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The Writer's Society
“Cass, you ready?” I nudge her with my elbow.
She lets out all of her second thoughts in the form of a sigh, “I think so…”
The school secretary hands me the microphone. In one second, the whole school will be hearing my voice. Not my speaking voice, though. It’s the hidden voice deep inside me that only escapes when I write. They will become aware of the voice that oonlyue Papermate pen has ever seen. I twirl the microphone my clenched fist.
The secretary nods her head as if to say “Go ahead.”
Cassie opens her mouth first to recite the words we have rehearsed only once before. “Dear middle school students.”
There is a dramatic pause before I realize it’s my turn. “Do you consider yourself a writer? Are you looking for a place to share your writing freely? Are you looking for a group of writers to share and learn with? Well then look no further.” Gosh, this is embarrassing.
“Starting this afternoon and every other Monday, The Writer's Society will be meeting in t-14 after school until 3:15” she continues “Come prepared to express yourself alongside other great writers.”
“Please contact Mr. Gaudreau with any questions you might have.” my voice cracks but I continue anyway as if nothing ever happened. “We hope to see you then!”
Neither of us is really sure what to do now. We had been so nervous, and now it’s over. Did I worry so much for nothing? What was I even expecting anyway? Was a swarm of students going to knock me over and pound my face into my skull? My muscles in my neck loosened a little. Maybe this wasn't so bad after all. I mean, no one listens to the morning announcements anyway, right? Not many people care if the FFA is selling flowers. The Future Farmers of America? If people never made fun of that, they won’t make fun of a simple writing club. It’s probably just all in my head.
“You girls can go back to class now,” the secretary looks at us up and down. I hadn't even realized we were still standing there. She probably thinks were just procrastinating getting back to homeroom.
I walk towards the heavy wooden door followed by Cassie. The handle almost doesn't move I feel so weak. I hold my breath for a second, hoping Cassie doesn't notice I’m shaking like a wet dog after prancing in the snow. When I finally wrench it open, it smashes the wall behind it, almost putting a hole in the concrete. My eyes grow wide when I realize what I've just done. I can feel the secretary’s eyes burning into the back of my head but I avoid looking at her. If I look into her eyes, I’m afraid I’ll turn to stone.
When safely in the hallway, I let out a huge sigh. There is an awkward silence, which is odd because it’s never awkward with Cassie. We never run out of things to say. But we both know what we want to say, it’s just that neither wants to be the first to say it.
She breaks the silence with a sigh almost as obnoxious as me. I rub my hands together and try to look for words. “So uhm, what now?” I look at her and search her face for some kind of emotion. Fear? Relief? Nothing.
“What do you mean?” she asks
I look down at my batman converse. The deep purple paint is already beginning to wear off the canvas. “I mean, what if no one shows?”
She knows I’m really not looking for an answer at all. I just want hear it’s going to be okay, even if it’s not. I just want her to throw me a line to hold onto. Even though I know when she reels it in, ill be cut up and put on the grill. At least I’ll have something to hold onto; a token of security.
“I have three friends in 7th grade already agreeing to come. And you've talked to some 8th graders?”
“Well that’s already six people interested!” the corners of her mouth tilt up ever so slightly. “And with only about 300 kids in this school, that’s great! There’s nothing to worry about.”
I can’t help but feeling a little childish as we turn the corner. As if there is a thunderstorm and I’m crawling into bed with my parents, convinced they will keep me safe. I pause, knowing my homeroom is right ahead of us. Cassie still has to make her way to the end of the hallway, but this is it for me. I have no further to walk. I contemplate the consequences of going to the bathroom for just a few minutes to get a little bit longer to think this over, but they would see me walk right by. I have to face everyone eventually. I can’t hide from it forever. The sooner I go in there, the less sick I’ll make myself.
“Well, see you later!” she shouts walking away.
“Yeah, see you later,” I respond but I don’t think she could hear me.
As I reach for the door handle, I make sure not to open it up too quickly and smash another wall today. The classroom is chaotic and extremely loud. A few kids are trying to get the teachers attention for homework or missed worksheets. Some girls sit in the corner fixing each other’s makeup. Most are just laughing in general. Maybe they weren't even listening to me. Or maybe they didn't know it was me.
