Teaser Thursday- Nail Polish and Feathers

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Holly gathered her stuff together and left without spilling any more info to Mom. I walked her outside. As soon as we were out of Mom’s sight, Holly whirled around and snapped, “Why didn’t you tell her?”

“Tell her what?” I backed up a step. “Seriously, what’s your issue?”

“You didn’t tell her anything!” She put her hands on her hips and glared up at me. I was almost a foot taller than she was, even if I was shorter than a lot of the guys at school. “You didn’t tell her about Moe.” She ticked that off on one finger. “You didn’t tell her about them chasing you before lunch. You didn’t even tell them about the fight with Ray; I told her that.”

“She’s my mother,” I said with exaggerated patience. “I don’t have to tell her everything. And in case you don’t get it, you don’t have to tell your parents everything about me, either.” Holly got along great with her parents, especially her mother, and she really did tell them everything. She couldn’t—or refused to—understand why I didn’t blurt out everything in my life to my mother.

It was really pretty simple. Mom didn’t need to hear it all. She had her own crap to deal with, including my father when he started trouble because of me. I could have added to the stress by telling her how bad the bullying really was and that I might have a boyfriend. I could even have told her about the makeup and how I wanted to be a drag queen. But doing that would just make things harder for her. She tried to hide it from me, but I knew things were already hard enough.

“I’m not going to tell them about Moe or the makeup,” Holly said. “Someone has to do something about Frankel and those guys. They’re getting worse, Evan. They don’t usually attack you in the hall. They say shit, but they’re usually too worried about getting kicked off the team to actually do anything. Doesn’t it worry you that they did something this time?”

“It worries me more that you don’t understand that I can’t just tattle on them every time they do something.” I kicked a piece of loose concrete at the edge of the walkway. “What do you think will happen if I tell on them, Holly? You think the school’s going to say, ‘Oh, poor Evan shouldn’t have to deal with that, so leave our school, you big bad bullies’?”

My voice grew louder, but I didn’t care. Holly drove me nuts when she refused to understand why I had to keep my mouth shut. “I’ll tell you what they’re going to say. It’ll be, ‘Evan, we’re sorry you can’t get along with your classmates. We’ve spoken to Mr. Frankel and Mr. Ferreira, and they said you must have heard them wrong. It’s your word against theirs, and since they’re the star athletes and you’re just the weird gay kid who likes to wear flamboyant clothes, and they outnumber you, we believe them.’”

By now I was shouting, and Holly just stood there staring at me. So did Mrs. Hamel from her second-floor porch across the street. Probably my mother was at our window staring at me too; I didn’t bother checking.

“I’m sorry, Evan,” Holly said in a quiet little voice. “Calm down, okay? You’re right, and that’s what really sucks. School’s supposed to be safe, and for you it isn’t. And it shouldn’t matter if you wear guys’ clothes or women’s or some of each. You’re supposed to be safe.”

“Yeah, well, how’s that fantasyland working for you?” I turned away, because now that I’d let all that out, my eyes were getting wet. Holly wouldn’t think any less of me if I cried, but I would.

Teaser Thursday- Midnight Chat

A message popped up at the bottom of the screen. Quickly, I got up to read over Rob’s shoulder.

You’re in for it Monday, freak. I hope you’re ready.

Rob made a strangled sound and looked up at me, ghost-white. “See? You see, Mira? I’m never going to be safe anywhere!”

“Easy.” I touched his shoulder and hoped he wouldn’t notice my hand was shaking. “Someone’s just being a dickhead, that’s all. It’s okay. They’re just trying to scare you.”

“No. You’re wrong.” He stared at the screen again. He was trembling and breathing the way he had in the office when he found out the police were arresting Craig and Seth. “This isn’t the first one. That’s why I wanted to check.”

“What do you mean? The first what?” I read the message again. I didn’t recognize the name on it. “Who is that?”

He shrugged. “The profile is blank. I get notifications on my phone when someone messages me on here. No one ever does, but this morning, someone did. The same person as this. I deleted that one. It said something about I’d better hire a bodyguard.”

He shoved the wheeled chair away from the desk and spun to face me. “They’re out to get me. All of them. If I go to school Monday…. Hell, I probably won’t even make it to school. They’ll ambush me on the way or something. You’d better not meet me, because they’ll attack you too.”

“I’m not going to let you deal with them alone. If someone really is planning something, I’ll be with you.” My heart pounded. Despite Ms. Cramer’s warnings, I hadn’t actually believed there would be any fallout from the arrests. But it sounded as if someone planned to seriously hurt Rob. “We have to tell someone about this, Rob.”

