Community Stories. Get Inspired, Get Underlined


By @ameliapark

Chapter One: Leave Without Me Cause I Don't Wanna Go

“It’s not looking good.”

My eyes flickered over the vast, lush hills. Memories of frolicking in the flowery fields as a child surfaced, but they made my head throb in rhythm with my heartbeats. I turned away from my gorgeous hills to face my General, Ainsley. The wind was flipping strands of her long hair into her face. I lowered my eyes.

“I don’t know what else to do, General.” My throat was tight and dry. I knew that if i spoke anymore, tears would spring from my eyes.

General Ainsley moved slowly to my side, her armor reflected blue light as she brushed her hand against my arm. “The only thing we can do,” She said. She made me look at her. Her eyes were dark and serious. “Fight, Princess. Fight.”


“Leo, what is uuuuuup?!” Isaac bellowed while taking my hand and pulling me into the bro-half-hug-thing.

I forced myself to laugh and smile and answer with a quick, “not much, you?” but he had already made it halfway down the hall. I whipped my hands on my jeans and hoped Isaac didn’t feel how clammy they were.

“Why do you hang out with him?”

I spun to face the voice. It was the Sophomore who’s locker was next to mine. Baz, I think. She did theater last year. “What?”

“Why do you hang out with him? He obviously doesn’t care about you.” She threw a textbook forcefully into her locker, making a huge thunk. I noticed for the first time a drawing of two skulls lying in grass together, hands joined. Ominous.

I stared at her. “And you do?”

Baz rolled her eyes so hard that her eyeliner disappeared. “Forget it, sorry.” She slammed the thin metal door shut and walked away.

What a weirdo. I thought. Emo *****.


I don’t despise wearing armor. It’s lightweight, flexible, comfortable. Except for when I looked into the mirror, the holographic blue tint did nothing for my skin tone.

I was sure we had the technology to make it pink, but I knew we didn’t have the time. She was coming.

“Please, Princess,” General Ainsley begged, kneeling next to me. “There are enemy troops as near as the Risima Forrest. The castle has been evacuated, just like you asked. Now we need to get you out of here.”

I didn’t move. I didn’t even look up.

She looked at Captain Antonio for help.

“No. I’m not leaving without a fight, General.” Still, I did not reach her eyes.

Her emotions flashed rapidly, from shock, to anger, to something as close to fear as General Ainsley could get. “I don’t think you understand, Princess Eliza. Her troops will be here any second, and they will tear you apart for that pretty piece of gold on your head.”

I looked back into her eyes. They looked like warm pools of coffee, or pits so dark you didn’t want to know what secrets they contained. “I’d like to see them try,” I challenged.

She sighed. “Oh my gods. You’re so ******* dramatic, Liza. We’re gonna ******* die.”


34% See me after class


I leaned back into my hard-plastic chair. A 34. How was I going to pass when I was getting 34’s on chapter tests? I should’ve been studying this weekend, instead of getting stoned in Bryce’s basement. And I should’ve done the homework last night instead of Halle, but, like… Have you seen her ass?

Another thing to hide from my parents. The girls, the drugs, the drinking, the test scores, the weight of anxiety that swallowed me every night, the panic attacks behind the locker rooms, the tears of guilt and loneliness.

Oh god. I sound so gay.

I tried to leave without talking to the teacher, but he nearly yanked my arm after the bell rang. “Leo…” He started, as if this were difficult for him. “You’ve been struggling on your tests recently, not turning in homework and such, and I thought it would be beneficial for you to have a study partner, or group, even. Someone to keep you accountable and help you if you have questions outside of class.”

“Like, a tutor? Listen, I don’t have that kind of money-” I lied.

He interjected with a string of “No, no, no.”s. “It’ll be another student of my choice, no pay required. Someone who genuinely wants to help you.”

I hesitated. I’ve never met someone my age who genuinely wanted to help me. They always want something for themselves. Always. But if this nerd wanted to help me pass chem in exchange for them feeling good about themselves…


“Great! Meet them in the library during lunch.”


I could see them from the balcony now, the troops dressed in grey. Wherever they stepped, the green grass turned yellowy and died. I felt my blood boil as i watched them carefully draw lines over the hills i loved with their footprints, careful to avoid ambush or explosives. Of course, there weren’t either. We were alone in the castle.

“What’s the plan, General?” Captain Antonio asked, loading his weapons. He looked good in holographic blue armor.

