Please Be Kind
by Kevin Koch
edited by Heather Gancarz, Geri Lee, and Jordan
Teri was in the bathroom—again. She seemed to spend a lot of time there. The third floor bathroom was a little off the beaten path. Only freshmen had their lockers up here, and they all had their own problems. It was a good place to get away for a minute or two. The mirror she was looking into was scratched all over and a little warped towards the bottom, almost like she was at a carnival. The distortion made it look like her head was sitting on top of a blob rather than her shoulders.
She was short, often mistaken for one of the freshmen by substitute teachers. Any shorter and her chin would’ve been lost in the bottom edge of the mirror. She’d always been short for her age, but it hadn’t really started to show until she’d gotten to Louis Harbor High. She tried not to be self conscious about it, but that just made her think about it more.
Inspecting herself, she checked her long brown hair. It was a mess. She hadn’t teared up, so she didn’t have to worry about her makeup. The light dusting around her brown eyes was exactly how she’d left it this morning. Her skin was a mix of contradictions. She was naturally tan, but she didn’t get much sun so it was also pale. Her body had trouble deciding how much melanin it should really have.
Taking a step back and throwing her head forward, she ran her fingers through her hair and then tossed it back over her shoulders. She looked into the mirror, flicking stray strands. Blonde highlights caught the florescent glow. After a couple minutes, her hair looked like it’d just happened to fall perfectly into place. Her jeans buzzed. Pulling out her phone, she touched the screen and opened up a text message.
It was from Morgan. She’d seen Emily making fun of her. She hadn’t done anything about it of course, neither had Teri. No one stands up to Emily Vargas. Cheerleader, field hockey captain, lead in the school musical. Basically she’d cemented her campaign for prom queen by the end of eighth grade. She might be the undisputed tyrant of Louis Harbor, but she didn’t have to be such a jerk about it. There weren’t that many boys her age in the school, and Emily had just made fun of her in front of half of them.
Ever since Teri had beaten out one of Emily’s friends for a supporting role in the upcoming musical, Emily had kept Teri in her sights. It wasn’t any one phrase or remark, nothing that a teacher or the principal Mr. Andrews would think twice about. But the sum total of all the little jabs was starting to wear her down.
Her reply was still sending when she locked her phone and stuffed it back into her pocket. Smoothing her gray, long sleeved tee, she moved towards the door. As she touched the handle, she heard a creaking noise. She’d been sure the bathroom was empty when she first slipped in here, but maybe a freshman had been hiding in one of the stalls. The room was empty. She could even see under the stall walls. No feet in view.