*I KNOW I'M SORRY FOR THE WAIT, IF IT HELPS, THIS IS 21 PAGES LONG (when doubled space ;D) Please, comment! <3* 


Chapter 5: Real


When Ella woke up, her room was empty. She let out a sigh, glad that Jeremy had decided to go home last night. She had no idea what she would do if she woken up and he was still here.

The scary part was that, deep down, she knew she wouldn't have minded.

Ella shook the thought out of her head. She was going to stay away from Jeremy. Yesterday couldn't repeat itself. Besides, she had other things to worry about than whether she was going to see those blue eyes anytime soon.

Today was the rally. And Ella wasn't planning on going, of course. For what? So everyone could stare at her like a freak again?

She quickly brushed her teeth and headed downstairs to catch her mom before she left for work.

"Mom," Ella called to her just as she was opening the door.

Her mother smiled at her. "I didn't want to wake you," she told her. "How are you, sweetie?"

"Better," Ella told her quickly but realized for once, it wasn't a lie. She wasn't totally okay, but everything Jeremy told her yesterday hung around her head like a broken record. And when she thought about it, she fought a smile. "Can I ask you something?"

"Anything hon."

"Can I dye my hair?" The question caught the nurse off guard. She gave her daughter a confused look.

"Dye your hair? Ella, you've never dyed it before..." Her mother trailed off, unsure.

"I know," she replied, playing with her fingers. "But I feel like I need a change. And I want to start with my hair. Is it okay with you if I dye it?"

Her mother smiled. "If it's what you want, then of course. As long as it's not hot pink or blue."

Ella laughed softly. "No, nothing extreme. I promise." Charlee nodded once and started for the door. "Um, mom?"

"Yes?"

"I love you," Ella told her, sending her a smile. "I know I've been tough the last week weeks-"

"You're going through a tough time, Ella. I understand. Just remember I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."

Ella was happy for that. While she had distance herself from everyone, her mom was the one who gave her space. She understood. Charlee had lost the love of her life too.

They said their goodbyes and Ella went upstairs to get ready. Once she was showered and dressed, Ella headed to the store. She wanted to be quick. As soon as she entered the CVS, people starting staring. It was worst than school because these were adults. Full grown adults were whispering about her, about how she ran away at the wake, about how she couldn't be strong enough. When she reached the cash register, the girl gave Ella a sad look.

"I'm sorry about your lost, Ella." Ella looked up and recognized the girl as Emily Reed. Ella had never spoken a word to Emily in her entire life. And here she was telling her how sorry she was about Eric dying. "Eric was always super nice to me." He was nice to everyone.

She didn't reply. Ella gave Emily the cash while looking at the floor and muttered a "keep the change," before grabbing her bag and rushing out. The walk home felt longer. People were out and walking on this beautiful October day. They were all heading to the park for the rally. The opposite way from where Ella was going. And everyone was giving her questioning looks. She heard someone call her name. Ella walked faster.