3. The Project

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        September 2nd

        Reporting the first infiltration of rival operatives. Agent A. Harris and Agent K. Masters performed standard protocol. R. Harris was a witness.

       3. The Project 

       Date: September 2nd

One of the reasons I was so invisible to everyone in Crawford High School is that I wasn’t attractive. I’m not saying that I was ugly, because I really wasn’t. I just didn’t try to make myself the least bit appealing.

       I didn’t see the point to it; it was just high school. I didn’t care what people thought of me.

       But Mom did. She used to force me to go on makeover trips to the mall with her every time she got the chance. Those trips, usually, were torture for me. She wouldn’t let me eat until we were finished shopping, claiming that I wouldn’t fit into anything in my size if I “fattened myself up with food”.

       My protests didn’t do a thing for me, either. If I recall, Mom didn’t even care if I was sleeping. And I relive those moments all the time.

          .         .          .

       “Come on, Rachel, let’s go out tonight,” my mother pleads, struggling to remove me from my bed.

       I clutch onto the bed frame as if it’s my lifeline. “No, really, I’m fine, Mom.”

       I always wondered what it felt like to be removed from somewhere by force. I guess I have my answer then. Because at first glance you wouldn’t be able to tell, but Nicole Harris is a strong woman. And it isn’t a good strong, either. It’s a weird strong.

       The woman picks me up and throws me over her shoulder as if I’m nothing but a backpack she would sling onto her back.

      Fighting to get back on my own feet, I want to say, “Well, sure! Why not go out and celebrate that my only friend is my mother?”

      But I know I can’t possibly say that without my mother scolding me for it, so I just get myself back onto the floor and turn to see Aaron behind us.

      “Actually, Rachel, I was hoping you would come and help Kyle and me with our project,” Aaron intervenes.

      Observing his expression, I can see everything that he wants to say but doesn’t. And I know why he chooses not to say it. Mom would freak. You can tell, from his slightly furrowed eyebrows pushing down into his green eyes, to his short sandy hair sticking to his forehead, to his pink lips pulling into a frown.

       His handsome face is twisted into the “I really don’t want to do this” look.

      I know better than to believe that he really needs my help with his so-called “project”. His real intentions are to save me from my mother’s antics. Mom refuses to stop remaking herself, and she decides to drag me everywhere she goes while she’s at it. But she only drags me because she hopes I’ll suddenly change my mind about my appearance.

       I wonder if she’s ever going to realize her hopes will always be crushed when it comes to that.

       As I eye her reaction to Aaron’s words, I watch her flip her dark hair over her shoulder, exposing her completely smooth forehead and letting her hazel eyes – unlike the spring green shade of Aaron and mine – twinkle in the light.

      Mom scoffs, thinking that I’ll obviously refuse Aaron’s offer. She thinks I’ll be glad to go out with her and endure heaps of hair curling, nail designing, and face painting – or makeup, as the rest of the world calls it.

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