I am super excited (and nervous) about today’s post! Today, I will be sharing… an exclusive sneak peek of… Identity!
Yes, that’s right. All of you guys will get to read the first chapter of my novel, Identity, which will be published in February 2023. I will warn you, this chapter has not been thoroughly edited yet… but you will still get the gist of what the book will be like.
Please feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts! I’d love to hear what you all think of the first chapter of my first novel.
So now… Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Identity, Chapter 1!
Just like the turns of the tide, some things never change.
I knew that fact from the very moment I looked into his eyes, seeing something there that seemed dark and mysterious. At first I pushed it from my mind, ignoring it, but little did I know that ignorance would later cost me everything I had ever known, even my life.
Little did I know that this very person would later betray me…
Okay, hold on. Let’s back it up a little bit; back to the beginning of my story. Back to that one fateful day in Miami, Florida.
I was pushing my way through the busy hallways of Riverview High School, fighting back tears as I ran. Stop crying, Maria, I told myself. But it didn’t matter. The tears still came in a flood of emotion and pain. Sometimes I was able to keep them back, but not this time. It all hurt too much.
Natasha’s words rang through my head over and over. You’ll never be one of us. A simple sentence really. Nothing I wasn’t used to. And yet the words cut deeper than I wanted anyone to know. Because I knew they were true.
All the horrible memories came flooding back to my mind like echoes from the past. You’ll never be good enough, Maria. Stop trying to be anything more than you really are. You’re nothing.
I had managed to ignore those words and keep on living my life, until now. Now I realized all this was true. No one wanted me. Not my friends, not anyone else. I was alone.
Continuing to run through the overcrowded halls of the high school, I tried to make my way to the door. I could still hear Natasha’s jeering laugh as I asked if I could hang out with her, and the way her friends – my friends – laughed right along with her. I knew I should ignore it all, but I couldn’t. Not anymore.
My thoughts were suddenly interrupted as I was knocked over by someone going against the flow of the crowd. With a confused shriek, I found myself sprawled on the tile floor.
“Are you okay? I am so sorry!” A voice said. I looked up. A boy of about my age was standing above me, his shaggy brown hair falling into his eyes and his tall stature shadowing over me as I lay on the ground.
I wiped my tear-stained eyes with my shirtsleeve and allowed the boy to offer his hand and help me to my feet. “I’m fine,” I said croakily, my emotions showing more than I wanted them to.
“I’m really sorry,” said the boy. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
I swept my long brown hair over my eyes to cover up the tears that rested there, and I resolved not to look directly at the boy so he couldn’t see my unkempt emotional state.
The boy, however, looked concerned for me. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
At that instant, I knew what was happening. This boy was pitying me. Just like everyone else. I couldn’t stand it.
I turned away from him. “I have to go,” I said, anger rising up my throat. I turned on my heel and stalked away.
“Wait,” he said, suddenly grabbing my wrist as I turned to leave. “Can I at least get your name?”
I stopped, hesitating. “I’m Maria. And I have to leave now, so please let go of me.”
The boy seemed to reluctantly let go of my wrist, but as I looked back at him, a strange smile played at his mouth, almost as if he had just accomplished a victory. That short smile seemed out of place for this kind of situation. Something was up with this guy. But I couldn’t figure it out right now. I didn’t have the time.
“I’m Alex, by the way,” he said.
“I have to go… uh, meet my mom,” I lied, half-running, half-walking away. I didn’t care to look back.
. . .
As I walked down the sidewalk toward the orphanage, I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. I shouldn’t pay any mind to Natasha. She was just a dumb bully with nothing better to do than pick on other kids. But her opinions of me still hurt.
Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad if she wasn’t the most popular girl in Riverview High. Since all the other girls (and boys) were in love with Natasha, her opinions automatically became their opinions too. If Natasha disliked someone, everyone disliked that person. That meant me.
If she didn’t have that much influence, maybe her insults wouldn’t be as hurtful to me. But since it was Natasha bullying me, everyone else bullied me too.
Plus, she was popular, and she had to have become popular for a reason. Natasha wasn’t just any dumb kid. She had brains. And when she picked on a worthless orphan like me… it meant something.
Suddenly, my smartphone dinged, interrupting my thoughts. It’s probably Isaac, I thought as I pulled my phone from my pocket. He texted me like every second of the day. But I didn’t really mind. After all, we were best friends.
I opened my messages and saw that I was right; the text was from Isaac.
Happy BDay!!! The message said, and I gave a faint smile. Isaac was the only person who ever remembered my birthday.
Then a follow-up message popped up: Sry we didn’t hang out today! Meet me later 2day or 2morrow @ the beach?
Isaac and I hung out a lot, normally going to the beach or going to Isaac’s house to watch TV since the orphanage where I lived didn’t have one. However, at this moment, hanging with Isaac didn’t sound all that appealing. I had a lot of chores to do and homework to catch up on, and right now I felt super tired.
Although, he had said we could go tomorrow instead. I would probably have enough time to finish my homework before then. Maybe I should call Isaac. Then I could relate with him the events of today. Maybe he would be able to calm my crazy emotions.
But should I? I thought to myself. Maybe I should just go and be alone…
But, I concluded, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to Isaac. You know he’s your friend. I decidedly hit the call button on my phone and held the phone to my ear as it rang, dialing Isaac’s number. Within a few seconds, he answered.
“Hi Maria,” Isaac said, not too enthusiastically. Although, that’s kind of how he always was.
“Hey Isaac,” I said, still walking.
