Fridays did not usually feel this good for Ella. She was sprawled across her double bed in front of her ageing laptop, staring at the ticking follower count on her new Twitter page.

Every hour at least three more people followed her. All of them curious to see what she would tweet next.

She sat up and propped the MacBook on her lap. It was a hand-me-down and barely worked a lot of the time, but it had been her dad’s once upon a time, so she cherished it.

Ella switched between refreshing her timeline and checking out her Facebook profile. It was all just a blur of inquisitive and intrusive conversations, suggestive selfies and dull Internet games.

Pretty much all of them were talking about her as she watched her name pop up in every other post. She just sat there transfixed, watching all the students from her school explode. Some in excitement, some in shock and the rest with pity.

Ella hadn’t known how many words there were to describe a woman in a derogatory way, and by the beginning of the week, she definitely wouldn’t have expected that by now they’d all be used to refer to her.

All over school, scribbled in notes passed around the classroom, in the corridors and bathrooms, in WhatsApp groups, of course on social networks, and anywhere else people could utter her name and share her shame, they did. Windhoek was buzzing with the latest news and each person that got in on it couldn’t wait to forward it to the next.

Gossip was like a nuclear bomb, Ella thought to herself. It exploded on impact, indiscriminately demolishing and breaking down reputations, friendships, relationships and everything else in its path.

She turned over on her bed and reclined, resting her head on her pillow so that she was staring at her light blue ceiling. It had been this dull colour for as long as she could remember, but suddenly in that moment, it was an unfamiliar ceiling. In fact, in that moment, everything she thought she once knew was different.

People were different most of all, she noted. Different from the way they acted and the things they said. The internet had made them like that, perhaps. That is where people were most different to how you actually knew them. The internet had created all sorts of monsters parading as normal members of society.

Nobody shaped their profiles anymore.

“Especially not me!” Ella said out loud to herself, switching back to her Twitter account. “Profiles shape us. The internet shapes us,” she muttered as a sort of reassurance to herself.

The only way to be a famous in real life in the twenty first century, she thought, was to find fame on the internet.

That’s why this Friday was particularly good. Her world had imploded earlier on in the week, and she had to now somehow pick up the pieces. One by one, she was finding Ella again somewhere in all the debris. She was finding herself when it all seemed as though she would never have been able to.

Her phone wouldn’t keep quiet. Her social networks were busier than they’d been in months. When she went to school, girls stared at her in disgust and boys winked and cat-called. She was pushed and prodded and people could not get enough. She had once been invisible and now people could not help but see her. That gave her an uneasy feeling.

She knew next week would be even worse. Especially with what had happened that day at school.

Hey!

Her browser beeped. It was a private message from Nangula.

I just want you to know I think you’re being really brave. Not many people could cope the way you are and you’re really inspiring so many of us girls. Forget what the haters say! *hugs* xo xo

It mirrored tons of other messages of support she had in her various inboxes. Among the name calling and judgement, there were people offering their support, inspired by how strong she’d remained through the scandal.

She smiled at that. Her first genuine smile in what felt to her like forever. Her tragedy was somebody else’s triumph. Both a triumph for those people who thought even less of her now and a triumph for those who wanted to help her remain strong through it.

As far as first weeks went, this, the first week of her last year of high school had been an interesting one. She had always wanted to leave a mark, and although this was not how she originally thought it would happen, happening it was.

The week came and went like the common cold. That kind of cold that you were sure you would never survive.

Tuesday was the worst of all the days this week, Ella concluded. Her problems had all begun that day with that letter.

 

 

TUESDAY

It was dawn on the first day of the new school year. New Year’s resolutions were still being honoured by some and festive season dance floor kings and queens were still nursing their hangovers and recovering from the KeDezemba craziness.

A visitor silently crept onto the yard of Dr Iiyambo High School. Before the street was awake, before the birds were chirping, just moments before the first school day started.

The intruder was familiar with the layout of the school yard, the gaps in the school’s security and just as they knew it would be, the front door to the Language Centre had been left unlocked.

Once inside, they made it to English teacher Chantelle Beukes’ classroom and pushed a thin, white envelope underneath the door. The deed was done and the atomic bomb set to explode as soon as it was opened had been planted.

By the time the first bell rang on Ella’s first day of her last year of high school, the letter had been found and opened by Meagan, a girl she knew but not really, who probably knew her, but not really, like most of the other students at DIHS.

