And that’s what got me into this mess.
Mrs. Knight’s English class.The place where it all started. Her class is designed to make you tap into the realms of one’s mind. It shapes your creativity. It shapes you.It shaped me.
I only wish I got the cool english teacher across the hall: we do more writing in her class.
“ Settle down class. Today we are going to analyze some classic written pieces to determine how these authors use language to develop a theme,” Mrs. Knight announced as she distributed the worksheets.
Authors, Philosophers, poets, intellectuals, all expressing their ideas to the world. Such brave and bold souls. I wish I could do that.
“Once you’ve filled out the organizer I want you guys to start drafting your story,”Mrs. Knight added.
The wisdom that these individuals have obtained is something so extraordinary. To be studying the thoughts of another human being, years after they’ve parted from the world, was an honor.
The class groaned and a dainty hand with, rouge talon-like nails arised.
“Ms. Knight, Why do we, like…even need this class? We all speak English here, with exception of the weird dude in the back. Who knows what language he speaks.”
The class snickered.
The dainty handed girl glared at me, then turned to the class and smiled. Her silky straight brown hair, her straight pearly whites, and her bright aura; all the artificial beauty to disguise the crooked and ugly soul that lies in the heart of Gianna Kinsley.
I couldn’t give her the reaction she was looking for. The look of defeat. The look that proved that she won. I continued to carry on with my work.
Gianna continued to glare, waiting for my breaking point. Unable to change the emotion on my face, she turned around and continued to snicker with the class.
Mrs. Knight feebly responded, “It’s for you guys to take in different perspectives so that you develop your own more efficiently.”
My cheeks had reddened, my forehead felt heavy, and my chest was burning up, but there were no streams that escaped from my eyelids. This wasn’t embarrassment, this wasn’t sadness, this was pure anger. I hated the way Gianna weighed me down, how she treated me, how she made others treat me, and how she was adored through all of the torment. This was not the way I wanted to live, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.
There was no one at school I could talk to that wouldn’t run off to tell Giana, so I waited,
and I waited.
I waited until the halls were engulfed with the echoing sound of the school bell at the end of the day.
I darted out of school halls, and into the bus lanes. I took my normal seat in the back of the bus. On this frigid November afternoon- my aura was scalding.
At my stop I flew out of the bus so fast that the bus itself didn’t need to brake.
I unlocked my front door.
I dashed up the flight of stairs and into my room.
And grabbed my computer that was laying on my bed.
Hastily typing in the password, I took a quick breath and opened up the draft section of the PieceofMind webpage.
Jamming on the keys, I let out all the anger that surged in me. 12 years of torment. The rage that had once filled me was now on a draft page of a social media website. The story of Gianna Kinsley.
The Witch of Hawkins High
I continued striking the keys as I gave her a piece of my mind. I wrote about her ugly soul and they way she tormented people, her manipulation, the way she cheated in everything, and how her “nice girl act” was all a sham. For once in my life, I felt good. I let out a deep breath as I lightened the load that occupied my mind.
Footsteps from the hallway were becoming more intense.
“Honey, dinner is ready.”
I clicked away from the draft screen without delay, nodded to my mother, and made our way to the dinner table.I wish I had a delay.
My mother and I sat right across from each other at the table. Being that I don’t speak she tends to fill the silence with her day at work as well as upcoming events. I feel bad that I can never work up enough courage to engage in the conversations. It must be pretty lonely. Ever since dad left I could tell that it hurt not having someone to speak to. I looked at her as she continued to converse with me.
“I got promoted today, hun,” she said sweetly.
“That’s great,” I unconsciously replied.
In the process of taking her next bite, the hairs on my mother’s arms sprung up. Her muscles seemed to stiffen, and her breath became shallow. For the first time in my life my mother was speechless!
I got up from the dining table and inched towards her and as soon as I reached for her shoulder, she started to force the words out.
“I must be going crazy now, I’m starting to hear things,” my mother stammered. Trying to keep her composure she approached the sink, turned on the tap, filled up her glass, and gulped it down. At the blink of an eye she absorbed another glass.
“Are you okay,” I said, fearfully.
At that moment, I had heard a new sound that bounced around the walls of room. Shocked at the unfamiliar noise, the room started to spin.
Mother turned and looked at me with glee. “You’re speaking! You are really speaking!” My mother ran to me, giving me the tightest hug I have ever received. The room was spinning at an even faster speed. Areas of the room began to darken and before I knew it, I had hit the ground.
“Ben? Ben! Honey, wake up!” my mother cried.
“What happened?” I murmured as I sat up from my bed.
“You’re speaking.” Mother smiled at me and my hands instantly found their way to my mouth.
“There’s no need to be afraid, this is a good thing,” she said and moved my hands away. “It feels like I’m finally going to get to know you,” she said hopefully. “I’ll let you get your rest. You took a pretty hard fall earlier. I’m surprised I didn’t have to take you to the hospital,” mother said sweetly as she headed for the door.
A ringing sound came from the other side of my bedroom.
