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Title: Breaking My Chains By: Duaa Ali

Chapter 1 “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”. The farther we drove away,the more I thought about it, and the more tears rolled down my face; the feeling was uncontrollable. I woke up to screaming from the child sitting next to me. “Thanks”, I thought sarcastically. Or maybe it wasn’t a thought, because the woman to my right soon looked at me and gave me a confused face, probably thinking that I was talking to myself, though it was actually a hint for her to try and quiet down her baby. I looked down at my phone and read the time at the top. “3:31”. We still had about an hour left until we landed. Normally I would’ve just shut my phone, but this time was different. I stared at my lock screen and the feelings started to come back to me. The picture was taken at my sweet 16. My friends and I had all posed outside the hall at the end of the night, some of us blowing kisses, while others made silly faces. I wanted to close my phone to hold back the tears, but I just couldn’t. It had all happened so quick. One day we were all hanging out at each other’s houses, gossiping,going out, and the next thing I knew *poof* I was on an airplane heading over 3,000 miles away from sunny California. I looked around and observed the other passengers on the plane. Where they all on a plane visiting friends, were they tourists, had they visited the east coast before, or were they all new comers like me? Or maybe they weren’t like me. Maybe they didn’t have to leave everything they had behind and start over in a new place. Who knows. It was obvious that there was no need for an announcement for us to know that the plane was landing. Everyone was trying to hold their ears and chew gum to avoid the irritating ear popping while landing, but it couldn’t be avoided. When the plane finally came to a full stop, it almost felt as if my whole life had started over. Everything seemed normal,except maybe the scent from outside. “Ahh, New Jersey” Mom almost chuckled as she smelled the air. All I could do was

stare and force back a smile. “Easy for her to say” I thought.”She grew up in the land of high taxes,endless highways,and Italian food.” I had visited the state a few times to visit my mom’s side of the family during summer vacations and Christmas breaks, so I felt that I knew enough about the state draw conclusions. Of course I knew other things, like that New Jersey has the highest population density in the country and that it was close by to the city that I’ve always dreamed of living in: New York City, but the facts seem hard for others to believe for a state with New Jersey’s reputation. Getting out of the airport couldn’t seem to get any longer. As soon as we got off the plane, we already found ourselves standing in a line that would probably take a couple of hours, and that was without being patted down several times each by security and making our way past customs to get our luggage, but that was okay with me. After all, at least there was wifi. I had so many “we’ll miss you” and “did you land yet” texsts to reply to, and my college essays couldn’t wait either. Back home, or shall I say, my “old home”, I had been at the top of my class; straight A’s, 4.0 GPA, participated in a lot of clubs, and I was a 4 year varsity starter for the soccer team. Everything seemed almost perfect. Almost. That “almost” probably wouldn’t be there if I wasn’t here right now,in the middle of an air bridge trying to magically solve all my problems. Chapter 2 It didn't take an alarm clock to wake me up the next morning, the sounds of lawn mowers and leaf blowers almost completely blocked all the other noises, except my mom's. Before I could even get out of bed, I could hear her mom screaming my name. "Rachel, get up, your first day of school starts an hour!" Normally I'd get up, but this time I sat there and moaned as I examined my new room. Only there was nothing much to examine except my bed, a large mirror, and boxes stacked upon boxes all over the place. I didn't want to go to school, I didn't want to be here. It was a reality I just didn't want to live in New Jersey. I finally forced myself to put my legs down, and the cold hardwood floor made me shiver just a bit. I guess you could say it was a tingly feeling; that tingly feeling you get with something new. I walked up the mirror to examine myself. The first thing I noticed? Well, the mirror wasn't the

