2015 Winners: #NativeYouthVoices

2015 Winners: #NativeYouthVoices


Introducing the WINNING entries from LCE’s 2015 #WeAreHere WRITING CHALLENGE!

Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s 2015 #WeAreHere Writing and Art Challenge asked Native Youth on the Pine Ridge Reservation to describe — using real life stories — what they are willing to StandUP for and the results are ….. inspirational.

The words of Oglala Lakota youth reflect that they care about each other, their culture and their community, and that they face greater struggles than some of their peers in other parts of the country. The collection is a powerful statement about the importance of open communication, hope and unity.

The collection also represents a powerful example of how words, as an art form, can create a dialogue for expression and can bring people together.

The entries were judged anonymously by an internationally acclaimed panel of Writing Judges.

LCE President Maggie Dunne said:

“Although the judges had the difficult task of naming “winners” the intensity and thoughtfulness of all of the entries was overwhelming. This year (our third year) we received over 100 entries from students at 10 schools and from young adults not enrolled in schools. This program is not about winning – it is about celebrating the arts as a means for expression and as a positive force of change. The entries from youth on Pine Ridge present a moving anthology of voices that belongs in the national dialogue.”

From Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams:

“I commend Lakota Children’s Enrichment for creating a platform to amplify the voices of Native Youth on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Their poems and stories present a glimpse into the challenges of reservation life as well as the strength of their Lakota culture. The thoughtful expressions in this year’s #WeAreHere Collection of Native Youth Voices (and last year’s Voices of the Land Collection), have the capacity to change the lives of the authors, their community, and any one else who takes the time to listen to their important messages.”

From Best-selling author, poet and Armenian genocide expert Peter Balakian:

“Congratulations to the winners who wrote very powerful entries, we applaud your work; but also, congratulations to everyone who entered the contest.  Your work is brave and gives meaning to your lives and to the realities of life on the Pine Ridge reservation and the Lakota and Sioux cultures, which are rich and ancient.”


High School Grand Prize Winner: Marcus Ruff
Middle School Grand Prize Winner: Dorian Sage
High School Runner-Ups: Steven Wilson, Payton Sierra, Amber Long Soldier, Rebecca Hunter, Summer Montileaux
Middle School Runner-Ups: Jeila Schuh, Paisley Sierra, Cetan Ducheneaux, Jetta Tobacco, Deanna Rae Chipps, Ayiannah Carroll
Young Adult Honorable Mention: Ladeanne Young Bull Bear

HS Grand Prize message

Marcus Ruff, a High School student and a member of Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s Youth Advisory Board, took home the Grand Prize with his poem entitled, Things To Remember If You Have An Alcoholic Father. Marcus’ direct and creative writing style won him a Runner-Up recognition in 2014’s Voices of the Land Writing Challenge and the Grand Prize this year.

Marcus’ 2015 poem speaks from the perspective of a young person who cares for an alcoholic parent. It addresses coping skills, survival skills and grief that can arise when a young person assumes adult responsibilities. As Marcus powerfully conveys, some of the challenges faced by youth are not always easy.

Things To Remember If You Have An Alcoholic Father
by Marcus Ruff

Remember to remove the carpet in front of the bathroom toilet

Aiming for anything with alcohol in your life is blurred in a stumbling blackout through an ancestrous graveyard

Bodies fill the marble beds like a drunken sleepover ended in tragedy

Abs once cut so deep they hugged our ribs, bloat. Bellybuttons pop

Cirrhosis fades our skin to a pale yellow until we resemble the teeth of too many cigarettes

Remember to walk them to bed after they eat

Consumption consumes and they get tired

Let them lean on your shoulder and waddle like a toddler to their bedroom

Remember to steal their beer and hide it

Whenever they wake at noon and you hear a sickened roar and vomit hit the water

Give them your stolen cans of savior

Feel happy to end their pain

Feel guilty for feeding their shame

Remember to hide all the sugared sweets

Because you never know when the sweet nectar in their blood will become their last breath

And I’m only reminded when the moon gets home before I do…

The last cocktail they drink will be two parts lonely and four parts empty

Like I am now

Grand Prize Winner 
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved

tree full quote

Writing Judge Susanne Pari said about this entry: “Dorian Sage’s essay speaks with great wisdom to the responsibility all of humanity must take for the well-being of our world. He does this not only through his presentation of Lakota history and tradition, but also through examples of natural science. His writing is stellar.”

