Behind What You See

Behind What You See

Ally Campton has been bullied through every year of high school so far. She didn’t even think it was possible to go near her school without being hurt in some way. But after moving twice with her mother, she finally thought it was over.
But when her troubles followed her, she didn’t think she was strong enough to stand up for herself. At least not on her own.


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Chapter 4

You Don't Know Me

I sat alone at lunch, looking around the cafeteria like I was watching a movie. I felt like I wasn’t really there. Like I was watching everyone sitting around me on a screen, and I was just waiting for the next line to be said. 

That’s what my whole life felt like sometimes. I wasn’t really here, I wasn’t really living through anything. As if everything around me, including my life, was fake. Like I wasn’t really supposed to be here. I felt completely out of place, like a spot of black on a rainbow. Or a palm tree in a snow-covered evergreen forest. 

Palm trees. When I was actually able to fall asleep after being tortured with horrible messages coming from Virginia, I would find myself dreaming about palm trees. I wanted to be back in Florida, to see palm trees along the beach, and feel the blazing sun beating down on the hot sand. And most of all, I wanted to be around friends that actually cared about me. 

I ate in silence, waiting for the bell to ring so I could go to my next period. That’s how I spent every day. Counting down each period until I could get on the bus and head home. And today was Friday, so I was even more eager to get out of school quickly. 

But this day was different. 

About half way through lunch, a girl was walking toward me carrying her lunch tray. She was almost passed my table, when she tripped on the leg of a chair and dropped her lunch all over the floor. 

When she was heading my way, I really hadn’t noticed who she was. But as she stood up and began picking up what she had dropped, I recognized her as Vanessa, the girl I had first seen on the bus at the beginning of the week. 

Normally, I was the kind of person who would just look the other way when someone thing like this happened in front of me, thinking that it would save the person some embarrassment. But this time, I felt like I should help her, because I knew it had been my fault that she had fallen. The chair she tripped over was the one next to mine, and I had pushed it out to put my books on it. 

I got down on one knee and help her clean up the food that had been spilled on the floor. I did it in silence. 

When the mess was completely cleaned up, Vanessa stood up and smiled at me. “Thanks.” 

“Are you okay?” I asked. 

She laughed, “Trust me, it’s not the first time I do something like this, and it won’t be the last.” 

I nodded in acknowledgment, and sat back down. 

I was expecting Vanessa to continue walking and go to sit with her friends, but instead, she sat down across from me. 

“You’re Ally, right?” She asked. 

I just looked at her, still very surprised that anyone would actually choose sitting with me, instead of sitting with their friends. Never mind the fact that this was Vanessa. Everyone knew who she was, and she could have sat with anyone. 

“What are you doing?” I asked her. 

Vanessa laughed again. She had one of those cute laughs, that seemed like it would make anyone want to hear her laugh. 

“I’m sitting with you,” she said in an obvious tone. 

I didn’t respond. I felt like this was one of those awkward situations when you’re in a crowded place, and someone waves from across the room. You wave back, only to figure out they were waving to someone else. 

After an awkward pause, Vanessa asked, “Is it okay if I sit here?” 

I nodded, “Yeah, sure.” 

After that, I looked down at my tray like our school’s cafeteria food was suddenly something spectacular. 

When I finally looked back up at Vanessa, she was gazing back at me with a look of concern on her face. Or was it another look of pity? I didn’t even know anymore. I seemed to always expect that when someone did finally notice me, that every look I was getting was a look of sympathy. 

Sympathy was the last thing I wanted from anyone. 

Vanessa finally spoke, “You don’t have to put up with it.” 

“Put up with what?” I asked her, completely unaware of what she was talking about. 

“What people say to you online.” 

I felt like I had just been stabbed in the chest. 

How did she even know my name? I tried so hard to stay quiet, out of the way, and act like I wasn’t there. That had been working for the entire three weeks I had been going to school in Colorado. No one had really noticed that I was a new student, other than the teachers. 

Even in Virginia, most people would never noticed or talk to me, unless they were planning to insult me in some way. I always thought I was going to end up being that one girl in the high school year book that no one would remember. And I wanted it to stay exactly like that. 

It took me a few seconds to fully register what she was saying. Some how, she had found me online, and saw some of the public messages I received. Then she decided to approach me about it. 

What was she trying to do? I never asked for help. I could help myself. 

“You don’t know me,” I finally said. 

She paused, probably caught off guard by how cold my words were. 

Any other person might have felt bad for replying that way, but I didn’t really care. Vanessa was overstepping her boundaries. 

Vanessa just watched me for a moment, as if she were studying my movements to see why I had replied the way I did. 

“I know I don’t,” she said calmly, “but you look like you need someone.” 

I got up, picked up what was left of my lunch, and began to turn and walk away. But before I was out of ear-shot from Vanessa, I turned and just looked at her. 

“I don’t need /anything/ from /anyone/,” I said, with more ice in my words than before. 

Even before I finished speaking, I could feel the gazes of the people around me slowly focusing on me. I ran out of the lunch room before they could figure out who I was, or who I was talking to. 

I wanted to be invisible again…and I wanted to stay that way. 

***** 

About two hours later, I was dropped off at my bus stop. The second I knew no one on the bus could see me anymore, I ran. I ran down the long drive way leading to the house and I didn’t stop until I was at the front door. 

I had prepared myself to put on my normal, “school was great, every thing’s okay!” look for my mom. But I felt a wave of relief wash over me when I saw that her car wasn’t parked in the drive way. 

I sat down on the front steps of our house, and I cried. 

I felt so selfish crying the way I did. I never cried for myself this way. I rarely cried at all, and when I did, I cried because I had been hurt. 

You have no friends, you have no life, you have no future, and you probably never will.

I was told things like that so often, that I had started to believe them. That was why I was crying. Not because I was still being hurt, but because I heard that little voice telling me all those awful things over and over and over again. And eventually, you start to believe the things you tell yourself. 

It didn’t matter how many people I would meet, I wouldn’t have any friends. It didn’t matter how many things I did each day, I would never have a ‘life.’ And most of all, it didn’t matter what I would dream of doing in the future, because I would /never/ achieve it. 

After about five minutes of sitting out on the steps, I heard my mom’s car coming down the driveway. I ran inside before she could see me. 

I went up stairs to clean myself up, and once again, prepared myself to smile and look like everything was okay for my mom. I just couldn’t put her through any of this. She always had so much to worry about. I just couldn’t bear to burden her with the stress of my problems. 

I wasn’t even sure what I was trying to do anymore. I just wasn’t okay. I hadn’t been for a while, and I didn’t feel like I would be for a long time.

*****

Why, hello there!
If you're reading this, I cannot thank you enough! I've been having trouble getting this story started again, but I was finally able to get over my writers block and get writing again.
So a huge thank you to everyone who has stuck with me and is still reading. And a big shout out to Claire and Mikayla for helping me get this last chapter out. Love you guys!! :)
~Christina

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