same one I had back home. That mirror had pictures on the sides, and quotes pasted in the corners. It held memories. This mirror was just so plain. All it had was pink lining, and it was too narrow. It represented my new life. Who knows, maybe I'd have more memories to fill it with. "Don't compare yourself to people because they could be comparing themselves to you" had been posted so many time on my old mirror. As I examined the figure in the mirror, I repeated it to myself. "Wrong height, bad nose, and a few pimples here and there", I thought, but it was who I was, it defined me. It was pouring at the bus stop, and though some hate rain, it was my favorite type of weather. It was somewhat chilly for October, or at least, that's what I thought. Everyone else was standing around in t-shirts holding their umbrellas but not one person seemed to complaining about the weather. "Too used to the California sunshine", I thought as I began to take off my coat."Try and make some friends, that'll be so easy for you, everyone will like you, blah blah blah blah". The truth was, I didn't really like change. Actually, I hated change. I didn't see a point in it. Why? Why have to get so used to something only to have to leave it all behind later? And then I remembered what my mom always told me,that,"There's always a reason for everything, and whether we like it or not, it could benefit us in the best of ways later on." Chapter 3 School seemed like it would never end, and I know a lot of people say that, but this time, I really meant it. Each class was the same, "Welcome class, we have a new student in our classroom, Rachel. She just moved here from California and we should all try our best and make her feel welcomed here." Ugh, and her tone just made it all seem worse. I felt like I was in kindergarten and the teacher had just interrupted circle time, and 17 heads were all looking at me anxiously waiting for me to take a seat so they could move on with their day.But this wasn't circle time in kindergarten, this was AP Language Comp, and no one seemed to be really interested in anything the teacher had to say. I took a seat in the front of the class, and what was the first thing someone said to me? "Hey do you have a pencil I can borrow." I sighed a bit but managed to pull out a classic yellow number 2 pencil from my bag. No way was he getting any of my lead ones. I didn't even know him and now he wanted to ask me to borrow my belongings? He was lucky I was even lending him a pencil. "I'm Matt by the way". I smiled because of course I had no idea what to say. The teacher had already introduced me. It's not he even cared about what I

had to say, he just needed to borrow, I mean keep, a pencil, because who gives pencil back anyway. I had to admit though, he was cute. Lunch was always my least favorite part of my first days. You sit alone until you find someone you know. It was even worse when you didn't know anyone, which was unfortunately, my exact situation. I was even lucky to find a free table to sit at. It was in the perfect spot,too; the far corner of the cafeteria. Sure is was a lot louder, but I didn't want to ask someone to sit next to them, that was way too awkward. I guess everyone else around me felt the same way,too. There were at least 5 tables, each with only about 1 if not two people sitting at either end. Maybe they felt lonely, but I liked it a lot better. I guess I spoke too soon because just as I was unwrapping my tuna sub, a girl walked to my side of the table. She was taller than most people I knew and wore more dark colors than I even owned. She was about to put her lunch tray down when she looked at me and asked,"Hey, do you mind if I sit here?". A part of me wanted to say no, but for some reason, I kind of wanted her to sit next to me. She seemed to bring a welcoming vibe with her that urged me to say,"Sure, take a seat." We chatted for awhile and I felt a bit better about talking to people and making new friends. It all felt so familiar and I felt as if I had known her for so long. Soon, lunch came to an end, and before I could get up and head to my next class, I looked at her and asked,"Hey, I never got your name." She turned back and said,"Emily. It was nice meeting you,Rachel." Wait, how did she know my name? I know I didn't tell her, and she never asked. Had she seen my necklace with my name engraved to it? Was the name tag on my binder big enough for her too read from the other end of the table? "Whatever," I finally said to myself. At least I had made a friend."It's just a name."

Chapter 4 It's pretty well known that people are a lot less happy on their second day of school then they are on the their first, and I could prove that one true pretty easily but hey, at least I had made a friend. It turned out that Emily was in all of my classes except Gym, Art, and Government, which I didn't mind because I really enjoyed all 3 of those classes. Still, I didn't really understand how I hadn't noticed her in any of my classes. Then again, I was too busy moping to notice anyone.

