I wanted to be part of them. I wanted to impress them. Because how can you live a successful life if you can’t be popular? How can you be happy if you don’t have a cool group of people to hang out with? So I dropped out of Science club, because they said it was lame. I started cutting classes because they said it was cool. I started joining with them in pranks because they said school is about fun and the days won’t last forever.
They call me a coward and sometimes a dud. Yeah they are my “friends” and they don’t bully me in an obvious way. They are like, “ha-ha, you are such a chicken, just relax” or “whoa, you don’t have the nerve to do THAT? What a loser.” And they all burst into fits of giggles. I laugh along with them nonchalantly because if they knew I was hurt they would shrink me even more. Yeah I get hurt because of stupid stuff like that. Because everyone else in my group is so daring, impulsive, spontaneous and doesn’t hold anything back. I wanted to be part of them. This is the story of how I proved them I’m not a chicken and I have what it takes to be one of them.
It was December 5th,a lovely, windy day. The sun was shining on my face as I took in the cool salty breeze. My friends were dancing and singing along with the ‘Boduberu’ music in the boat. I whipped out an excuse to be alone so I could sit on the other side of the boat, taking pictures of the ocean.
We reached Hanimaadhoo at around 7. Even though it wasn’t my home island, the place brings out an incredible feeling every time I go there. We took our belongings and followed Susan. It was just how I remembered it from a year ago. Nika trees were huge as usual. Some kids ran around on the shore. The beached boats were supported by wooden sticks and some men were working on them. There were some middle aged men in a Holhuashi as well.
Susan’s aunt’s house was just a few steps away so it took us just few minutes to get there. We followed Susan into the front yard of the house. There were all types of trees; Stone apple, mango, breadfruit and a huge screw pine tree as well. We sat down on the Joali until Aunt Meg came. For a group of 10 people, it was certainly a fantastic place to crash on a picnic. I spotted a BBQ stove near the Stone apple tree. “Hmm, she told me she had some people over for a BBQ last night.” Susan said.
“WE should have a BBQ at the beach.” Daniel suggested. Morris agreed “Yeah, it will be different”.
“Well, hello darlings! You must be tired after a long journey! How was the sea? Rough? Come on in I was just preparing breakfast.” For a 55 year old, Aunt Susan definitely was chatty indeed. I thought. “Girls, take this room and boys that room. Behave well my dears” She pointed to two rooms facing opposite to each other.
Her husband was just leaving the Kitchen. “Hello Susan, now don’t worry, we will be out of your way. I promise. Now don’t turn the place upside down ok? And don’t go out at night.” “Don’t worry, uncle, we are very well mannered aren’t we? “She winked at Ron who was her best partner in crime.
We had our breakfast and hung out in the yard for a while. Ron started talking in a low voice. “Okay, so we’ve got only 2 days here so we should do something awesome!” Morris suggested “Let’s do prank calls” Susan scoffed” like we know any one’s number in this place.” She added, “Plus that’s a bit boring now. It has to be new and exciting!”
“We could go sightseeing in the island. There’s the agriculture Centre you know? It will be super fun.” I said brightly. “Oh puhleez, are we on a school field trip? That’s plain lame with a capital L” Ron shook his head and some of them snickered. I shrugged. Ron usually shut my ideas down like that.
“Hey!” Susan cried. “I know! How about going to the woods in the middle of the night! We could just sit there and eat stuff and talk you know.” Ron jumped up at the idea. “Yeah, we could play truth or dare or something!” Morris nodded, “It will be so adventurous! We could take flash lights. It would be so movie-like.”
Everyone chatted like crazy but I grew uncomfortable at the thought. For one thing, it was night and the other, it was the woods! How crazy can they get! I reluctantly said “umm..Your Uncle said not to leave the house at night didn’t he? Susan said. “Oh don’t worry. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, right?”
“Totally” Daniel agreed.
“But we may get in a whole lot of trouble you know.”
“Oh they are easy going people. I’m sure they won’t stay mad for that long.”
“But they might tell our parents. And we may never get to come here in another trip. And…
“Ok, if you don’t wanna go just stay.”
“Yeah, stop being a chicken, Lia. Live a little.” Susan said, clearly annoyed.
“Mommy might ground you for the rest of your life so I think you should stay.” They all burst out laughing.
A lump formed in my throat and I felt like going from there but luckily Aunt came out with the laundry basket so they changed the subject quickly.
So we stayed in our room that night waiting for them to go to bed. At 10 PM aunt opened the door and said, “Don’t stay up too late, children. You want to wake up to go swimming don’t you? When shall I wake you up?”
“5 will be fine. Or whenever you wake up.”
“Alright then, good night. Don’t let the bed bugs bite” She smiled a toothy smile.
“Good night Aunt Meg.” They all called out cheerfully. Then they giggled.
“Okay, so what have we got? Drinks and snacks and… oh yeah, no body have flashlight huh?”
“Who needs ‘em when we have our phones?”
“Ok so. Susan go get the key and we are outta here. Everyone be super quiet.”
I stood up to go. “I thought you are not coming.” Susan said. “Well I guess I changed my mind” I said tightly. I didn’t want them to know I am more of a coward than I already am. Maybe they will finally see how cool I am.
