There was a girl who was constantly picked on by the alpha girl of my group.

I would go talk to her after school.
But I was scared to be seen with her.
I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to stick up for you.

I hit puberty earlier than most girls in my grade.
It was annoying.
I received a lot of negative attention by both my male and female classmates.

When I started middle school,
I was determined to turn over a new leaf.
I didn’t want to hide or be scared anymore.

So I was adamant on wearing clothes that expressed who I was.
Clothing that I liked.
Clothing that I had picked.

In addition to my core group of girls,
I also hung out with a group of four guys who were a year older than me.
They were the only guys in our Asian dance group.
I was that girl in the middle holding the giant red fans.
We played Broodwar together.
We had our own clan.
It was great.

That year was a happy year.
Until a popular girl started spreading rumors about me that I stuffed my bra and that I was a slut.
If I did, you would notice during our weekly swimming class.
I don’t know why I didn’t stand up for myself.
Feeling powerless seemed to be a theme in my life.

A lot of the girls in our middle school hated me.
The popular girl would threaten that she’d come beat me up after school.
I would skip school for days at a time.
I never told my parents the reason why.
I still hope my younger sibling does not know.
A deep shame followed me for years.

There was a popular boy a grade older who reached out to me on Starcraft.
We’d play late into the night.
Thank you.
I’ve never forgotten.

By the time I reached grade 8,
I had become mostly mute.

I endured until May of that year.
My mother told us we were moving to the suburbs.

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