E”, Meagan read as she flattened the two creases of the page she pulled out of the envelope. The letter was scrawled haphazardly in bright red permanent marker across the front side of the page. The letter inside the envelope that Meagan would soon find herself unlucky to have found was just that, a letter.

When she flipped the page over, she discovered that on the back side of it, a photo had been stapled. Meagan stared curiously at the picture; it was of a girl she knew.

She was completely naked, holding her phone up in front of a mirror, winking at her. It was a selfie, more frighteningly, a nude selfie.

Meagan flipped the page over and looked at the ‘E’ again. She began to realise who she was looking at. Her eyes widened.

 

“What’s that?” Ndeshi said, grabbing the empty envelope from Meagan who had a blank expression on her face.

“Mmm To the grade 12s of DIHS.” Ndeshi read out loud from the front of the envelope. “This is who you go to school with. Oooh mysterious.” She said to Meagan, “What was inside?”

Meagan clung to the paper with all she could. The world around her, the growing crowd of classmates waiting to see what had been left for them scared her. She wanted to protect this innocent girl.

The girl in the photo, a brown skinned beauty with soft curls tied up in a ponytail,wore red lacy stockings like she’d seen on television runways and in magazines on models that were way older than they were. This selfie had been taken by a girl she knew.

“Oh woooow.” Penda said, standing next to Meagan breaking her concentration, his hand grasping the other side of the letter she wasn’t letting go of. “Is that? NO! Wow! Ella!?”

Heads in the classroom turned towards her and hands were grabbing and clawing at her shirt and hand. Suddenly the paper wasn’t in her possession anymore and the crowd moved on, forgetting about her. They were shouting. Pulling. Tugging. Laughing. Transfixed by the photo.

By the girl in the photo.

By Ella.

Meagan knew Ella like everybody else knew her. She was petite and quiet, reserved and always wore colours like black or grey or brown. Her black hair was always in a bun, out of her small face, her skin a shade darker than caramel. She never really went to any of the house parties or school dances, and when she did, she sat in the corner staring at her phone or staring at what everyone else was doing.

People joked and called her a librarian because of how much time she spent there. At 17, being ‘cool’ was important, but maybe not to her, Meagan had once deduced.

No one really knew any other side of this girl, but she guessed that now they did.

 

Ella was sitting in the library when her phone beeped four times in succession, they were Facebook notifications.

Panduleni Big Boss Tagged you in a status.’

‘Charmaine Melody and three others commented on a status you were tagged in.’

‘You have six new friend requests.’

And the last one, the one she clicked on first, ‘Asser Thomas tagged you in a photo.’

Asser didn’t know who she was, she thought. He was one of the most popular boys in school. He was also cute and had a sparkle in his eye that made Ella’s knees weak. They had shared a few classes the year before, he had once asked her to move out of his way so he could retrieve his bag behind her and she thought she passed him a pen once in the school auditorium a few years back.

Ella couldn’t think of any other time they’d interacted, she was confused by this notification and couldn’t imagine what it could be. She thought that Asser was the hottest guy in school and she had even forgotten that they were Facebook friends.

Three more times her phone went off. More requests, more tags. She clicked on Asser’s photo. It was a picture of a piece of white paper with a big red ‘E’ on it.

E marks the spot 😀” read the caption.

She didn’t understand it, but it already had 23 people who liked it after just ten minutes.

‘Hahahahahha. Whoooooore.‘ Read the first of many comments.

I can’t believe this.’

‘Oh damn, I can’t believe this girl.’

Suddenly Ella realized that she had many more notifications. People wanted to be her friend; people poked her, tagged her and messaged her.

 

For a second, Ella thought that this is what it must be like to be one of the popular girls. To have countless people want to know you or be you because you were beautiful or smart or talented or, even worse she soon realized, because they’d seen an intimate photo of you.

She recognized herself immediately in the image on her homepage. It was one she had taken a few months back for a boy who turned out not to even be worth the megapixels.

It was ten in the morning on the sunny Namibian Tuesday. Classes were coming to a slow start so she had been able to start creating all the library forms for the year. She had spent the morning there. Writing, cataloguing and organising were what she did for the school library where she spent most of her time.

Ella liked books because they were not like people. You were never not good enough or funny enough or pretty enough for books.

You did not need to dress a certain way for them to notice you or for them to want to be your friend. Books did not care if you had a naked photo of yourself causing havoc around school.

