She had been pretty at one time in her life. Beautiful, even. Men would stop and whistle at her
on the street, much to the anger of her stepfather. She had been the most popular girl in high school,
and nobody ever knew what she was going to do next, not even her. Especially her.
The same was true now, only nobody knew who she was and this time, she wanted somebody
to know what she was going to do next. She craved the certainty that she knew had been lost a long
time ago. She could only live one day at a time now.
High school graduation put an abrupt end to her carefree life, though she pretended not to see
it. Though she had told only her prying guidance counselor, she had actually applied to three colleges
her senior year. But she simply could not sacrifice her whirlwind social life for good grades, and was
rejected from every college she applied to.
Nobody pitied her, because nobody knew. Why should they have any reason to feel bad for her?
She was at the top. Teachers, though they seldom showed it, were afraid of her, underclassmen saw her
as a god, and even people she passed on the street knew: she was untouchable.
Untouchable to anyone outside the four walls she could barely call a home, anyway. She never
told anyone about what happened at home, the screaming, the fights, anything. Her father had moved
out just a week after her younger brother was born, the year her older sister graduated high school.
Nobody had seen him since. “We’re better off without him,” her mother had told them. “If he doesn’t
need us, we certainly don’t need him.”
But was her mother talking to her children, or herself? She heard her mother’s cries at night.
Though her mother thought the whole house was asleep, including her new husband, she heard. The
sobs, the angry stamp on the floor, and the destructive tender whisper of her father’s name.
Her brother didn’t know, and she saw no reason to tell him. He didn’t remember his real father,
and eight years old, she thought, is too young to know that your father didn’t love you enough to want

to watch you grow up. So she smiled with him, and teased him, and always made a point to call her
stepfather “Dad” in front of him, just so he wouldn’t have any reason to guess. His favorite nights were
the ones they’d spend together, just the two of them, but it was a rare occurrence. She was almost
always out with her friends at night.
She never told her friends about what it was like at home. They never came over to see the
broken life. She didn’t need their pity. She didn’t need their anything.
Except Kira. After a particularly bad fight between her mother and stepfather, she had confided
in her best friend at the time. Kira was patient, and listened to everything she had to say, and even
offered suggestions on how to make things better. But when she remembered why she kept so many
things secret, she unleashed her fire on Kira, not letting her out of the flames until she had sworn not to
tell anyone.
When Kira had let her secret slip to the guidance counselor, she was more furious than she’d
ever been with either of her parents. There was no doubt in the slightest that Kira was done. Without
giving away any details, she let the rest of her friends rip into Kira, not stopping until the girl was in tears
and switched schools.
She had her last reckless and breezy summer right after her senior year of high school. For two
months, she and her posse had not a care in the world, and everyone followed their command.
But when the fall arrived, her group left. To go to college, travel, she didn’t know. Nobody talked
much about their plans. But when the leaves changed, so did her life. She wasn’t surrounded by adoring
friends anymore. All she had left was home.
But “had” was a funny word, especially paired with the word “home”. She didn’t have a real
home. She knew that much. Home is where you’re accepted, not neglected. As she saw it, she didn’t
need to be accepted at home, because of how she was seen everywhere else. To her, it was a miniscule
sacrifice, and one that barely mattered.
Until her friends left, and she wasn’t accepted anywhere anymore. In a typical game, she would
be left with one option: stay at home, where you have no worth. However, she didn’t play a typical
game. She knew that if you played by your own rules, you could always get another choice in how your
life went.
So she left, one night when the fighting was just too heavy. She gathered the small amount of
things that still mattered to her, opened the door, and left. She didn’t look back at her little brother. She
didn’t know how to explain to him why she was abandoning him when he needed her.
That had been almost a year ago. The streets were her home now, any of them and all of them.
A few months ago, her friends had come back to visit over the summer. She cringed thinking about how
they asked her if she had seen her, thinking she was someone else, and winced even more at how she
lied. But it hurt, that they didn’t recognize her. That nobody did anymore. Then again, how could she
expect them to? She’d lost a lot of weight from lack of food, and she couldn’t brush her hair anymore.
Her eyes, once crackling and daring, now were as empty as her voice.
She had once been a legend in this town, soaring over everyone else, but now it was her turn on
the ground.
If only they could truly see her now.