“Who?” He narrowed his eyes. “No one’s going to care. We don’t even know who sent the message. If we tell anyone about it, they’ll say it’s someone playing a joke or something.”

“Dad wouldn’t.” I didn’t know what Dad would be able to do, but he could at least help us figure out how to handle it.

“Don’t tell your father.” He sighed. “Don’t tell anyone. There’s no point. It’s just another case of me whining, right?”

“No!” I knelt in front of him so I could look him in the eyes. “This is real. You aren’t whining. You have every reason to be worried, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“You’re the only one.” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. I’m going to die on Monday. That’s it.”

“Stop saying that!” I sat back on my heels and looked at my laptop again. There had to be some way to help Rob. Something I could do to make people leave him alone, or something I could say to convince the school and his parents to protect him. He didn’t deserve to be this afraid all the time. I hated the people who knew about it and didn’t do a damn thing to help him.

“It is what it is.” Without looking, he reached behind him and closed the laptop. “I don’t want to think about it anymore. It doesn’t matter. None of this is going to matter.”

“It does matter. You should be able to feel safe.” His deadened tone and blank expression scared me again. Not to mention his talk about dying. He might not mean someone else would kill him. Maybe he was planning to take care of it himself.

I had to talk to Dad, even if Rob didn’t want me to. If Rob was serious about wanting to die, I needed someone to help me help him. And I couldn’t protect him by myself either.

“Don’t worry about it.” He stood. “And don’t tell your dad or anyone else. Promise. Otherwise I won’t be able to trust you, and then I won’t have anyone. I need to trust you, Mira.”

“I….” I couldn’t say much to that. He was right. I was his best friend. If I went behind his back, even if I only talked to Dad, I wouldn’t be any better than Talia. “Okay. I promise not to say anything if you promise you won’t hurt yourself.”

“I promise I won’t if I can avoid it.”

That wasn’t good enough. He might decide he couldn’t avoid it. But before I could argue with him, he opened the door. “I think I’m ready to go home now. Thanks for letting me come over.”

“I thought your stepmother was picking you up.” I couldn’t let him leave yet. I had to calm him down first.

He shrugged again. “I’ll call her on the way home. Talk to you soon.”

And then he walked away.

Judgment

NOTE: This post was originally published on this blog in June 2015.

Judgment. Or judgement, depending on how you were taught to spell it. (I believe either way is correct, though I don’t know everything…)

Anyway, one thing I’m noticing a lot online is people judging others. Whether it’s about their clothes, their weight, their hair style (or lack of), whatever. People judging total strangers about things that don’t impact anyone other than that individual.

Why?

That’s a serious question. I know everyone judges in some ways. I’m not immune from doing it myself sometimes, though I try hard not to judge harshly and to keep my opinions to myself if I’m not asked for them. But why do some people think it’s not only okay to think “Wow, that fat person shouldn’t wear that dress”, but to post it publicly on social media and blogs?

Why is it okay to say harsh, hurtful things to people you don’t even know, when you’re sitting at a keyboard possibly thousands of miles away from that person?

I’ve seen people say, “It’s just my opinion, just words on the screen, get over it.”

Do you know what that person’s been through in their lives? Maybe you calling them fat is going to contribute to putting them back into the mindset of the eating disorder they’re recovering from. You insulting their clothes might remind them that they escaped an abusive relationship and can’t find a job, so they don’t have enough money to buy better clothes. And they may have been conditioned to believe they don’t deserve better things and would never look good anyway. Something you’ve just reinforced.

“Words on the screen” can be as hurtful as words thrown in your face. Sometimes even more so, because “words on a screen” are often coming from a stranger, leaving the target to wonder why they’re so messed up that even strangers can tell and think it’s okay to tell the world about it.

Think before you type. Is it really any of your business if a 300-pound woman wants to wear a crop top? Does it affect you in the least if a man has a tattooed face and a shaved head?

If it doesn’t directly affect YOU, why are you wasting time and energy ranting about it online? Is your life that empty and miserable that you have to bring down other people to entertain yourself and feel better?

That last sentence is kind of harsh, but that’s the only reason I can think of behind the current trend of verbally thrashing other people online. Because I know personally, I’m way too busy to even notice someone else’s hairstyle (unless it’s a really awesome one that I want) or their weight or what they’re wearing. And I’m definitely too busy to talk about it online, unless, again, it’s something really awesome. Personally, I’d rather spread the good than the bad.

