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We see her in the hallways. Sometimes, in the cafeteria. We laugh at the pink fish net leggings and hair dyed neon green. We laugh at the overdoses of make-up on her face, criticize the cuts on her wrists. We laugh and laugh, but I realize that we have never even heard her speak a word. I am trashtalking her, complaining that I was seated next to her in a class. A girl who hears me, a girl I never noticed before, speaks up.
"Her mom died a month ago, you know?"
I did not know. I did not know, and I wish I didn't know now. I am silent for a second, filled with guilt. I finally say, "So what? Death happens to a lot of people, but we don't turn out like that."
The invisible girl looks down, not in shame, I'm sure of that, but maybe, to hide her disgust.
I forget about the incident, but when I see her in the cafeteria, the girl who no longer has a mom, sitting alone, I want to cry. I'm not sure why.
I stare at her eating a school bought meal. It is greasy pizza, my friends call it cardboard.
I wonder if her mother packed her lunches. I wonder if her dad can cook well. If she has a dad.
"Hey!" someone snaps in my face.
"Did you see her hair? She dyed it pink now!"
I say nothing because I am lost in thoughts and plans of how to stop the mistreatment of this girl. All involve me standing up for her, defending her in front of all my friends. None seem realistic. She gets up to throw away her trash. She had less than half the pizza. I bet her mom cooked well.
I hope and pray that no one trips her, and she is safe, but I don't get to see where she goes next because my friend wants to show me her new phone. And the girl is gone. I walk to my next class aimlessly, but then I realize it is the class where I sit next to her. I wish I knew her name because I'm in the classroom now, and I'm not sure what to say.
"Hi." It's simple, but it's a start.
I look up to her face, and realize that her eyes, underneath layers of mascara and eyeliner, are a startling grey.
I'm surprised, shocked really, that she knows my name. I feel awful, but the look in her eyes says that right now, here, with her, I don't have to worry anymore.