Books were safe.

 

Trying to sneak from the library to the front gate of the school just moments after seeing her naked self on Facebook and gathering her composure, Ella clung to her backpack and kept her head down.

She moved quickly, quietly passing people who were either unaware or didn’t care, but by the time the 10:25 break time bell rang and halls flooded with students, Ella became DIHS’ latest celebrity, and Windhoek’s latest victim of revenge porn.

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY

Ella wore white on Wednesday. The day before had been terrible for her. People pointed and laughed at her. She had tried to pretend it was not happening as she scurried for the school gate, but she soon realised it actually was.

The craze of attacking and shaming girls for being naked that had taken over her city had found its way to her doorstep. Like somehow it was all one-sided. Like boys didn’t do intimate things like this. Without asking or telling anybody, she fled school the day before and had run to the safety of her home.

She would never forget the previous day, the Tuesday she had avoided all social networks because she was now the ‘slut’ of DIHS. The Tuesday when some coward crept onto the school yard and dropped off an anonymous letter that destroyed her life.

Ella breathed heavily, bracing herself for the storm she would soon have to face, the people she would have to explain herself to and the excuses she would have to make up.

Her mother asked her that morning what her school day would look like and Ella kissed her on the cheek as she relayed her timetable, made comment about her math teacher, Mr Ithete, getting fatter since last year and omitted the part about her whole school seeing her naked.

As she walked through the front doors of school that Wednesday, a slight breeze blew at her shirt and her belly button came exposed. The school stared at her in silence.

“There will be an assembly this morning at the first bell for all grade 12s.” The stern voice Mr Mathias echoed through the hallway, distracting the pupils from her and her outfit for just a second. “It is a mandatory session!”

His timing was so perfect, as if he knew exactly when she’d walk in. He made the brief announcement with a tone that made Ella think he might be disappointed in her.

Ella was disappointed in Ella.

 

She had never worn white to school before, but she thought that there was something pure and virginal about the colour, something that would maybe buy the school’s sympathy a tiny bit. They stared at her all white sneakers with ogling eyes as she stepped through the classroom to her desk.

They said nothing. They let her sit in math class and said nothing, they let her do her science homework and they said nothing. They only stared.

It was like they were afraid of her, embarrassed for her, ashamed to say that they had played a part in her public humiliation. Windhoek gossip mongers were brave behind keyboards, she thought, but weren’t sure what to say to her in person.

The photo was already off Facebook. She had reported it as soon as she could, though she knew it had probably already been sent around and saved to galleries.

 

At the assembly which she sat through sweating nervously, her deputy Principal Ms Ashipala took what felt like forever to Ella, to address her incident without actually uttering Ella’s name.

Ms Ashipala spoke about indecent exposure and the sharing of personal items without permission, before warning each and every grade twelve learner that distributing the photo of a seventeen-year-old girl was a criminal offense and punishable by law.

Ella sat completely still the entire time. Her face was red hot with shame and embarrassment and everybody kept staring at her. She would cough and half a dozen heads would turn to see if she was naked again.

The rest of the school day was strange for her. Meagan came by the library, where Ella hid for most of it, to apologise for letting the photo slip from her fingers. Ella did not know what Meagan meant or why she was blaming herself.

More and more people would come by and just hug her. Without uttering any sorrys or, patting her on the back, they would just come up to her and try to comfort her in silence, hoping their embrace would be enough.

They cared about her, she realised. It made her smile. It was an unconventional way to get to know the people she went to school with, but with each hug she got she was finally meeting new people. Talking to people who used to be strangers.

Only a few would dare ask about the photo. They were not blunt about it, but they would refer to the photo as “it”.

How did “it” happen? Or what she was going to do about “it”. They spoke about her naked photo as if it were an unborn baby they wanted her to deal with swiftly.

But how does one deal with this? She would ask herself, too afraid to ask anybody else. Too afraid to speak or step out of line or do anything else wrong.

By noon, Ella knew her mother had to know. She had been calling her phone just as much as Ella had been avoiding answering.

She finally picked up as it grew closer to the end of the school day and heard her mother on the other side.

“Helena!” She yelled. “Your school is calling me telling you’ve been involved in an incident! What is going on?!”

“Mom.” She began slowly, but her mother would not have it.

“They’re saying things about nudity and indecent exposure! Oshike sha’enda po??”

