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The Weight of a Word

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Cold tears remained on my face as I slowly realized the truth. This pain I felt, which seemed endless, was all my fault. People tell me I’m a smart girl, but smart girls don’t make mistakes like this. The only good thing about knowing the truth was that it wouldn’t have been my fault if it wasn’t for them. If I had never met them. The idea was strange, almost frightening. I never believed in teen bullying until now. Only I was the bully.

As a child, I thought that bullies were big, ugly, and obviously jerks. But I never thought of myself as that. You don’t realize that you’re hurting someone until they react. Well, that’s what happened to me.

It’s never a good thing to talk behind someone’s back, but unfortunately for me, I am only human. Friendship is a sweet burden that I mistreated. You’d think that when you create friendship, trust comes next, but I guess I put my trust into the wrong people.

In third grade, I became friends with a girl, well she was also actually an outcast, seeing how I was her only friend for years, named Caroline. She was a tall, chubby girl that had no brothers or sisters so she didn’t really know how to talk around people. We were very close, but we got into fights all the time about silly stuff like dolls. But we would always make up and our bond together just got stronger.

In fourth grade, two twins transferred to our school. They were identical and had black hair and seemed just happy to be here, but they smiled at everyone. I always smiled back since they were new. Later in the year, I became best friends with the oldest of the twins, Jillian. We were always together, and I didn’t even notice that I was ignoring Caroline.

Time passed and now I was in the seventh grade, and Jillian and I were always together and I believed every word that left her lips. To me, she was the holiest saint that ever touched the earth. I thought she had no flaw and that she was perfect. Little did I know that she thought of me as her little servant girl. Ever since she came to my school, she was in all of the same classes as Caroline, and every day she told me what Caroline had to say about me. And unfortunately, I believed every lie.

Just a normal day of recess, Jillian telling me everything Caroline said, and then me bad- mouthing Caroline. I always thought that this “little” discussion was always kept between the two of us.
But then one night I got a call. Caroline. Strange.
“Hello,” I said, trying not to sound surprised.
“Is this Vanessa?” a voice that I hadn’t heard in a while asked.
“Yes, this is,” I said, hoping that she didn’t want to talk to me.
“Can I ask you if you told Jillian that I stalk you?”
“I think you just did ask. I don’t know what you mean by that.”
“I think you do,” she said in a confident voice, which I had never heard from her before.
“Listen, I have to go. My mom made dinner. Talk to you-“
“I know you told her that.” I could now hear the confident Caroline break down. “Why? Why would you say that? I hope you know it’s not true.”
I didn’t know what to say. How did she know this? Surely Jillian didn’t tell her. Jillian couldn’t have told her. That’s just an impossible thought, so as quick as the thought came to me, I dismissed it.
“Hello? Are you even listening?”

“Uhm, yeah. But really, I have to go. I swear I didn’t say that, though. Bye,” I said, hanging up the phone before she could respond.

I looked around the room. It was dark. The only light came from the computer since I like the dark. I looked at the computer. English essay. I definitely did not want to do that, but had to. So I just pushed away my conversation with Caroline out of my head and did my homework until my mom actually called me down for dinner.

That night, I laid on my bed trying to fall asleep, but I just couldn’t. I kept thinking of how Caroline could have gotten that idea, even though it was true. I turned over on my side, studying the blackness until my eyes adjusted and I could see the wall. Since I was nowhere near sleep, I got up and turned the small lamp on my dresser across my bed on. I looked in a box I had in the corner of the room. I didn’t know why I was looking in the box, but I just let my arms search through the box.

Almost a minute passed by until I found what I was apparently looking for. A small envelope with the hand written note on it,
“For Vanessa, with love, Caroline.”

Of course, I couldn’t help but rip it open and read the contents. When I pulled put what was inside, I remembered when Caroline gave me this envelope. She had a sweet smile on her face as usual.

It was her last birthday party that I went to; the one she had in fifth grade. That was a fun party. It was the only year that she invited Jillian and her sister Caleigh to her party. I totally ignored Caroline and just hung out with Jillian and Caleigh. Then I remembered how the pictures got into the box in the first place. I had thrown them in there without a second thought of looking at them.

I continued thinking about how Caroline could have known that I called her a stalker. Then I thought about it a minute. Caroline was my best friend; why would she have said those awful things about me in the first place? I started thinking about what I said about her and I never asked her if she really said that; but when Jillian told her what I said about her, she asked me. She wasn’t in the wrong, I was. So that night, I cried for hours thinking about how a once shy little girl had become a vicious monster.

The next morning, I told Jillian what happened the night before and she said she never told Caroline anything and I believed her. Shortly after our talk, I was called to the counselor’s office. And sure enough, there was Caroline. The good thing about that meeting was that I got to miss Spanish, but the bad thing was, I had to face the truth. After a long talk about how I had hurt Caroline, Jillian was called in. I don’t want to go into all that was said in there, but I can tell you one very, very important thing that happened in there: Jillian confessed that she told Caroline.

I was hurt in a way that no words can describe. I trusted Jillian for years and I found out that she lied to me. I would never, never lie to her. Who is this girl that I had become friends with? But more importantly, who am I?

For years, I wanted to be everything that Jillian was because she knew who she was, while I had no idea who I was. Now, I had to start all over, become someone else besides The Jillian Clone.

The worst part about all of this was that I only cared about what Jillian did to me, not what I did to Caroline. The bully had become the victim. I thought it impossible that Jillian could be hurt by what she did, so I emailed her, basically to yell at her.

“What were you thinking?! Why did you tell her?! I trusted you!”

Shortly afterward I got a response.

“What are you talking about? I never told her anything!”
Enraged, I replied, “You admitted to it in the counselor’s office! You said you told Caroline even though I trusted you! You aren’t tricking me again!”
This time it took her fifteen minutes to reply, “I told you from the beginning, you must have forgotten. Please don’t yell at me.”
“You liar! You never told me anything of the sort! Why can’t you just admit the truth instead of lying to everyone and to yourself?!”
“Please stop emailing me.”

“What? You afraid of the truth?!” I replied sounding again like the monster within me.

“Vanessa, this is Jillian’s father. Please stop emailing my daughter. If you keep emailing her, I will call your mother and tell her what you have been saying to my daughter.”

I thought this was a trick, so I emailed her back. “Jillian, stop trying to avoid the subject. I admitted to telling you, so you need to admit that you told Caroline. And if you call my mom, she’ll know that you’re lying.”

That was probably the stupidest thing I have ever done in my life. Reader, if something like this ever happens to you, revenge is not the answer. After these emails were sent, I was grounded for several months.

And now here I am, in my room, a month into the summer after the school year ended. Everything that happened, I wish I could take back, but all I can do is apologize. But it’s too late for that. The summer seemed endless. It was only the beginning of the summer and it already seemed like forty years.

I tried to contact all my friends, but they ignored my cries of wanting. I just wanted a friend and that seemed to be the impossible. My window in my room had a screen that you could open and a landing right outside it. Every day I would go out onto the landing, thinking about diving off.

What makes a perfect friend? Someone loyal; someone who never lies to you. Someone who will acknowledge their faults and keep moving forward. Someone who will love you and all of your faults and treasure every part of you.

What makes perfect happiness? A one-hundred percent trust in someone or something. I did have one-hundred percent trust in someone, but they let me down, and I don’t know if I’ll ever fully trust anyone again.

Right then, there was nothing I could do to go back, could only wipe away the cold tears and move on. Move on.

But first thing first, I still needed to find an answer to the biggest question of all: who am I?

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