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The Bystander and The Fire This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I don’t know what’s worse—to be the bystander or the fire. To be the bystander is to follow the flames wherever they go, uncaring when they spread over their next victims and demolish them completely. To be the bystander is to add wood to the fire, ignoring the attempts to extinguish it from friends of the victims. There are some who will never know about the fire, however. They will see a force that gives life and happiness, not one that takes. They will see the orange, but not the smoldering coals in the heart of the flames. They will not see the bully.

It’s not as if the victims are alone. Often times they stand in groups with several friends, talking and muttering about their own ordeals. They laugh and play, throwing a single ball of playdough from the plastic, yellow bin in celebration of the conclusion of finals. But the fire does not care. She feeds on individuals within the group, burning them slowly while the others stay away, wary but unwilling to act. And the fire will not stop, attacking relentlessly as the group attempts to fight back. She grabs the ball of playdough as it hits the ground for a second time, ruining the enjoyment, tossing it back into the bin where it came from.

The bystander says nothing. She never says anything, really. At first it would appear to the wandering eye that she was a kind girl, one to befriend and trust. She smiles often, compliments, but she is also the closest. She has the most opportunities, the most perspective to end the seemingly endless trail of arson that leaves rubble in its path. But she walks on still, blindfolded and bound by her master, continuing to give her unspoken, unfounded support.

To this day, the fire continues to flicker unnoticed. She has red hair, the most fiery hair that you could image. She’s medium height, freckle-faced, and seems quite friendly, just like the bystander. But under that picturesque smile is a different girl, a girl who picks on the weak and holds down the drowning, a girl that spreads gossips and lies. Her fingertips dance with reinforcements, kindling beneath the heat, so-called friends that see a role model, someone who they might wish to be themselves. But maybe one day, just maybe, the bystander will see through the cracks in the mirror, and see who the fire really is.



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