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She walks along the lockers with her head down because we tell her to. She’s always wearing neutral tones, as if she wishes she could blend into the background. She never wears makeup. She never does anything that would cause a guy to give her a second glance. She doesn’t look at them or speak to them. If she does, we attack. Not physically or verbally, of course, then people would see. Her phone will buzz with a dozen insults before whatever guy is done talking with her. Her shoulders will slump and she’ll walk away. Right along the lockers, looking down at the floor. Like we tell her to.
I don’t actually have classes with her but everyone who does says she’s a know-it-all. They say she sits in the front row and answers all the questions like a total teacher’s pet. I imagine that her phone is buzzing with each correct answer and each praising comment she receives.
She leaves right after school. Walking in the opposite direction of where everyone else lives because she doesn’t have to face us that way. Her phone doesn’t stop buzzing when she leaves. I said something once about leaving her alone when she’s not bothering us. Everyone thought I was joking so I laughed along with them.
We’ve been doing this for so long I don’t remember why we started. She was the new girl. Foreign to this school and to the way people here act. She looked better then than she does now. She’d fix her hair and she dressed as well as the best of us. I think it all started over a boy. What else would this be about?
He was the cutest guy in the class and everyone liked him. Everyone including the girl. She was someone he hadn’t seen in her awkward phase. Someone who was made of pretty smiles and a frequent laugh. He stated to like her and we stopped.
I think that’s what happened at least. Like I said, I don’t really remember why or when it all started. And I don’t remember when it became so aggressive,
I do know that it started with small comments about what she was wearing or how her hair was fixed. Tiny flaws that only we could see. One day these whispered conversations reached her ears and she cried. We laughed and joked more. She adjusted what we had ‘critiqued’ but the jokes didn’t stop. We simply adjusted as well.
I’m not sure of the exact moment she gave up on being accepted by us. I know it was after we convinced the guy that dating her would be a huge mistake and that everyone should know that. He admitted to already asking her out and we made sure he didn’t show up.
That was her breaking point. The well dressed girl with a pretty smile was gone.
We laughed and I tried to ignore the guilt that her puffy red eyes created. That was the first day she started fighting back again. My friend had gone to throw something away and the girl stood up for herself. She was outwitting my friend and instinct kicked in. I stood up for my friend and crushed the girl in the process. After that, the taunts multiplied.
Then, a speaker against bullying visited our school. We ignored the speaker just like we ignored the pointed look from students and a few teachers. The girl didn’t turn around to look at us and she didn’t admit to being our victim. We left her alone for a day in return. And we stopped verbally abusing her. She thought it was over and walked with her head held high for about a week. Then we got her phone number from the boy and it started again.
I’m not going to admit that I’m almost glad the girl hasn’t completely given in to our taunts. I’m not going to admit I almost admire her for everything she’s had to deal with. That would be agreeing with her and I can’t do that.
I’m not going to end up in her place.