We agree and think you will, too!

Tell The World
by Dorian Sage

In the Lakota way, everything is connected. In days past you could see it in the rustling of the leaves or the swift rushing of a waterfall. Now you can see it in more obvious ways. The worms tunnel below the Earth, searching for food while at the same time helping the plants collect oxygen through their roots. This insight is fading from the general population, and because of this we are no longer taking care of the Earth. In the past, the Lakota people would migrate so that the Earth had a time for cleansing. The area that we lived in would never be forgotten so much that it would die. We relied on the Earth, but it did not rely on us.

Aspens are a unique kind of tree because they sprout from the roots of another Aspen, which is why you often see them growing in groves. If one of these trees gets sick, the rest of the trees usually get sick too because they rely on the same food supply. It is much the same with us. If one of our food sources had an unexpected shortage in production, the majority of human life would be affected. This is just one of the reasons it’s good to be self-reliant, and to have your own energy source if possible.

Everything is too connected in the modern world. There is no longer privacy, and your information is there for everybody to see. If something happened in the world, like an outbreak of some sort, our food supply could be cut off, and it could affect our water because we don’t focus on renewable sources of food and energy.

Human life is too destructive, and it is ruining the Earth’s natural cycle. Eventually humans are going to bring about their own downfall, and there will be nothing there to stop it. This is why I encourage our great people to start living off the grid, and to start relying on themselves for sustenance. In our traditional ways, we would always let the Earth replenish itself. We relied directly on the animals and on the signs from nature for survival.

One tribe in Africa even relies directly on a certain species of bird to help them find beehives. The bird helps the tribe so that in return they will give them part of the honey store that the bee hive holds. The bird will fly in the direction of the hive, showing the humans where to get it, and then will whistle when nearby. The bird will then wait on a tree somewhere near until the people leave a piece of the honeycomb somewhere within the bird’s line of sight.

If the idea of these short paragraphs is not yet obvious, what I am trying to get at is everything is connected, even us. We need to start relying more on ourselves for our food, and taking better care of the environment which takes such good care of us. In our tradition, you respect everything. This idea was lost with the European colonization of the Americas and I’m trying to bring it back.

Grand Prize Winner — Middle School
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved

High School Runner-Up Awards

Wacipi Stand Message

I Won’t Ever Stand…
by Steven Wilson

As I sit here, replaying the words in my mind.
The gears start to turn, It becomes more clear.
What do I want to stand up for?
I’ll stand up for a lot of things.

So what won’t I stand up for?
Then I look to the other side of the room.
A binder on the shelf containing an obituary,
of a fifteen-year-old girl stares back at me.

Between those few minutes of contemplation,
emotion and thoughts run from my mind
using my arm and the pen in my hand as a bridge.
Their footprints becoming ink stains on notebook paper.

Then the words slip through my teeth so rigidly
“I won’t ever stand for a bully.”
Nor, someone who could make another person feel so low.
So low, that they feel their life belongs six feet under the ground.

Suicide needs to stop.
Because we fail to see that war isn’t the only thing that brings our country sadness.
Next to cancer and diabetes,
suicide stands unjustified in the list of top reasons of death in the USA.

Not only is it the nation’s top ten killer,
It’s the reservation’s first well known sadness,
Because we are human, not one should be placed above another.
Because our words slowly wound one another.

I won’t ever stand for suicide.
They say that pills and therapy can cure the depression but,
they fail to see what causes the sadness, It’s not an internal problem.
I know because the problem walks before us, talking to each other.

Because that girl on the shelf had the sadness.
That girl did not deserve an obituary till she was old and grey.
That girl sparked my new hope, It wasn’t her time to go.

