Alicia stood outside the principal’s door, fidgeting and feeling faint with worry. Kiva had given her a quick smile and then run back to the cafeteria to finish lunch. Not that it would have helped much if she had stayed, for Alicia was too deep in her thoughts for something like that to matter.

Did I do something wrong? she thought frantically. Am I in trouble? I-I don’t think I broke any rules. . . did I break any rules?

She pulled out her student handbook and flipped to the rules page, scanning them.

No, not according to this. . .

A movement caught her eye, and she glanced at the two girls approaching and edged over slightly to give them more room, all without really seeing them.

What if I did something awful without realizing it? she fretted. What if I get expelled?!? What if–

Her thoughts were interrupted when the principal’s secretary opened the door.

“Alicia Engla?”

“Y-yes, ma’am?” she said.

“Principal¬†Delaney will see you now.”

Alicia gulped, giving her blouse a tug to straighten it, and walked through the door with a growing sense of doom.

Alicia, Mask 3.

March 17, 2013

Alicia looked at what was left of her spaghetti, wincing as the noise in the cafeteria went up another notch. Kids shouted over each other to be heard, and the noise was beginning to give her a headache.

“The cafeteria is one of my favorite places in the school,” Kiva said cheerily, raising her voice to be heard over the din. Her gung-ho attitude hadn’t faded as they walked to the cafeteria–on the contrary, she seemed to get even more bubbly and excited, listing random facts, criticisms, and comments about whatever part of the school that they were in at that time. “It has such a cheerful color scheme, and the food is always really good! Have you decided what dessert you want? I recommend the apple pie. Or the chocolate cake, if you don’t feel like apple pie. Both of them are delicious!”

Suddenly Alicia couldn’t take it anymore. She had to get away from all the noise and bustle of the cafeteria. Putting on a smile that she didn’t feel, she stood up.

“Alicia?” Kiva said questioningly.

“I’ll be right back,” she replied. Then she turned and ran out of the cafeteria.

~

Alicia stared at herself in the mirror, gripping the edge of the sink tightly as she leaned closer to her reflection. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, calming herself down. Someone knocked on the door of the bathroom.

“Are you okay?” Kiva asked, her voice slightly muffled by the door.

“Yes, I’m fine,” Alicia called, the fake smile appearing on her face again. She inspected it in the mirror. For a fake smile, it looked very real–in fact, if Alicia had seen that smile on another girl, she would have thought that that girl was having an amazing time, and not that she was hiding her feelings. It’s like I’m wearing a mask, Alicia thought.

“Well, don’t take too long, okay? Apparently Principal Delaney wants to talk to you–and he doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”