“What’s up?” Isaac said. Suddenly, I didn’t want to tell him the events of today. What would he say? Would he just laugh at me?
But there was no backing down now. I had already called him.
“Uh, nothing much,” I said.
“Are you okay?” Isaac said. “You sound kind of dismal today.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” I said, trying harder to convince myself than I was trying to convince Isaac.
There was a short pause, and then, “It was Natasha again, wasn’t it.” He said it as a fact, not a question.
I sighed. “Yeah.”
“Maria, you gotta ignore what she says. It won’t do you any good in life to hang onto that kind of stuff, even if it’s true.”
There was silence as he waited for a response. I didn’t give one.
Even if it’s true? Isaac’s words hit me hard, like a punch to the stomach. I stopped in my tracks. Surely Isaac didn’t mean that. Did he?
My thoughts ran back to the earlier events of today. All I had asked was if I could sit with the other girls at lunch today. I wasn’t trying to intrude or be mean.
Apparently, this hadn’t meant anything to Natasha. “Aw, Maria,” she had said in her sweet-not-sweet way. “You wanna be one of us now, do you? What changed? Have you gotten any better than you were before?”
All the other girls had laughed. “Uh, before when?” I had asked stupidly. That only made the other girls laugh even more.
“Oh, Maria,” Natasha said, boredly picking at her long nails as a crafty smile tugged at her lips.
“You’ll never be one of us. Stop trying to be anything more than you really are. You’re nothing, you know that?”
Laughing and giggling the girls had walked away, leaving me to my utter shock, dismay, and hurt feelings.
“Maria? Are you still there?” Isaac said over the phone, interrupting my thoughts.
“Uh, yeah, yeah, I’m still here.” Tears burned at the edges of my eyes, but this time I didn’t try to push them back.
“Oh, come on, Maria. You’ve got to distract yourself from Natasha. Why don’t you come to the beach with me later? It will help you get your mind off of all this.”
Suddenly, I realized how unsympathetic Isaac could be. Was he really just trying to change the subject? I swallowed down a sob as I replied, “I have to go now, Isaac,” and hung up, shoving my phone into the depths of my pocket.
I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. I truly was nothing. Even Isaac had said so. I didn’t have a purpose, and no one cared about me.
I continued to walk despite my emotional state. Maybe Isaac was right. Maybe I just needed to distract myself. But I couldn’t help but feel like what they were saying was true. I would never be anything more. I would never fit in.
I thought of how that boy–Alex–had responded earlier when I ran into him. “Are you okay?” he had said. Now I wished I hadn’t been that short with him. Although the boy seemed to pity me, it kind of felt good to be cared for. He wasn’t too inquiring, and he wasn’t too inconsiderate. He didn’t care to find out what had happened, and he didn’t want to distract me from it, he had just been there to comfort me. Sometimes I wished Isaac could be that way.
I sighed and continued walking home to the orphanage, wiping the tears from my cheeks. If I only had parents, even adoptive ones… maybe then I would have someone to encourage me. Maybe then I would have someone to call mother. Or father.
I knew nearly nothing about my past, except that my parents had given me up when I was still a newborn baby. I had tried to gather information from Ms. Grimm, the person in charge of the orphanage. Still, she said that she knew nothing else about my family and that my father had given very few details when he handed me over to the orphanage.
Were my parents still alive? Sometimes I wondered. But even if they were alive, I wasn’t sure if I would want to see them. They were the ones who had given me up – me, just a newborn. It hurt to think about it, but it was a fact. My parents didn’t want me. Just about no one did. I was sixteen now, and no one had adopted me yet. Even when I was a baby, no one had paid much attention to me. I had just never been noticed by any of the people looking to adopt a child from the crowded orphanage. My hope of finding a family was all but gone by now. I had pretty much given up.
But I still had Isaac. Isaac had been my best friend for nine whole years. He was, and always had been there for me when I needed him. Well, mostly. Today was… an exception.
I remembered the day I had met Isaac. It was my first day of school, and I was in the first grade. I had naively thought of school as something great and awesome, but I soon found out that I had the wrong idea.
After hours of classes, a lonely lunch break and recess, and frightful bullying, I sat on a bench outside the classroom, crying pitifully. I sat on that bench until after all the other students had left school. I wasn’t afraid of missing the bus, because I knew I could walk home.
Then, a little blond-haired boy walked out of the school doors. As he walked out of the classroom, he saw me crying, and came and sat next to me on the bench. At first, I was afraid of him, but then he said, “Are you okay?” Being only seven, I didn’t understand why this boy was this kind to me. No one had ever been kind to me in my short life besides my nurse at the orphanage. I just sat and stared at Isaac like he was crazy.
“I-I’m fine,” I said, wiping away my tears.
“My name is Isaac,” he said. “What’s your name?”
“That’s a nice name.”
After that, Isaac and I did everything together. We quickly became best friends. Isaac was similar to me; his mother died when he was young, and he lived with his father alone. He could understand me in a way no one else could. He understood my hurt and sorrows. He understood my desperate need for friendship. And he understood my loss.
Lately, things between Isaac and I had been changing. We were both older now; I had just turned sixteen today, and he was fifteen, with his birthday coming up in a few days. He had been showing more affection for me lately. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to show the same affection to him, but I still enjoyed his friendship. I didn’t think Isaac was seriously considering me as a girlfriend or anything. We were just friends, as we had been for almost our whole lives.
But it turned out that friendship could be more delicate as you get older. I’d learned that with Isaac. It almost seemed like we had been growing apart the last few months. I tried not to think like that. Isaac and I had been friends for like forever. Nothing would change that. Right?