chapter one ➸ tell me anything but the truth

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15 years ago

Karla sat on the edge of the playground, pulling out handfuls of grass and throwing them in the wind, watching as the green blades scattered and flew in different directions. She was torn from her blissful dream world by an ear-piercing wail that carried over across the blacktop. Her previous game was forgotten and she clumsily climbed to her feet, scurrying over to where a group of students had gathered.

“H-he said it was a crown!”

Karla stood on her tiptoes to see over the kids blocking her view. They were all focused on the small girl in the middle of the circle, her hands were tightly clutching her brown hair and tears were streaming down her face. Her teacher was knelt down next to her, trying to calm the crying girl down.

“They won’t come outta’ my h-hair…” the girl said softer, keeping her voice down as she was suddenly becoming aware of everyone’s eyes on her. She let go of her hair and let it hang down in front of her face, using it to shield her eyes from the group of children around her.

Lauren didn’t like crying in front of people. But she was too frustrated to keep that in mind. An older boy had thought it would be funny to tell her that a collection of burrs he had picked from the bushes was a crown, and not knowing any better, Lauren had placed it atop her head. She quickly realized she wasn’t a princess when her ‘crown’ wouldn’t come off of her head.

The teacher was saying something to try and calm Lauren down, but the young girl was too scared of the group of kids surrounding her to pay attention. She hated being the center of attention, especially for reasons like this.

The first day of kindergarten had been something she was looking forward to, but now she just wanted to go home and never go back.

“Hey everybody! Look! I’m a princess!”

The small voice rang out from outside the circle of kids, and the attention was immediately stolen from Lauren. She shyly looked up, curious to see what the other kids were now looking at.

There stood a tiny girl with curly hair, who now had a collection of burrs arranged in a circle around the crown of her head. Her white dress rippled in the slight breeze as she threw her hands in the air to gain everyone’s attention. The teacher gasped and Lauren’s classmates broke out into laughter, completely forgetting about Lauren and running over to Karla, who was now spinning around in circles and claiming she was the ‘best princess in the whole wide world’.

Lauren remained standing where she was, her shoulders drooping. The other kids crowded around Karla, and the teacher had run over to make sure no one else got the same idea.

“Why are you crying? You’re a princess!”

Lauren jumped when she heard the same small voice from before, only now it was just inches away from her. The small girl stood in front of her, proudly adorning her crown of burrs. She spun in a circle and giggled at Lauren.

“My name’s Karla, but you can call me Camila. That’s my middle name, and I only let special people call me it. I think we should be friends because no one else here is a princess, and I don’t want to be a princess all by myself. What’s your name?” she asked, leaning in closer to Lauren.

“Lauren…”

“Lauuuuuren,” she hummed, feeling the girl’s name roll off of her tongue. “Lauren. Princess Lauren!”

“I’m not a princess.”

“Yes you are, silly.”

Lauren tilted her head to the side, confused.

reasons to go, reasons to stay ➸ camrenRead this story for FREE!