“The Shirt” by Jay Jaworski

Jay Jaworski

Last night I was on the internet, and I saw these teenagers with colorful spiky hair. They wore rubber bracelets that were covered in band names and graphic tees that if you looked at them for too long, I swear your eyes would probably melt. They had piercings and skinny jeans too. I honestly had no idea that I could be so intimidated by people in pictures. But something about their style was so intriguing to me. It was so bright, and yet so edgy and weird. I figured that I had to go through a phase at some point, but I had no idea what it was going to be until that moment.

My mom took me to a store called Hot Topic and bought me the necessary clothes to fit the scene look. A specific shirt stood out to me in the store. It was a black-based tee with the words Blood on the Dance Floor in bright and melted bubble letters. Mom said Hot Topic was where she used to shop when she was my age. I felt like I was learning a lot of things about her that I never knew. I wonder if dad knew about that phase too.

I was kind of scared to wear the shirt. It wasn’t hard to miss, so I could be picked out of a crowd very easily. It’s crazy to think about it like that. Sure I liked it, but will others like it? What if I wore it and the kids at school think that it’s an overkill? What if I wore it and because it’s so easy to spot, someone decides that I’m their next victim? Okay, that got dark. I shouldn’t think that way.

I stared at the shirt as it laid on my bed the next morning. With much thought, and talking to myself for a solid half-hour, I decided to put it on. I looked in the mirror and stared at the neon lettering. It didn’t look bad! I smiled triumphantly and grabbed my bookbag, heading out to school.

The moment I arrived on grounds, anxiety fluttered in my chest. It was heavy and I almost felt like I couldn’t breathe properly. I sighed and stared at the school doors, This is it. I thought to myself. Before I could even take a step forward, someone patted me on the shoulder.

“Cool shirt, Casey!” They said as they passed. The anxiety was suddenly gone. The heaviness that was keeping me grounded had left, and I smiled.

“Thanks!” I couldn’t contain my grin. People actually liked my shirt! Well, at least one person did. With that, I walked into the building. I could feel the giddiness in my steps, and I’m sure others could see it. I walked with confidence as a couple of students stopped talking to their friends in order to look my way. At my shirt. It was unbelievable. I used to be almost invisible to everyone here, but this shirt has changed my life. I hadn’t even worn it for a full day! I stopped at my locker and twisted the knob to the numbers of my combination. Before I could open it, a girl came up to me. She messed with the sleeves of her shirt as she looked up at me.

I watched her take a shaky breath, “Nice shirt.”

“Thank you,” I gave her a kind smile.

“Would you maybe wanna,” she looked away for a moment, “Hang out during lunch?”

I quickly nodded my head, speaking so fast I stumbled over my words, “Yeah! S-Sure, of course, tha-that sounds great.” I felt my cheeks heat up. Nice job embarrassing yourself, I thought.

I watched the girl chuckle into her hand, “Alright, cool. I’ll see you then.” Then she walked away. My excitement was through the roof. I have a friend. Or at least, I thought I did. I wondered if she would let me hang out with her every day? Would I have to wear the shirt every day to give me some kind of luck? That would take a lot of washing.