I think the world would be a lot better if we built each other up… or at least kept our mouths shut. Just my opinion. Just words on a screen.

Teaser Thursday- Midnight Chat

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I made it through the rest of Friday. At work, Talia and I were friendly when we had to talk to each other. When we first got there, she asked me again why Rob and I hadn’t been in class, and I told her all I knew was that Rob had gone home. She let the subject drop. She probably didn’t even care what happened to Rob. She just wanted to make sure I didn’t blame her for anything else. For the rest of my shift, I avoided her as much as I could.

After work, I watched TV with Dad and Olin, but I gave up after a while because my brain wouldn’t shut up long enough for me to pay attention to the shows. I was stuck again on the news about the kid in Wyoming. I hadn’t heard any more about him, so I still didn’t know why he’d done it, assuming anyone had managed to find out.

Maybe he’d been like Rob right up until he picked up the gun. Maybe people had told him to toughen up or had said he didn’t need help. His friends and family might not have noticed anything was wrong, or they might have wanted to believe they were imagining it. Just like I wanted to believe Rob was okay.

If Olin hadn’t been around, I would have talked to Dad about my concerns. Then again, he might have called Rob’s parents, which wouldn’t have done Rob any favors. Even though he knew how Rob’s father and Lee-Anne were, he probably still believed they would help Rob if they found out other people were worried.

I knew better. I didn’t want to think about what Rob was dealing with at home tonight. His dad was probably going off on him again, ranting and not giving Rob a chance to defend himself. And of course Lee-Anne would be backing up everything Rob’s father said.

I finally went to bed around eleven, but I couldn’t sleep. For over an hour, I lay with my eyes closed, trying and failing to shut off my thoughts.

My phone buzzed, and I immediately grabbed it. It couldn’t have been anyone other than Rob, even though I didn’t understand why his parents had given him back his phone so soon.

Hi, Mira.

Hi. Are you okay?

His answer took a couple of minutes to show up.

Define okay. I’m home. Father and his wife doing usual. Blaming me. I whine. I’m weak. Same old. Can’t leave my room but still want to see you tomorrow. They gave back my phone at least.

Good. I wanted him to come over too, but I didn’t see how if he wasn’t allowed to leave his room. Then again, since his parents had changed their minds about his phone, maybe they would change their minds about this too.

You want to see me, right?

Yeah. Of course.

Just checking.

He shouldn’t have needed to check. He knew I was his friend. Nothing would change that.

Are you still there?

Yeah. Sorry. Thinking. I hadn’t even taken a minute to reply. He was twitchier than usual. I couldn’t blame him, but if he wasn’t going to give me time to type my answers, it would get annoying.

I’m thinking too. Need to find a way so stuff like this stops happening.

My chest tightened. I sat up and tried to breathe more easily. He hadn’t said anything threatening. Only his usual thing about wanting to stop the bullying. But all I could think was that the kid in Wyoming might have said the same kind of thing.

The news story had gotten to me. That was all. I had to let go of it.

Release Week- Midnight Chat

My newest novel, Midnight Chat, releases tomorrow from Harmony Ink Press!

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The story was inspired by a song…my own song, “Midnight Chat.” (Available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify… links at the end of the post.) I wrote the song nearly two years ago now, after a too-long drive through rush-hour traffic to the home of a then-friend who was working with me on some music things. During that drive, I was listening to my Spotify playlist, and one of the songs, “I Don’t Like Mondays,” caught my attention.

I started musing about the subject of that song, someone who committed a school shooting apparently out of sheer boredom. And then thought about an incident about a year and a half earlier in which a girl turned a friend of hers in to police after he threatened to destroy a school from which he’d been expelled.

The words started rolling around in my brain, and by the time I reached my friend’s house, I had composed nearly the entire song. And not long after, I had the seeds of the novel firmly in my brain, with Mira MacDonald practically shouting at me to tell her story. So I did.

Recognizing when a friend of yours needs more help than you can give is difficult for anyone. When the friend takes a course that could lead to tragedy, it’s even more difficult. Mira faces some tough decisions in trying to help her best friend Rob cope with bullies, neglectful parents, and an undiagnosed mental illness, and the ultimate choice she has to make is something no one should have to decide. But she makes it nonetheless.

I hope you’ll check out the book, the trailer (which will be up later this week, and includes the song), and the single, on Amazon.com, iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.

