i’m a cofounder of the scintilla project. our goal is to give you a reason to unlock your storytelling voice. we provide a selection of daily prompts and encouragement, and you provide a post that goes beyond the surface into Why. in some you’ll be the hero, in some the villain, and in some an innocent bystander. every day is a new chance to go deeper. today’s prompt: write the letter to the bully, to the cheater, to the aggressor that you always wanted to but couldn’t quite. now tell them why they can’t affect you anymore.
you know, i never thought what you did to me was bullying. it’s only now, thirteen years later when i rehash the tale to others that they say, “yes, dominique, you were bullied.” and i say “but i offered him my money. he never demanded it.” this, i realize, is a weak excuse.
i don’t know why i was your target. i was pudgy, i guess, and i wasn’t that pretty, and i didn’t have the straight to the shoulders hair with highlights that all the other girls had, or their coach bags. i probably wore my insecurity like a coat every day over the trendy clothes that i begged my mother for, that i believed would be the answer (spoiler: they weren’t). kids smell fear like animals.
and you, you were gregarious and you were loud and i suppose to some you were charming, but to me you were terrifying. i suppose this story would be all the more horrifying if you were also super attractive and the object of the ladies’ desires, but you weren’t. maybe this is how you made up for it. you poked at me and made fun, and you made everyone else laugh and it wasn’t quite cruel enough to be a crime but it was just cruel enough to make me hate myself a little more.
so i gave you the money my mother gave me every day for lunch and in return you weren’t allowed to speak to me. i proposed the deal, and it both helped along my burgeoning eating disorder and my small and fragile ego. really, it was a win-win for me, the way i saw it.
and i guess this isn’t really a letter, but the thing is, i don’t care anymore. i smile a little to myself now, realizing that the secret all along was to learn not to give one fuck about what you or he or she or they thought about me. to not care that i didn’t have the barely there hips you were supposed to have at 13, that my baby fat hadn’t really gone away, that i was smart and interested in things, that i really really cared what grades i got. and these things, they don’t define me any longer, and neither do people like you.