Many of us stumble around in the small niches of the world. They are the ones weighed down by insecurities and self-doubt. They get by, hardly ever being the subject of any attention. No one appreciates them until they’re gone for good. Jo was one of those people.
Jo’s heart was still pounding and her breath came in ragged gasps breathing as the blue CRV rushed away. She had heard Emma arguing with her brother but she had dwelt back into her book to stop herself from being envious of Emma’s perfection. Jo felt fat, ugly and useless when she compared herself to Emma who was the complete opposite—thin, pretty and crushed on by every boy at school. She doubted Emma even knew who she was though they attended the same school and were in the same class.
With these thoughts in her head, Jo had walked across the road with her head still buried in her book—which is an incredibly stupid thing to do so don’t try it—and had nearly been the victim of a car accident. She was heading towards the park for a breath of fresh air when suddenly, a heavy blow was dealt to the back of her head and the world swam around her as she lost consciousness.
Jo was the fourth piece to the group of misfits Neola was fond of. Her parents had named her Jyoti because she was born in a time of despair and was the only light to offer any kind of consolation. But when Jo was ten, she felt the name was “too Indian” for her so she shortened it to Jo which, coincidentally, was the name of her favourite literary character of all time. Jo desperately craved to be true to the character—spunky, brave and independent.
Jo woke to the sound of a young boy’s cry for his mother which was seconded by another girl’s shrill voice. She opened her eyes to find herself lost in an eerie darkness. It wasn’t completely dark, she realised, as her eyes adjusted. There were a few random rays of light pouring into the enclosed space. She could make out some things but everything looked as it usually did: blurry and pixelated.
There was a rumbling sound and motion which she could feel against the back of her legs which made her feel more alert. As she came back into the world, the first thing she realised was that her book was missing. And it was a library book! Now she would have to pay that ridiculously high fine which more than covered the cost of buying a carbon copy of that book. That was how libraries worked. Well, at least her school library.
More and more children were crying out. A girl next to her, who Jo hadn’t noticed, sobbed loudly adding to the horrible clamour. Jo felt sympathetic towards the girl and tried to say some words of assurance but the girl just bawled harder. Jo was just starting to get a headache from all the noise when a voice rose above the terrible sounds. “Shh, it’ll be okay.”
Jo was tempted to say, “No, it isn’t!”, and perhaps add, “We have no idea where we are!”, but something told her that now was a good time to be quiet. At least for the sake of all the young ones. Plus, she felt herself follow the instructions as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Already, the sound dwindled to a silence and curiosity and hope were carried by it, as light as feathers. Though Jo’s wrists were bound up, she managed, after a lot of unflattering fidgeting, to get her glasses out of her pants’ pocket and slip them upside down onto her nose. She tracked the source of the voice and could faintly see a honey-colour haired boy. He looked a few years older than her. That gave her some reassurance. At least she wasn’t the oldest one here.
Somehow, seeing him gave her hope although she couldn’t understand why.