I steady my breathing, clumsily adjusting my backpack straps which always end up annoyingly uneven, no matter what I do. Stopping before a set of doors, I quickly run through a list of how to seem confident that I stole from the internet. Pathetic, I know. I roll back my shoulders, tilt my head up, and toss back my hair just for good measure. Then I take a step into the unknown, otherwise known as a high school cafeteria.

I glance around, and immediately know that I’m the center of everyone’s eyes and whispers, fresh meat slapped hastily onto a cutting board. The reasonable part of my brain tells me otherwise, but unfortunately, it never seems to win. I head towards the back where everyone seems to throw their trash, as if the short walk to the garbage bin is simply too much for them. I skillfully step in between a half eaten sandwich and spilled milk carton before settling down. Nobody comes up to me as I eat my cold mac and cheese. Not that I expected them to.

Fresh meat may not have been the right word to use. I’m more like stale rotisserie chicken. I finish my lunch too fast, leaving me sitting awkwardly with nothing to do. I can hide in the bathroom, but that seems too pathetic, even for me. I feel the pull of the books I stuffed in the bottom of my backpack, and only after nobody’s looking, I pull one out.

As soon as the velvety paper hits my hands I feel my head clear, and I let out a slow breath. I flip it open to my torn bookmark, advertising a library I lived by just days ago. I am still faintly aware of the people around me, with their judgments and invisible thoughts. But it’s so worth it. I slip into a world where I’m suddenly a hopeless romantic, my latest favorite character to become and condemn. I constantly change my skin, but at least I belong in every single new world the words bring to life. Every single one. 

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Voice-Team
Voice-Team(@voice-team)
Admin
7 months ago

This story takes the familiar trope of the teenage outsider escaping into books and makes it new with insight and flawless word choice. The ending is superb: “I belong in every single new world the words bring to life. Every single one.” 

Culture Dragon
Culture Dragon(@culture-dragon)
8 months ago

Greetings Amelia – Welcome to the Voice Club! Your story is excellent for people who love books, which is perfect for our club. I look forward to reading your next story.
谢谢 (thanks) – 文龙

Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
8 months ago

How sad that schools are so judgmental! I am glad that the protagonist found a sense of belonging and escape in her literature.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
8 months ago

Welcome to Voice club, Amelia. It is a great first story. I am looking forward to reading more stories from you. 

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
8 months ago

Hi Amelia, welcome to Voice.club. I enjoyed reading your story and can fully empathise with your protagonist. I’d much rather disappear into the different worlds provided by books too. Just one thing, wondered if the ‘clumsy’ in the first sentence should be ‘clumsily’. Looking forward to reading more of your stories 🙂

Voice-Team
Voice-Team(@voice-team)
Admin
Reply to  Carrie OLeary
7 months ago

Thanks for catching “clumsy” instead of “clumsily”, Carrie. We fixed that when we read your comment. So nice to have you writers looking out for each other, and catching anything we might have missed!

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
Reply to  Voice-Team
7 months ago

No problem 🙂

Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart(@melissa-taggart)
7 months ago

There is no better place to escape the chaos around us! I’m glad the protagonist has found comfort in her books. Great story, Amelia!

Thompson Emate
Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
7 months ago

Nice story. It reminds me of the school movies. I like the line, “but at least I belong in every single new world the word brings to life.” Nice write.

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Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
7 months ago

Welcome to Voice Club, Amelia! I enjoyed reading this so much. Your story is very relatable. Schools can be very judgmental, often towards new kids. I like how she found a sense of belonging in the stories she read. I love the last paragraph, how she became the protagonist in the story and how that image kept changing. That is exactly what reading great stories do, isn’t it? Well done.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
7 months ago

Congratulations Amelia.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
7 months ago

Amelia, I don’t know how I missed reading your story or I would certainly have commented on it. You describe the angst of your protagonist so well. I too loved the last line.

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Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Amelia! Your story resonates with all of us who have used books as a refuge as well as an inspiration. I used to always have a book in my purse in case I got stranded somewhere. Many’s the time I got lost in the book and forgot all about the outside world. Great writing.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

Congratulations Amelia!

Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Amanda! This was a very relatable story, told really well.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Amelia.

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