We crept out of the bedroom and Susan opened the living room door quietly. “Let’s go”
It was dark out in the yard and apart from the yellow fluorescent light outside the house we couldn’t see a thing. We turned our lights in our phones and made our way towards the front door.
“Oh no! I forgot the key for this door. I don’t know where they keep it.” Susan exclaimed.
“Hmm..That’s ok. Let’s climb over the wall! It will be fun!” Ron suggested.
“Cool!” Some of them whispered in unison
So we climbed over, looked around and there was not a single soul in sight. Thank God, in some islands the streets are vacant at night. Since the woods were just a few feet away we turned left and started walking towards it. It wasn’t a cold night but a chill ran down my spine. I can’t believe how they can be so courageous and fearless. Aren’t they scared even a little bit? From the gleamy looks on their faces I knew they are far from scared.
So we reached a spot near a beached boat and decided to camp there. Megan pulled out a blanket and we all sat down. “I wish we brought marshmallows so we could make a fire and roast it. “ We took out packets of chips, biscuits and chocolates. Susan passed around the ‘burn’ bottles.
Ron placed an empty water bottle in the middle and spun “let the night begin!” he said dramatically.
It came to a stop and was pointing at himself.
“Dare of course!” We all thought for a while and Daniel suddenly said, “Climb that tree!” He said pointing to the nearest tree which had a lot of branches. “No problem.” He leaped to his feet and walked towards it. First, he stepped on to a tree stump nearby in order to grab a branch. Then he went all the way up and called down. “Woohoo, hey take a pic of me!”
After he came down we spun the bottle. It pointed to Daniel. “oooh, let’s think of a good one!” Ron said mischievously. “You have to drink a mouthful of salt water.” “Eww, that’s gross.” Some of the girls snickered. “Whatever. Here I go!” Daniel got up.
We walked with him towards the shore and stood watching while he took out a handful of sea water. Some of us gagged. Then he took another and another. “Woah…stop stop, that’s freaking awesome already.” Everyone was laughing and slapping on his back.
We came back and spun the bottle again. After 4 more spins it pointed towards me. I looked around nervously. Everyone took dares and everyone did what they were told to do. “I so don’t belong here” I thought in despair. “Why did I ever come in the first place?” If I take truth they wouldn’t stop teasing me, I was sure about that. With a thumping heart, I said. “Dare”. Ron said. “Sing twinkle twinkle ryme for us.” For a second everyone was puzzled, then they burst into laughter. I scowled angrily. “Give me a real one! I will do it. I said indignantly.
“Hmm…let’s see about that miss goody two shoes!” Ron grinned. “Go into the sea, until the water is at your elbow level.”
I swallowed and gasped, “what?!”
“I would do it if it was me.” Susan said smugly
I looked at her furiously. “You think I can’t do it? You think I am a loser? You think I’m some kind of prissy? You’ll see about that!”
I strode towards the sea angrily. Without looking back I waded through the water. “This is your chance to impress them. You can do it” I told myself. When I was waist deep, I hesitated a bit but didn’t slow down. I didn’t know how to swim, but I felt pretty confident since the current wasn’t that strong. So I kept going. I didn’t stop until I was floating, my feet barely touching the ground. I looked back and gasped.
They seemed so far away. “In your face!” I shouted out triumphantly.” I wanted to do something awesome so I turned around and kept going. I spotted a row boat rocking on the waves. “This is the last day they are gonna call me a coward. I am not going to be a loser anymore.”
“Lia, come back!” I heard someone yelling as I made my way towards it.
“That’s too far! Alright, you proved your point. Now come back.!!”
I ignored them and climbed on the row boat. Adrenaline rushed through me as I prepared to dive. I felt like one of those Olympic Swimmers getting ready for a lap. As I leaped forward a wave came and hit the boat, disrupting my balance. I tried to regain it, but I fell on my back and hit my head really hard.
I woke up feeling dizzy. I squinted my eyes trying to see through the blaring white lights. I looked left. There was a huge vase of beautiful flowers. I was confused. I tried to remember what happened but everything was a blur.
Suddenly someone walked in with a clipboard. “Oh my God, you are awake!” Then I realized it was a nurse. That was a hospital. Then it all came back. The night. The sea. The fall. Minutes later, my parents walked in and was all over me. It was hard to tell whether they were crying or laughing.
It was the day I was discharged to go home. I got into the chair and wheeled it towards the window. Whole my life, all I ever wanted was to be part of a group. But today I ended up alone. Because I wasn’t content with who I was. I should have realized, that, I need not have to impress others to be someone who I am not.
The doctors said, when I fell it damaged the part of the brain that controls the balance. Not only was I in a coma for two whole years, but I lost the ability to walk as well.
Why did I take the Dare when I had the chance to be true to myself?
Peer Pressure can be sometimes good and bad. Some of us are unknowingly a victim of that pressure. It makes us do all sorts of thing. Some people are willing to go extreme lengths just to impress their peers, so that they could be part of the group. Because they don’t feel good about themselves? It’s far too late when they realize that they are awesome the way they are.
Ok so this is a story. Just a beginner testing the wings. So don’t compare with D. Steele or N. Sparks. It may be suitable for younger kids. Feedbacks please.