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Character Development Challenge

Wren Ridere, Age 10

Prompt: How vain is your character? Do they find themselves attractive?

________

“Ridere! We do not have time for this, get over here.” Though she knew she was going to be punished for disobeying an older kid, Wren only backed away further. One hand clutched her ponytail protectively while the other one was held defensively to her chest.

“No.” Hot tears poured down her cheeks and she shrunk back as the older girl bore down on her. For a year she had avoided this moment and now she was cornered with nowhere else to go. Her eyes darted around for something to help.

“This is no time for vanity kid.” The older girl hadn’t shared her name but Wren was convinced that this girl was a bully. “It’s protocol. Long hair is a liability and yours is asking for trouble.”

“No.” Wren repeated, straightening her back and squaring her shoulders. It was one of the things that she had learned; it was a way of showing that she wasn’t going to back down.

Bully Girl lunged and Wren yelped as she ducked. All her hard work in the last year paid off when she used her smaller frame to dodge behind a desk and snatch up the letter opener. It wasn’t anything like the knives that she had been using during practice but it would hopefully make the older girl back off.

“Really? A letter opener? What are you going to do with that?” Wren’s grip tightened on her chosen weapon when the older girl sneered. It wasn’t a pleasant look and she had only seen it when she was going to be beaten.

“I don’t want my hair cut.” It was all she had left. Though it was dirty, the blonde locks were all she had left from her family. Even after everything that had happened, it was one of the few things that both her parents had liked and commented on. She shared the color with her mother and brother; it made her feel pretty even when she was stuck in rags.

“That’s too bad kid. It’s dangerous. If you get in a fight, it can be used against you.” Bully Girl laughed, her hands on her hips like the villains in the cartoons that she and her brother used to watch.

If her big brother was here, Bully Girl would leave her alone. He’d be on her side, she just knew it.

“People are going to pull it, drag you down, and can easily pin you by your hair. We don’t want to take that risk.” Bully Girl lunged again and Wren screeched as her dodge failed her that second time. As if proving her point, the older girl held her up by her hair. The letter opener dropped from her grip but she kicked and tried to scratch the other girl. “What did I tell you?”

“Mel, put the girl down.” Another voice was added to the mix and Wren squeezed her eyes shut. Another person to add to her misery; to laugh at her while she had the only thing that made her feel normal taken away. “She’s got more guts than you do. You didn’t fight, you bawled when you had your hair cut. She deserves a chance to prove herself.”

“Commander Gavin is going to be upset, Anna. This one has been causing trouble ever since she was brought in.”

“I’ll deal with him. Go on, I’ll deal with the kid.” Wren’s hands went up to her scalp when Bully Girl let her go. It hurt, badly, but she still didn’t want her hair cut. Larger hands gently covered hers, massaging the pain from her scalp. “Shh, it’s okay. She’s gone now.”

“I don’t want short hair.” Most girls had short bobs that were hard to grab. Though she didn’t quite trust this new girl, Anna, she had to get her point across.

“I know, I know.” She lifted her eyes up to study Anna, trying to get an idea of how she would act. It would not be the first time that one of the older girl’s pretended to be nice only to hurt her later. “How about I show you how to braid it so you don’t have to worry about anyone grabbing it?”

“I can do that?” All she had done was put it up in the ponytail that her mother used to do for her.

“Of course you can. Besides, your hair is too pretty to lop off.” Anna smiled, pulling over a chair and taking her hair out of the pony tail. Moments later, her hair was braided tightly against her scalp. It was nice and definitely out of the way. After she had run her fingers over it, Anna began to undo the braids. “Now I’m going to have you try.”

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