Teaser Thursday- Midnight Chat (again)

It’s only been two weeks since I posted an excerpt from this novel, which will release on February 7, 2017. I’m sharing again because now I have cover art. And also because Midnight Chat is now available for pre-order from Harmony Ink Press!

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All day Sunday, my phone stayed silent other than a text from Talia to remind me I’d taken her Sunday afternoon shift. I’d completely forgotten she had some family reunion thing. Working wasn’t my ideal thing to do, but maybe it would take my mind off Rob.

Keeping my mind on the job turned out to be harder than I’d expected. Rob had never gone this long without talking to or texting me. Not in the whole time I’d known him. I checked my phone every chance I got to see whether Rob had answered my texts, and each time I didn’t see a reply from him, I got more worried. But I got through the five hours of work and then went home and failed to finish my homework.

Even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, I went to bed early. Lying down staring at my ceiling was better than pretending to Dad and Olin that I wasn’t worried about anything.

I shouldn’t have promised Rob I wouldn’t talk to Dad. I needed help figuring out what to do about the messages Rob had gotten and how to find out whether he was okay. If he’d hurt himself, his parents might not let me know. They would probably blame me.

Just before midnight, my phone buzzed. I yanked it out from under my pillow so fast I almost dropped it and had to fumble to see the message.

It was Rob, but he didn’t use his usual greeting. Stay home tomorrow.

What? Why? He had no reason to tell me to skip school. No one had threatened me. Rob was the one they’d sent the messages to, and I refused to abandon him. He would need backup, especially on the way to school in the morning, and I would be there.

I don’t want you to see.

I blinked at the text. It didn’t make any sense. What didn’t he want me to see? Maybe he was afraid someone would seriously hurt him and was trying to protect me from seeing it, but if anyone attacked him, surely he would rather have a witness. See what?

A few minutes passed. I kept staring at the phone. With each second, my heart beat faster, and I caught myself holding my breath a couple of times.

Finally Rob replied. I’m going to take them all out. They’ll never hurt me again. You’re my only friend, so you get to live.

The words took a few seconds to register—take them all out.

I got to live.

He was going to kill someone. Maybe more than one person.

I had to be reading it wrong. Rob would never hurt anyone. He was scared and angry, and plenty of people had hurt him, but he couldn’t actually want to kill people.

He was venting. Spouting off the way he always did. He just meant he wished he could stop the bullying, not that he would actually do anything.

But if he was only venting, he wouldn’t have told me to stay home from school.

Whatever he was planning, I had to talk him out of it. I was the only one who could. He knew I cared about him. If I tried to stop him from ruining his life and other people’s, he would listen. He always listened to me.

The kid in Wyoming hadn’t listened to anyone, though. If someone had tried to stop him, they’d failed. Now he was a murderer, and people probably thought he wasn’t worth caring about.

I didn’t want anyone to think that about Rob. I had to convince him to calm down. What are you doing? They aren’t worth destroying your life.

I won’t have a life to destroy. We’re all going to die. That’s why I don’t want you there.

A chill ran through me, and for a second I forgot how to breathe. Die. People were going to die. Including Rob. If he was just blowing off steam, he needed to shut up. He was scaring the hell out of me.

He couldn’t mean it. He’d gotten freaked out by the messages online the day before, and now he was talking about wanting to make them stop. He wouldn’t actually do anything.

Even though I didn’t know how to handle this, I couldn’t tell anyone else. Dad would only call Rob’s parents or the police. They would think he meant it and would go through with locking him up. Maybe in a hospital, but they might put him in jail instead. Threatening to kill people was against the law.

I refused to let it happen. Every time Rob had been upset about bullying or his parents before, I’d been able to settle him down. I could this time, too.

Teaser Thursday- Midnight Chat

Coming February 2017 from Harmony Ink Press.

I’d expected Rob to text me overnight, but I hadn’t heard from him. That worried me. It was the second night in a row that he didn’t wake me with a text, but at least the night before, he’d contacted me while I was doing homework. From the time he got pulled out of chemistry class, I didn’t hear anything from him at all. I could only think of two reasons for him not to text. Either he believed I’d gone to Mrs. Reynolds, which would have made me a traitor and someone he didn’t want to deal with, or he’d hurt himself.

Hopefully neither was true. Maybe he’d just fallen asleep for a change.

In the morning, to my relief, he was waiting at the usual corner. He smiled when I walked over to him. “Where’s Talia?”

“I don’t know.” I tilted my head. “Why? You never ask about her.”

He shrugged. “Maybe if you’re involved with her, she’s an okay person. Obviously you see something good about her, even if I don’t.”

