Standing Up This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

“You stupid lesbo,” he says as he pushes me into a row of lockers. Panic panic. “You're so stupid,” he sneers. “I saw you kiss her. Why did you do that?” He tries to trip me. Oh God, where is an adult when I need one?

I guess I should have seen it coming. I was stupid for even letting myself fall into this trap.

It's sophomore year of high school and I'm in my school's musical. After rehearsal one evening I'm waiting on the stairwell for my brother to finish crew. I'm working on some geometry problems when a guy sits down next to me. I don't know his name, but I've seen him hanging around crew before.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

“My homework,” I answer, without looking at him.

“That's boring. C'mon, let's go for a walk,” he says, standing up. I know I shouldn't. He has never been particularly nice to me. But for some reason I decide to go, simply because I'm not thinking.

We start walking down the darkened hallways, making small talk, until I realize that we are in an empty corridor out of earshot of the adults. That's when he corners me.

“Do you fight?” he asks. I don't quite know what he means.

“I'm really more passive aggressive,” I answer slowly. That's when he starts pushing me and bringing up that incident he witnessed.

Now he's messing up my hair. “There, now it matches the rest of you,” he laughs smugly. “So are you really a lesbo? Or are you bi?”

“Neither. I'm straight,” I answer shakily. He shakes his head and grins evilly.

“Then why did you kiss a girl? She's hot and you're not,” he states, like it's an obvious fact that ugly girls and pretty girls should never kiss. Which I'm not. Ugly, that is.

“Look, it was just a peck on the lips. Tons of girls do that to greet each other and say good-bye nowadays, genius,” I shoot back. I see the look in his eyes, and the pit of my stomach sinks as I realize, Now I'm gonna get it.

We're by the stairs now, and he grabs me around the waist, trying to push me off the stairs. “I should just lock you out in the rain so your hair frizzes,” he grunts as he struggles with me. “Then you'll feel as ugly as you are.”

Luckily we're about the same size, so I plant my feet firmly and manage to maintain my balance. He gives up and instead tries to toss me into the potted plants. I push him away and start walking toward the main hallway where there are bound to be other people. Breathe. Look strong. Don't entice him.

He comes up behind me as I turn down a hall that leads to the main corridor. I can see the shapes of people passing by at the other end. It's like the light guiding me to Heaven, my salvation.

“I could smack your a-- right now and you wouldn't do anything,” he baits.

“Yes I would,” I declare as I plow forward, because what can I say? “You're right, I won't defend myself against sexual harassment”? Then I feel his hand smack my behind, and my temper ignites, though I attempt to control my actions. I whirl around, grabbing his arms and pinning them to his sides.

“Don't. You. Ever. Do. That. Again,” I growl through clenched teeth. He smirks and shakes free. I turn and push through the doors to the open, lit hallway and have never been so relieved to be among civilization.

I grab my brother and we go home. I don't cry until I am alone in my room. My mom hears my sobs, however, and comes in to soothe me.

“I wasn't strong,” I cry in her arms. “I didn't fight back. I know you taught me to never let a guy boss me around, but I couldn't stand up for myself!”

She pats my hair and calms me down. “Sometimes sticking up for yourself means using your brain, not your brawn. Think about what would have happened if you had punched him. He could have seriously hurt you, and you both would have been in trouble. But you didn't give him that chance. You used your head and got yourself to a safe place. That takes a strong woman too,” she says. I go to bed with this thought in my head.

I see him in the halls the next day and hold my breath, wondering what he's going to do. We pass each other without a word or even a glance. It's like nothing happened.

I exhale in relief. I head to Spanish class and slide into my desk next to my friend and start chatting – as though I wasn't threatened last night. I tell myself I've grown from this experience. I am a little bit stronger and a little bit wiser for making a mistake and learning from it.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Thesilentraven This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 25, 2010 at 10:58 am
I'm so sorry that this happened to you. I think the sad fact is: there are just a lot of jerks in the world. The best you can do is not let them get to you. I'm glad you learned from your experience, though.
 
Mysterygirl3This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Apr. 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm
this is sooo good of a lesson to never give up, and hope your doing much better now...
 
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