She could see them leaning over, whispering to each other, snickering before leaving. She pretends not to see, returning to her book, but her mouth tugs and twitches as the weight becomes too much. Shaking off the weight of ostracisation, she blinks through and reads. Bright colourful words snake across the page.
“Did you know? Every seven years your body is completely new with every single cell replaced!”
Seven years. She was fourteen, so she had to have a new body soon. Putting her book away, she starts her long trek home.
A new body… she wonders if she can get a fresh set of personality, one that would allow her to blend in and mix with the crowd, just like Kate. Kate was cool. Everybody loved Kate… Not like her. Little girl with the chubby cheeks and short hair.
She wonders if she’ll be blessed with long hair, but mother never lets her do so. Too hard to keep. What did she know? She wasn’t that great herself.
A sudden wind blows, chilling her as she tries to zip up. A nearby tree flutters and seems to cackle. She replies with a stare. Stupid boys. Stupid people. So what if she had short hair? The tree falls silent as the air stills itself. She looks away, ashamed to have offended its feelings.
Wondering if trees change every seven years too, she looks around and slowly drops her bag as she approaches the tree. Looking around once more to confirm her solitude, she reaches out and hugs the rough bark.
Tears run down two plump, red cheeks as relief rushes through her, cut short as she accidentally cuts herself against a sharp edge. She pulls away, hurt. But she can’t look away.
Mesmerised by the blood coating a section of the tree trunk, she rubs her eyes dry, assured that a part of her would be found somewhere in the world even after she turns fifteen, even after she changes.