Until one boy in the front row notices me walking in and stops talking. This strikes me as kind of odd. Mike never stops talking. Not even a second later, others take note of it and quiet down as well. All eyes are glued to me as I cautiously make my way through the door. Then it hits me. All the laughter was directed towards me. They were laughing at me. They were laughing at my announcement. They say an action is worth a thousand words. They’re right. Twenty two actions feel like twenty two thousand cruel, hurtful words. It feels like they are all shooting the words at me with a semi-automatic. I know I am as red as a stop sign. When I finally make it to my desk, my eyes are foggy. I can feel all twenty two pairs of eyes peering into my heart trying to see it worked. If I noticed. If I am secretly falling apart on the inside. I am. But I would never let it show. I would never give them the satisfaction.
“You did really well,” a voice sounds from behind me. It’s Joelle. It has to be, her voice is so innocent. I spin around to see three of my friends standing there. I muster a small smile.
“You did,” Kerrigan assures me. But I know they don’t care about that. I know what they are really thinking. Everyone is laughing at you right now. If you turn around, there are fingers pointed from every direction. Do you know this? Please bring it up so we don’t have to…” But you just stand there. You watch my unchanging expression.
I sigh, “I know Kerrigan.”
A sad smile creeps across her face. Her eyebrows scrunched.
The room has become so quiet, Mrs. Mancini almost whispers, “Take your seats while I take attendance.” She scans the room for empty seats.
I look longingly back at Kerrigan knowing I want her to tell me something but I don’t know what I what her to say. Anything, I guess.
“A writing club? Really?” My eyes burn. I don’t know who said that. And I’m not sure I want to know. “Nobody’s going to go to that, you know.”
I pry my eyes off the chalkboard and dart them toward the voice. Evan. His black rimmed glasses have slid down his nose just slightly. At about five feet tall, he comes up to just under my nose. His arms and legs were skinnier than the branches of a baby tree. He is proof that just because you are tiny and an A+ student; you’re not always cup of sugar and sunshine.
But he doesn't know when to give it a break, “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard of.”
I’m not sure what to say. I know he’s only looking for a reaction. I don’t want to satisfy him by giving him just that. But If I say nothing, I’m just accepting my defeat. My cheeks grow hot. I can see him holding back laughter. It doesn't make sense. I never did anything to him. So he gets better grades than I do. I Know that. And more people like him. I know that too. But I have something he doesn't. I have courage. I have the guts to put myself out there and do something for my benefit. Not for the acceptance of my peers. My world doesn't revolve around other’s opinions. I know Evan doesn't like me. But maybe that is for no other reason than jealousy. He is jealous of my fearlessness. But I say nothing. I keep my mouth shut and let him know I’m accepting my defeat.
Twenty minutes later my whole body shakes and quivers as I sit on the cold, tile bathroom floor. My mascara runs down my face. My side bangs stick to my forehead. Did I make the right decision? Is the whole writing club going to be worth it? Will I meet people similar to myself and none of this will matter anymore? Will they be there for me when I need them? I know I need to calm myself before I make myself sick. My breaths become short and quick as my tears slow. I've been in here for at least 5 minutes now. My social studies teacher is going to be wondering where I am. But she is the least of my worries right now. She could come looking for me. But I know she won’t. They never do. Like an apple core just thrown from a car window, I’ll be left here to rot. Some deer might come and nibble at my remains. But no one will ever think twice about tossing me into the snow. I’m a no one. I’m garbage. Nature’s biodegradable fruit.
I wipe the tears with my sleeve and stand up. Blood rushes to my head and I feel dizzy. A headache takes me over. I sigh.
“When is this going to end?” I ask out loud to no one. I look at my reflection as if I’m waiting for her to answer. But in order for my reflection to answer, I have to think up the words myself. My eyes are red and swollen. My fingers tremble by my sides. I am a shaken mess. I rip a piece of paper towel from the cheap dispenser, fold it into a small square, and run it under the cool water. Pressing the towel to underneath my eyes calms me a little bit. I focus on my breathing. In. Out. In. Out.
After brushing my fingers through my hair, I readjust my sweater and open the bathroom door. My classroom is literally 8 feet across the hallway. I can just barely see through the window. Beyond the glass, faces laugh. They smile. They joke. They yell. Then here I am, on the other side just looking in, unsure of myself. And unsure of where need to be. I get up the guts to reach for the handle. I turn the knob. All the eyes looking back at me are far too familiar. Evan’s blue ones are cold and icy when they look back. He can tell what I’m thinking. He can tell that I've been crying. He smiles knowingly. I will not cry. I will not run. And even if I have to fake it, I will put a smile on my face. I step into the classroom and hold my head high.