Chapter 1: Faking a Smile

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Hey guys!

Welcome to my new story! I hope you enjoy the first chapter! I've been wanting to write a story like this for a long time now and have finally gotten around to it. I made the spontaneous choice to write it a few days ago, even though I do have other stories that I probably should be focusing on more right now. This is just a bit of fun, so I'm not taking this as seriously as my novel 'An Angel in Darkness'. If you're new to my stories, make sure you check it out. This hopefully will be fun for you as the reader, and me also.

Thank you,

M. Elyse Lynch

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I winced, my skull feeling as though it was being ripped apart as the sound of a door being slammed reverberated through the air. The light was even worse as I reluctantly opened my eyes, the brightness smouldering into my greenish-grey irises, causing the dull ache to intensify inside my head. Consumed in tangled bedsheets, I raised myself up a little from the mattress, only to flop back down as a sharp pain went coursing through my stomach, a whimper overflowing my lips before I had the chance to bite it back. To my dismay, my older brother, Sodapop came bounding in, the reckless smile twisting into a frown at the sound of my pain filled cries.

"Ponyboy, you ok?" he asked, concern evident in his tone as a glint of worry flared in his glimmering eyes.

I hid my panic behind a sheepish grin, feeling a pang of guilt rising inside me when I replied, "Yeah, I'm fine. I just hit my elbow against the wall is all." Faking pain, which wasn't difficult since I was already in pain anyways, I rubbed circles over my left elbow, pleading that he'd buy it. I didn't like when my brothers worried about me; I didn't need to burden them with anymore trouble. I was a burden enough as it was, not just for my brothers, but for the gang too. Besides, I was fourteen; I could stand on my own two feet.

With a flash of his contagious grin, Soda chuckled, "Ah, Pony. What are we gonna do with you?" He reached out to ruffle my hair, but I flinched away, knowing that if he got too close, he'd be able to feel the waves of heat radiating off my body. He eyed me quizzically and with a fleeting sensation passing over me, I raised myself up into a sitting position, forcing back a groan. Instantly, I was reeling as a wave of dizziness and nausea came flooding over me. Willing myself to neither black out, nor lose my dinner, I shot Soda another smile, his features slightly disfigured in my blurred vision, praying that somehow he'd let it slide.

"I'm gonna take a shower," I informed him, attempting with all my might to keep the anguish out of my tone as another spasm surged through my stomach. With a final skeptical flicker in his eyes, Soda rose from his place on the mattress and left the room. I couldn't be more relieved.

With a moan passing my lips, I swung my legs over the bed spread and stumbled to my feet. My knees wobbled violently as my centre of balance wavered and I clutched the wall with a strength I didn't know I possessed. After a moment of labouring breaths, the haze in my mind receded a little and I released the wall, hugging my arms securely around my stomach instead, whimpering with each agonising churn. I fumbled for the first piece of clothing I found in the closet, hardly aware of what I was doing as I staggered to the bathroom, fortunately undetected by those parading around in the living room.

With a slight tremble in my fingers, I locked the door, perspiration gathering on my palms as I turned on the faucet, hoping the running water would muffle the sounds of retching that I knew were to come. With a stricken cry, my knees buckled underneath me and I slumped down before the toilet, my arms still clamped tightly around my stomach as I rested my boiling cheek down on the cool porcelain, begging for the sickening feeling to go away. I swallowed thickly with each nauseating swirl of my stomach, trying to ride out the sickness the best I could, my head swimming all the more with each passing moment. Don't be sick... Don't be sick... Don't be sick...

After several minutes of hovering over the toilet, sweat pouring over my body in rivulets, the swirling in my stomach waned away slightly, the fear of heaving my guts up leaving me for the time being. Very carefully, I eased myself to my feet, swaying as the force of wooziness washed over me, my entire body trembling out of pure weakness and a fever that was steadily rising. I leaned back against the wall, still clutching my stomach in fear of upsetting it once more. I dreaded the long day ahead, knowing that even though there wasn't any school to compete with, I knew that with the gang's prying eyes and teasing suspicions, hiding just how sick I was from them wasn't going to be easy. Maybe even impossible.

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