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Junior high wasn’t supposed to be like this, Cady Comment thought as she hugged her books tightly to her chest and retreated down the hallway. This was the third time this week that Tara Wyatt had said something rude about her outfit she was wearing. Today she apparently looked like an oversized fourth grader wearing high waters. Maybe it wouldn’t have even bugged her so much if it was just Tara- not Tara surrounded by a pointing and laughing posse, or if Cady hadn’t spent an hour picking out a “cute” outfit to wear to impress Peter Pensin. The odds, however, were not in her favor today, or any day, because Tara always found her during passing periods with her little posse of snearing clones and made Cady feel bad about herself in some way, shape, or form.
Despite the many times Cady has went home to her mom crying after school, Mrs. Commet always urges her daughter to not pay Tara’s actions any mind, and not to let it bug her. Cady just can’t just make the sinking feeling that she has inside go away every time she enters Westville Junior High. She doesn’t know what she did to Tara to cause her to behave like this. Cady tried so hard to fit in in junior high, because it’s scary, and Tara has only made her feel like a worthless little loser who gets picked on. Cady rushes into her front door only to find her mom stirring at something on the stove. She tries to hold back the water works.
“Baby, Tara again?” Mrs. Comment says
What was it about moms having some sort of a sixth sense when it comes to reading their children’s emotions?
“You guessed it, I hate her! I hate Tara!”
“Cad, don’t say hate. You don’t know her well enough to hate her.”
“Mom, she’s horrible. She makes my life a living hell.”
“Don’t say ‘hell’ Cad.”
With that, Cady decided she needed to be alone. She rushed up the stairs and into her room, which she slammed her door, and jumped into bed, her scream muffled into her pillow. Then the tears finally came. They rushed down her cheeks, onto her shirt that had looked so cute to her this morning, and now she felt ugly in. Why did Tara have to ruin everything for her? Cady cried, and cried. She had just reached breaking point. This bullying had been going on far too long.
This year had been a big year for Cady. The Commet family had moved to the small community of Westville in Nashville, Tennessee in late June. Cady had just finished sixth grade in her old school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the end of the last school year. The transition between sixth and seventh grade was a big one for any elementary school kid. Full of new experiences, bigger lockers, and more responsibilities. Cady was desperate to make friends, so she tried really hard the first week of school, until she met Tara. Tara liked to humiliate Cady in front of others, and put her on the spot. It was border line emotionally damaging. Even though Cady maintained a solid group of friends, who have dealt with the same kind of problems from other bullies in the past, Cady always felt the need to be accepted by all of her peers. Cady balled her hands up into fists and cried to herself until she slowly drifted into sleep.
The next morning brought another day. A Friday. Even though Cady was excited about seeing the new movie with James Malloy in it later, that seemed minute compared to the fear she felt of going to school. She feared humiliation again. It’s sad how a girls words can have such an effect on someone. After countless efforts of pretending to be sick, and after that failed begging her mom to let her stay home, she ended up at the front doors of the junior high.
“Hey Cad!” yelled her friend Emily, as she scurried to Cady’s side.
“Hey, Em. What’s up?”
“Oh you know, so tired.” She peered at Cady with curious eyes. “Your eyes look swollen, is everything okay?”
“It’s…” she looked around to see if Tara or any member of her posse were near. Noticing she was in the clear, she continued. “It’s Tara. They are finally getting to me. Yesterday I put on what I thought was a super cute outfit, and then during Algebra she said I looked like an over grown fourth grader wearing high waters. She’s horrible. And I know I’ll see her again today.”
“Ah, Cad. She’s a big bully. Everyone hates her, only she hates you. You win!” Emily said.
Then, as if it were a miracle, Cady’s depression had found a light at the end of the tunnel. Her luck was changing. On her locker she saw a pink sticky note in the shape of a heart. It said: Cady, I like you. Will you go out with me? Meet me by the gym after school. Love, Peter. Cady’s heart was a flutter and her and Emily looked at each other and giggled nervously.
“Oh my goodness!” cried Emily. “You are so lucky! He’s so cute! You have to tell me everything tonight at the movies. Everything.”
“Why wouldn’t I!?” Cady said, still full of excitement. “Okay well I have to get to class Em! See ya tonight!”
