2/22/12 Dear Journal,
Bullying. I bet most kids think that bullying is the “big kid” who steals your lunch money. NOPE, that might be a bully but he is easily dealt with, not like the bullies I know.
I swear the teachers in my school are clueless. Sure they see the thug on the playground but really, most kids here are way past that. The refined forms of cruelty are all that they know.
“Our school really needs to paint the steps!” says my best friend Flora as we trudge up into the drab gray gloom of our school. “Or maybe the walls!” and then a little voice in my head pipes up, “Or maybe new people!”
Flora might as well be on the moon and you could say she has been ever since my dad was deployed to Afghanistan. It hurts, her being so cold and distant when I need her more than ever.
We slip past the “crowd” knowing they are too busy to notice us. They’re targeting a girl because of a new key chain clipped to her backpack. A key chain! I think as I look back, seeing her cower against the lockers, terrified, but I say nothing. It’s bad enough being targeted on occasion, no need to draw unwanted attention to myself. Flora and I part ways at our homerooms which are right across from each other. Soon enough, the “crowd” stalks in with grins on their faces. Then I see Flora sauntering in with the evilest girl in the “crowd” laughing. It jolts me out of my daydream and into a nightmare. I sit up and straight and squint slightly, hoping desperately that it isn’t her. But it is, who else has curly blonde hair in a neat side ponytail!?
I slump down in my seat, my shimmery gold hair falling into my pool blue eyes making them to tear up a bit. What is she thinking; once you join there is no coming back. The late bell rings and the last few stragglers file in. Then the teacher begins to drone, but I’m not listening. The only thing I can think about is Flora. I hardly notice when a sticky note is shoved into my desk. When I did notice it, I thought, I won’t care what it says. It was a plain green sticky note with a light yellow “L” in the corner.
It said, “Hey loser, missing your friend yet?”
It was a loser note. I’m dead.
2/23/12 Dear Journal,
Today was horrible! Flora is gone, forget the moon she is on Pluto. I am officially friendless. It’s horrible alone. I got a loser note today! After that it’s a blur, mum could have packed me dirt for lunch and I wouldn’t have noticed. I doubt the poem will get me through the night tonight. The rain started sometime today and I didn’t even notice until I got home and had puddles in my shoes. I didn’t wait for Flora.
Today was a complete blur; I was surrounded by insults, trapped by abuse, so much that I am sure the nightmares will prevail tonight.
Morning dawns and stretches its pale pink and gold tentacles across the heather gray sky. I sit up in bed pinning the red leather journal between my knees, having been unable to sleep a wink. The gold tipped pages and silky red ribbon glimmer in the pearly morning light awakening me from my swirling thoughts.
I take time in the shower, even blow drying my hair, something I almost never do.
After slipping into my favorite skinny jeans and navy blue shirt, which is so dark it looks almost black against my porcelain skin. I apply a thin coat of mascara, put on my earrings and shoes. Before leaving I look at myself in the full length mirror and gasp. I don’t recognize myself. Feeling like I am looking at a stranger I take in my reflection.
I’ve paired my regular navy blue shirt and skinny jeans with black ballet flats and thin silver hoops. My sunny hair cascades over my shoulders and down my back in waves.
Grabbing my backpack and a chocolate granola bar I rush off to school.
“Ashlynn! Hey Ashlynn! Wait up!”
I don’t wait, I keep an even pace, maybe even speed up a little. The opposite of what Flora wanted. She finally caught up and said
“Ashlynn, I’m really-,” “Sorry?” I say cutting her off. “Yeah, I saw how sorry,” my voice dripping with sarcasm. “No, you aren’t sorry. I will not accept an apology from someone who was supposed to be my friend and turned around spilled my secrets to Kendra the Barbie clone!”
Flora’s face turns tomato red “But…I. But…”
“FLORA!” I half shout as I whirl around to stare into her mist gray eyes.
“Forget it. Forget about our friendship. Its over, I refuse to be friends with someone who will spill my guts to people who just use and discard all that they get their hands on. You won’t be sorry. Not now not ever. You deserted me when I needed you most, three months ago when my dad came home in a casket. You used me!” I’m yelling now but don’t care who hears.
