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Phoebe

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I sit at the edge of my seat, my eyes glued to the enormous double doors leading into the cafeteria. He should be here soon. All I can do is wait.
My friends gossip beside me, but I’m not paying attention. I don’t care who broke up with who, who just dropped out, who is going to juvy, or, my favorite, who just got themselves knocked-up. Right now, those things seem so insignificant. It took a death to make me feel this way, and now, I only have one thing on my mind.
My friends laugh beside me. I don’t know how they can just go on like nothing happened. We just had the assembly yesterday. Sure, we all have to move on at some point, but they’re acting as if nothing has happened. How could something like this happen and still, no one gets it? How could a girl commit suicide and nothing change?
Phoebe. I didn’t know her well, but now I know I should have. She must have been in such pain; so much that she ended her life. I don’t know how she got through each day. But I guess at one point, she decided she couldn’t anymore.
I shiver at the thought. How? How could we not see what was happening to her? I kept asking myself this last night, but then I realized it was a stupid question. Of course we saw it. We were the ones doing it.
Books knocked out of her hands, taunts and calls from down the hall, things thrown at her, whispers in the classroom, and boys claiming they ‘did’ her. They were all happening. Why do people do things like that in the first place? Why can’t they see how horrible the things they do are?
Why? That’s probably the question Phoebe asked herself. Why? But she couldn’t answer it, and she couldn’t move on without the answer.
Oh Phoebe. I wish you were here. I wish I could tell you that I don’t know the answer either. I wish I could tell you that there are just evil people out there, evil people who do things with motive that we can’t explain.
I wish we could start this over, Phoebe. I wish we could go back to the beginning, back to your first day here. I wish I had introduced myself. I wish we had become friends. I wish, I wish, I wish…
That’s another thing that really bothers me, the fact that we had done nothing, that I had done nothing. We saw what was happening, and yet, what did we do? Nothing. It wasn’t just the terrible things a few kids did that led you to suicide, Phoebe. No. It was also the nice things we didn’t do. All you wanted was to be accepted, to be a happy, simple girl at high school. To not dread the day to come, to be able to walk down the hall without being tormented with whatever abuse people had to throw at you. To have friends to trust, laugh with, and look forward to seeing the next day. But you were denied all of this. Why? Because of a high school breakup that marked you as a target on the school’s repulsive social rank, that’s why.
My throat closes up. Where had I been? Why had I stood by and watched while all these things happened? Why didn’t I do anything about it? Not laughing isn’t enough. Not being any part of it isn’t enough, because we are all a part of it. It just depends on what part we play.
There he is. Taylor. The artist.
I don’t have time to act. Immediately as he enters the lunchroom, a guy he accidently bumps into shoves him. Taylor takes a few clumsy steps back and falls over. The guy who had shoved him and his buddies laugh and throw a few chunks of food and garbage at him. Once they finish, they walk away, leaving Taylor disgusting and bruised, physically and emotionally.
Taylor stands up and brushes himself off sourly. His cheeks are now flushed. He takes a quick look around before he turns around and heads back out the doorway. I stand abruptly, arising questions from my friends. I ignore them. Instead, I drop my things and make my way to the doorway, moving faster with each step.
I’m sorry Phoebe. I’m sorry people treated you that way. I’m sorry more people didn’t do anything about it. I’m sorry that you killed yourself. There are a lot of things I wish I had done differently, a lot of things I should have done differently. But I can’t. There is no ‘reset’ or ‘rewind’ button on life. I can’t go back and change what I’ve done. I can’t save you Phoebe, it’s too late, and I’m sorry for that too.
Several heads turn in puzzlement as I run past them, but I don’t care. I reach the doorway and run through it. There. There he is. I see him across the courtyard.
But it’s not too late for Taylor. It’s not too late for all the other kids out there dreading the morning they wake up to, making their way through a living hell. It’s not too late. Together, we can save them. We just have to play the right part.
He’s only a few feet from me now and I start to slow down. I reach out for him, gently grab his arm, and say his name, “Taylor.”





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rosabella14 said...
Jul. 21, 2011 at 8:12 pm
I loved the story! There are too many teens out there being bullied which leads to suicide.
 
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