Cady scurried down the hall, only to face the longest, most tedious day of her life. She was overflowing with nervousness, and excitement. Throughout Algebra she doodled Peter+Cady=Love. During lunch she couldn’t eat because she had butterflies in her stomach. But the last period of her day was the longest. That, she could barely wait through. The school bell rang, and she ran to the gym. She looked around. He wasn’t there yet, but he would be. She just had to wait.
After a half an hour, she was defeated. Peter never showed. She had been sitting against the wall the whole time, teachers walking by asking her if she needed a ride home or if she was okay. Each, she dismissed quickly and told them she was waiting for someone, but thanks. She heard footsteps at the end of the hall. It was Tara.
“Hey Loser!” Shouted Tara. “Betcha thought Peter was going to meet you.” She smiled a terrible grin, one that brought a sick feeling to Cady’s stomach. “No such luck, kid. Peter wouldn’t go out with an over grown fourth grader. Sorry you got your hopes up.”
“You… you made the note?” Her bottom lip quivered, and her eyes welled up.
“Yeah, can’t believe you fell for it! Can’t wait to tell the girls this! See ya, sucker!” She walked off, leaving Cady crying.
So that night Cady decided to stay home from the movie. She wasn’t feeling well, wasn’t eating, had no motivation whatsoever to do anything but cry and tell her mom how much she hated Tara Wyatt. Mrs. Commet could not stand around and watch this happen anymore, so she called Mrs. Wyatt to arrange a time where they could all get together and talk this through. To come to an understanding. Even though Cady protested, Mrs. Commet picked up the phone and dialed 555-3942.
“Yeah.” A scruffy voice answered on the Wyatt’s end. “Whose this?”
“I am Debrah Commet, the mother of Cady Commet, your Tara and my daughter go to school at Westville together.”
“And both our daughters seem to have a conflict between them. Cady tells me that Tara has been treating her rather poorly recently, would you mind if we met together, say later tonight around nine, and talked this through all together?” Mrs. Commet said eagerly.
“You are telling me that Tara is misbehavin’? Are you serious? What the hell!” Mrs. Commet was taken aback by the immature usage of words from Mrs. Wyatt. “I s’pose you two can come over to our house tonight. Just gotta divorce. So there’s plenty of room.” She said, almost as if she wasn’t completely aware of what she was saying.
“O-okay.” said Mrs Commet. “That sounds good then. I’ll just look up in the directorty to see where you live. It was a pleasure talking to you and I hope we can settle this fight. See you later, at nine.”
So Mrs. Commet and Cady hopped in the car and drove to the place where the Wyatts lived. Cady was embarrassed of her mother calling Tara’s mom, and also nervous that this would make the bullying worse.
When they got to the Wyatt’s, Cady was taken aback. Their house consisted of a little split level, with shingles falling off, one window boarded up, and grass and weeds that grew long and everywhere. They walked up to the door, and rang the doorbell. No one answered, so they opened the already unlocked door and walked in.
“Hello?” Mrs. Commet said. “Mrs. Wyatt?”
Mrs. Wyatt stumbled out of a back room, dragging T ara, whose eyes were swollen, by the wrist violently. Mrs. Wyatt then stumbled, and Cady could smell alcohol on her breath.
“Hey. I was teaching Tara here a lesson. Let’s do this. Tara knows she’ll suffer the consequences when I find out what she did. She’ll learn her lesson. Now tell me what she did.” She said in a very harsh tone, and Cady all of a sudden felt a bit of empathy for Tara. Like mother, like daughter they always say. Now Cady saw Tara in a new light. A scrawny, brown haired girl, with bruises up and down her arms that she’d never noticed before. Her eyes were swollen and stared helplessly at Cady.
“Go ahead, Cad. Tell them what’s wrong.”
Cady hesitated. She knew if she told Mrs. Wyatt what Tara has done to her, Tara would definitely learn her lesson. She’d get the punishment, but perhaps the punishment would be more painful than anything Cady’s ever experienced. All of a sudden, the hatred and the loathing Cady once felt went away. Cady coughed to clear her throat.
“Oh, Mrs. Wyatt. This isn’t the girl who has been bothering me, I must have mixed up names. I’m sorry.”