 

Ella wanted to explain. Ella wanted to say that it was not her fault and that she had been the victim, but a boy across the yard stared at her with an expression that caught her attention.

He looked at his phone, then up at her, then at his phone again, then at her again.

“Mom, we’ll talk at home. Yes meme. Yes. Yes. Okay. Meme, I need to go. Okay, yes we will.”

She hung up. The feeling of her mother watching her and the thought of her seeing her naked hung over her head like a cloud of shame and guilt.

She rushed over to the boy.

“What now?” She whined. He stared at her, a smirk growing on his face.

“Ella.” He uttered. “Can you suck my dick?”

 

Ella never made promises she was not willing to keep, or at least she tried not to. If she said she would do something, she would make sure that it got done.

Most of the time at least.

In text messages, the rules were different. In text messages, she was different. She could flirt and laugh and lie all she liked. She could promise boys all sorts of things if they asked nicely enough. It didn’t mean she meant them, at least not entirely.

Now though, everyone asked Ella to touch them, or they asked to touch her. Or they grabbed their crotches as an offering to her and pushed their tongues into their cheeks imitating their desires.

Ella had never given a blowjob. She’d promised a boy she would once, but that never came to fruition and the relationship turned sour.

It made sense to everybody then. It made sense to them that a scorned lover was the one trying to hurt Ella.

What other reason would a boy have to spread a screenshot of a conversation had between two lustful teenagers at 2am on a November morning?

 

Will you let me touch you?

The mysterious boy asked in the screenshot.

Sure.

Ella responded. Her name was at the top of the screen for all to see, followed by two red hearts.

Where?

Anywhere you like.

Will you touch me?

Yes. Of course.

Where?

Where would you like me to?

Ella was no pro at flirting or sexting, she had let him lead.

Down there. With your tongue.

Okay.

And with that response, the whole school knew what she was willing to do for the right boy and it excited them.

She left immediately. She didn’t wait for the questions and more stares and judgment.

She went straight home, and while the whole world wanted to discipline her, it was her mother she had to now face.

 

 

 

 

THURSDAY

Ella had been given Thursday off. Her mother was going in to see Mr Mathias that day. She had yelled at her when she came home from school, then again that night before bed and once more that morning.

Ella’s mother cried when she went to bed on Wednesday night, she cried in the shower before work on Thursday. Maria Shikongo thought about all those girls who had been victims of something like this in the past.

And then she cried some more for their poor mothers.

For poor Mrs Lewinsky or poor Mrs Kardashian, for the other women who had to stand and watch their daughters have their worlds turned upside down.

Maybe it was good that she didn’t really remember their names, she thought, maybe no one would remember hers.

 

Ella spent the day browsing social media. It had only been two days since her schoolmates, and whoever they knew on Facebook and Twitter, had seen her naked. One day since they’d read her steamy text messages.

Everybody was talking about her still, though it felt like a lifetime had passed. Enough time for them to just move on and forget about it, but no, they relented. She was now the ‘Red Stockings Girl.’

 

She had seen this before, albeit from the outside. She had been forwarded sex tapes and nudes and had laughed about them and had moved on.

So why won’t they move on? She thought.

From the outside, it looked so insignificant and simple. One could just rejoice in the implosion of another person’s life and nothing was wrong.

From the inside however, it was awful. Aunts and uncles and cousins and nephews and nieces would call and text and try to get a hold of her. Nobody would leave her alone. She had become the family disappointment she always feared.

 

At school, it was a little different – a mixture of disgust and curiosity. People wanted to know what it was like; they all wanted to talk to her, but without having to seem like they cared.

Nobody wanted to say it out loud, but still they wanted to be a part of the action somehow.

She had always been on the quiet side at school and wanted to remain that way a little longer. People would say what they wanted to regardless of what she uttered. So she let them talk, she did not feel like she had the energy to take them on.

 

More bad news came later that evening. James Hill, a boy she did not know, sent her a Facebook message asking her about a voice note and she was stumped. He explained that somebody had sent him a voice note and rumour had it that it was Ella’s voice.

She jumped onto her social media accounts immediately to see if it had garnered any reaction since she had been out of school that day, but it caused fewer ripples than she had expected since most people would not believe that something personal of Ella’s would leak three days in a row. They were sceptical.

Others didn’t care so much because they were, “soooo over this Helena or Ella girl or whatever her name is” as @Tuxa061 declared on Twitter.

