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It Only Takes One

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“Ask him.”
I’ve prepared myself for this moment. I can do it. I have to put aside all of the times I have been hurt by it, but I can do it.
The rest of them sense my hesitation. Lainey, my new best friend, pipes up. “Here, I’ll go first! It’s not that hard, ya know.” She saunters over to Gary, a guy so scarred he barely ever speaks. I see him hang his head down and shake his head quietly. I wonder how many times he’s done that. Probably too many. Lainey skips back over.
“It’s fine,” she assures me, “If he says yes, then just dump him on the spot!” She shrugs like its no big deal.
“Wh-who am I supposed to ask?”
“Him.” Ken, the big guy, the ringleader of the populars, points to Cal.
Cal? Cal?! No! I can’t possibly ask CAL!! All of my confidence that had been building up is swaying back and forth, on the verge of toppling over, and crushing all my dreams of being popular. Lainey’s little nudge keeps it up straight, and I’m off to go mock my ex best friend. My shuffle is so much more unattractive compared to Lainey’s dance-like walk. I straighten up and stop about five feet away from Cal. His head is down, reading manga. My favorite manga, to be exact. You don’t like manga anymore, remember? I almost start to walk away, but I can’t. I can do this. I have to put aside my past and start over. I have to.
Then he looks up. I can see it in his eyes, all of the nasty things he’s thinking about me. Traitor. How could you? All of the hate, anger, and pain bore through my skull, straight from those striking green eyes I used to love so much. It’s not much different than how it was the first day back to school, when I didn’t talk to him. When I walked in laughing with Lainey in bright new clothes, not having a hint of sadness to be leaving him.
I mumble a quiet, “Um, willyougooutwithme?” and wince, waiting for rejection. The slippery words hiss smoothly from his tongue. He must have been practicing.
“No way in hell.” He leaps off the table, gracefully gathering his belongings, and strides away, standing out with his black clothes. I can feel myself tearing up, but I shove all thoughts back, hanging on to my only positive thought, I will be popular.
I force a smile on my face and walk calmly back to the group of people who I now called my friends. None of them seem impressed. Why would they? They laugh about this every day, never thinking about how it effects the victims. The victims that have been victims of so many other things, usually worse. Victims like me. But unlike them, I’m trying to do something about it. I’m trying to start over, because I don’t want to end up as a scarred old lady, all alone, if I don’t kill myself first. I know many people who have. I want to be strong. I’m not going to hang low and show the world I’m not okay. But I’m not going to pretend that I am. I’m going to BE okay. For once. The whole summer that I spent hanging out with Lainey, I was thinking about how I could finally be popular, that my scars could start to heal, and people would like me instead of thinking I’m a freak. Sure, I would miss Cal, but it was worth it, right? Even though we helped each other, most of the time it just made me more depressed. All I want is to be happy. And if Cal doesn’t make me happy, and being popular does, then I’m going to do whatever it takes to be popular. I don’t want to be bullied any longer. Bullying is the worse form of evil. You might say that war and killing is, but bullying forms wars and killing. Not big ones, but wars within a soul. And souls wanting to be killed. Souls killing themselves. Maybe I just want the bigger picture, but maybe that’s too big of a dream. I get that it’s probably never going to stop. Humans will never see that we are savages. Humans will never see their vile ways. When I say humans, I mean all humans. Because many people do see the evil of destruction. Many people do want it to change. But it only takes one to start a war.



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