prologue - clementine

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"Sorry." This was the third time Clementine had knocked her oversized grey-colored denim backpack into another student's body. The hallways had one hundred-some students cramped together, and having a broken locker resulted in some irritating trips to class.

This was the second year of cramped halls and body-bumping for Clementine; and so to most people, she was recognized as the infamous Double B. Funny.

High school was quite the experience for someone who differed from the rest. All the girls decorated their faces with makeup, dyed their hair with some extensive ombre or highlighting, or installed weaves. Some got piercings, while others kept the jewelry attached to thick plastic threads to be hung around their necks. But, even with those differences, they still managed to blend as one whole. Then there was Clementine. She felt like she wasn't classified within that family. She didn't wear makeup, her hair was completely natural, she didn't wear jewelry or have piercings, and rather than sticking out to others from this, she was invisible. Her body type supported a medium build with a little more weight than others might've had, and that made her neither skinny or noticeably chubby.

"Oh my God. Are you...are you serious? I could have died! Jaz, hold m-" a girl started to do breathing exercises as her friend patted her back and gave Clementine a glare for daring to hit her friend. There goes the fourth body bump. Clementine scurried away in panic, pulling the arm straps vertically from her shoulders to make her backpack more stable. One more bump and she would get punched, no doubt. "Ten more feet until second period", Clementine thought. "You can do this."

Relief rushed through Clementine's veins as she safely seated herself in the cold, blue seat adjacent to the teacher's desk. She had arrived minutes early and even the teacher wasn't in the room, but this was a regular occurrence. There was no reason for her to be late, quite frankly. No reason to stop in the halls and talk; no one remembered her name - so why would they want to talk to her? Teachers called her by her last name and it started with an 'A' so at that point of roll call no one was paying attention; they were still getting situated and catching up with the friends that they hadn't seen in the five minutes between classes.

Clementine began to unpack her materials and opened up her phone as though she actually had a life. The teacher had finally made an appearance, but he was undoubtedly annoyed with his lab set up, so she made no effort to speak.

"Young lady, can you help me?" Clementine's chemistry teacher dragged his hand over his face and stood in a stance of defeat, eyeing Clementine in despair. The bell was five minutes away from ringing, and it wouldn't have taken a genius to notice that he was less than prepared.

"I...uhm...sure." Clementine fumbled out of her seat, smoothing her clothing, and walked to the front of the class.

"Okay. This is to go with the lab we had begun the other day; today is partners, and I forgot to staple all the packets. Would you mind stapling these, three sheets per packet, then placing two on each set of desks?"

Knowing this wasn't even a choice, Clementine grabbed the stapler and waved it in the air with an expression of compliance. Students began piling in, and with one minute to spare, Clementine finished hastily, practically throwing packets on desks. She felt slightly guilty for the staples being sloppy, but she missed the security that her seat offered.

The bell rang twice, but no one seemed affected as they carried on conversation. "Class," insert a dramatically long pause from the impatient teacher, "...class. I do believe that was the bell...please get in partners to work on the last part of your lab from yesterday. You need to finish all three pages, so I suggest minimal talking unless you want to do this for homework." The middle-aged chemistry teacher turned away, appearing to be very satisfied with his minimal threat.

At this moment Clementine knew she would have about five minutes to watch everyone around her make faces at their best friends to signal "Hey! partners or nah?" and listen to people groan because they weren't satisfied with the fact that their best friend wasn't in the class, so they had to resort to being partners with someone they deemed annoying, or not as fun to work with. It happened in every class, and after that five minutes Clementine would bury herself into her work, alone, and finish first, because no one was there to distract her. It was a great occurrence, despite the fact that she felt lonely, but that wasn't anything she would ever admit.

It hadn't always been like this, though. In elementary school, Clementine was happy. She loved being with kids her age, exploring new things, and going to school; she had many friends, and it was amazing, to say the least. But then, in middle school she lost more than half her friends as they went to a different school; and in Clementine's mind, this was the time to make new friends ,and then reunite with her old ones in high school. It didn't work like that. The friends she had who went to middle school with her all met new people and they all clicked, whereas she met new people, and they awkwardly hung out. Everyone was slowly drifting away. Clementine could awkwardly make her way into a conversation, but she felt unwanted, like a nuisance.

Clementine wondered, as time went on: was it because of her appearance, attitude, her grades, maybe even her breath? Why did no one want to hang out with her? Why didn't teachers bother to learn more about her? Or even ask how she was? Why did no one want to reconnect? Even when new students came, she was the first to introduce herself and they, too, drifted away and made new, better friends.

Clementine hadn't noticed the time go by in her pondering state until the bell rang and she realized that she had another page to go. "Ah, shoot!" Clementine hated homework, and this was something that should have easily been completed. Gathering her bags quickly, Clementine opened her phone and wrote down 'chem' in her agenda. Maybe she could finish it during lunch. She slipped through the door and into the crowded halls, breathing in the fresh scents of body odor and bathroom stalls.

"Hey! You...we haven't talked in forever," Clementine turned around and saw the familiar face of her 'friend' from elementary and middle school, "You know, we should totally hang out soon! Your place? You'll have to remind me where you live, though. Haven't hung out there in forever! I miss seeing your adorable little doggie, and your dad! Oh, your dad is the best! What was your dog's name?"

This girl was too perky for Clementine's taste, so any conversation they ever had was one sided; with her talking and Clementine nodding along. Then, she simply invited herself over, and not wanting to seem rude, Clementine complied and stated her address after waiting for her to finish rambling about her dog. Maybe if they started hanging out again, then other people will see Clementine as approachable and want to hang out, too. Because of this, Clementine wasn't sure if she was using her or simply trying to secure a friendship. "I guess either one works."

"Perfect! I miss these days - like in grade school! See you soon, girl!" It was hard for Clementine to believe she remembered those play dates, but she couldn't argue with the detailed memories they shared. "What if she really did want to reconnect, but here I am...using her for something selfish."

Guilt washed over Clementine's demeanor as she tried to quickly flag down the girl walking away to cancel their plans, but her friend had already gone halfway down the hall.

"Bye, Sarah." Clementine whispered as the girl sauntered off in her brown boots and dress that was too expensive to be worn at school. Clementine pulled out her phone and quietly shuffled to a corner in the hallway so she could safely text her dad that company was soon to be.

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+help with editing from rescuemechinboy ! check out her awesome stories(=

+dedicated to xChasingCarsx for the lovely banner c: (row 4)

+the images are amazing graphics from my graphics contest! they would have all had separate chapters but i didn't want to forget any graphics so i put them all here!(: as i make chapters i will upload them separately! but here are they are singularly w/ the credit (credits will be given in that chapter too)

from left to right (top row) : @Gallixie @imminence_ @lightning-thunder @RosyKun @sinkships @criticized

from left to right (second row) : @chemicales @symptomatic_ @imminence_

from left to right (third row) : @cathykiley

from left to right (fourth row) : @xChasingCarsx

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