The rest, like James Hill, thought it might be her, and were holding onto that belief.

 

What’s it about?

She asked him cautiously. She had obviously sent many voice notes in her life and it could literally have been anything.

You or somebody promising to let a guy do the nasty with you :”D

Ella swallowed hard.

That could be anybody.

She replied.

Yeah. But people say they recognize your voice. Hahahaha good luck whore!

James Hill is Offline.

 

She barely ate that night. She barely spoke to her mother; or rather her mother barely spoke to her. She spoke around her and about her, into the phone, to herself, but not to her daughter.

Ella did not care. Her inbox was full of ten or twenty people just waiting for her to say something. Waiting to hear her voice, see her posts. Ella did not care.

 

 

 

FRIDAY

Ella chose to go back to school on the last day of the week. Traditionally DIHS’ Student Council would host a braai with music and games for the grade 12s to celebrate their last first week of high school. She did not want to miss out on it.

She did not sit alone at lunch time. People flocked around her and spoke to her and acted like they had been her friends for years. Suddenly, it seemed like people cared about what she had to say or who she was talking to and what about. Whether or not they were genuine almost did not matter to her.

People wanted to hang out with her during break time, and even though they were not openly discussing seeing her naked, she could feel it in the way they all looked at her.

Even in the way they stopped whispering when she walked by, the way she had 108 Facebook friends on Monday and woke up to 24 more friend requests on Friday, which would bring her total to 376 and counting.

Her circle of real life and online friends was growing.

 

On the internet, she was called all the words you could think of from ‘stupid’ to ‘kumbu’ to ‘hoe’ but somehow she thought that it wasn’t so bad.

Somewhere amidst the grey cloud of ‘how could she do that?’ and ‘man that poor dumb girl’ was a silver lining that comforted her through the storm. For all the people who now thought that she was loose or promiscuous, there were those who were inquisitive, those who were sympathetic and those who cared.

These people were girls who wanted to be her friend, or boys who thought they could also get photos from her if they texted her enough times. She chuckled.

What they really wanted, was to know who the boy was, the one whom she had risked all her dignity for. Who had been the boy who got ‘shy Ella’ out of her shell, and clothes, and into this predicament?

 

Music filled the air and pork chops and chicken sizzled on the coals. Ella’s classmates tried to pretend they weren’t staring at her or talking about her. She did not blame them.

On Tuesday, they had seen her completely naked. On Wednesday, they had read her intimate texts.

Thursday, she took a day off, but the person out to ruin her life never rested. The voice note was still circulating and more and more people were slowly starting to think that it might actually be her.

It was finally Friday though and she just wanted to enjoy the festivities, although everybody else was waiting to see what dramatic thing would happen next to ruin Ella Shikongo’s life.

She was waiting too, curious about what they would do or say. She hoped the worst was over, but braced herself for another wave.

At 11 O’clock it started again.

@InsaneMaya is now following you!’ Her Twitter notified her.

Minutes later, her phone beeped again. Looking up, she realised everyone was staring at their phones and at her. They were whispering and giggling.

“I’m here to expose the hoes and sluts around Windhoek.” Ella heard somebody near her read on their phones. It was this “crazy” Maya person’s bio.

Their location was set to ‘Namibia,’ their name was Maya and their profile picture was that of a hummingbird.

There are many whores around Windhoek,’ read the first and only tweet of the newly made account. ‘But first I will start with Ella Shikongo.’ It ended.

She didn’t have to look up to know that fifty pairs of eyes were staring at her. Ella knew that this was it. She would be destroyed 140 characters at a time.

She tried to remove herself from the crowd that was growing impatient with her indifference. They started moving in her direction, they started saying her name. Everything was a blur for Ella and she knew she should have stayed at home.

They all waited for this Maya person to tweet again, for Ella to post something on Facebook or Twitter assuring everyone she would be okay, for something, for anything.

That’s all they wanted it seemed, to share the spotlight, to be ‘in’ on it. All these people wanted to say they saw it happen, that they were there when Ella lost her sanity.

But she would not lose her sanity. She had decided that while in the shower that morning. She refused to let them win. The monster that was trying to destroy her was fuelled by their hunger for drama, demise, deception and destruction, and she wasn’t about to give them that.

 

She took her phone out and looked at the new Twitter account. Smirking, she flipped over to Facebook and saw that a few people had already started talking about it.

This whole thing was growing and people she didn’t know, people who didn’t even go to her school, were excited to see what would happen next.

