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Featured Writing - Burned- Chapter One

“Why is life so hard?” I asked as my mom tugged my hair back, and twirled and twisted it until it burnt my hand. I was just a little girl then, and both of us knew that my life was not hard.

My mom looked at me with a suspicious face. She was wearing heavy makeup so I could barely see her face. Her hair was put into a humongous black bun that kept wagging around when she spoke. My mom encouraged me to dance. Always dance.

“Charlotte, you don’t have to worry. You are an amazing dancer.” She said. She apparently thought I was getting nervous. I shrugged. I was not getting nervous. Just… I didn’t want to dance.

I looked down at my feet. Tight ballet shoes pierced my toes. My skirt followed closely above; a Spanish style skirt, one with patterns and prints covering the whole thing. My top was a regularly tight black leotard. Never had I ever liked wearing a leotard. It pulled on my skin and my muscles in a way that I despised. And never had I ever liked having long thin hair, because it fell down on my shoulders and made my leotard even more uncomfortable.

We walked out of my parents’ bedroom, across the dark hall, through echoing rooms, high-ceiling palaces. I saw red velvet carpet and perfectly sleek furniture that matched with the perfectly sleek paintings and pictures and walls. Everything was so shiny and perfect. I hated it all. Even my own room. Everything matched. It was all pink. Pink bunnies in the left corner, because I loved bunnies at the time, a pink, ruffled bed, and even a pink dresser and pink bookshelves. My room was huge, too. Not cozy at all.

Once my mom and I had gotten to the front door, we walked out carefully, because she had on high heeled shoes and I had on my delicate ballet shoes. And the ground was damp from previous rainstorms. We hopped into the car. My dad was already in the car, almost like a chauffeur, and once we got in there, he started driving. It was silence throughout the entire car ride to the theatre. I got the back row of seats to myself. My parents wanted to have more children, but I  ended up being the only child. I begged and begged for a child when I was a toddler, but my parents couldn’t.

It's obvious that they did have the money for another child. They had lots of money. My mom was a doctor and my dad was a lawyer. Two of the most high-paying jobs on the top ten list.

Money was all they cared about. They enrolled me into a dance school when I was in pre-school so I could learn how to do ballet-a rich art in general. I met spoiled girls with spoiled lives and I became their spoiled best friends.

Finally, after a long ride of silence, my dad screeched to a stop and parked the car in a neat spot.

We were in front of a big school- my school. Well, what would be my school in sixth grade. It had huge windows that let you see inside of the artistic rooms. The theatre was in the back. On the outside of  the school was trees and landscaping that made the brick look more attractive.

The wind was cool. That’s all I could decipher at the moment.

As we walked in, more and more crowds popped in throughout the school. I headed to the back of the stage. I took a deep breath. You can do this. You are good. You are very good.

I stepped onto the spotlight.

And I danced.


That wasn't so bad, was it?

No, it really wasn't. I had danced as hard as I could. I had almost fallen once or twice, but I would never tell my mom that, because she would punish me and scold me. She would practically ground me for the rest of my life. Luckily, her and my dad sat on the balcony, where they wouldn't be able to see every single detail of the show. I was relieved about that.

When I went into the lobby where all the other fifth graders were being congratulated by their families, it was so crowded that I could not find my parents. I started to get anxious when people were leaving and the room became emptier and less loud. I ran all around the halls, screaming, “Mommy? Daddy?” But there were no answers other than my own voice echoing. I was alone in the building, I could hear my own footsteps and my faint whimper.

I couldn't believe that no one had told me anything about their location. My hands and underarms had become clammy and my eyes watered, red hot tears pushing their way out. I couldn't breathe. I was stuck here all alone. I became lost once, and I was in a dark room surrounded by large instruments and chairs stacked in rows. I accidentally stepped on the leg of a chair, and I fell along with the chair, tumbling to the ground. I clutched my leg, on which I fell, but I had no time for pain. I stretched out my leg, tightened my bun, and got back to work.

After another long hour of searching in the humongous building, I collapsed on the floor and started crying as hard as I could. I ached. My legs were numb. My arms laid like puppet arms on my chest. I was on the dirty floor, something my parents would never approve of, especially “school germs” as my dad called them. And, I was still in my pretty outfit from the show. I ripped off my skirt and threw it in the corner in vain.

Then, I peeled off my leotard and grabbed the t-shirt and jeans that I had kept in my dance bag. I put those comfortable clothes on in the bathroom stall. Then I just sat on the floor and took out the picture of my family that was in my dance bag.

The picture was from the Christmas before, when I was still in fourth grade. We had taken a Christmas photo because we needed to send out Christmas cards to all of my parents many friends. I had on my favorite green sweater. It looked disgusting on me, now that I had noticed.

My parents were hugging me as I stood in the middle of them. My mom’s fake smile was plastered on her perfectly clear face. My dad’s smooth limbs made him look like a plastic doll. I seemed to be the exact definition of “normal.” Like normal girls, my hair wasn't perfect, my eyes weren’t shiny and crystal-like. In fact, I looked the farthest thing from perfect. I remembered that day-I had just gone to my Aunt Allison’s house for Christmas, and my parents were in such a good mood because of Aunt Allison’s jolly character. Me, on the other hand, I wasn't in the best mood. I had compared myself to my older cousins, Abby and Jack. They were less wealthy than I, but they were much happier. I envied that because I was not happy. I was not happy because I was rich.

I am rich.

I am spoiled.

I am not happy.

I am not happy with myself, my family, my stuff, my life.

I put the picture away and wiped the tears off of my cheek.

I looked out of the large window that I was leaning on firmly. The sky was getting darker. But for some reason I heard faint sirens in the background. There were never sirens in my neighborhood. What could this be?

My heart thumped loudly. I took a deep breath, but my exhale of air was shaky and flat.

I asked myself the question again: What could this be?

I couldn't seem to come across a clear answer, so I ran to the lobby through the empty halls and it got louder. No one was in the building. Not even any staff. Did they know I was even in here?

When I came to the front door I saw something that I refused to understand.

A burning house.

And it looked exactly like mine.

(To be continued)

Khara R., age 12
May 5, 2018
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