It is time for equality
and treating each other the same.
Because if you fail to listen to this poem’s meaningful words
I might as well be talking to blank walls that are painted in grey.

I can’t change the world,
But I won’t sell you broken dreams,
I’ll tell you what’s real,
start to open your ears, so that you might be able to see

Words can hurt a person mentally.
Mentally can turn into physically
and, physically could turn into forever.

I won’t ever stand for bullies. I won’t ever stand for suicide.
But in everyday that I live
I’ll always stand up for those who can really listen.
Because it’s hard to hear a scream for help through a fake smile.

The sadness needs to end,
It needs to come to a stop,
reach out to a friend,
suicide needs to stop.
We are fragile, We are human, We are here.

Runner-Up High School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved

Eagle text

Poet Payton Sierra was a runner-up in 2014’s Voices of the Land Writing Challenge and is a runner-up again this year. Payton’s poem conveys her devotion to the Lakota culture and people, and to the celebration of both. Payton incorporates a Call to Action into her poem: she challenges her community to come together, to be strong, and to appreciate their lives and their culture. #WeAreHere “to help the people who have fallen… so they can keep walking along.”

by Payton Sierra

I wasn’t supposed to make it.
I was almost out
like the batter with the base hit.
Everyone had their doubts.
Born a month and a half too early.
Things didn’t work right.
My first breath could’ve easily been my last.

15 years later, I stand here in front of you.
And I owe my life to the Creator.
But I appreciate the love from above.
There has to be a reason.
Now standing behind the drum at Sundance
I get to thinking.
Thinking about the road I’ve been walking on.

The impact of the dirt road hurts my feet.
My shoulders feel heavy
but everyday I carry on.
I carry the hurt of the Lakota people.
The hurt they didn’t see coming.

Whether it’s death, abuse or even addiction.
I stand here singing my prayers.
Praying for strength and understanding,
because we all have a reason.

I want my Lakota people to come together,
Through the hardships and the struggles
The Lakota people need to get through it..
Leaving by our own hands,
thinking we don’t have a reason?
Our reason is to bring “US” back.

I pray for strength,
Calling out, hoping that they hear me.
Hoping that the alcohol spills before our blood does.

My legs are growing tired,
But my heart won’t let me give up.
This is my reason.
To help the people who have fallen,
the alcohol takes over their body so I hold them up.
So they can keep walking along.

As I look up, I see the eagle.
He has been with me every step of the way.
Though this may sound like a cliche,
I want what’s best for my Lakota people.
Even though I have no clue
of the troubles I’ll have to go through.
I know for the sake of my people,
it will all be worth it.
I yell, and scream at them who are trapped, “Blihičiya pe!”

Runner-Up High School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved
Remember Text

I Remember
by Amber Long Soldier

I remember once you saw my life
on my skin through scars of pain I’d show.
I would bleed out my heart for you
until nothing else could flow.

Love will suck you dry—
you did that to me.
Left me nothing inside,
nothing I’ll ever see.

I remember the nights I’d cry—
the razor, smiling like a sin
with a grin, cutting
deep into my skin.

I remember erecting steep walls,
eventually torn down and left
with nothing else to give,
wondering why—
why must I have to live?

I remember life with a genuine meaning,
not living with hurt and with pain,
being able to function without meds
and able to call myself sane.

Beat down and laughed at
was all that life did to me.
Surreptitiously life picked me up again,
stabbed me in the back
when I didn’t suspect.

I remember when family had love,
when smiles were never masks,
when love never hurt you
and the past stayed in the past.

I remember, I remember, I remember…

Runner-Up High School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved

Stolen Innocence
by Rebecca Hunter

I find it funny how a smile
can hide a broken heart
and how the masking
of your feelings—
is a secret art.

Would you have seen this coming?
I know she hides it well—
the whole world is really under
this girl’s tragic spell.

Thinking nothing of the glare
in her big brown eyes,
little do they know,
they’re a great disguise.

