prologue

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you get into the actual story next chapter so here's the prologue let me know if i should bother writing more

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2003

Camila hates school.

Admittedly, she's only just started, but she's determined that it sucks. The kids in her class are mean and ignore her, and even though she's been there for a whole two weeks, it feels like a lifetime. Her mami had promised her that she'd make friends, but she hasn't, and when she tries, the other kids in her class just laugh at her and call her weird. They've all already grouped off, last year in kindergarten, and they don't want any outsiders.

Still, she'd mostly been left alone, but yesterday a mean boy had cornered her in the playground and told her that her accent was ugly. It had made her cry, and when her papi had picked her up last night, she got upset in the back of the car, and sobbed, asking if he could teach her some more English. They've just emigrated from Cuba, and Camila had grown up only needing Spanish, and her English is broken and ugly and she hates it.

She wonders if that's why she doesn't have any friends yet. She wonders if it's because she's different, because she can't speak English as well as they can yet, and she feels so stupid for it.

When she arrived home, she told her mami not to wake her up for school in the morning, because she's not going back, but Sinu had woken her up anyway, and Camila had spent the drive to school sulking. She's still sulking as she sits during roll call, wishing she wasn't here. Stupid school.

She hates recess most of all. That's when there's only the one teacher out on the playground, and all of the bigger kids are there, and it's easier for people to be mean. You're supposed to spend recess with your friends, so it's most people's favourite part of the day, but Camila hates it, because she doesn't have friends.

They're not allowed to stay in the classroom, because it's supposedly important to spend time outside and get fresh air, so Camila heads to the farthest end of the playground and sits down, watching her peers and pouting, because even if she tried, they wouldn't let her join in with their games.

"Hi, ugly girl," the boy from yesterday shoves her over as Camila scrambles to get up and run away, "go back to your own country."

She cries as she falls back, scraping her hand on the hard blacktop. She looks up at the boy fearfully. "No."

"Nobody likes you!" The boy says, glaring down at her. "Nobody wants to be friends with you, so you should just go away and-"

"Hey!" A girl she doesn't recognise pushes herself between Camila and the boy, and shoves him back. "Leave her alone!"

The boy shoves the girl back, and she stumbles a little, but stands upright, puffing out her chest and making herself seem bigger than she actually is. "I'm just telling her the truth, that she's weird and nobody likes her."

"No, nobody likes you, because you're mean." The girl argues with him. "Now go away before I tell a teacher."

At the threat, the boy scrams, and the other girl smiles in satisfaction, before whirling around on Camila, who cowers back slightly. This girl might've saved her, but what if she just wanted to make fun of her, too?

"Hi," the girl drops to sit in front of her and sends her a shy smile, and Camila frowns in confusion. "I'm Lauren. Do you want a cookie?"

Camila frowns as the girl produces a cookie from a little plastic baggie she'd hidden in her pocket. Warily, Camila reaches out and takes it. "Gracias."

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