The blush travels around the circle, as, one by one, they whisper names, their voices strained, their ears red. With the name they let out a sigh, scrambling up their letters, but still relieved to be rid of the tension.
I don’t know why I’m here.
The blush travels to me, and I blush longer than the rest of them.
“Come on,” they whisper, their voices full of anticipation, even though they don’t know me, don’t like me. They still want my secrets.
I hear her voices through the others, stressing different syllables on purpose, being a nonconformist in her own subtle way.
I see her hair, its almost-black darker than the rest of them.
“It won’t kill you,” they whisper. “We won’t tell.”
But it might kill me. This is what they don’t know. I am not like them. I am not the kind of girl that stands in a circle and takes her turn at whispering a guy’s name.
“No,” I whisper.
“Tell us,” they coax, their voices all monotonous and unimportant except for hers.
“No!” I whisper, louder this time.
“Tell us!” they shriek, their voices breaking and rising, smashing through the surface between whispering and catastrophe. But her voice is still hovering down below, not angry enough to break the barrier. “Tell us,” she says, something sad in her voice.
She was the girl, Once Upon a Time, who never told.
“No!” I yell, my voice breaking the glass alongside them, shooting past them, my words carrying me away, back to the shadows of the oak tree where they found me and pulled me into their secret-circle.
As I hide in the shadow where I belong, I watch them float back through that surface, and begin to whisper their names again, this time from the outside.
Her name walks over after a while, and kisses her.
She walks off with him, and laughs like she never once has laughed with me.
Her step springs again, not like when she walks with me. When she walks with me, her feet drag and her shoulders look like they’re carrying the world.
Her brown eyes light up. They mirror his, even though his are blue.
Lead fills my chest, traveling through my blood and into my lungs.
My breathing becomes short and shallow, like all the air is gone.
I am dying, as she walks away, through the gate, with him.
And not once does she look back at me.