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6th Grade

At age 11, each day of school was torture.

At age 11, I thought I was alone.

One day, with no warning, my three friends stopped talking to me.

I didn’t exist, except to be laughed at.

I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

But it got better.

It wasn’t the end of the world.

I created this site for support. For solidarity.

To let others know, while today might seems like the worst day of your life, it will get better.

To know you are not alone.

To share your story with others.

I first wrote this for a writing group online, The Red Dress Club.

This week, we want you to imagine that after you have died, your daughter will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have her see? Tell us about them in the finest detail.

I shared the moment below, one of the worst in my life.

Because it is these moments and how we grow from them that form who we become.

I want her to know middle school (and high school) are but a small part of your life – even though at the time it is everything.

I never want her to do this to someone.


Rising from the Ashes

I waited in the harsh glare of the overhead fluorescent lights for them. The scent of Lysol intertwined with the fragrance of flowery hand soap, creating a nauseating perfume.

Or was it just the anxiety flooding through me, causing my stomach to perform dangerous acrobatics?

The mirror reflected my pale and waxy skin in the unforgiving lights. My sky blue eyes hid behind the plastic frames and finger printed lenses of the glasses I despised.

Whoosh. Toilets flushed, drowning out the annoying buzz of the lights, as one by one, they exited the stalls behind me.

The first girl was pretty, her body still trapped in our awkward 11 year old age. Her skinny legs were too tall for her torso while her round face still transitioned between childhood and adulthood. Her chestnut brown hair was thin and straight, stopping just below her shoulders. The too short bangs were brushed crooked across her forehead.

The stomach somersaults picked up speed as she accidentally met my glance in the mirror.

Damn,” her eyes said. “You’re still here.

My trepidation skyrocketed while a part of me wanted to laugh. Did she really think I was dumb enough to fall for the same trick twice? Had she learned nothing from three years of friendship.

She paused, The Leader, as another girl appeared from different stall.

She was a few inches shorter than the Leader, but tall enough to look down at me. Her arms and legs were twigs, giving her a dainty, fragile appearance. Her skin was ghostlike, completely white except for the outbreak of freckles everywhere – the perfect match for her short red hair.

They exchanged a knowing look as they moved to the automatic faucets in unison.

A third stall sprung open as the last of “our group” was revealed. She studiously avoided my eyes in the mirror, hers covered with round coke bottle glasses that rivaled mine. Her hair was trapped between blond and brown, giving it a sandy color, as the permed curls dipped just past her shoulders.

Look at me,” I pleaded silently. Of the three, she was the only one who still dared speak to me – as long as the other two weren’t around.

She sailed past me and merged into Them.

I readjusted my overstuffed backpack as the trio moved as one, crumpling their paper towels.

Hope tried to surge through the layers of trepidation that filled me. Maybe they would give up for today. Maybe they’ll forget.

The Leader took point, heading toward the school doors, sandwiched on each side by the other two.

I followed, my feet heavy. Silent. Head hung as I focused on their shoes in front of me.

They burst out into the unseasonably warm spring day. The blaring sun smacked into me, forcing me to block it with my hand until my eyes adjusted. It heated my skin as the echo of bus doors opening and closing enveloped us, the air scented with diesel. The still dormant brown grass crunched as we took our short cut across the school grounds.

The trio continued on, never peering back at me to see if I remained. They laughed and talked louder than normal, ensuring that I heard every word.

The small bud of hope withered again – as it had every day for the last week. Confusion and despair overwhelmed me.

I didn’t exist. Not anymore. Not in class. Not at our lunch table. Not anywhere.

Still, I persisted. This was my way home too. I had every right to walk this way.

They couldn’t stop me.

We left school grounds, the only sound our feet slapping the pavement and their high pitched chatter.

Until they paused. And huddled – a circle of secrecy as they whispered in inaudible tones as I halted a few paces away, still pretending I belonged.

Suddenly, they broke apart and sprinted away as one, peals of their laughter cutting through my heart like a dagger.