In Physics, she plopped into the seat right next to me. She was the type of person who would constantly be talking in class, but somehow, the teacher didn't notice. It was so distracting, but what was I supposed to do? There weren't any other seats I could just sit in. Plus, it would be really rude of me to just leave her like that. I guess I just had to deal with it. It was only 1 class after all, so how long could it be?

I ended up joining quite a few clubs-Key Club,Student Council, and Robotics. I also decided to join the soccer team. I was pretty good compared to everyone else on the team. I know that sounds cocky, but it was true. The other girls clearly didn't train much except at school and their passing skills were horrific. "How did they even make the team?" I thought. They were so surprised at how I played, and I admit, I enjoyed the praise, but it still didn't feel the same. I still missed playing soccer on the beach with my friends and having people cheer my name in the stands. The memories started to come back and I tried my best to hold back tears. I mean, how long had it been? 3 months? “Stop being such a baby”, I thought. But of course that never helps. I started to feel chills, and I could feel the tears coming. I tried not to cry, I really did. It’s just that I couldn’t handle it. “Change is good”, they said. What a lie. What a big fat lie. I took a seat on the bench and began to cry. All of a sudden,I heard my name.”Hey,Rachel.” I turned around to see Emily walking in my direction. “Oh hey”, I replied as I wiped away the tears. She took a seat next to me. I knew she could tell that I was crying, but she didn’t say anything. “You’re such a cry baby”, she finally said. “What,”I looked up and said. “You heard. But-it’s ok, I’m here for you.” Was this girl out of her mind? Did I have to remind her that we just met yesterday? And that I barely knew her? I wanted to just yell at her, but somehow...she made me feel comfortable. In a way, it felt like she understood me.

Chapter 5

Emily was becoming more and more controlling of me. It felt like she was making all my decisions and holding me back things. But for some reason, I didn’t seem to mind anymore. I was happy that i had finally made friends at school. Turns out the kid, Matt, from my English class was a pretty cool guy. He invited me to hang out with him and a few other people at the football game Friday. It seemed like fun and I really wanted to get to know his group of friends, but I told Emily about it, and for some reason, it upseted her. “Wouldn’t you rather stay home and sleep?”, she said. To be honest, she was right. But why did she care so much? It was my life wasn’t it? MINE. We sat together at lunch and it went the same way as it usually did since we became close. Plot twist, we didn’t actually have lunch though. Or at least, I didn’t. Just as I was unwrapping my sandwich, which by the time it was lunch, looked and smelled like anything but an actual sandwich. Either way, I was starving. “Ummmm, are you really going to eat that?” I looked up at her with a disturbed face. I mean, ya, it looked like a pile of garbage being stuffed into my mouth, but still. “Ya”, I said as I took a huge bite. “Oh, well, have fun getting fat. “I nearly choked. “Where did that even come from”, I thought, but all I could was stare at her. What was going on with her? I really couldn’t take it any longer. I ran to the bathroom, and sure enough, she followed me theire. “What’s wrong with you?!”, I finally turned around and said to her. “The real question is, what’s wrong with you. You brought me here.” At first, I really had no idea what she was saying. But I thought about it for a while. I did bring her into my life. Ever since I left my friends and almost my whole life behind, I had been upset. I refused to accept change. I did this to myself, but I could still turn things around. “I hate you,” I told her. “I HATE YOU, I haven’t been able to enjoy a single day of my life here with you. I don’t need you anymore, and I never did.” It felt good to let that out. “Fine”, were her last words, and *poof*, she was gone. I had broken the chains and fought my battle. It felt good, and I felt proud of myself.

Author Bio Duaa Ali was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey but currently resides in Edison,New Jersey with her parents and 4 siblings. She is 15 years old and is a sophomore at Edison High School. She enjoys watching and playing sports, reading, shopping, and makeup and says she would like to grow up and work in government or law.

Breaking My Chains  

by Duaa Ali

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