I was 12 years old and about to enter junior high school and beyond excited. I mean it was JUNIOR HIGH, which meant school dances, tons of new friends and BOYS. My summer before starting dragged by. I was literally counting down the weeks until the first day. My outfit was planned well in advanced and it hung in my closet -– perfectly pressed and ready to be rocked.
First day finally arrived and off I went. The first half of the day was amazing. My elementary BFF’s and I had a few classes together, so we passed notes back & forth about the boys we thought were cute and what a snooze our teachers were. Then came my last class of the day: gym. No biggie. I wasn’t an athlete but being that I was raised with two brothers, I could definitely hold my own when necessary.
My main BFF had gym with me and we immediately spied a group of girls who were known as the most popular ones. They laughed loudly, paid very little attention to the softball game we were all playing, and basically acted as though no one outside of their crew existed. We weren’t even really drawn to these girls but for some reason they were drawn to us. They approached us after gym and asked if we wanted to hang out after school. Sure, why not?
The leader of the pack was an 8th grader named *Annie. She was the one who actually approached us and she was the one that made all the decision as to where we would hang and the route we would take to get there. When we arrived to a location that she found fit, we all gathered around and stood there waiting for her to speak.
Her first words were to me: “Do like soda?”
“Yeah” I replied.
She then took her can of soda and poured it on top of my head. WTF?! Everyone laughed but my bff. I was utterly embarrassed and my blood was boiling -- like I said, I grew up with two brothers, so I could hold my own, giving out a hard punch here or good kick in the shins there was no problem for me. But for some reason, out there with those girls, I couldn’t move and eventually ended up “laughing” with the rest of them. Annie then apologized and said to me “You’re cool, we’ll definitely hang.”
The remainder of the year was pretty much a same shit different day type of thing. She would spread lies about me such as telling girls I was sending love notes to their boyfriends; or better yet, attempting to steal the boys I liked away from me. She wrote embarrassing shit about me on the bathroom wall and even started this rumor that I was a Test Tube Baby; she would have all of her crew sing “You down with TTB” in the same melody as “You down with OPP.”
But in the same breath she would tell me how much she loved me and how amazing I was. I hated that bitch. I wished her dead. I was SO glad she was a year ahead of me and headed off to high school that next year. And because of that, my 8th grade year of Junior High was amazing.
Then came High School. Thankfully, Annie and I went to different schools, but I still had to see her. Our bus stops were across the street from each and for the first few weeks all was good. We’d wave at each other and keep it moving. Until some boys that went to school with her decided they were interested in me and my friends… and man was she pissed.
Rocks thrown, middle fingers given, “bitch” and “ho” shouted from across the street -- just a few of the things I had to endure going to school in the morning. And twice she and her crew jumped me in the middle of the day and beat me up.
Eventually I moved from the area and no longer had to cross paths with her. After high school, I left California and moved East for college. I met a whole new crew of friends and never had to deal with a bully again. Yay for me!
And then, one night in September 2006, 16 years after my hellish junior high days, I received a phone call from someone back at home. I was told that Annie was ALL over the local news. Her boyfriend, who was almost 20 years her senior, had stabbed her 75 times in her own home. She was pronounced dead on the scene and her murderer was on the loose (the bastard has since been caught and will spend 37 years to life in jail).
The news hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried and cried for days. That poor girl. I thought back on how terrible she use to treat me. But instead of anger (which I still felt prior to that whenever she would randomly pop up in my head), I just felt sympathy. I realized that to actually bully someone, you must be a pretty sad and insecure person inside.
The papers portrayed her as a loving mother, daughter, sister and friend who went out of her way for everyone. And when I think back to my junior high days, I realize that this was actually true. On Annie’s “good days” she was the nicest, sweetest person ever. Why she chose to torture me on her “bad days” still boggles my mind.
But kids do dumb shit and I have forgiven her for that. But what I hope is that she was able to forgive herself, before her life ended in such a sad and tragic way.
*Names in this story have been changed.