“You are a liar and a sneak! I will not be used!” I pause, looking into Flora’s eyes. She is shocked into silence. “Flora,” I begin again. “Don’t call, don’t e-mail, don’t stop by my house. We don’t need any more heartbreak,”
I slowly turn around and continue my walk to school.
I slip into home room moments before the late bell rings. I can see from the door way that my desk is filled with sticky notes. The only one I open reads “You’re an idiot! You should run home like the baby you are!” I refuse to read any more. I shove the lot of them into my backpack just in case I ever get the courage to head down to the office. I won’t, not unless I’m moving to a new state will I ever walk down that long hallway lined with dull green lockers to the office.
As the late bell rings, I see Flora heading into her classroom with the expression of one who is trying not to break something. She’s walking in short, a stiff steps, her mouth is set in a hard line, and her eyes are blazing with a fire I’ve never seen before. The evil girl, Kendra, is her name, rushes up her face showing incredible fake concern.
“What happened?” she says. “Are you all right?” her voice coated in fake, cotton candy sweetness.
It makes me sick. I have the sudden urge to slap her. I trade the sure pleasure of slapping her for a loud sigh, and turn to await the teacher’s arrival.
In chemistry, I notice that several of the crowd is staring at me, some with obvious hatred, and others with sheer amazement. It frightens me a little. As soon as the teacher’s back is turned, I elbow the boy sitting next to me, Allen, awake.
“Um, what’s going on?”
I nod at the crowd members.
He smirks at me and asks, “Have you looked in the mirror at all this morning?”
“Then, I think it should be obvious. They’re jealous!”
Slowly, a smile creeps across my face.
“Do you really think so?” He nods, and the teacher turns around forcing us to stop talking. Her eyes, as black as raven wings, scan the classroom as though she heard our hushed whispers.
A scowl rests on her face as she says, “The side conversations…stop them!” Her chocolate hair piled atop her head as though birds were nesting there. A note was pressed against my palm, and I’m sucked back into yesterday seeing Flora and Kendra walking together and reading that little note that changed my life
A sharp elbow jabs me in the ribs. Wincing and shocked, I look up at Allen expecting the sly grin I always find whenever he catches me off guard. He is staring at my hand with such intensity that I wonder why laser beams aren’t shooting out of his eyes. I open the tiny scrap of notebook paper and read:
Can we talk? Like, @ recess or something?
I look up and nod, and his hazel eyes are filled with relief. A strand of shaggy red hair falls into his eyes as he turns back to the teacher.
I wonder what he wants to talk about…?
Dear Journal, 2/24/12
I am so glad I reconnected with Allen again. I didn’t realize how much he’s changed since sixth grade. Sixth grade. When we were friends. He was someone I could share my secrets with, a vault for my darkest fears. No one could steal the key. We could tell each other anything and we wouldn’t judge each other. Then it all went away with a single question: “Are you like boyfriend girlfriend or something?” We weren’t. Today we reconnected. I’m so glad we reconnected. The reason. Not so much.
Apparently, his parents have been having sudden and ferocious fights. The yelling continues past midnight keeping him awake. They sleep in separate rooms, and divorce is a popular dinner discussion. It gave his little sister, Katie, nightmares. She’s started to sleep with him, keeping him awake off and on all night . He’s got the bags under his eyes to prove it. Kendra (ewww), Flora, and the others are teasing him about it. Ug. Even writing their names sends chills down my spine.
As for Flora, well, I said good-bye, fare well, bon voyage, this morning. I called her a liar and a sneak, and told her that I would never accept an apology. I don’t regret it, I just wish I had said it in a more diplomatic manner. Instead, I screamed, yelled, told her that we were over.
Rain thrums against the windows as I rush out the door to school. I grab my red and white striped umbrella and jog to school.
By recess, the ground is wet, but the rain has finally stopped. I can hear Kendra from across the playground. She’s targeting Lydia for trying to fit in. “You’ll never fit in you know. We’ll never accept you. Why don’t you just give up and go home, loser.”
That ticks me off. Lydia is trying to fit in, her sneakers have been swapped for white ballet flats, her sweat pants for jeans, and her fuzzy daffodil yellow fleece has been replaced by a pretty sky blue tee. Her mahogany hair is held back by a simple head band. The only thing that remains of her former style.
