Chloe Ko – Newspaper

She didn’t know where he came from. A dark, midnight blue figure with a comically large head along with two comically large eyes was beside her bed. She almost jumped out of her skin when she saw him. 

“Oh my-! Who are you?” She whisper-screamed. 

He did not give a response. Instead, when she shot up, he also stood up. 

She was confused beyond belief.

“Um hello?” 

Of course, no response. When she settled back on her bed, he too sat back down on the floor. 

Just as mysteriously as he came, she thought he would also mysteriously disappear, but he stayed. He would follow her wherever she went, until she reached a destination, then he would independently find a place to sit and observe her. Weirdly enough, he soon became a part of her life seamlessly. They cooked together. 

“Do you like salmon?” She asked while pointing towards the frozen fish.

He just blankly stared at her, then to the salmon, then back at her. 

“Okay. We’re having salmon then.”

They watched movies together.

“Do you like this movie? How about this one? Or this one?”

At this point, she knew he would never respond, but it felt right to ask. To be courteous to a guest? He would patiently wait for her to find a film. She doesn’t know if he’s patient or if that’s just his personality. Deep down she knew it’s the latter.

“Ha, you kind of look like him.” 

She pointed at the screen giggling, but when she was met with a blank stare, she awkwardly looked back at the screen.

“Sorry.”

Her daily life was not complete without his looming figure behind her. Mundane tasks were accompanied by an empty stare constantly watching her. Initially, she didn’t mind his eyes, but that changed. She was getting ready to leave the house to see her friends. She lengthens her eyelashes with mascara, fills her lips with lipstick, combs through her hair with her fingers. Staring into her mirror, making sure she looked presentable, she made eye contact with his reflection. Little inscriptions glowing ‘ugly’, ‘worthless’, ‘gross’ quickly flash in the whites of eyes. She whips around in her chair, to see that the inscriptions disappeared. When she turned back to the mirror, all of the bumps and discoloration of her skin became more apparent, the flatness of her nose matched a pancake’s, and the difference in size of her eyes became like an apple to watermelon. Vigorously wiping off her makeup, she calls her friend. 

“Hey. I’m so sorry, but I don’t think I can make it today.” 

“What?? Are you sure? We’ve been planning this for a while!”

“I know, I know. It’s just that, I don’t feel too good. “

“Girl, we’ll let you off the hook this time! Bye.”

She placed the phone on her vanity, still shaken up by what she saw.

As she spent the majority of her time with him, his company became her only company. Eventually, her friends stopped reaching out, knowing she wouldn’t respond. To pass time, she would sit in her room, on the bed having a staring contest with him, hoping to see a glimpse of those words again. Those comically large eyes turned into void-like holes. Constantly being conscious of his impounding presence took energy away from her daily life. She would wake up late to her online classes.

“Thanks for joining us. What is the answer to question 5.” 

Scanning the screen, still groggy, she is confident in her answer. As she was about to answer her eyes met with his from across the room. ‘ Dumb’, ‘stupid’,‘wrong’ flashed across his eyes. Her eyes widened. 

“I-I don’t know.”

“You should. It was on the homework assignment. Somebody else?”

She peered over to him. It happened again. Thoroughly embarrassed by what happened and still recovering from those deprecating words, she trudged downstairs to her family. She instantly regrets her decision when she saw her family hovering around her report card. Her mother starts.

“You need to keep up with your work. Just because you’re a senior doesn’t exempt you from school.”

She pinched her nose bridge. 

“I know. I’m trying.” 

“If you know then get it together.” 

As she listened to the lecture, her peripherals caught a flash. 

‘See? You’re dumb. You’re stupid. You’re worthless’ 

Her eyes glaze. She quickly dismissed herself to her room. 

She ran up to her room, him walking after her. She threw herself on the bed, silently crying. Her eyes close, squeezing the tears back in. She looked up at the ceiling, calming herself with slow breaths. His face entered her view. 

His silent eyes scream, ‘Look at you cry. Pathetic.’

 “You. What are you?” she snapped.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                She sits up from her bed. Fully facing him. 

“Why are you even here? Constantly looking at me, taunting me. What else are good for? Can’t you see I’m trying? I’m trying!” 

Anger starts to turn to frustration.

“I’ve been trying! Why are you looking at me? Why are you always next to me? Can you let me breathe? I can’t do anything . Just leave! Get out! Get out, get out, GET OUT!”

Frustration turns to mania. 

Clutching her hair, tears flow down her face along with strangled screams. From him, not even a flinch. His large, blank eyes stare at her as she breaks down. Grabbing anything in her vicinity, lamps, books, pillows, blankets go flying in her room. As her energy depleted, the ignited anger turned to ember. Tear stains dry on her sleeping face as she wrapped herself in her own arms. The entire time, from the yelling directed towards him to her tearing up her room to her falling asleep on an empty bed, he watched her. Leaving the corner of her room, he picked up a fallen blanket. He stepped over the broken, flickering lamp, to the bed. Unfolding the blanket, he placed the blanket on top of her, making sure that the corners covered all of her body. He pats her gently, lulling her into a deeper sleep. His eyes close, one, large tear falling down his face. 

Ever since that day, she wasn’t the same. Her family could tell she wasn’t herself anymore. For her, everyday felt like a hundred mile feat with no breaks. The deprecating words that used to appear in his eyes became her own. She stopped talking to him, losing herself in the silence of her own conscience. 

It was the coldest day of the year. Light frost and cold air became the common forecast. It has been almost a year since ‘that’ day. 

Early in the morning, a soft knock on her door took her attention from the ceiling.

“Hey sweetie. It’s Christmas Eve! Your mother and I were thinking maybe we could go light seeing? What do you think?”

Her father was silently begged.

“Okay, let me get ready.”

Christmas used to be her favorite day of the year. The holiday vibes were enough to get her out of bed, but the feeling wasn’t the same since last Christmas. 

As she was about to get up, she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned to see him standing behind her with his arm forward, indicating he was the one that tapped her. This was the first time he did anything outside of trailing and staring. 

Eyes widened as she responded, “Yeah?” 

His arm slowly lifted, his body turning towards the door. It was almost like he was saying ‘follow me’. 

“Hey! Where are you going?” 

He made a b-line to the door. She quickly followed after him, still in her pajamas.

He abruptly stopped at the front of the door. His eyes went back and forth from her to the door knob. 

“Do you want to go out?” She asked.

His large head nodded slowly. She headed for the door, pulling it open. Her eyes brighten as she sees the fresh fall of a white wonderland on the street. She steps out, him right behind her. Her bare feet freeze on the snow. She crouches, putting her hand in the cold snow, feeling each flake melting on her hand, hearing the crunch underneath her pressure, she feels herself smile gently. She relishes the harsh feeling encompassing her hand. When was the last time it snowed? She sits up, throwing snow in the air, laughing as the clumps hit her face. She felt good. She felt happy. Quickly gathering a snowball, she turns to face him. Slowly, she lowers her ammunition, looking at the empty space behind her, only one set of footsteps leading from the front door to her feet. 

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