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Chapter Eleven

"There is none to guide her... neither is there any that taketh her by the hand."
~ Isaiah 51:18 ~

Because of her exceptional grade point average, Fayetteville High decided that Charlotte should skip the tenth grade. She was bumped to the eleventh, among juniors who were only one year older than herself, but acted as if the age gap somehow denoted their superiority over someone who was "only fifteen." When Sherri, Charlotte's sixteen year old cousin, found out that her uninvited and certainly most unwelcome roommate was going to be attending the same classes as herself, threw a temper tantrum to end all tantrums. Her "stupid excuse for a cousin" was going to embarrass her in front of all her friends! How could she ever show her face in school again? Mark Goodman, Sherri's father, assured her that she could... and would, (if she ever wanted a car of her own). This was just one more reason that added to Charlotte's "I don't belong" mentality. Charlotte was spending more and more time alone, growing up in a kind of free-fall; directionless, confused, and always scared. Lately, her fear never seemed to end-- it was ever constant, and steadily becoming worse.

Charlotte Overholt was considered to be a pretty girl... not beautiful, not ugly, just pretty. Her long, wavy brown hair hung loose about her shoulders; when startled, her brown eyes looked like a frightened deer, who might suddenly dash off into the forest and hide, (if only she could find the trees).

It was just another ordinary day in school, when Charlotte was approached by a redheaded boy in between classes. Darren Hayes was a straight A junior who wore his contempt for everything and everybody but himself, on his sleeve for everyone to see. He didn't care for the "IN" crowd at school, preferring to create his own clique of teenagers who were worthy enough to be considered his friends. True, the membership list was almost nonexistent, but Darren attributed it to the fact that most kids were too intimidated by his intellect to approach him. In short, he was about the most unpopular kid in high school. Charlotte smiled and accepted his offer of a date for next Friday. Charlotte was so low, she had reached up and touched bottom.

"This pathetic building, Principal Jaffy has the nerve to call a high school, is just teeming with stupidity," remarked Darren, walking beside Charlotte to their next class. "Great," he muttered, pointing to a room filled with noisy teenagers. They were laughing, talking, and totally oblivious of the teacher at the head of the room who desperately looked as if she wished to be somewhere else. "This is what happens when a class is required," grumbled Darren. "Another hour of grueling boredom. It'll be a miracle if I actually learn anything with this mindless yammering in my ears!"

When Charlotte got out from school, she went straight home, knowing full well that no one would be home this early, except Mrs. Janice McEntire, Charlotte's grandmother, who stayed in her easy chair in the living room most of the time.

"Charlotte, is that you?" called Janice, leaning forward in her easy chair, to see who's reflection shown in a mirror by the door. Janice was mostly deaf, so she relied on reflections and intuition to make up for her deficit. Charlotte hung her head. She had hoped to come in unnoticed.

"Yes, Grandma, it's me," replied Charlotte, dragging her feet into the living room.

continued on next page...
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