I will Lydia to stand up for herself, but all she does is cower. I know the feeling all too well.
“Yes, we all know you’re pathetic, Kendra.” Kendra whips around, and her chocolate eyes flash with fury. She opens her mouth to paste me with a searing comment, but I get there first.
“Tell me, did your mother have any kids who lived from the neck up?”
Her face burns, a campfire. All the anger, hatred and fear I’ve felt over the past few years has come boiling up and it took all my will power to keep from knocking her to the dirt and breaking her perfect ski slope nose.
“We all need to know about your amazing perfectness, and your insatiable need to put others down just so we all see, once again your unlawful perfectness.”
Kendra’s mouth is hanging open, her back stabbing friend’s eyes wide.
Wow, I think, for once she’s speechless. I must have jinxed myself, because seconds later her mouth snaps shut and she turns back to Lydia, who is running towards the school doors.
“Coward!” Kendra calls.
“Kendra, you really should stop calling yourself names. It’s too funny.” She whips around once more, eyes flashing, mouth set in a hard line. Her glossy, raven black pony tail is coming undone, she’s been whipping around so much.
“You’re a -----!”
“KENDRA!” I shout, determined not to let her miss a word. “Kendra. Do you know the saying, ‘Actions speak louder than words?’” She nods, so I continue. “Well, words hurt more than actions. Think about that…”
The bell rings, filling the silence. I turn and jog to the door, my strides become longer and longer until I begin to run, puddles splashing up on my feet. I’m about to cry. As we stand in the line to get in, it starts to pour. Now I can cry, no one can see. Not like they’d care anyway. English is next. The infamous easy teacher, Mr. Williams, won’t care if I’m late. I head to the girls’ room and someone waves. I keep going, ignoring them. Then, they call my name. I stop and slowly turn. Allen. He scans my tear stained face and says,
“Do you want to talk?”
He ducks into the janitor closet and motions for me to follow. I do. He closes the door and asks again.
“Do you want to talk?”
He waits. I can tell he is watching me even though I’m staring at the washed out green linoleum. I look up and snap,
“Don’t you have a class to be in?” His hazel eyes flash and I immediately take it back.
“I have lunch.” his voice is flatter than a deflated balloon.
The silent seconds drag on.
His head snaps up. “What happened?”
“I yelled at Kendra.”
“What?” He shakes his head in disbelief. “Seriously?”
“What was she doing?”
“Look are you going to let me finish or not?” He nods and I continue. “She was teasing Lydia.”
“Exactly. I just…snapped.” I give him a full recount of what happened. I feel better once I’ve finished. Allen pulls me into a hug. “Then why are you crying? I’d be proud.” I smile into his shoulder.
“You know, I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier I just had…”
“A week not in heaven?” He laughs. “Welcome to my world.”
The smile drops from my face. He releases me and I say, “I need to get back to class.” He nods. “Ok.” I slide open the door, look both ways to check for teachers, and hustle off to English.
I yelled at Kendra today. No need to write it, Ill never forget it. Happy tommorrow’s Saturday. I’m not going to write on Saturday or Sunday.
p.s. Lydia gave me her IM name – Grdengrl. I gave her mine: MissSunshine.
The computer beeps and I look at the screen. There’s an IM:
Grdengrl: What’s up!
I jump away from the computer like it shocked me. I totally was not expecting an IM at, I glance at the clock, 7:00 a.m. in the morning. Still, I smile at the name.
MissSunshine: I didn’t know anyone but me was crazy enough to be up @this hour!
Grdngrl: me neither.
Grdngrl: 4sticking up 4me yesterday.
I smile and type back:
MissSunshine: No prob.
Grdngrl: What’s K’s problem?!
MissSunshine: G2G. Mom’s calling
I smile and close IM calling down the stairs to my mom,
“Can I check my e-mail first?”
“Sure, just be quick!” echoes back up to me.
I delete a few from Kendra then hover over one from Flora titled, “It’s Over” I click the title, read a few little sentences that change my life, once again.
The crowd is over. Done. I turned everything into the principal. Kendra is expelled. She’s going to court. All the sticky notes, along with my words are in the office. I’m sorry.