A Phase


The comments had gotten more venomous. All of Riley’s social media accounts had been shut down, at her parents’ insistence, when the backlash had reached its crescendo, but she couldn’t resist reading the articles, the blogs. The world was talking about her.

Her mother had argued she was just going through a phase, an adolescent cruel streak, during the first principal’s office visits with Cassie and her mother. They’d laughed about the meetings on the drive home. At Cassie’s dopey pink nail polish and out of control acne, her face blotchy and red and dotted with craters, her mother’s dumpy figure, her wash-and-wear muumuu dress and flip flops.

They’d found Cassie a week later under the 6th Street bridge, lifeless and cold. Bullied To Death!  The headlines screamed. Rumors swirled. Riley and her friends could be charged with murder. Her mother had stopped laughing, going into defense mode, getting on lengthy calls with school officials and lawyers.

Riley’s own words had come back to find her, in blog posts, in comment sections, on social media. Do the world a favor and die. You’re worthless. You and your friends disgust me. The world hates you. Go kill yourself.

She wouldn’t cry.

She wouldn’t cry.

That would make her no better than Cassie. And Cassie was a loser.

She breezed through the front door. She ignored her mother’s protests, as she always did. Her mother could never understand that she still needed to feel young. She needed to drive her car. She needed to live. She didn’t know how many more days of freedom she had left.

The reporters were parked in front of the lawn, converging on her as soon as she stepped outside.

“Riley!” A redhead ran over to her, thrusting a microphone in her face. She’d been there every day since the story broke, not giving up despite the fact Riley had never spoken to her. To any of them. “Do you have a message for Cassie’s family? Or anything to say about Cassie herself?”

Riley stopped, turning to face the woman, feeling the tears spring to her eyes. She slipped on her sunglasses before anyone saw. “I hardly knew her,” she whispered.

For Story a Day


15 thoughts on “A Phase

  1. You’ve penned a provoking and eye-opening piece, shedding light on an issue that’s still too prevalent nowadays. The fact that the mother initially dismissed it as a “phase” is heartbreakingly accurate, because how many parents out there do the same thing? “Oh, it’s just hormones, they’re overreacting.”

    Seriously well done, Jenn.

    1. Thank you so much. Yes, I agree, people are too quick to dismiss bullying as typical teen behavior, but it can lead to disastrous consequences.

  2. An extremely apt piece. Bullying is laughed off by the parents in question and sometimes mothers are proud of their child’s so called confidence but in reality it’s despicable behavior and such bullying shouldn’t be tolerated at any level…. Great story/message!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I think parents sometimes expect kids to get all of their self-esteem from things like clothes instead of from within and that teaches them to look down on those who don’t have what they have. Bullying for any reason should never be tolerated.

  3. It’s really interesting to read from the perspective of the bully and catch a glimpse of how she turned into one. Great job!

  4. Interesting continuation. You really get here, how Riley feels hard done by, like this is happening to her and she doesn’t see her fault in Cassie’s death. Riley is entitled and she has no empathy or sympathy with Cassie. She thinks Cassie was merely ‘a loser’ and that she is better than Cassie. It’s interesting your perspective here, seeing how Riley feels, bullied for her crimes online and in the media. She doesn’t cry but I know it hurts her. It’s amazing how girls especially, can be so mean to each other and not realize how their actions affect others. Great job on this Jenn.

    1. Thanks! I think Riley does feel guilty about what happened to Cassie, but is in denial. I always find it ironic how when stories like these come out in the media, the bullies start getting death threats and rude comments online. Don’t these people realize that makes them bullies too?

  5. Great job on this! I’m sure there was plenty of bullying going on when I was going to school, but nothing like it is today. Today it is more harsh and dangerous and the social media has compounded the problem. There was more control in the schools when I was growing up and a lot of that does not exist today.

    1. Thank you! Yes, I remember girls being mean and stuff when I was in school too, but at least when you went home you got a break. Now these poor kids are bombarded with texts and social media 24/7.

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