Due to the crazy week of Thanksgiving I wasn’t able to prepare a story for this Friday, so I’m taking this Friday off and will have one up next Friday and get back on schedule. Sorry for the cancellation. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!
Archive for November, 2011
New Elsie blog! Happy Thanksgiving!
Natalia walks into the building as she does once every week for the last several months. The security guard on the corner waves as usual, and as usual, Natalia says nothing, just nods slightly. The hallway looks like a maze; you can easily make one wrong turn and be disoriented and confused. Natalia doesn’t mind it. It reminds her of her life. But she knows this building all too well to get lost. She gets to the door on the fourth floor, the fifth to the right and enters, and takes a seat in her usual chair. The lady at the front desk, Maureen notifies Dr. Grove that her patient has come and is waiting. Minutes later Dr. Grove, a tall brunette in her mid-forties, walked out of her office.
“Hi Natalia, are you ready?” she asks, nodding to her office right behind her.
Natalia nods and follows Dr. Grove into the office and takes a seat on the red loveseat with her hands in her lap and focuses on a spot on the wall behind Dr. Grove’s seat.
Dr. Grove sits down and pulls out her notebook of all her notes on her and Natalia’s discussions from the last several months. She’s hoping to have a breakthrough this session, she needs to get through to her and get to the root of her troubles.
“Hi Natalia, how are you today?” Dr. Grove asks, as she always does.
“Fine,” Natalia says quietly. Surprisingly, this is progress for Dr. Grove. When Natalia first starting coming she wouldn’t even say that much.
“Why don’t we start where we left off last week,” Dr. Grove says, referring to what she was talking about with her and what Natalia didn’t contribute to. “When you were in elementary school how were you treated by your peers?”
Natalia fidgets a little in her seat; she makes a little eye contact with Dr. Grove but not much more.
“How about this, if it was good nod, if it was bad don’t do anything,” Dr. Grove suggests hoping for a response. She knows that Natalia will speak eventually; she just needs to realize that talking about how she feels will free her from the silence. “So Natalia, how were you treated by your peers in elementary school?”
Natalia pauses but sure enough, she nods. That’s something. Dr. Grove writes in her notebook.
“Nod for yes, nothing for no. So would you say things went downhill when you got into middle school?” Dr. Grove asks.
Natalia pauses once again, but then nods. Another note in the notebook, this time giving her more of a lead.
“So people were giving you a hard time once you got into middle school?” Dr. Grove asks.
Natalia nods right away this time. Dr. Grove realizes this could be what she sees all of the time, bullied children can suffer for a long time after they’ve been bullied or are still being bullied, especially if the problem hasn’t been solved or nothing was done about it.
“Natalia, is it a specific group of people who gave you a hard time?” Dr. Grove questions.
“How do they give you a hard time Natalia?” Dr. Grove tries to ask a question that involved more than a yes or no. She knows probably won’t get an answer, but she can’t get anywhere with Natalia if she doesn’t get her to speak.
Natalia won’t say anything; she just glances at her watch, slowly gets up and leaves. The session hasn’t reached the end yet; she tends to leave early if she doesn’t want to go any further.
The next week Dr. Grove recruited her past patients who agreed to come and had them in the room when Natalia entered. She certainly didn’t expect four other people a few years older than her to be gathered in her time slot with Dr. Grove, her face showed her confusion. Natalia nearly turned around and left but Dr. Grove summoned her in and asked her to take a seat before she could.
“Natalia, I want you to meet some girls I have worked with before, this is Anna,Bethany, Nora andAlexandria. They all came to me when they had trouble with kids in their school giving them a hard time and they want to share with you their stories,” Dr. Grove explains. Dr. Grove waits for Natalia’s nod and when she does she gives Anna the floor.
