The Insensitivity of Youth

This is a Fiction piece written in response to the prompt on a website I love, The Red Dress Club.
Someone has stolen something from you (or your character). Something of tremendous value. What will you do to get it back? Or will you give up?
The sun was hot on Cheryl’s forehead as she sauntered along with the type of self-absorbed confidence only an over indulged pre-teen can. From a house behind her a girl of approximately the same age hustled out the door yelling her name trying to catch up to Cheryl. Cheryl didn’t alter her course; there was a slight tilt to her head and rising of her chin in response to the call.
“Hi Cheryl, I love your top, it’s really hot out today huh?” the girl said quickly as she stumbled into step with Cheryl.
With a sideways glance Cheryl responded “Did you get it?”
The girl hiked her backpack higher on her shoulders and hastily said “Oh yeah, here, but I need it back at the end of school” as she held out a bracelet she had been carrying.
Cheryl clipped the sliver cuff on carelessly with a sly smile on her face, “Okay, so now you’re my best friend for the day and you can sit beside me at lunch.”
The other girl smiled happily and they continued down the road towards Canterbury Middle School.
Anyone observing would quickly notice Cheryl’s appearance of confidence, her stylish attire and knowing gaze. They might hear the other girl’s nervous laugh at each exchange between them, notice how she fidgeted and seemed to fawn over Cheryl.
You see the other girl was me. I was 12 and I really wanted to be Cheryl’s friend. Cheryl personified everything I wished I was. She was popular, pretty and smart.
She even had a boyfriend!
We had been in school together since kindergarten and although our Mothers had once been friends we hadn’t been friends in years.
Everything changed when my Mom died.
Oh what it would mean when the kids at school knew she’s my friend!
I’d get invited to boy & girl parties, I could eat lunch with the cool kids; people would talk to me finally!
I couldn’t wait.
That day was wonderful!
Children I had known forever suddenly paid attention to me, gave me friendly smiles and included me. I ate lunch at a table full of people talking with me, far away from my regular table where it was quiet and lonely.
This one lovely day at school in Grade 7 changed my perception.
These kids showed me what it felt like to belong again.
On the walk home from school that day Cheryl gave me back my bracelet and said “See ya”.
I was so happy I gave it no thought; I told her I’d see her tomorrow and rushed home to gush into my diary, capturing each event in detail.
I still read that diary wondering at the insensitivity of youth.
You see the next day when I arrived at school and animatedly began telling Cheryl and her friends about my evening at the Car Show with my Dad I was greeted with blank stares.
I’ll never forget the feeling of my heart sinking as the understanding began to dawn. I pushed that feeling aside and valiantly tried harder to engage each one of them in conversation.
The change would have looked subtle to an outsider but I knew in my heart that I was excluded, alone again.
I watched with a cold heart as they all walked away from me, together as a group.
When Cheryl turned around and walked back towards me my heart began to warm up, hope was filling me.
“Don’t look so sad, the deal was just for yesterday.”
As I watched her walk away the sense of belonging left me yet again.

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17 Responses

  1. I think you did a great job of presenting the POV of a pre-teen girl very well. I wonder if you only secured her role as insignificant by starting your post with the focus on Cheryl.But you did express that feeling of loss and I immediately felt sympathy for your character.

  2. Thank you for all the comments, keep em coming!!I tried to write from a different perspective this week, it would have been very easy for me to write from my recent losses but I wanted to challenge myself.

  3. Ugh, that was heartbreaking. Poor little thing. Great job…you really showed the feelings of being alone that this little girl was feeling.

  4. Excellent, you brought up lots of yucky feelings I had about trying to fit in in Jr. High, I dread when my own children have to go through this. You wrote superbly my dear, and I look forward to reading many more!!!

  5. oh, so sad. I've been there too, wondering why I wasn't good enough to be popular, or sit at that table, etc. It breaks my heart for her, but the way you wrote about it, the way I felt those emotions was so good, the language was relateable and true. Great job

  6. The story behind this was just… depressing. And accurate as to how girls can be so cruel to one another. How sad!Concrit would be.. a few punctuation errors here and there, but mainly it was the first paragraph that sort of threw me. It could maybe be redone from this:From a house behind her a girl of approximately the same age hustled out of a house yelling her name trying to catch up to Cheryl. Cheryl didn’t alter her course; there was a slight tilt to her head and rising of her chin in response to the this:From a house behind her, a girl of approximately the same age hustled out, yelling Cheryl's name and trying to catch up to her. Cheryl didn’t alter her course; there was a slight tilt to her head and a raising of her chin in response to the calls.Just my personal opinion! =)Great job capturing the emotions of adolescence!

  7. I still can't believe how cruel middle school girls can be. I was lucky in that my daughter wasn't caught up in this type of drama-but I knew other moms whose daughters were devastated over the ins and outs of popularity.You did a great job on portraying what it's like to be a young girl who wants desperately to belong. I want to hug her:)

  8. I could feel the emotion – especially at the end – of being left (probably because it felt real to me). Very good – and loved the writing from a totally different perspective.

  9. Preteen girls can be so cruel. As a victim of mean girls myself, I can totally relate to this and it is well told. I don't think you need to acknowledge you are the girl in the middle. I would keep it all in the third person or all in the first person. Probably first person if you want people to know it was you.

  10. This felt so real. I picture everything that was happening and how the little girl must be feeling. Great job! This is very well-written. :) And thanks for stopping by my new blogging adventure! I really appreciate the support. I hope you've had a wonderful weekend!

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