A Story of One Girl's Ever After.
This is a story about a girl. It's a story about the choice a girl made, a choice made without thought and one that has haunted her. Her life has become the moment before that choice and the Ever After.
Really, this is a story about two girls, but I don't know the ending for one of them.
There was a girl, sitting at that desk right there, see? Her teacher had ordered them alphabetically.
Sometimes that was a relief; it meant no jockeying for position closest to the cool and popular nexus. For this girl was not in the nexus but just ouside it's periphery. Those within the nexus, she was sure, did not worry like her about where to sit or what to wear or even what to eat.
This girl was firmly on the periphery, she teetered on the age of coolness. She knew what held her back. She was fat and fat girls do not belong in the nexus. Oh yes, there were one or two, but they had confidence and charisma that she did not. It's okay, she was taking care of the fat.
Of course there were other things that held her outside. She was too nice. She knew that. But she wasn't willing to change it. She was too smart. Again, not willing to change it, though perhaps she could hide it a little. And she was too good. A downright goody two-shoes who could not do anything without her conscience torturing her.
She thought with all these weaknesses she could never be IN the nexus, but the corona would be good. The outer ring was better than just outside the outer ring. She'd be invited to the parties and maybe even meet some of the boys but she wouldn't have to worry as much about being toppled, would she?
She had set her sights and nothing was going to get in her way.
But this seating plan was not working for her. There, across the room, see them? There was the nexus. Nine or ten of them, similar in everything including alphabetical order of name. It began to burn an idea into her head. Perhaps it was pure coincidence: they were seated together in Kindergarten and remained that way since. But it couldn't be that easy. She had the formula; she knew the steps to her salvation.
The trick was to never stay outside too long. Flit into their group, interest them, pretend you're not interested. Hard to do from across the room though. And even harder to do surrounded as she was by the alphabetical losers.
She cursed her name that day. For there she was admidst the overweight, four-eyed, asthmatics with urinary incontinence or ADD or some other equally socially death-giving affliction.
And there was that Other girl. A red-head. Overweight, big glasses, pasty looking, completely the wrong clothes. And what was that? She was smiling! Smiling at The girl. Smiling at her in that pathetic way she imagined someone stuck in quicksand might smile as they reached their hand toward you.
It was the most pathetic save-me smile The girl had ever seen. But the pure audacity and puppy-love charm of it made her smile back. That and she was nice and couldn't not smile at someone who was smiling at her.
This of course, is the moment of the death of her dreams. For one cannot make it even into the corona with a fly stuck to one's shoulder.
And that is how The girl begins to feel about the Other girl: a fly, a pest, a flittering annoyance that buzzed around her disrupting her day. They had nothing in common. Well, okay, they were both fat. But even The girl looked glamourously fat in comparison to the Other girl. The Other girl wasn't even very bright. She attended special education classes.
The girl began to be teased about the Other girl. "She has a crush on you," they would call from the nexus. "I didn't know you were a lesbo," someone would inappropriately say from the corona. Even her own very-good friends began to avoid her because of the nuisance of her companion.
The girl prided herself on being different. She was in rugby and drama. She was in choir and Model UN. she was WELL ROUNDED. She was SMART. She was GOING PLACES. But not with this millstone around her neck.
The girl dressed carefully but non-conformingly. She might wear something verging on ridiculous but edging on cool. She would be noticed and someone would say "cool outfit." Her week would be made. However, the next day the Other girl would show up in some horrid imitation of her outfit. "Don't I look cool," she would ask, her eyes big and innocent. And The girl could not be mean. She could not tell her what she really thought. She could not even tell the Other girl to go away.
Instead, she complained to her very-good friends who sometimes avoided her. They began to call the Other girl The Pest. They joked about bringing bug spray to school to ward her off. The girl was not quite comfortable with this joke, but it was funny and fitting.
And then there came the day. Of course there would be one of those days wouldn't there? The girl, who has sworn to never regret the choices she makes made the one choice she has always regretted that day.
The girl was excited about something. Who knows what young girls were excited about then. A part in a play? A party? A boy? A trip with one of her clubs? She was talking with her very-good friends at their lockers. The Other girl approached. She was wearing a truly disastrous outfit modeled on The girls clothes of yesterday. She had died her hair to match The girl. She had the same bookbag. She was bordering on stalking.
The girl resented the interruption. "Don't I look cool?" the Other girl asked. And that was the breaking point. Anyone who is anyone knows you don't ask if you look cool. The girl went into her zone. The special place she reserved for rugby tackles and on-stage anger. She went to her mean place and she pulled out her imaginary bottle of bug spray.
SPRITZ. SPRITZ. She pretended to spray the Other girl. "Do you hear that little fly?" she asked her friends.
Their eyes widened. They breathed in and never out. The girl felt her stomach drop. She was whisked from her mean place and straight into the reality of her real place. The place where she had just hurt someone. The place where she had become one of "them:" a mean girl.; an uncaring beast of a girl who destroyed another person's happiness.
The Other girl fled. There were tears. There were stares of recrimination. She couldn't quite cut her ties, but she never idolised The girl in the same way again.
And The girl realised that there are some things more important than the corona or even the nexus. There was the right here and now of being who you are.
The girl is older now. Much, much older. And one would hope she's wiser too. She has children of her own. She worries more that they will be bullies than that they will be bullied by others. She worries for a good reason. She knows that within herself, on that day, she pulled a bully from her mean place. She promptly tucked her back away but the power and the ease of it frightened her for life.
She doesn't know where the Other girl is now. She's heard things sometimes. The Other girl works at a daycare. She saw her once on Facebook. She looks happy. There doesn't seem to be a husband or children. She didn't "request" they be friends. It seems a little too late for that now. She wonders if she said sorry if the Other girl would even remember what she was talking about. She wonders if the Other girl's world shifted that day like hers did.
She doesn't want to say sorry. Not because she isn't. She truly, deeply, everlastingly is. But because she doesn't want to be forgiven. For The girl with no regrets has this one regret. She thinks perhaps one regret in life is healthy - a learning opportunity. She will hold it forever. It is fitting punishment for the pain she caused that day.
Writing Workshop. I chose prompt number one. Tell me about someone from the past who you lost touch with and who you often think about.