“Hi I’m Anna, when I was thirteen I went through this phase where I wore all black clothes, at the time I thought they looked really cool and I didn’t care what other people thought about it. And then an eighth grade girl and her friends took it upon themselves to make me feel the worst I’ve ever felt because of how I looked. They called me things like ‘freak’ and ‘emo-who-cuts-herself’ yes, they weren’t very creative names, I’ve heard them say those words before but they stung nonetheless. Things escalated from there, I was getting mean phone calls and nasty threats and I didn’t want to go through it anymore, I exiled myself from everyone and I started skipping school to avoid their horrible behavior and how they made me feel. After a while I started to see Dr. Grove and she helped me realize that they were the one in fault, not me and that I can’t let them dictate my life. I’m the one in control, and I needed to get them to stop their tormenting, not by violence but by standing my ground and going to someone at the school for help,” Anna explains and sits down. After Anna sits,Bethanybegins.
“Hi I’m Bethany and a few years ago I struggled with my speech, I had a hard time pronouncing the ‘s’ sound or the ‘sh’ sound so instead I would say anything with an s as a ‘th’ sound and it really stood out to my peers. They didn’t understand my difficulty and they just thought I was stupid. I did what I could to not speak in front of anyone, I was miserable when we had to do presentations for class because there was always that group in the back that couldn’t refrain from laughing, and that hurt so much to hear it, I couldn’t control my speech problem, it just happened. But because they kept making fun of it I started to believe that I was a screw up and didn’t belong with anyone, that’s how powerful someone’s behavior towards another can be. Finally, like Anna, I started to see Dr. Grove who helped me get past their cruelness and referred me to someone who could help my speech problem. It took some time to correct a problem that lasted over ten years but they did, and now I don’t have a problem speaking and I am not ashamed of how I speak. But what I realized is, that even though at the time I was ashamed of my speech problem and thought it was a disgrace, I shouldn’t have let it get to me, everyone is different and it’s wrong for others to make you feel like your differences are flaws and defines you,” Bethany says and takes a seat. Nora comes up next. Natalia is sitting there, quietly but surely listening. She looks more aware and in tune than she has in the past sessions.
“Hi I’m Nora, a year ago I was where you are sitting, I never was one to cause trouble, to start a fight or to say anything mean or rude. I did whatever I could to please everyone, to stay on everyone’s good side and I could have easily been called a push over. It turns out that that’s not always a good way to be because the girls that I hung out with took advantage of that, they would ask me to do everything for them because they knew I would do it and they would start pointless fights with me because they knew I would take it and not try to put an end to it. And I did, I just let their words hurt me and waited for the wave to pass and for them to move onto something or someone else. After a while I realized I was miserable, I felt that I was giving everything for the friendship and I got nothing in return. I often heard of sleepovers and other fun events the group of girls would have, the ones that were supposed to be my friends, and realize I wasn’t invited. I also would invite them to my house, but there was always a lame excuse. I fell apart, I felt rejected and worthless and that I didn’t deserve anyone’s friendship, since they made it clear that I wasn’t really apart of theirs. I got depressed, which was why I came to Dr. Grove. Dr. Grove helped me become a stronger person and realize that a friend doesn’t treat you like dirt and that you don’t matter and that it is okay to leave their group and find someone who likes me for who I am and won’t use me. I was at first so afraid to leave their group because I thought they would lash out at me and I would be an even bigger target, but I eventually did and it was the best thing I have ever done. They tried to get to me once after I left but the new friends I made had my back and defended me and helped me stand up to them,” Nora says and she too, sits down. Now it’sAlexandria’s turn.Alexandrialooks extremely nervous; while the other girls were telling their stories she was rubbing her hands and fidgeting in her seat. Her story is hard for her to tell because it very much different from theirs.