My eyes blurred as tears drowned out my vision. I collapsed, struck down by their cruelty.

A part inside of me died as a phoenix sprung forth from the ashes. A vow.

I will never do this to anyone. Ever.

I’m better than that.


Originally posted 2-14-11

Please contact me at danceswithchaos (at) gmail *dot* com to submit your story.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.


12 thoughts on “At age 11, each day of school was torture.

  1. Girls can be mean to one another. Even my kindergarten girls do this. I don’t get it. I’m sorry you were treated that way.

    Posted by Mandi Eschenbach | May 28, 2011, 9:40 AM
  2. Oh sweetie. Girls (and women!!) can be so cruel to each other. This happened to me, too, when I was young, and it happened when I was teaching middle school and high school. Fortunately, there’s a little more awareness of this kind of relational aggression now, and schools are taking some action to intervene. Your blog is such a wonderful tool to help fight the bullying. Thanks for writing this.

    Posted by story | June 3, 2011, 6:32 PM
  3. I didn’t take a single breath until I got to the end of this post. Oh, Mama…what little witches they were! Some girls in my HS did this to one of my friends – out of the blue, for no reason whatsoever. P. survived, but not without scars. Whenever I see those girls in those “you may know” boxes on FB, I must fight the urge to spit at my computer screen. And then I pray that their daughters are nicer than their mothers.

    Hugs to you. The awesome woman you’ve become and to the girl you once were. You are both beautiful.

    Posted by Bellymonster | June 10, 2011, 7:00 AM
    • I often shake my head at Facebook for this very reason. I see people who are “friends” with those who tortured them in school.

      And I wonder why.

      It is one thing to forgive. Or no longer care.

      But calling one “friend”? It baffles me.

      Your words are awesome as always, my friend. You are such a strong supporter. I hope to reciprocate when you share.

      Posted by Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos | June 10, 2011, 8:10 PM
  4. I was so moved by this when I read it at TRDC and I still am.
    I had a very similar experience and it helped shape who I became.
    I’m so glad you’ve started this blog. Congratulations

    Posted by Leighann | June 10, 2011, 11:26 AM
    • Leighann – I’d love to post your story here too.

      Our stories are so different.

      Yet the same.

      This was the first time I bared my soul like this, setting the pain free.

      Sure I’m happy. I love my life.

      But the pain is still there.

      Writing mine helped. Your comments and the overwhelming response I had to this piece from TRDC, HELPED.

      I just wanted a place where I could help others as well.

      Posted by Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos | June 10, 2011, 8:12 PM
  5. Kelly!

    It’s fantastic. I can feel the breathlessness of it. Wonderful. I can’t believe you are starting another blog. Girl, how do you have the time? Or are you looking to collect stories from others, too. Whatever you do, we’ll follow!

    Posted by Renee Schuls-Jacobson | June 11, 2011, 8:30 AM
    • Renee – I hope this blog is mainly a collection of stories from others – though I will occasionally contribute.

      I have never let “time” restrict what I want to do.

      There is always laundry that can be ignored for a little while longer…. sleep to give up.

      I just feel so strongly about this, I had to do something. Maybe it will flourish, maybe it will flounder, I don’t know. But I tried.

      Any word of mouth (or word of blog) you pass on would be appreciated. The more who share, the more we learn how prevalent this behavior truly is.

      And of course, that whole “we are not alone, really.”

      Posted by Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos | June 12, 2011, 2:10 PM
  6. Wow, this brought me right back to public school, I unfortunately had a taste of both sides, the bully and the bullied. Reading your words reminds me of how horrible it feels to be left out. If I could do it again I would never think of being a bully again. I would be the girl who just plays it cool and accepts everyone. Public school is hard, its hard to see that ten years from then none of it will matter. That eventually not being friends with the girls like that will be a good thing.

    Posted by butterflygirl | June 17, 2011, 5:58 AM


  1. Pingback: Castle of a Dream | Writing with Chaos - August 1, 2011

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