Have you ever wanted to talk to someone but never do? Want to tell them something so bad that you get too scared to even go near them? Just me? Oh. Um… So, let me tell you about Jade. Today was the day. She was going to make friends or even a family. She would no longer be all alone. She would have someone. How? The volleyball team of course. A sports team is like a family and Jade hoped it would be her's. It was her last hope. Today was the day. Today was tryouts. She would do it. She had to get in. She had to have a family. She didn't want to be all alone anymore. You should know more about her. Let me see… Jade is just twelve years old. She turned twelve three weeks ago. You would look at her and think of a typical twelve year old in the eighth grade. She feels to old to continue her childhood fantasies yet she is too young to go adult. She is desperately clinging to everything her childhood represents, safety, security, and family, yet trying to age up at the same time to someone with no place to belong and no friends to help her. She is tall and very lanky. She has thin brown hair and vibrant blue eyes. She has a few faint freckles scattered about her face which shows she has not slept in weeks with her massive dark circles under her eyes. She is lost and confused, as shown by her clothes always being mismatched. She is very tall and lanky to top it off. I remember she was always afraid of rope and never even went near a jump rope.
Everyone makes fun of her. She walked into school today and they went on with their original schedule. Her hair was a mess, like always, trying to catch up with her hiding. She always was in a hurry to never be noticed. Hiding from herself and others. I watched as people would walk up to her and crush her spirit every day. Today they told her she was stupid, ugly, and never good enough. She could do nothing right and had a terrible smile. Her laugh caused babies to cry and her very sight caused people to go blind. She is smelly, dirty, too tall, and way too skinny. The one that always hits her the most is when they say, she doesn’t belong and she never will. She always believes what they say. Today was no different but she had to go on. She had to try. She needed someone, anyone. She ran away from them straight to the gym. She was going to try out and nothing would stop her. Today she was clinging on to her last chance of hope. Her last way to make a friend or even find a family. At one point, she tried to get over her fear by having a rope necklace around her neck. Anyway, this was all she had left.
She tried to build herself up so hard. To instill any confidence that she could muster up just to do it. Confidence was a word that was not a part of her vocabulary. Along with beautiful, smart, nice, caring, amazing, wonderful, a blessing, and perfect, all of which she was today. I always thought she was the very definition of perfect. She would always be ridiculed and outcasted but she would secretly help the people that caused her pain when they needed it. She saw that some people never had lunch so she would make food for herself and gave it to a teacher to give to them. They never knew it was her doing it or that, that was the reason she never ate lunch. When she got new clothes, she would put it in a donation bin for the kids who couldn't get any. That’s why her clothes were so ripped and old. They never knew where it all came from. She gave toys, pencils, and even money to those who hurt her without them even realizing. They made fun of her for never eating, having terrible clothes, never having school supplies, having nothing fun to do, and for being poor all the time. She still kept doing it over and over. She knew they would never change but that never stopped her. She was full of kindness and she always forgave them. She ended up taking off that necklace because it was too tight and was starting to choke her. They made fun of her for that too.
I remember sixth grade, the first time I ever tried to talk to her. I always saw her sitting by herself because no one wanted to even look at her. That day, I decided I would talk to her. Maybe even sit with her. She had on a green shirt with gray polka dots. She had a rainbow tank top underneath and a brown and red striped scarf on. Her pants were bright yellow but had many stains all over them and her shoes were a lovely shade of purple. She looked amazing. I remember the way she looked out the window that day as if she saw something no one else did. I wanted to tell her so bad. Just to at least talk to her. It was the perfect chance. I walked to her table but I just kept on walking. I looked at her as I walked by and our eyes met. That was the first time we looked at each other. I will never forget the look she had. She was longing for something, what I knew not. Maybe it was what she saw outside? That was two years ago. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t even brave enough to talk to her. Later I found out that she was writing letters to everyone who ever made fun of her. They were inspirational letters to make them feel better. I will never understand why she does that. She always had a mark from that necklace afterwards. Anyway… back to the point.