“Hi I’m Alexandria, and well, my story is a bit different.”Alexandriapauses, looks at the other girls who just spoke and then at Natalia. She takes a deep breath and continues. “I was not the one who got bullied, I was not the one who felt victimized in the same way they had. I was the one who made my peers feel badly. I picked on others to make me feel more powerful. I, um, I didn’t care how they felt at the time because I didn’t realize all that I was doing, but that’s no excuse for what I have done. There was one girl in particular that I picked on because she was everything that I wasn’t. I envied her, I wanted to be her friend but I was ashamed. I called her names, I shoved her into lockers and I spread rumors about her that I knew were not true, I made them up to be mean. I watched her change from a confident person to one who hung her head while she walked down the halls and stayed away from everyone in class because I poisoned their minds with horrible lies about her. At the time, I didn’t care, I though I had won and now was who she was. Everyone liked me like they liked her because in their minds she was the corrupt one and I was Miss Perfect. And then one day she stopped coming to school and days after that I saw her parents clearing out her locker and retrieving her files from the school office. She was moving schools, because of me, she no longer felt like she belonged because of me. It all started to hit me that I was the reason for her unhappiness and I was a monster. I came to see Dr. Grove after that because I didn’t trust my behavior and I didn’t trust that I would fix myself on my own. Dr. Grove showed me how wrong I was and even nailed down why I acted the way I did. I bullied others because I was jealous, because I thought of myself badly and I came to the wrong conclusion that in order to achieve what I wanted to be I had to put down others. After the first few sessions I found the girl I tortured and apologized to her for what I’ve done, she didn’t say much at first but eventually after hearing me out she said that after time has passed she would be able to forgive me, she was still recovering. A couple months later she called me over and she did forgive me, I felt so freed, so relieved that I have been forgiven, especially since I still hadn’t forgiven myself,”Alexandriafinishes and sits down. The room is silent.
“Now, Alexandria is a unique situation, not many people who do the bullying realize what they do, or realize as soon as she did. Most people will continue acting that way for years to come and might not realize the effect they had on others until later in life,” Dr. Grove explains.
Natalia still sits there silently, but it looks like she’s processing, maybe even contemplating. Dr. Grove is waiting desperately for a reaction and for her to open up on what is going on with her. Natalia just checks her watch, seeing that it’s the end of the session. She nods a goodbye as she leaves the office. Dr. Grove sighs, disappointed that nothing had happened, and thanks the girls for all of their help.
The next day, Dr. Grove sits in her office in between appointments. She just finished speaking with a boy who is addicted to video gaming and heard a mouthful of the logistics of playing a war-like game. There’s a knock on her door. “Come in,” Dr. Grove yells. The door opens slowly and it’s Natalia. This really grabs her attention; Natalia doesn’t come on a different day than her appointment.
They stand there for a while in silence.
“I want to talk,” Natalia whispers.
“I would love to hear it, please take a seat,” Dr. Grove says, motioning towards the chair in front of her.
“Alexandria said she was forgiven by the girl she bullied, I don’t think I can do that,” Natalia starts out. “I was at a sleepover at my friend’s house, and when I got there I found out she invited a lot of other people from school that we really don’t know. And one of the girls she invited decided we should play truth or dare, when I’ve played in the past with my good friends everything was fine, but with this new group it got a little…crazy. It was my turn and one of the girls I don’t know, Amy, dared me to…” Natalia trails off for a moment, hesitating at this part. “They dared me to pretend to call someone I like and because I wanted to feel included and liked by them, I did it. Turns out they recorded it and took it to school and played it for everyone. And then people started to twist stories about me and constantly tormented me from then on. They picked everything apart, they isolated me from everyone and then the boy I pretended to call joined in, spread rumors about me about how gross and screwed up I am. They wouldn’t stop,” Natalia explains.
“So you felt like three of the girls then?” Dr. Grove asks trying to make her connect her and the group from yesterday.
“Yes, I felt exactly how they said they felt,” Natalia says.
“Well, now that that’s out, please let me help you so you can be yourself again, okay?” Dr. Grove says.
“Okay,” Natalia replies feeling relieved. She really wants to be back to the way she was before the whole mess of her life came about. The kids did everything they could to make her feel like garbage, they spread nasty rumors along with bullying her online, posting photo shopped pictures of her and sending mass e-mails and texts. She couldn’t get away from those who bullied her and Natalia wished she could just disappear. She wouldn’t mind leaving forever and that’s what led her to Dr. Grove, for one last chance to make things right.
