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Threw It Away
"Everybody, listen up! We have a new student in our class today. His name is Lak See. Lak See, would you please take a seat behind Brit." exclaimed Mrs. Brin in a high pitched voice.
"Lak See" reluctantly took his seat behind me, with his red North Pole sweatshirt covering his mouth.
"Hey Lak See. I'm Brittany." I declared.
"I’m Lai Shi." replied Lai Shi.
"Oh so that’s how you say your name! Why didn't you tell Mrs. Brin?"
"She probably wouldn't be able to pronounce it anyways."
"Right...so what school did you come from?"
From then on, Lai Shi and I became fast acquaintances. I wouldn't say we were "friends" yet but we did talk every once in a while. I quickly became infatuated with Lai Shi's personality. He was very easygoing and comforting whenever you needed him. I have to admit, he brought the best side out of me at times. I hadn’t been so friendly and extroverted in a long time. Nevertheless, like everyone, he had flaws of his own. For one, he wore the same red sweatshirt everyday which masked him in a repulsive odor. He also thought it was funny to fart at least once in every class, or maybe he did that by accident. I was never too sure. These disgusting habits led to him becoming the target of ridicule of many of his classmates, including my friends. My friends were decent people, really, but they often got carried away. It was pretty much their mode of triumph and existence to make fun of other people. As a result, I was always pulled into their jokes and antics. It was hard for me not to follow them since I am a very insecure person. Due to a depressing experience four years ago, I lost most of my friends and it took a lot of hard work and stupid jokes to become part of the crowd again. Therefore, when my friends started calling Lai Shi “Tight seat” and other degrading names, I felt like I had no choice but to join them in their wrath of torment.
As time went by, things got worse. My friends, the instigators of his torture, started drawing pictures that portrayed him in a very unflattering way. They were like cartoons except they weren’t very creative or artistic. One time, Lai Shi, two of my friends, and me were doing a school project together. I was the only one in the group who took the project seriously. I scheduled after school meetings to work on it. But in the end, no one showed up except me. But to my surprise, Lai Shi showed up to help. He arrived ten minutes late but he still came. At the time, I was very stressed about the whole thing and ended up taking my anger out on him. But nevertheless, he helped finished the project just on time. Being the math whiz he was, we earned an amazing grade without one thanks from my lethargic friends.
Two weeks later, Lai Shi enrolled in my swimming class. I quickly realized that he had a terrible case of hydrophobia. The second his feet touched a drop of water, he fearfully clung onto the pool’s walls, screaming and muttering all at once. Not being comfortable with the water myself, I had no clue what to do or how to comfort him. I ended up just standing there watching. But that’s not all, the next day I made a big mistake. I told my friends what occurred at swimming class. I didn’t really want to tell, but while they kept making fun of Lai Shi, I was idle and completely out of the conversation. The truth was, I felt that the only way I could maintain my “status” in my group of friends was by feeding them news and gossip about people they loved to scoff at, a.k.a. Lai Shi. After I told them, I made them promise me not to actually tell Lai Shi that I told them about what happened. They reluctantly agreed but still continued to make fun of him even more, in every way possible.
As our swimming lessons continued, Lai Shi became a better swimmer. He told me that he had been going to the local pool to swim everyday. I was very aggravated that while he was improving at such a rapid pace, I stayed the same. The most I could do was the doggie paddle while he was moving on to more complicated strokes. I don’t know if it was my jealousy or my ignorance, but I started ignoring Lai Shi. I decided to truly join my friends into mocking him. I took every opportunity to point out to him about how much he smelled, how his weird habit of pulling his sweater over his mouth was annoying, his swimming experience, etc. But I think the worst thing I did was make up rumors about him. I told everyone that he made fun of my swimming skills even though his were mediocre as well. This immediately catalyzed a heated debate and my friends backed me up one hundred percent. For a while, I made myself believe that he really did insult me in some way, but I knew deep down he never said one bad word about me. He actually tried giving me advice once, but I ignored it, imagining some kind of elaborate trap behind his benevolent intentions. At that point my transformation was complete, I became one of them.
From then on, Lai Shi and I became distant and never spoke again. I don’t think we were ever considered “good friends”, but my betrayal was evident after my friends blabbed about his swimming experience. Coincidentally, a couple of years later, he became popular and everyone loved to hang around him. Although he still retains some of his not so pleasing habits, he did end up changing shirts every now and then. But no matter, he found people who admired him for his personality as I once did. Every time I see him in the hallways, he would purposely avoid me and make feel invisible. But from time to time, I would catch him starring at me with a strained expression, obviously holding onto our past. Now, every time I see him I can’t help but hang my head down in shame. Words cannot express the guilt and ignominy that I felt for embarrassing him and shutting him out of my life. As a result of being masked in my own selfishness and pride, I lost someone who could have potentially become my good friend. Someone who is very sincere and whose help I took for granted. Someone I simply threw away.