The Newly Discovered Fear
Utsha, Age 12, San Pablo, CA

I didn’t know until that moment that Charlotte was so afraid of spiders. It started out like any other ordinary day. My annoying alarm went off, the sound making me cringe as I grudgingly got out of my bed. I slipped on my fuzzy penguin slippers, my feet instantly surrounded by warmth. I trudged towards my window to open my velvet-like purple curtains that had white flowers delicately stitched on to them. The bright sunlight poured into my room, blinding me for a second. I sighed in disappointment when I realized that today was Wednesday, tutoring day. I would have to go for tutoring at Mr. Wren’s after school. A chill ran up my spine at that mere thought. Mr. Wren wasn’t what you would describe as good-looking or even decent looking for that matter. He was in his mid-60s and was already completely bald. He had stormy grey eyes that seemed to hold anger all the time and his two thin arched eyebrows that resembled a cat’s crooked whiskers met in the middle of his forehead creating a unibrow. His jagged black and yellow teeth were cringe-worthy as was his enormous slightly up-turned nose. He would run his hand over his non-existent hair when he was annoyed or frustrated and his nose would flare when he was angry, reminding me of a bull’s nose when it saw red. Nevertheless, he was a good tutor, despite his intimidating appearance. With tutoring in mind, I made a mental note to take an extra snack for after school. I decided to take a long cold shower to fully awaken myself.

After I finished taking a shower, I brushed my teeth, and wrapped my shivering body in a towel. I quickly walked to my room to pick out an outfit. I hurriedly skimmed through my closet and decided on black skinny jeans, a white collared shirt, and a navy blue sweater with white hearts randomly sewn in different places. I slipped on my undergarments and the outfit. I put my naturally dried hair up in a bun, leaving out a few strands to make it look messier. I glanced up at my dusty full length mirror and analyzed my reflection. My white collar was peeking out of the sweater and my black skinny jeans clung tightly to by body like a second skin. I had misty blue eyes, hazelnut hair, and a slightly crooked nose from countless childhood accidents. Satisfied with my reflection, I snatched my black backpack from the foot of my bed and jogged downstairs to the kitchen.

Perched on the island counter sat my brother, Damon, eating blueberry pancakes that my mother had made before both my parents left for work.

“Morning,” I chirped happily.

“Mawning, Leila,” Damon tried replying with his mouth full.

I grabbed a plate of my own and sat next to Damon, silently eating. Once we finished, I grabbed a granola bar for after school, we put the dirty plates in the dishwasher, slipped on our shoes, and stepped out into the cool October morning. Signs of fall were obvious in the empty streets on Greenwood. Trees were barren of leaves and the occasional crunch of a leaf being stepped on echoed through the empty streets.

Soon after, we were in front of Damon’s kindergarten classroom. I kissed him goodbye on his forehead and watched him disappear behind the door. I began walking to my high school that was conveniently next door to Damon’s school.

I pushed through the crowded hallways of my high school trying to get to my locker.
“Leila!”

I stopped mid-step and spun around to face my best (and only) friend, Charlotte, or Char for short. She had black raven hair and haunting pitch black eyes that left everyone mesmerized. She wasn’t afraid of anything or so I thought. We were polar opposites which made me question how we were even friends in the first place.

“I finally caught up to you. I thought you’d be swallowed up by the huge crowd! Why are there so many people anyways?” she questioned wearily trying to catch her breath.

“They put up the list that has the names of the people who need tutoring,” I reminded her.

“Oh yeah, it completely slipped my mind. I need to go check if my name is on that list! I’ll see you after school. Bye!”

But before I could reply, she had already disappeared into the sea of students. I sighed and continued my way to my locker, pushing through the crowd.

Once I got to my faded red locker, I opened it, and pulled out my history textbook and notebook for first period. The loud shrill of the bell sounded, warning the students to get to class. I quickly made my way through the now less crowded hallways to history, my easiest class. I walked in through the door and took a seat in the far back. The history teacher came in and began to lecture us about World War II. I ignored the teacher’s monotonous voice and doodled in my notebook.

School passed by in a blur and as soon as I knew it, I was heading out the school’s door. I made my way to the front of the school to meet up with Charlotte.
“Hi, Char.”

“Oh, hey, Leila.”

“What’s up?” I questioned.

“The sky,” she retorted sarcastically.

“Haha, very funny,” I replied just as sarcastically.

“Anyways, my name was on the list for tutoring, and it turns out that I’m assigned to your tutor, Mr. Hen.”

“You mean Mr. Wren?” I asked confused.

“Yeah, him. Anyways, can I walk with you to Mr. Wren's?”

“Of course,” I replied.

Before we walked to Mr. Wren’s, I picked up Damon and dropped him off at the daycare. Only then did we start our walk to Mr. Wren’s. We had to walk through the busy part of Greenwood where there were many businesses and factories. The streets bustled with businessmen and shoppers. The smell of fresh brewing coffee from a near-by café drifted through the air, mixed with the smell of gasoline.

When we arrived at Mr. Wren’s old creaky house with lopsided steps and misplaced bricks jutting out of the wall, a sudden cold breeze caused the old rusty door to slowly creak open. Charlotte and I glared at each other as if we were mentally arguing over who would go in first. The glaring went on for two more minutes until we both dropped our glaring before stepping inside, gulping in fear.

“Mr. Wren!” we both called out simultaneously.

-Silence-

We walked up the termite eaten steps and found ourselves in what seemed to be an attic. It was beginning to get dark and we couldn’t see a light switch because of the poor amount of sunlight we were receiving from a small dusty window across the attic. We kept walking, feeling our way through the darkness and searching for a light switch. Charlotte suddenly hit her head on something.

“Ow!” she exclaimed.

“I think I found a light switch,” I said relieved and turned it on.

Our eyes took a while to adjust to the new found light, but when they did, I heard an ear-shattering scream come from behind me. I whipped around and realized that Charlotte had bumped into a fake mechanical spider. However, she faced the front of the spider where no wires were visible, making her think the spider was real, but I knew otherwise since I was facing the side where the wires were visible. She ran away screaming while I was on the ground laughing. We’ve never spoken about that day, but I now know her fear, spiders, although she’d never admit it.

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