Threads II

Autumn felt something stick to the back of her neck, like a bug taking unwelcomed settlement on a shoulder. It was something much bigger than a bug though, and bulky. Autumn shifted in her seat, trying to glance over her shoulder. Her movements were restricted, however, her hair feeling like it was pinned to the back of her seat. Autumn was still able to turn just enough to glimpse into her peripheral vision and see what was going on. The classmate who sat behind her had her legs up on the desk she was sitting in, just making herself at home. She was nonchalantly pressing the dirty bottoms of her shoes against Autumn's hair, which was draped over the hood of the chair she sat in.

This classmate of Autumn's always seemed to be trying to push her boundaries, seeing how far out of line she could go before getting in trouble. It was this reason that she was popular, the majority of the other girls in their grade flocking to her and trying to mimic her attitude. Her name was Michelle, the catalyst, the rotten apple. Autumn had been getting teased in school for as long as she could remember, but it was only when Michelle transferred in did it turn into a true psychologically damaging harassment.

There was only the voice of the teacher reciting the lesson in the room. Autumn couldn't bring herself to speak up, it would draw everyone’s attention and put her in the spotlight. Then again, at least she would gain the teacher's attention. Was being a tattle tale and getting Michelle in trouble wise though? She and her friends would hold a grudge and likely try to get back at her in some way. What were the other options? None of the Michelle uninfluenced classmates were sitting close enough to take notice and say something. She and Autumn sat in the back of the room, making it unlikely that the teacher was going to naturally take notice either. Were there any other options? She could just yank out her hair from the foot's hold. Time was passing, the class period was going to finish up soon, and Autumn was still trying to make a decision. Just trying to pull out the courage to act had her mental stream stirring and her adrenaline swelling.

Being chained down and controlled by her own strands, Autumn was beginning to feel like the toys she puppeteered. Taking their example, she finally decided to do nothing. She wasn’t sure if the choice was her being cowardice or wise.

After class, Autumn was face first in her locker when the voices of Michelle and friends passed by. They were intentionally intruding Autumn’s eavesdropping space, their chatter echoing in the metal closet. They were all giggling, a cynical implication in their breath.

“You were trying to see if you could leave a mark?” One said in a sarcastic tone.

“No, a footprint.” That qued a bigger burst of laughter.

“I wonder what happens when she lays in grass. Does it get grass stains?”

“Oh, or what would happen if you tossed her and a red sock in the dryer?”


The laughter suddenly muted as the voices turned the hallway corner, sound travel now blocked by a wall. A minute still usable before next period, Autumn went into the girl’s room. The ever reappearing huddle of girls fixing themselves in the bathroom mirror between classes was starting to dwindle. Autumn took the corner of the end mirror, wishing to stay discreet. It wasn’t really working. Ignoring some wandering eyes, she swept her mane over her shoulder and began brushing the seemingly invisible shoe crud. Not convinced the grime’s microscopic existence was gone, she wet her fingers with the tap water and began finger combing her head of fifteen hundred thousand bothersome strands. When sixth period beckoned with its bell, Autumn and the other two remaining girls dropped whatever prepping they were still doing and scurried off.

“I… don’t… want it brown…” Autumn cried between hiccups, into her balled up fists.

“But it’s going to look so pretty. Don’t you want to look like mommy?”

“Her nose is running,” Mr. Armstrong informed his wife and grabbed a nearby tissue. He brought it to Autumn’s face and tried to sooth her, “But now that it’s a more neutral color, you won’t get teased anymore.”

Autumn sat on a backless chair, her mother stood behind her with brown stained gloves. She was dying Autumn’s hair dark brown using a color rinse for at home jobs.

(To be continued)

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