Tears stream down Lily’s face as she slams the door behind her.
Her step-brother was being annoying again – but would anyone listen to her? No.
Because Alec is perfect.
The best guitarist, the best son, the kindest, most handsome, and popular.
Lily on the other hand? A 16-year-old quiet girl, who’d rather have her nose stuck in a book than in another’s business, and that made her “unsocial” and “unapproachable”.
‘Alec, apologize to your sister right now.’
‘Okay mom, sorry Lily.’ He screams from behind the door, ‘Are you still weeping, you little crybaby?’
Lily stomps across the room and swings the door wide open, ‘Can’t you even apologize properly!? You just have to be so annoying, don’t you?’
Alec snickers, as he munches on the last blueberry muffin – her favorite flavor – ‘There, there now, don’t ruffle your feathers over such a small matter! Your anger issues are only gonna get you more acne!’
‘Okay that’s enough! Also, that’s my muffin!’
‘Oh, really? Why don’t you go buy yourself another muffin? Oh wait, you’ll probably trip over air on your way out with those humongous glasses of yours! Hahaha!’ He points towards her glasses, which sat on her button nose.
Lily’s face reddens up, but before she explodes, Alec adds, ‘Okay, okay, calm down, little tomato, I’ll get you another muffin. Don’t follow me though, I don’t want anyone to see me with you… You’re probably gonna ruin my perfect reputation!’
He cackles, then chokes on the last crumb of the muffin.
‘Serves you right…’ Lily mutters, before slamming her bedroom door again.
Watermelon sugar high, watermelon sugar high, watermelon sugar-
‘LILY! Pick up that darn phone of yours!’
Pulling her blanket up to her face, she groans, ‘Just shush, and leave my room, I’m trying to sleep!’
Alec’s lips lift up into a smirk as he strides across the room, ‘Well then, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind if I pick it up!’
‘No! Don’t you dare!’ Tripping over her covers, Lily sprints across the room towards the bedside table, grabbing the phone before Alec’s evil hands got to it.
The phone continues to ring in her hands, with Alec peering from over her head.
‘Oh right, it’s obviously just Dad. Who else would call my nerd sister?’ With a chuckle, he leaves as quick as he entered her room.
‘Her Dad, what’s up?’
‘Lily, go to the grocery store and buy some bread and milk, please. I’ll be late tonight. Tell your mom that too.’
‘Oh, alright, I’ll go right away.’
Straightening her hair with her fingers, Lily puts on her go-to hoodie, and plugs in her earphones. Before leaving, she takes a peek into her brother’s room, ‘Yo, I’m going to the grocery store, need anything?’
‘Yeah, get yourself a new face! Haha, just kidding. No, I don’t need anything.’
‘Ugh, just tell Mom I’m out if I’m not back by the time she’s home.’
Nodding to the song’s beats, Lily pushes open the transparent doors. Picking up a milk can and a packet of bread, she turns towards the cashier.
The song fades out as her eyes fall upon a boy from school. It’s the school bully!
Walking the long way around the store to avoid the boy, she reaches the cashier, ‘I’d like to buy these, please. Can you bill it quickly? I’m sorta in a hurry…’
Her eyes dart around the shop while the clerk scans her things. ‘$2.50’
Dropping the money on the counter, she wraps her fingers around the thin plastic bag and quickly turns around, just to stand face-to-face with her bully.
‘Well, well. Look who we have here!’
Lily’s eyes grow wide and she backs away, and clashes against the cold metal counter.
‘Excuse me?’ The clerk interrupts, shooing both of them away.
Taking this opportunity, Lily runs out of the store. Her bully’s footsteps thunder behind her, but she turns into narrow alleys before he catches up.
When she stops to catch a breath, her eyes wander and pause at a rusty old gate. As though welcoming her in, the gate creaks open with the wind. Gloomy vines swarm over the graveyard walls, as Lily walks through.
She steps over the gnarly hedges, and settles down at the cement ledge at the entrance of the graveyard. Dropping the plastic bag at her side, she covers her face with her hands and thinks to herself –
‘Why did I have to be born this way!? Everyone except me lives a good life. And I get bullied for the way I look! If it were under my control, I swear, I’d make myself looks so good, they’d just stand there and watch me in awe!! I just… I just want to look good, for once.’
A drop of water falls onto the back of her head, and when she looks up, she realizes it’s starting to rain.
Ugh, and now I don’t even have an umbrella…
Grabbing the plastic bag, Lily gets off the ledge, when a pastel red umbrella catches her attention. It’s like it was glowing in the dark, and calling out to her.
In an instant, she finds herself holding the umbrella above her head.
I guess I’ll just borrow it for now, and return it tomorrow.
Walking through the gate, she bumps into a boy. Her bully.
‘H-How did you find me?’
‘Sorry what – ’ He seemed to be distracted, or as if he didn’t recognize her, ‘Do I… know you?’
His eyes take in every bit of her, before he speaks again, ‘Can I walk you home?’
Wait, what’s going on!?
‘Uhm… No thanks?’ And with that, Lily walks away as fast as she can.
As she dusts herself off at the front door, she catches herself looking at her reflection in the window. ‘Who did he see when he looked at me?’
The next day, Alec sends her out on an errand again, like the annoying and lazy older brother he is.
The weather forecast blares through the speaker in the background – ‘Unpredictable rain conditions for the next few days, don’t forget to take your umbrella!’
Lily tugs off her boots and runs up the stairs to her room. I guess I’ll use this umbrella again.
Extending her arm out, she enters the grocery shop again, but this time, everyone looks back to see her, as if she were a princess.
Lily feels her cheeks redden as she walks around the store – she’d never got this kind of attention before.
Even the clerk stuttered as he billed her items!
The next day at the library, instead of blending in with the surroundings, she makes eye-contact with almost everybody, and rejects at least 8 guys.
What’s going on!?
Excusing herself from her new friend group, she glances at herself in the mirror, and instead of her button nose and thick rimmed glasses, is a tall, thin girl with almond eyes, long, flowing, chestnut brown hair, and to top it all off, a cute smile with dimples!
‘WAIT WHAT!?’ Before realizing what’s happening, she screams out loud, splashing water at her face. Even after clawing at her face violently, her skin looks model-worthy.
Despite her consistent doubts, she enjoys the life she’s never lived.
‘Lily! Come with us to the movies!’
‘Lily, wanna go ice skating today?’
‘Excuse me, can we take a picture?’
‘Hi, can I have your number?’
All of a sudden, Lily isn’t invisible anymore. Everyone seems to like her; even love her, perhaps. But it just doesn’t feel right.
Every time she walks past a window, it reminds her of her past self.
Her true self.
It had been over a month since she encountered that strange umbrella, which now stays by her side through every moment of the day.
I don’t ever want to lose it. I can’t.
Lily squints at the TV, poking at the volume button.
‘Sudden thunderstorm today… Stay safe, and g’day!’
A notification pops up on her phone, ‘Hey Lilz, wanna go to the café today?’
After brushing her hair and pulling on her boots, Lily hops out of the house, and heads to the café with her umbrella in her hand.
As she nears the café, a strong wind pulls the umbrella out of her hands and carries it down the road.
And just like that, no one seemed to care about her anymore, not even her friends in the café! Heck, they didn’t even know the true her.
Running down the road, with her curly chestnut hair puffed up in the rain, and her glasses sliding down her nose, she makes up her mind.
‘It’s not worth the trouble.’
And later that night, with one last visit to the graveyard, she said farewell to the pastel red umbrella.
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