Dr. Grove is relieved to finally hear Natalia speak and share what she’s been though, she knows now that she can help this girl get back on track and live a better, happier life. Bullies destroy lives and it’s up to the bullied and their peers to stand up to them and put an end to a destructive, cruel cycle.
Don’t forget to check for my new story on Friday! I hope you guys enjoy this week’s story and always feel free to give feedback, I like to hear from everyone!
The second episode of Elsie’s story! She describes her experience at the mall with her best friend, Dani.
“Cheyenne, you’re on the
new road construction,” Dan Bowers, the newspaper’s editor says, pointing to
me. “Drew, you’re on the upcoming elections, and Liza you’re on the Dave
Once again I have received the short stick in news stories. Drew gets the exciting and
close election story that everyone who cares an ounce about politics will read
and Liza gets the intriguing and recently obsessed over case about Dave
Hilliard who is accused of stealing money from over a hundred families. I get the
one that gets tossed aside and perhaps even gets to serve as stuffing around
breakables being packed away.
After Bowers finishes handing out assignments everyone collects their things and head
on their way to start on their stories. I stay back and walk over to Bowers,
figuring I’d at least give it a try to get a new and better assignment.
“Cheyenne, what do you need?” Bowers asks, sounding a little annoyed.
“I’ve been doing a good job here, correct?” I ask.
“You think you would be here if you turned in crap?” Bowers says.
“Well, no. But since I have and have been pretty dedicated to this job, do you think I
could get a more…advanced story assignment?” I ask nervously.
“You have gotten what you have gotten and the only way to get a different sort of
assignment is to bring in something that will blow my mind and prove you are up
to the task,” he explains.
So I left the building, frustrated and with a mission. So I have the new road
construction a few miles from here. It’s a brand new road that will connect
more roads and make it easier to travel to the main strip of shops. It’s
interesting, but nothing eye-popping and entertaining. In order for it to get
noticed by the people, it needs to catch their eye, there needs to be a reason
for concern in order to turn to my page and soak it up. When I get to my office
at home I look up the company doing the construction and ask for the manager. Unfortunately
they told me he is out of the office and doesn’t have time for any reporters. I
slam my phone down, copy the address down and hop right into my car. I’m going
to get the information that I need.
The office of the construction company is not too far away; it’s located in an office
building near a hardware store and is probably one of the few companies that
actually use that building. On my way up to the third floor I practice what I’m going to say. I need to be stern and straight forward; they
need to know I mean business and not just a waste of their time. Initially I
was going to interview them and see if I could find an inspirational message
that will bring the community together, the cheesy stuff. But then I realized
that it’s the complications and drama that brings in the readers. Excuse
me sir, I am here to talk about the new road construction by the main strip.
It’s a great contribution to our community, how do you feel it’s going so far?
Have there been any concerns brought up by the local citizens? I’ve heard that
people are worried it will bring more traffic to the neighborhoods surrounding
the area, and possibly endangering the children at play. What are your thoughts
on that? Slowly, I need to pull out the information I need, I can’t scare
him off by seeming malicious or any sort of threat. I can’t let myself rant on
again, or else I’ll be in the same boat as last time, and I just can’t do that
When I get to his office I take a deep breath and knock on the door. After only a minute he
opens it up.
“Yes?” He says, with the door only halfway open.
“Hi, my name’s Cheyenne Williams, I want to talk to you about the road construction
you’re doing near the main strip,” I explain.
“It’s going fine, that’s all you need to know,” he says, rubs his forehead and begins to
shut the door. I wasn’t going to let him just toss me aside, so I stick my foot
in the doorway and welcome myself in. He lets out a deep sigh and takes a seat
behind his desk.
“Fine, make this quick. What’s your name again?” he says, resigned.
“Amanda Lane, I mean–”
“Amanda? Okay, I swore I heard something different earlier,” he says.
“I mean, Cheyenne Williams, my name’s Cheyenne Williams,” I can feel my cheeks burning;
I’m so embarrassed of my slip-up. So much for keeping things in the past. If
I’m lucky, he won’t question it.