Ding, Ding, Ding…
I rushed over to my computer to analyze where the source of the notifications were coming from. I scanned my home screen, which was covered in notifications.
@jennyross2356 liked your post.
@kewlkyle67 liked your post
@sarahsosweet reposted your post.
Your post has been shared over 400 times
A wave of terror took over my body. My palms were sweaty, my stomach started to churn, and my legs could not hold the weight of my body any longer. I started to pace around my room, trying to figure out how many of my classmates would realize that it was Gianna. I sat in my revolving chair to check my PieceofMind profile. Luckily, I was on private, so people couldn’t figure out it was me. The bad part was that my geotag was on, so people knew that this post came from someone at the school. All the reposts made me realize that I’m not the only person who has a Gianna in their life. People like the truth, and that’s what I’m gave them.
The following day “I” was the talk of the class. People couldn’t get enough of it.
Wow have you read Witch of Walkins High? It’s sooo good!
Do you know the author goes to our school? Omg they’re so cool, they’re like basically a legend!
I bet you $10 it’s about one of the popular kids, I bet $15 it’s Kinsley.
I was amazed. I could not believe that other people related to my thoughts Gianna was oblivious to the buzz! She didn’t even read the story yet. Thank goodness for that.
The next few days were the same. I continued to write about Gianna, post it on my anonymous account, and receive tons of feedback. It’s amazing how quickly my popularity grew within a few days. A week later I was the most famous account in the school, kicking Gianna out of her top position.
By now even Gianna was angered. I could see it. She started to frown more, something she never used to do. Her eyes would roll in annoyance. Her rude responses slowly evolved into defensive barking. I was breaking her.
I could feel the mix of heat and discomfort when I posted about Giana , but at this point it didn’t matter to me. She spent her entire school career breaking others so she could feel powerful. Now it was time for her to have a taste of her own medicine.
A month went by and my account only kept growing. I myself began to engage in conversations. Without Gianna weighing me down I was able to make a few friends, and it was nice to hear about my work. Everyone was restless, trying to figure out the author of the stories.
It’s gotta be a girl.
Maybe it’s Katie?
Or a dude…Maybe Rick? Ben?
Could be Ben?
It seemed too good to be true. My weights were lifted, my mind was clear, and I was living my best life. I was at an all time high. I had friends by my side, and I was getting back at the girl who treated everyone terribly. There was no way I was the bad guy, everyone loved me.
As Gianna became more and more insignificant, she slowly became anxious. She finally read the story.
At lunch the next day she climbed onto one of the tables and announced to the school. “Attention, everybody!” The lunchroom was still buzzing. “Attention!”
“Attention!” Gianna shrieked, stomping her feet on the table. The room went silent.
“Thank you,” she replied in a semi- sweet voice. “So I’m guessing you guys have all read that story about the witch.”
The lunchroom roared in excitement.
“Well, I would just like to say that I will find out who wrote these lies about me. You could either confess and I’ll go easy on you, or you can wait ‘till I find you, but by then I won’t be so nice. The choice is yours.”
A wave of nervousness started to take over me, but it soon vanished when I realized that there was no way she could find me. I continued to converse with my new friends.
At the end of lunch, I was heading to my favorite class when I was pulled into the janitor’s closet and pinned to the wall.
“Ben, I know you’re the person behind the account,” the girl said to me.
“W-who, are you?” I struggled to phrase.
“Andrews. Jillian Andrews. I have three classes with you, but I’m ignored, ya know, just like you used to be.” She increased the force used in pinning me. My shoulders started to ache.
“How did you find out?” I stammered.
“It was quite simple,” she added. “You and I used to be the outkast, ignored by the rest of the school. Then all of a sudden you start talking and you have friends. That’s how I knew something was up.”
“Okay, but how does that correlate to you finding out that it was me?” I replied.
“Benjamin, I’ve paid close attention to you for a while now. You and I are very similar, so I could easily figure you out.”
“How I confirmed it was you was at lunch. When Gianna talked about finding the anonymous writer, you got all nervous and you looked like you’d seen a ghost.” Jillian chuckled. “I’m going to expose you.”
“And what will you gain from it?” I retorted.
“This gimmick is not going to last forever. Someone will find out, and when they do, Gianna will like them. So I made it my goal to find you. I spent hours studying your writing habits, your phrasing, the times you posted, the things you posted about the-”
“You’re crazy!” I exclaimed. Trying to free myself from her entrapment.
“Crazy for attention. You got you have your spotlight, now I want mine. Or…,” Jillian said slyly.
“Or what?” I said forcefully.
“You could give your account to me, and I won’t report you.”
“No way!” I said.
“Then I’ll report you,” she said menacingly.
“No!” I shouted.
Jillian began to grasp me tighter, my deep breaths were now short and shallow. My eyesight began to blur.
“Either you hand over your account or I will report you. The choice is yours,” Jillian whispered.
I took Jillian’s arm and twisted it backward as much as I could. As soon as she loosened her grip on me I pushed her off.
“We’ll see about that.” I said as I left the closet.