Hurtful Words This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 12, 2012
By
Maybe it was the way she never stopped talking about her "perfect" boyfriend, or the far-fetched stories she seemed to fabricate or perhaps it was just our immaturity and insensitivity. Whatever it was, we hurt her. We stabbed her in the back and watched as she doubled over. I would love to say that I wasn't responsible, but although I only followed and laughed, I was an accomplice and just as guilty as everyone else with their hurtful words and cruel jokes.

Her boyfriend was away at college and because of his absence, she had been catapulted back into our lives. Once she had been so daringly exuberant, so full of energy, but going out with him for two years had affected her. She began to stay in the shadows, was reluctant to have fun and laughed less. She was an outsider - we had lost her for those two metamorphic years. We had our in jokes that she wasn't a part of.

Then she changed again and invited herself everywhere. When she did not get all the attention she now longed for, she would make up outrageous stories of Arabian women yelling "Black power" in the middle of Macy's or of Jujitsu fighters bringing back their opponent's ears for their girlfriends. Of course we laughed. What she didn't realize was that we were not laughing with her; she was the joke. When she would visit him for the weekend, she was the topic of our conversations. We would read our notes from her aloud and laugh at every word she had falsely written. I felt extremely guilty, but I didn't ever want to be in her shoes, so I shut my mouth and always forced a chuckle or smirk. What else could I do? At the time there seemed to be no other option. I was caught in my own trap.

Then she found us out. To this day none of us knows how, but she knew. She didn't say much; she concealed her tears and slowly backed out of our circle. She made other friends and didn't have much to do with us for the rest of the year. She appeared happier, but when I looked into her coffee-colored eyes, I thought I could see her sorrow. I always wanted to reach out, to apologize, to do something. Then I thought that I had hurt her as much as everyone else, and she had every right not to listen to a word I said.

I realized that the most comfortable way isn't always the best. I took the easy way out by being a follower and have vowed never to do it again. My "friends" are all going to the same college and as tempting as that may be, I am certain that going away and starting over is the better choice. I hope that through this experience, I can enlighten people to think about the ramifications of hurtful words and make people sensitive to the needs of others.

We all continue to spend the weekends together, but we are one person short and have one less topic to discuss. I watch her with her new friends and know she is better off. If I had just reached out to her, maybe she wouldn't have gotten so hurt. When I saw her backing away, I didn't realize that it was I who was trapped and that she was the lucky one. She had been given another chance. That is what I am searching for now.

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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