“Amanda Lane, haven’t I heard that name before? I think I have, wasn’t there a story in the
paper about an Amanda Lane
a while ago?” He says, looking me right in the eye, waiting for my answer.
I don’t want to answer that, Amanda Lane
is gone, she disappeared a while ago out of mortification of her last heated
story. She made a mistake and it was blown up all around the country.
“There might have been,” I say quietly. I just want to jump into this story and stray
away from this topic.
“So are you Amanda Lane?” he asks. Nothing like a straightforward question. There’s not an easy way out of this one.
“It doesn’t matter, I’m Cheyenne,
that’s all you need to know, now let’s move on,” I say, perhaps with a little
too much attitude than I should have given I’m here to pry into his business
“No, no it does matter, because if you’re Amanda
Lane then I have something to worry about. Amanda Lane got
into a lot of trouble in the public eye because she went on a mad rant about
bad parenting and insinuated that every single teen is going to get herself
pregnant due to the parents’ bad parenting. That didn’t go over well, now did
it?” he says.
“Well that was a bit overdramatized, that’s not how it was intended at all,” I explain,
trying to save some of my dignity. While I’m here, I might as well kiss Cheyenne goodbye, her
cover has been blown.
“Then what did this Amanda Lane, or you mean by
that story, then?” he questions. He looks as if he honestly wants to hear it,
not just attack me.
“The intention was not to offend a vast amount of people, I was just writing a story
that described how outrageous irresponsible parenting was, I happen to witness
several incidents where parents allowed their children to behave badly and be
disrespectful. I wasn’t trying to attack parents but to merely point out the
damaging effects of well, bad parenting. I got out of control and on a mad rant
and said things I shouldn’t have, including that their parenting will get their
teens pregnant,” I explain, horrified.
“That’s a bit extreme, don’t you think?” He asks.
“Well, yes, I shouldn’t have gone there and I realize that, but then I did try to take it
back and apologize, but the words were already out there, they can’t be
forgotten,” I say with my head down. I’m completely defeated.
“So you changed your name and what? Moved away?” he accuses correctly.
“Sure, perhaps it was cowardly but there was no way of me continuing on with this
career if I had such a bad reputation from the start, I’m just starting out, I
can’t be on the wrong foot of anyone,” I say.
“So you want me, the manager of this project to spill all of my secrets, all of my
complications and worries about this project, to you, a reporter who’s screwed
up terribly one before and wreaked havoc in her old town?” He says sternly,
leaning back in his chair.
“Yes, I do, I need this revival and I promise I won’t vandalize your reputation in the
process,” I plead. Coming out of here without a juicy complication to announce
the world wasn’t exactly my plan, but if I can get something I’ll be happy.
“Sounds fair, I do believe in second chances, Miss. But I’ll give you what I want to
give you, there will be no prying for information, got it?” He informs.
I pull out my notebook and begin writing; he goes on for a while, giving me many details
on the project that seemed to be of interest to the people who are watching the
progress. I left there feeling like I have something to present, I just need to
write in some flare that will make the piece flow and come alive.
In my office I type it out, nearly finished and about to print out my final copy. But
something doesn’t look right, there’s something there that is keeping me from
printing it out and taking it to the office to be published. I need to find the
mistake so I can turn this in, get a better position at my work and hopefully
work my way up to bigger and better papers. While scanning through it my eyes
stop at the byline, Cheyenne Williams. If I want to turn in a genuine piece for
the people to read, what’s the point if the name is far from genuine? The only
way to redeem myself from the mistakes of the past is if I accept my mistakes
and move on, but only Amanda Lane
can do that, not my second persona.
I delete my fake name and replace it with the old one, the one who’s been through so much
more and is me at heart. I print it out with hope for the future and confidence
that this time things will be different. It will only be a matter of time for
me to pick myself up from my rough patch and be in a place with my dream job
and a better me.
So I am starting stories via video that take a glimpse into a character’s life. These videos are intended to show situations that people can relate to, and hopefully learn from.
So this is Elsie, she is 14 and in this episode she describing her Suckiest of Suck Days Ever.