Today I wore a black miniskirt over black leggings, with a black way-too-huge concert T-shirt from the 1980s that I’d scored at a thrift shop. The shirt only covered my arms to the elbows. The tons of rubber bracelets I’d collected covered the worst scars, on my wrists, but a few were visible in the gaps between the bracelets and sleeves.
Those scars were the reason I noticed Alyssa’s bandages. Some people might have assumed she’d been hurt accidentally. I knew better. The way she shrank into her cardigan and the total absence of the long blonde hair half the girls at school had been jealous of told the story.
Something had happened to her over the summer. Or maybe before. Now that I thought about it, I realized I hadn’t seen her around after April vacation. Since I’d only been a freshman then, I hadn’t really thought much of it. Alyssa and I didn’t run in the same circles, so it wasn’t surprising that our paths hadn’t crossed. But I’d seen her in the hall plenty of times before April break. She’d always been one of the bubbly popular girls who drove me nuts, but she was so pretty I hadn’t minded the bubbles.
She’d never talked to me, but I’d spent plenty of time watching her until she wasn’t around. Now I wondered if she’d even come back for the last two months of school before summer break.
She was there now, but she wasn’t bubbly anymore. Or popular, apparently. She sat alone at the table in the farthest corner from the cafeteria doors. People glanced at her and turned away fast. No one spoke to her.
So I decided I should.
When I walked over to her table, Alyssa looked up at me as if I was nuts. And then her eyes went wide.
I didn’t think my appearance was that scary.