“I guess.” I frowned. Something wasn’t right about what he was saying. I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly, but I didn’t buy his change of heart about Talia. After months of complaining about her, he wouldn’t have suddenly decided she was okay.

I didn’t feel like questioning it, though. I didn’t want to talk about Talia at all. She would probably spend all day trying to talk to me if I didn’t avoid her. Staying away from her wouldn’t be easy, since she and I had most of our classes together, but I would figure out something.

“Trouble between the lovebirds?” Rob asked.

I rolled my eyes. “We aren’t lovebirds. To be honest, I’m not talking to her right now.”

“You aren’t?” He looked confused. “I thought things were good. Did you have a fight?”

“I’d rather not say.” No matter how pissed I was at Talia, I wouldn’t tell Rob she’d turned him in to Mrs. Reynolds. If he’d decided to get along with her, it was better if I didn’t give him a new reason to hate her.

I felt guilty for not telling him. He counted on me to be honest. Hiding the truth wasn’t any better than outright lying. For all I knew, he’d already guessed anyway, since Talia hadn’t been in class when Mrs. Reynolds came to get him. I should have told him the truth. I just didn’t have the heart.

He couldn’t have figured out what Talia had done. If he had, he wouldn’t have been saying anything good about her. He would have been ranting about her even more than usual. Keeping it from him was wrong, but I didn’t see how telling him would have been any better.

I was too tired and irritated to figure it out. Whatever was going on between Rob and Talia was none of my business as long as they left me out of it. I was stuck in the middle anyway, since I cared about both of them, but at least if they didn’t talk to me about each other, I wouldn’t have to take sides.

Hate Doesn’t Solve Problems

A lot of people in the United States are scared right now. Actually, from what I’m seeing on Facebook, I think a lot of people in the world are scared.

I’m not a very political person, so I’m not going to go into the whole issue of our newly-elected President. What I am going to get into, though, is looking out for one another.

Even before the election, people supporting the President-Elect were ranting against those who didn’t support him. People were committing acts some would consider hate crimes, and in some cases law enforcement investigated those acts as such. Now that the election is over, those things are happening even more, and the hatred runs on both sides of the situation.

Maya Angelou once said, “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Hate is certainly causing a lot of problems now, everywhere from businesses to city streets to schools. Even in kindergartens.

You don’t have to like everyone. You don’t have to agree with everyone. But we live in a world where different races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities… Okay, the list of ways in which we are different is so long I know I’m going to forget things. But the point is, our world is not a place where everyone is the same. It isn’t a place where everyone *thinks* the same. And that’s part of what makes it a wonderful world to be in.

So please, practice acceptance. Tolerance. At the very least, practice neutrality. If you can, help and support those who are targeted because of a way in which they’re “different.” The safety pin, that small object that sometimes holds clothes together and can usually never be found when you need one, has become a symbol for those who stand with people who are being targeted.

This blog is a safe place. My Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr…all safe spaces. Heck, if you see me on the street and need someone to have your back, just say so. (Even though I probably won’t be actually wearing a safety pin, because I honestly can’t find one of the blasted things anywhere in my apartment…)

If you can, be someone safe for others. If you’re in a category that’s a target, I hope you stay safe. And if you can’t be safe, if you can’t stand with your fellow humans, at least please don’t add to the hate. Try to solve the problem rather than causing it.

Teaser Thursday- Midnight Chat

This novel will be available from Harmony Ink Press in February 2017.

Ms. Cramer came out of Mr. Shorey’s office. Her lips were pressed together, and the lines on her forehead were deeper than usual. She walked over to the chairs. “Mr. MacDonald, thank you for coming in. I’m sorry we had to call you out of work, but we needed to talk to you about Mira’s safety.”

“Safety from who?” Dad sat up straighter. “It doesn’t sound to me like the school’s been too interested in her safety until now, so what’s changing?”

“Please come into my office.” Ms. Cramer stepped back. “Mr. Shorey is finishing up with Rob and his stepmother, and then he’ll join us.”

“What’s going to happen to Rob?” I asked.

“Come inside, please.”

Once we settled in her office, she took a deep breath and opened a folder on her desk. “Mira’s never been in trouble here. She’s been on the receiving end of bullying, but that hasn’t happened in a while, unless you count the times she’s intervened for Rob.”

“Rob’s my best friend,” I said. “I’m going to stick up for him if I see someone hurting him. I can’t just stand there.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to.” She frowned. “The boys who were involved today have been arrested for assault and bullying, which is a criminal offense.”

