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  • When I was in middle school, I was bullied and assaulted by a track star girl and two of her friends because I had an accent (according to them.) It got to be so bad that I would walk home every day instead of taking the bus, and as they passed me on the bus, they would throw bottles out the window and scream at me. It was very traumatizing, but I had bigger issues to deal with at home at the time, so I battened down the hatches and held on tight until things got better. In high school, I fell in with a great crowd of friends who showed me how good the world could really be. I moved into a new world where I forgot to worry about my past tormentors. They say that time heals all wounds, but that’s not true. It’s really love that does the healing, and I had a lot of love around me.

    One of the bullies dropped out of school, and another got pregnant. The track star girl got leukemia and eventually died. When they found out she was sick, many people said that she was getting what she deserved. It turned out that she had been horrible to a lot of students, not just me. I was conflicted for awhile, but eventually I made her an origami crane mobile and sent it to her hospital room, along with a card wishing her well. I’ve never been sorry I did it. My life was opening up in front of me, and hers was closing in on her. In the face of death, I had nothing to be angry about anymore.

    I never heard back from her, nor did I ever receive an apology from any of the three. It didn’t matter to me because I was busy playing soccer, editing the literary magazine, and writing like crazy. I didn’t think much more about her until she died. Then the school newspaper ran an article about her long hospital stay and failed cancer treatments. Splashed across the front page was a photo of her hospital room that had been taken two weeks before her death. Hanging down directly above the pillow was my origami mobile, five long rows of multicolored cranes descending from a blooming tissue-paper flower.

    I’m glad she had something beautiful to look at as she died. I will never know if she regretted the things she had done when she was healthy, but in a very strange way, I’m glad to have known her. I think about her sometimes when the world weighs down on me and I have to face up to cruelty and I’m not sure if I can forgive. I remember how goodwill brought us both something beautiful, and I sincerely hope that she is right now seeing sights a hundred times more beautiful than anything this earth can provide.

    This one’s for you, Colleen. :)
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