What did happen next was Ella taking to Facebook to make a statement. She would be speaking out properly for the first time.

To everyone who’s supported me through all this, thank you. I made some mistakes, I was young and I was stupid. That’s my fault, I get it, okay. I am not going to let rumours and whispers break me. I am not gonna let some bored individual ruin my day, my week or my life.

I should have kept all these things safe, since they are so delicate, but I didn’t and now you’re all witness to my personal life.

Truth is, we’re all the same. We all have feelings and emotions, and sometimes those emotions get the better of us, and we’re blinded and make bad decisions. But whatever. I’ll move on from this and heal and be a better me.

I hope I inspire other girls. Since it’s us that are always the victims, while the guy walks free. Please, if you’re ever experiencing something like this, being bullied or having your personal life dragged in public, talk to me.

I may not be able to change my past, but I might change your future.

Ella Shikongo. #Strong #YouCannotBreakMe

 

By the time school ended that day, the post had 109 likes and twice as many comments.

People were supporting her, loving her and thanking her. Thanking her for being brave and thanking her for being honest. Somehow in the space of these three days, Ella became the voice they all wanted to hear.

Ella had not made it to the end of school. Soon after Maya’s tweet, she had taken a taxi to town and strolled around the city, eating ice cream.

There, she was unknown. Nobody stared at her. Nobody attacked her or bombarded her with questions, but nobody wanted to comfort her either. High school drama was confined to the school yard, and out in town, she was relatively free.

She felt lonely, the very feeling that had driven her back to school that Friday despite getting the rest of the week off. She hated feeling lonely, but she felt it.

 

She thought about working in the library again, as she got home. About how lonely she had felt all those years working in there. But now she had friends at school. She would not need to spend so much time in there. She would not have to always be so lonely.

Friends. What an odd word. In primary school she had tons of them. She was into Soccer and Netball and Tennis and was, by her own standards, pretty cool.

Ella was sure that she should have been cool in high school too. She was not supposed to spend all her time in the Library reading instead of making friends, hiding instead of facing the world. She wasn’t supposed to become a wallflower, but then again, her father also wasn’t supposed to get cancer at the end of her Grade 7 year.

He was her world, and suddenly, he was too sick to pay attention her. Suddenly, he could not take care of her because he was barely able to take care of himself. She needed her dad around when she was beginning high school, but he wasn’t there for her, he was not able to be, he was gone.

Ella remembered the library he built in her room just a year before he passed away. Nothing special, just four shelves bolted independently and irregularly onto the wall. He would then spend Saturday afternoons with her in book stores and craft centres stocking up her supply.

The school library was the only thing then that felt vaguely familiar and it became her safe place, so she chose it over explaining why she didn’t want to talk or hang out. She chose it over making friends and before she knew it, the ship to find some had sailed.

But that would now be over. Ella finally had friends.

Her new friends cared enough to blast bullies and internet trolls. They wanted to make sure that no more photos or screenshots or any other personal items were stolen from her and published.

 

She wanted to promise them that she had no more secrets that could be let out, she really did, but as she flipped through the photos in her phone, she knew that promise would only be broken.

She looked at screenshot after screenshot after screenshot of personal conversations that never really happened. So easy to make up if you save your own number and text yourself.

Photos of her topless, without pants, fully nude or wrapped in a little towel filled her phone as she pondered over her selection.

Ella took a last look at that unfamiliar sky blue ceiling, shifted her father’s old laptop to her side table, turned over and lay on her belly

This whore thinks I’m done…‘ she started typing into her phone, thinking about which photo of herself would best be released from her second twitter account.

She wanted people to really get to know who she was, but she also did not want to overdo it with her new Insane Maya twitter account.

Maya was created that morning, her geo-tag removed and the first tweet was sent out during the braai at school.

Ella thought about how she would miss sorting through books by herself in the library one last time and clicked send on the tweet that now had a photo of her in blue swim shorts and nothing else.

Books were great, Ella mused, but they didn’t stroke her hair and tell her it would be okay and that she was beautiful. They didn’t notice her new look or hair or nails, books didn’t tweet about ‘How AMAAAAAZING Ella Shikongo’s body is!!!

Books never gave her attention in the school corridors. Books didn’t care if she had a naked photo of herself causing havoc around school.

Books were boring.

Tuesday was the worst of all the days this week, Ella concluded. Then they just got better.