Story and Screenshots by Shannon Simsfan
“What in the world am I doing here?”
Esli stared into the campfire, thinking if he concentrated hard enough, maybe he would teleport himself to his bedroom, or turn invisible, or be abducted on the spot. If only he hadn’t been dazzled by Jane’s friendliness, her charm…
He had mistimed arrival at the school bus stop by a minute. A single minute was apparently, in this case, a critical unit of time. Jane had given him that smile, and he couldn’t resist breaking his promise to himself not to talk to popular kids. And now he had been duped into going into the wilderness with a whole group of them. Jane was so comfortable in her own skin, and put everyone around her at ease, too. The big mystery was, why in the world did Jane go out of her way to befriend him?
The popular kids. They were a different species. They had a different language. How was he supposed to know what they were talking about, what was funny when they laughed? Much less, how was he supposed to know what to say to sound normal, less freakish? So instead of talking, which was risky, Esli let himself get lost in his own thoughts.
If only he was normal, or had ever been normal. His real mother had given him up, sent him to live here, where he knew he wasn’t really wanted, didn’t really fit in.
Sure, the doctors were able to help him look “normal” on the outside, but that didn’t change how he felt on the inside. How would he ever feel normal when he wasn’t even from this planet?
The preschool teacher asked for a conference with Esli’s mother, saying that she would like to see him initiate play with other kids, not hang back so much. In grade school, he poured himself into learning, to escape social interaction. It was too painful to be different and he felt inferior. Now, as a teen, how was he supposed to figure out who he was, or how he could be part of society?
“Earth to Esli!” Jim said, waving his hand in front of Esli’s face. “We’re playing truth or dare. It’s your turn, dude.”
Esli excused himself to go get a drink from the cooler. Taking a deep breath, he decided to just stay there, in the dark, away from the group. He felt safer there, away from the chatter and the easy camaraderie of the others. He was starting to embrace the identity of being a loner, to enjoy being that guy who seems mysterious and cool. He wondered how long it would be before they’d start pressuring him to come back to the fire.
If only they were like he was. Then he wouldn’t be alone. If only they were aliens.
Jim stopped chatting and looked up from the campfire, peering into the dark. He strained to see if Esli was within earshot.
“If only he was an alien, too,” Jim said to the others, shaking his head.
For the contest, stories were required to be between 500 and 800 words, with a teen theme, and exactly two original, unaltered screen shots from a Sims game.
For the contest, we were only allowed two screenshots. The final two screenshots were added for this blog edition of the story.