Ainsley shrugged. “I was hoping Miss I’m-Not-Leaving-Without-A-Fight I’d-Like-To-See-Them-Try-To-Tear-Me-Apart would have a plan.” She looked at me expectantly. I gasped at the name-calling. “What? Is that not exactly what you said? Princess, we need to-”


I swore under my breath. “I won’t let her take everything from me,” I promised. “I’ve got the Piece, I’ll be fine. I can take them, but you two have to get out of here.”

Absolutely not.” Ainsley snapped. “I did not grow up next to you, get five years of training, and protect you for two just to leave you here.” She looked close to tears. I had never seen her so upset.

“General-” Captain Antonio started, but I stopped him.

“Okay.” I closed my eyes. “I’ll get us out of here.”


I considered not showing up, but I decided I could blame missing lunch at Kyler’s table on my Chem teacher. And, honestly, I really hated Kyler’s lunch table. Six to eight sexist high school boys gathered around pizza and fish sticks and talking about whoever they slept with last or who won what game or who’s a **** and who’s a *****… I just want to eat my pizza without hearing those idiots speak.

I showed up to a nearly empty library. There was one group of three and the librarian, who was very slowly and loudly moving books.

As I approached the group of three my stomach dropped. It was Baz, and she looked very smug.

I tried to act super upset and tough. It seemed to work on the boy next to Baz, but the girl holding her hand just smiled at me.

I probably stared for a second too long. Then i forgot to meet their eyes.

Lesbians, My brain deduced helpfully.

“Hi!” The lesbian said. “I’m Katie! This is Baz and Riley. Welcome to study group! You’re Leo, right?” I gave a single nod. Her hair was bleach blonde and so curly. It was like a glowing halo against her dark skin. How the **** did Baz get a girlfriend so popular? Baz isn’t anything special. She’s got kinda dull hazel eyes and straight, dark hair. She only ever wears black. But apparently that was enough to get a cheerleader girlfriend.

The Riley kid glanced at me and quickly looked back at his papers. It was like he was trying to avoid my eyes, hiding his face under his sleeve or just out of my line of sight.

I spent the rest of the lunch period trying to steal glances at his face.


My fingers felt their way up intricately carved gold and stopped on the smooth, cold surface of the Piece. A wave of something unknown rushed up my spine like a shiver. It was like shadows were transporting through my body, sunshine was exploding outwards, and my heart was outside of my chest. My eyesight went white and fuzzy, but I could feel what i wanted, and the Piece was going to give it to me.



I thought my curiosity would stop after i saw his face, but even after the lunch bell rang and I saw the curve of his nose and the moles on his cheeks, all i wanted to do was keep staring.

He got up and moved his books, and, like an idiot, I nearly followed him into his next period.

I spent all of Geometry thinking about him, and I didn’t even know him. I had never seen his smile or heard his laugh. But I saw the freckles on his neck, and the long eyelashes over blue-green eyes. I had heard his voice, quiet and smooth, ask for pencil lead.

What was going on with me? Why was I acting like this?

I needed to clear my head, skip my last class and drink something.

Baz was by her locker. I whipped my hands on my jeans before dialing the combination.

“Are you okay? You look paler than usual.” She asked.

“‘m fine..” I barely answered. I screwed up the combination.

“You sure? You’re starting to look a little green.” She actually sounded concerned.

“Good. I’m good.” I ****** up the combination. My head felt funny.

“Leo? Maybe you should sit-” I didn’t hear the rest of the sentence.


“Hello?” I called into the darkness. My voice echoed.

There was someone here, they were too far away. Just out of reach, but i could feel their presence.

“Hello?” A new voice responded. A face appeared. Sharp nose. Too many freckles. Brown eyes with dark circles. Dark curls. Strange face. Unique face. Familiar, although I had no recollection of meeting this boy before.

I must’ve been surprised. “Oh.” Was all I could say.

He looked back at me. “What the ****?” he asked softly.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“My name is Leo Strange… What’s going on? Who are you?” He looked around at the nothingness that surrounded us.

“Princess Elizabeth Grace, pleased to meet you. We appear to be in the dream realm together, although I haven’t the slightest idea why we’re sharing this dream. We must be connected.” I meant it as a joke, but then something clicked. “You must be the key! You must be the one who helps me stop Lady Shroud!”

He backed away, nervous. “Lady who-now?”

“Oh, Leo Strange! Where are you? I’ll come and fetch you and we can sort out that nasty Lady Shroud!”

“Please leave me alone. How do i get out of here? Let me out,” His hands began to shake. “Please, god, get me out of here.”

I frowned. “Leo?” And then he was gone.

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