“If it’s a criminal offense, how come it’s been going on so long?” Dad demanded.

“Our resource officer has been compiling information, but we didn’t have proof of some of the incidents Mira and Rob reported.” Ms. Cramer’s voice got quieter as she spoke. She knew the school had screwed up, no matter what excuses they made. “Even in a circumstance like this, no one can be arrested or charged without proof.”

“You should have tried harder,” Dad said. “Then my daughter and I wouldn’t be sitting here when she should be in class and I should be at work.”

“I’m sorry you had to leave in the middle of your workday.” Ms. Cramer closed the folder. “Mira isn’t in any trouble, but when I spoke with her and Rob earlier about the consequences the other boys are facing, Rob brought up a good point. Apparently today’s incident was retaliation against Rob by the other boys for their suspension a few days ago. It’s possible they or their friends might try to retaliate again, and since Mira was involved, she might be as much of a target as Rob.”

Ms. Cramer was probably right. Craig and Seth hated Rob and me. The way they’d looked at us was pretty close to homicidal. If they couldn’t get to us themselves, they might talk someone else into doing it. I wouldn’t put much past them.

At the same time, listening to Ms. Cramer talk about retaliation didn’t feel real. She had to be talking about other people. Or a TV show or something. School wasn’t a safe place. It never had been. But this sounded a whole lot more serious than what we’d dealt with in the past, and my brain couldn’t quite wrap around it all.

Dad narrowed his eyes. “So you asked me to come in because…?”

“We wanted you to be aware of the potential for this situation to escalate,” Ms. Cramer said. “You might consider taking out a restraining order against the boys, for one thing. Today’s incident, and therefore their arrest, involved Rob more than Mira. The court might impose an order to keep them away from Rob, but you would need to do one yourself to protect Mira. At least that’s the way I understand it, though I might be wrong.”

“Restraining orders don’t necessarily stop anything.” Dad rubbed his forehead. “Yeah. I’ll look into it. What about here at school?”

“Those boys won’t be here. Since they’ve been arrested, there will be much harsher disciplinary consequences. Possibly expulsion.” She paused. “They have friends here, though. We might have to have a staff member escort Mira to classes for a while.”

Both of them looked at me. It took a few seconds for Ms. Cramer’s words to sink in, and when they did, I didn’t want to believe what she was saying. The adults at this stupid school didn’t have a clue how to do anything except make the situation worse. “You want someone walking me to class? That’s stupid! Maybe no one will touch me if a teacher’s right beside me, but they’ll say stuff. It’ll look like I’m some tattletale baby who’s too afraid to walk alone. I’m better off being on my own out there.”

“Mira, this is about your safety,” Ms. Cramer said. “Craig and Seth’s friends will probably realize they would face the same consequences if they try anything, but they might not. It’s our job to ensure your safety in school.”

“What about outside school? Are you going to make a teacher follow me around town too?” My voice got louder, but I didn’t care. No matter what they did to supposedly help me, it was only going to make things worse.

Standing Up

I don’t mean physically standing. I’m just not very good at coming up with blog post titles that make sense. Especially when I’m still on my first cup of coffee.

I’m talking about standing up for yourself. For others. For what you believe in.

That isn’t always easy to do. You might be surrounded by people who believe differently from you, and it’s hard to be the only voice on your side of the issue. There might be that one person in your school or workplace or social group that no one else seems to like, and even though you’d like to get to know them, you’re afraid you’d lose your other friends if you tried.

Some reading this might now be thinking “Workplace?” Yeah. Workplace. Aside from the fact that a lot of teens have jobs where the social atmosphere might not be a whole lot different from school, bullying, shunning, excluding, etc. doesn’t end when someone reaches adulthood. It happens at work; it seems to happen a lot in social groups. Some of the worst bullies I’ve known in my life are a group of women in their 40s-60s.

When you’re faced with things like “Don’t talk to them or no one else will like you,” or you know that everyone around you has the same beliefs about an issue and you disagree with them, or you’re the “them” other people are being told not to talk to… It isn’t easy. You feel like you’re alone, or you’re afraid you will be alone if you don’t go along with the crowd.

Here’s the thing. Even if it’s kind of scary, sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe, or for yourself, or for someone else who might not be able to stand up for themselves. One voice might seem like a whisper in the middle of a concert crowd, but it can still make a difference to those who hear it. And it might have an ongoing effect.

Try. If you can’t stand up, that’s okay… but try.