The World of Kristin Walsh

Kristin Walsh has suffered social ostracism for as long as she can remember. Though there are a few people who care about her, Kristin spends most of her free time alone with her extremely active imagination. Her imaginary world, containing creatures of all shapes and sizes, changes from day to day, and holds her closest friends and worst enemies inside.

Chapter 1

Kristin dropped her books on the counter in the girl's bathroom, tears in her eyes, and ran into a stall. She sat down on the toilet, not bothering to take any sanitary precautions, and cried as she recalled how hard they'd all been laughing at her. Posy Mulvaney's scissors had snipped all of her red hair off, so now all that was left were short, uneven tufts that reached to various points on her neck. She remembered with envy how much longer- how much better- it had been earlier that day, in a simple ponytail. And now it was being stuffed down a toilet on the other end of the school.

A tiny white mouse scampered up her leg. Kristin petted it and rubbed it behind the ear, and the mouse nuzzled its nose into her hand.

“Kristin?”

Kristin looked up, then looked back at her leg, but the mouse was gone. “Y-yes?” she said, trying to keep herself from crying now that she realized once again what she was facing the moment she left the stall.

There came a soft knock on the door. “Kristin?” came the soft call. “Are you okay?”

Kristin wiped the few remaining tears and stood up, stumbling out of the bathroom stall. Standing next to her, coming up only to her shoulder, stood Gretchen Kelly, her close friend, and one of the few she had. “I'm fine,” Kristin muttered.

“Are you sure?” Gretchen asked, looking at her friend and frowning. She was a very perceptive small girl, and she could sometimes tell if someone was lying, though she admitted that she was not infallible in the practice.

“I'm sure. I... I just...” Kristin turned to the sink and started washing her face.

“KRISTIN!” Gretchen squeaked in shock, running up behind her and placing her hands around where Kristin's beautiful red ponytail used to be. “What- what happened!?”

“Nothing,” Kristin snapped, grabbing some paper towels and rubbing her face. “Just a ferret and some weasels.”

Gretchen looked at her friend, half-questioning her comparison, half-wondering who she meant. But Kristin just grabbed her books and ran out the door, hoping that she could get home before they even left school. As she ran to her locker, a ferret and a herd of weasels scampered behind her, catching up to her and snapping at her heels. She ran faster and faster as she tried to escape them and their teeth, but every so often one would sink its small fangs into her ankles and she would give a small yelp. Finally, she reached her locker and began stamping on them, trying to crush them all underfoot-

“Well, well, well,” Posy snickered as she walked up to Kristin. The ferret and weasels had vanished. “Look who decided to come crawling out of the bathroom to get a glimpse of civilization. I bet you were just planning on packing up and slinking back to your little hovel.” Alice Wagner stood behind her, an abominable smirk on her face, and next to her was her twin, Sophia. They all were waiting for Kristin to do something stupid, something that she could humiliate herself with so that they could use it against her for the rest of her life.

Kristin's face turned red and she froze, unable to conjure up a single sentence in retaliation. She was dumbstruck, utterly helpless as this beast made fun of her and said every rude thing she could think of to her. Tears started forming in Kristin's eyes again as she turned to her locker and tried to tune out this creature who was putting her down and telling her everything that was wrong with her, and apparently there was a lot.

Finally, Kristin slammed her locker shut and ran away. Posy and her group didn't follow, but Kristin knew they wouldn't go onto the next victim. Even a group of jerks couldn't keep it up forever without the proper amount of rest.

As Kristin walked home, a badger walked up beside her. It placed a paw on her calf and Kristin looked down at it, smiling sweetly. She picked it up and held it in the air, swinging it around. For the first time all day, Kristin felt happy as her best friend, the badger, looked at her with its tiny eyes.

“Kristin? What are you doing?” The badger disappeared and Kristin spun around to see none other than her friend, Matt Crew. Along with Gretchen, he was one of her dearest friends.

“I was just... um...,” Kristin stammered, trying to find an explanation. She tucked the strand of hair that always- or had always- hung out of her ponytail behind her ear. “I was doing nothing.”

Matt looked at her hair, and Kristin was hoping he wouldn't notice, though the fact that he was a guy insisted that he wouldn't notice a trifle like a change of hair. But, untrue to the stereotype, Matt said something.

“Did you... get a haircut, Kristin? I didn't notice it this morning-“

“Because I had all my hair this morning,” Kristin said through trembling lips. She started running as tears poured down her cheeks, knowing that she wasn't going to be able to hold herself together much longer- and yet unwilling to let Matt see her break down. She sat down on a park bench the moment she reached it and burst out in tears. Soon Matt was sitting beside her, arms wrapped protectively around her as if he wanted to stop the world from hurting her.

“Kristin, just know that I'll always be here, okay?” Matt said. “I'm not leaving you, okay?” Kristin nodded as he held her to his chest, like a precious jewel that he was sworn to protect with his very life. He placed a finger under her chin and lifted her head up so that he could look into her red, blurred eyes. “Now, what happened?”

Kristin poured out the tragic events of the day and her encounter with Posy’s scissors, and how some janitor was going to find he had to take a plunger and get a clump of bright red hair that once belonged on her head out of a toilet. After she finished, she just cried, and Matt let her cry into his chest, holding the back of her head tenderly. Finally she stood up and wiped her eyes again. She nodded briefly to Matt and started walking away, and Matt did nothing to stop her.

Kristin walked into her room after what felt like hours upon hours of walking home, and plopped onto her bed. Animals began crowding her room, some trying to comfort her like the badger and the mouse, others taking the side of the ferret and weasels. She sat there and talked to them, telling them stories of what life could be like- no, what she was certain life would be someday. She didn’t know how soon that day would come, but she did know that one day, it would.

This was the hope that kept our dear young Kristin Walsh alive.

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