That One Word


The classroom was reasonably quiet, for our class anyways. It seemed it was always the boys who ran their mouth off about some topic, any topic really, but today they had quieted down. Not that I was the perfect student, I was doodling in my scribbler. The drawing was of a penny with splashes of water around it, like the penny fell into a fountain or well.

Then I heard the word, and my heart became like wrathful sea out of the fifth circle of hell. Mavric, an annoying insufferable mongrel, had uttered a profanity toward Daelia. How could he? She was his friend, peer, and close acquaintance, and he demeaned her, cast her down to the dirt, with one word. Just like that penny I drew, Daelia sunk down, down, down, into a murky dark abyss, and yet she gave a laugh. I could see the pain on her face, how it hurt her to even give that small laugh, yet it could be because the boys, the people she called friends, laughed too. That wasn’t the worst of it though, the teacher had heard and left it alone. Wasn’t it their job to make sure we felt safe here, to make sure we never had to feel this way? I was pretty sure it wasn’t just their job, it was everyone’s job to protect each other.

Rage rumbled and groaned inside me, like I was Pandora’s box holding demons at bay that could destroy the world if I let even one out. In that moment I wanted to destroy him, destroy all the people who did nothing. She had just been sitting there doing her work and hadn’t aggravated him to throw that insult at her. I know her well enough to know she hadn’t done what he said she did with that one word. What I don’t understand is if they were her friends why did they do this to her? She was so kind, sweet, and had a certain innocence around her, all she wanted to do was fit in. Mavric deserved the worst kind of pain, the one where the deepest darkest part of the soul is revealed, a part of the soul thought never to be seen because that darkness is hidden so well. His eyes could be drooping with fatigue, and body torn and broken able to move no more, and it would never be enough for me in that moment. I wanted to take him down, shout at him the profanities he had delivered so easily out of his mouth.

I wanted to avenge the pain that no one should ever feel, I didn’t though. Fear had taken hold, and whispered in my ears, ‘he will turn on you, make fun of you, and bury you in the dirt to suffer more ridicule than Daelia did, only because you are not one of them’. I never thought fear could speak such words so quickly into my head, and so I sat brooding until I calmed down enough to think.

Being born a people watcher, I have studied a countless amount of people, seeing what people do when they think nobody’s watching. For me I like to study the people I dislike the most, wishing I knew what went on in the back of their heads. You can guess that I have studied Mavric, he has that fake bravado and cockiness making him the cool kid, but all that is like the invisibility cloak. He has a sadness about him, and more than less often guilt. Guilt clouds around him now, I can see it so clearly as he talks and laughs with his group.

Mavric has been trying so hard to fit in, as it was his first year to come to our overly peppy school. We have all seen the movies and TV shows that show how the “cool” kids act, they’re all ‘oh no, a person not in my close circle of friends, you must be lower than dirt and therefore beneath me” said in an overly high and annoying, close to mickey mouse voice. It’s not like that though, it’s worse. Whoever is in the cool squad is always on a race for the top, you need to look good, be good at sports, but not to involved or your weird, and you need to be funny, even at someone else’s expense. It’s a kill or be killed world and you need to be cut throat. This is what Mavric is doing, he racing a race he could probably win. This is what happened with Daelia, he needed to come up with some out of proportions joke, to keep his place with his friends, or be replaced.

Guilt now consumed me as I came to my conclusion. I couldn’t stand up for Daelia because it would lead to my prosecution on the social hierarchy, and couldn’t bend these odd laws society has set up for all of us. Mavric also didn’t deserve this anger directed at him, he did what I did, I saved myself from the hungry jaws of ridicule. I would like to say that I stood up for Daelia the next time he called her that profanity, but then I’d be lying and there is no hiding from the truth.

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