She stood outside the gym door trying to build herself up. She knew the bullying would be a lot worse for her just walking in there. “You can do it Jade. You got this. You are good at this game. Nothing they do can make your life any worse. You are going to do this and you will finally make a friend. Just walk inside. Get it over with. I can do it. I can do it. Do not give up. Just breath.” She kept repeating to herself trying anything to get herself to even push the door open. She ended up doing that for two minutes before she walked in so everyone had already started. “Ok, lets just do this.” And in she went. “Jade? Jade, what are you doing here? You have never shown an interest in joining a sport. Why don’t you leave and think over it more.” That is what the coach said to her. She wanted this. She needed this. She looked at him and did not move. “Are you sure this is what you want?” He questioned. Again, she did not even move. “Ok, we were just starting the tryouts. You missed the warm up. Get in line and you can tryout when we get to you.” Everyone that was there laughed at her. She ran as fast as she could to the end of the line hoping the people playing would distract them from her. Someone started whispering to her “leave now while you can.” Others started joining in and told her “this will only humiliate you. Why don’t you give up now? You do not belong here. What is wrong with you? You are trying too hard for something you would never get.” The whole room was just staring at her and trying to bash her down. She didn’t know what to do. “It is ok. I need to do this. I need a family. I need someone, anyone. This is my last chance.” Jade kept telling herself trying to block out what the others were saying. She could never even look at a rope after that.
This reminds me of our first gym class together this year. Her shoes had holes so she ran barefoot. Her clothes were torn so bad they were practically hanging on. It was eighty five degrees and she was wearing five layers. We had the same gym teacher. They took us outside to run a few laps for a warm up. I remember it had rained the day before so there were still a few puddles on the ground. She ran right through them all. It didn’t even bother her. One of the students tripped her and she fell in a puddle. This was it. Another chance to talk to her. I had to go and help her up. I waited two whole years. I could do it. Nothing was stopping me. I ran over to her and couldn’t do it. Everyone had started circling her and was laughing at her. All I could do was look at her. I should have helped her up. I should have been there for her. She looked at me and I could see tears in her eyes. I tried so hard to talk to her. To will myself to move over and help her but I couldn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wish I did. She quickly got up and pushed through the crowd and ran away. She bumped right into me as she left. That was the closest we had ever gotten and I still did not tell her. Just like that day, she was crying and I did nothing to help. I just watched wishing I would do something. Wishing I told them to stop. Wishing I tried to motivate her. Before I knew it, it was her turn to show them what she had and the whole gym was chanting leave over and over. She slowly dragged herself over to the net and waited. Tears were streaming down her face and she desperately tried to wipe them away. She took a deep breath, calmed down, and got in the game. “I got this. I am good at this. I will finally have a family.” She did amazing. She was able to serve the ball over the net, hit it back whenever it came to her, and worked well with the other three people on her side. She deserved to get on the team. Unfortunately, the coach was not deciding it. The coach had picked a group of his top people to decide who would get in and who would not. She still gave it her all and placed everything she had left into this. She counted on getting in. She had to wait till school ended to see who got in or not. She was anxious the whole day too scared to see. Why did she get over her fear?
Her last block, she found out who was picking the team and realized she would never get in. She gave up. The bell rang and she slowly walked to the paper. This was my last chance to talk to her. I had to do it. I walked up right to her, blocking the list from her view and just stared. What was i supposed to say to her? A sat there trying to think of what to say. She thought I was making fun of her. She thought I was blocking her from seeing the paper because she didn’t deserve to even know who got in. She thought I was being rude to her. I wanted to talk to her. I wanted to be there for her. I wanted to tell her. “I get it. I am not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, athletic enough, nice enough. I get it that people vomit when they see me and the thought of me ,makes people want to hide. I am done. I do not need to hear this anymore. I will not take it anymore. I can not handle it anymore.” That was the first conversation we had with each other. The first time she talked to me. She ran off after that. She never even saw the list. I turned around and looked. Number 12, Jade Monoclinic. She made it. She was on the team. I had to find her and tell her. I looked all over. She never went home that day. She never even left the school. Everyone made fun of her and bullied her and she could not take it anymore. I was the last straw. I found her in the cafeteria. The first place we ever saw each other. She made the decision in the gym. She was going to do it. She had to do it. She wanted to feel better. To have a family. To belong. She did it. She will never become an adult. She will never have to hear those hurtful words again. No more texts or calls. No more hiding. No more crying. No more pain. She had decided it was too much. She is gone now. No more longing. No more wanting. No more chances. No more helping. Why did you guys make her do it? Why did I make her do it?