chapter 18- Absent

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When Kirstie went into school the next week, there was no one there that she could speak to. None of the boys were in. How was that possible? It was fair to say that Kirstie was internally panicking. She took a deep breath when she realized that they weren’t in the science lab at the break. She can’t have a panic attack here. She can’t go into sensory overload. There was no one to bring her out of it. At least when they were arguing, they would always try to help her if she was really bad. But now there was no one there to help her at all, and that was worse than conflict. Isolation, abandonment. That was something that she was all too used to.

She texted them, of course. She wanted - no- needed to know why they weren’t in. Was it her fault? Sitting in the silent science lab, she felt like the only person alive in the entire world. The lab was on the other side of the school to the cafeteria which is why she liked it so much on her first day, but now that she was all alone it felt like hell. She was not a fan of loud noises, but it was painfully quiet. This time, a little volume wouldn’t hurt.

The thing is, it wasn’t too quiet for very long. As it took longer and longer for the boys to reply, Kirstie’s breathing got faster and rougher, until she was having a panic attack. She counted in her head, remembering the techniques her therapist told her for when she was alone, and after resting her head on the desk, her head beginning to hurt from the stress and anxiety she was forcing upon herself, she began to calm down, and just lay there, looking fast asleep in the science lab, like she had been knocked out in a gas leak, but was groaning on every exhale.

She got up when the bell rang, holding her hands over her ears until it stopped, and prepared to go to her afternoon lessons. She had English with Avi, but there was no Avi. When his name was called on the register, the one before hers, she knew that she had to answer.

“Avi?… Avi?” The teacher asked.

“N-no hh-here.” Kirstie stuttered quietly.

“What did you say Miss Maldonado?” the teacher asked, not hearing her.

“A-Avi no in,” she said, messing up her English in her English lesson. The class snickered at her, and she felt her cheeks turn red. Her mind was beginning to race again, and she couldn’t focus on what the teacher was saying. It was all too much. Her friends weren’t here, she was all alone, they didn’t reply to her, they don’t like her, Avi doesn’t love her, everyone hates her, she’s a freaking joke. She had tears rolling down her cheeks by now, her head on the desk. She clearly wasn’t paying attention. So, of course, the teacher called on her.

“Miss Maldonado. Seeing as you have been paying amazing attention, what did I just say?” she asked. Kirstie was confused. She barely heard what she asked, but she knew that she hadn’t been paying attention. She had forgotten she was in a lesson. So why was the teacher saying that she was paying attention?

She couldn’t lift her head up. Everyone would laugh at her more for crying at school. She could hear the names now. Softie, retard, dipshit, freak, special, spaz. She hates all of those, but that’s everyone’s nickname for her. Even her father’s. NO! Don’t go there. It was too late. She was now freaking out more.

“Miss Maldonado. I won’t repeat myself.” the teacher said. Her voice got lower. She must be angry, or sleepy. She’s always drinking coffee, so much that her breath stinks of it. Yeah, she’s angry. Furious in fact.

“Miss Maldonado! Look at me now! I don’t care what special allowances you get, you cannot ignore me! Answer me!” she basically screamed at Kirstie. She had always been generous with her disability, but right then, she pushed her over the edge. Kirstie shot up, grabbing her bag as she did so, and ran as fast out of the classroom as she could, still hearing the outright laughing at her actions, and the yell of “KIRSTIN! COME BACK HERE NOW’” but she didn’t.

She collapsed in the girl’s bathroom, unable to breathe, and fell apart. It was like her bedroom all over again. All of the hate she had gotten, the yelling, the laughing, it was all being played in an endless, evil loop in her mind. She got so dizzy, she couldn’t tell up from down. That’s when the Prefect found her. She was having an extremely severe panic attack, hyperventilating on the bathroom floor in a ball, unable to sit up. She didn’t hear the person call her, ask her if she can help. She saw her name on her book that had fallen into an unfortunate puddle on the floor. ‘Kirstin Maldonado’. Oh yeah, the special one. She went to get the nurse.

The rest of the horrific experience for Kirstie was a blur. Someone tried to talk to her, shook her arms, and she began to scream, not realizing that she was screaming. She just couldn’t stop it. She was screaming almost on every breath, and the Prefect blocked the bathroom from public use as the Nurse rang her mom and tried to help her.

Then Angelica ran in and sang a little song to Kirstie, who when she realized that her Mom wouldn’t hurt her, launched into her arms and sobbed into her chest, finally having someone to make her feel a little less lonely. She doesn’t know anyone like her. It’s like she’s on the autism island, unable to mingle with normal people, understand them. She can only study them from afar, like an alien. And to everyone else, including herself, she was.

Her Mom carried her to the car as Kirstie shook on her arms, then she was home, on the sofa under her soft blanket. All she felt was the fluff, and she could only smell the lavender her Mom had in a vase. The familiar, homely smell calmed her down. When she was calm, her Mom cleaned her face up and helped her have a shower as she was so shaky she could barely stand, something she had helped her with a lot, especially since the accident as Kirstie would be so clumsy that she would slip all the time and knock her head further, or sprain her wrist, things like that.

When Kirstie was laying on the sofa, her head on her Mom’s lap, nothing on the TV as she wouldn’t be able to process it right then and it would only make her anxious, Angelica knew that she had to ask. “Baby, what happened?” she asked. Kirstie shuddered exhaustedly with the memory.

“Boys n-not in,” she whispered hoarsely. That was all Angelica needed to understand everything. But when Kirstie fell asleep, she still didn’t have the big answer. Why weren’t the boys in? Maybe she should call one of them…

… but would they answer her?

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