Staring This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I’ve gotten past the point of reacting when I notice them staring at me. I’d like to say I don’t care anymore. I’d give almost anything to have the courage to turn around and smile, or say something witty or even just turn around and beat them all to a pulp. I’ve never been quite that bold, or that stupid.

After a while of this treatment - the taunts and the staring - I’ve learned to control my reaction. As far as they know, I couldn’t care less about them. That’s good enough for me.

It’s hard. Everything started in eighth grade. Before that I had been teased, but it was always pretty straightforward. Ugly, stupid, annoying, short, loud, fat, whatever.

I’d never had someone start a conversation with me just to mock me. I’d never had to go along with the small talk to avoid a worse fate. I’d never worried about what people would think about me when I got dressed in the morning or mentioned my favorite song or ate my lunch.

High school is better in some ways. Everyone is more busy. Most people can’t take time out of their schedules - classes, tests, quizzes, clubs, sports, friends, jobs, family, parties, drugs, beer - just to bother me. I can walk down the halls without keeping an eye on everyone around me and looking for threats. I can breathe a bit easier.

And in some ways it’s worse. In eighth grade I had friends - or at least one friend, close enough to be my sister. I have friends now too, but they’re different. I wouldn’t count on them to back me up in a fight or to understand if I burst into tears or to apologize five minutes after having a shouting match. They’re just recurring characters in my day. So more often than not, I find myself alone at lunch, walking around the hallways. Sitting by myself in classes. Cringing whenever the teacher mentions group work.

On the rare occasion I have to come face to face with an old bully it’s never pleasant.

I stay put, stop wherever I stand, and act like I don’t see them. Until they open their mouth. They’ll ask how I’m feeling, or how my classes are, but always with that tone in their voice that reminds me that they are anything but sincere. I wish for a book or a text message to hide behind, but I’m forced to answer. They’ll ask me about my best friend who moved, thinking that she left because of all the times she was harassed in the hallways or taunted in class.

When I finally do make my escape I can feel them looking after me for a moment. I can almost hear them laughing.

I’ve gotten past the point of reacting, when I notice them staring at me.





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