She wakes up—
watches the sunrise,
prepared to reel off bucket loads
of sad lies.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes,” she replies—
no one can hear
the screams—
of her internal cries.

She thinks there’s no hope
and no faith left to give.
Feels no reason ,
no purpose—
for her soul to live.

How could you take this girl,
and make her feel secure,
then grab your ragtag gang,
and make her feel impure?

Now she’s damaged forever,
her thoughts stained
with every memory
you gave her—
you should be ashamed.

Did you like it
when you heard her screaming
out in pain?

I bet remembering is driving her: insane!

Worst crime you could commit.
Crime of extreme violation—
and for what?
Just for self-gratification.

Now she’s thinking,
“Do I even deserve to live?”

She can’t forgive, she can’t forget.
You stole her innocence—
forced her down the path
of guilt and shame.

Did you think of the aftermath?
Was her psychological torture

Are you delusional?

“Don’t lie.”

You understood,

         you understood,

                 you understood,

                         you understood!

A life filled with horrible memories,
a hangman’s noose,
a chambered round,
the razor’s bite,
her captor’s slave
—which should she choose?

Runner-Up High School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved

Dream Text

A Dream
by Summer Montileaux

Billy Mills once said the “pursuit of a dream can heal a broken soul.” I believe that’s true.

My soul was once shattered like a plate you throw on the ground out of anger, hurt, and frustration. It was broken and I felt lost. I came soon to discover that a pen and paper gave me a voice — a voice that was inside me — a voice that I didn’t know I had — the voice that made me who I am today. You don’t think that what you do or what you have to say matters unless someone recognizes it, but truth is, who we are and what we do are important.

At first, my dream was to become a writer but, I didn’t think it was possible. I started writing eight years ago, and didn’t understand the strength or importance of my words. By continuing to write, I discovered that I now want to be a doctor, a pediatrician. I love the youth in my community and want nothing more than to help them. These dreams healed my soul and have guided me to take action to help others.

Soon I’ll be in a big city where no one will know or understand our struggles here at home. I will still be a person you can look to when you decide to achieve your dreams. I will help you in anyway I can, up until the day that you can say “ I made it.”

It’s okay if change doesn’t happen right away, what matters is that I am trying to make change happen, and so are you by following a dream. It’s like making the impossible, possible for everyone. We can and will be more than a statistic.

There are many broken, lost souls here on the reservation. We are overlooked and forgotten, but we are still strong and can be healed. Like a flower that must endure thunderstorms, clouds, rain and wind in order to shine in the sunlight, we too, must endure pain, sorrow and disappointments in order to achieve our dreams.

Let your dreams be the power that heals your soul in the storms, and the sunlight that helps you thrive.

Runner-Up High School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved

The Middle School Runners-Up


Susanne Pari, a judge in the writing challenge, said of this entry: “Jeila Schuh has written from a deeply personal place, where all good writing comes from. This takes tremendous courage and is perhaps the most essential ingredient for bringing listeners to a story.”

Pretend (Bullying)
by Jeila Schuh

You look innocent
You play pretend
How can anyone believe that?

Words hurt, you say.
When all I want is to fade away,
I wake up with regret
And all I want is to forget,

What’s a true bully?
You have power
But I refuse to give,
Through the doors
I will be safe,

Let me be,
You pretended
You acted innocent,
Is that what you wanted?

Is it too late?
I have an identity
You have a name,
All I want is to fade away

Forgetting is regretting,
I refuse to give,
I can end all this
I don’t have to take this,
You will hear my voice
I’ll start speaking out,

You’re a bully
I don’t have to take your

Runner-Up Middle School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved
Paisley Text

For Alanie Marie Martin
by Paisley Sierra

No one wanted you to leave.
We all loved you.
You left us without a reason.
But you’re now with Tunkasila.
He will take care of you
now that you’re gone.
Don’t worry about us.
We’ll be fine.
We miss you a lot.
When you laughed.
We laughed.
When you smiled.
We smiled.
And when you cried
We tried to make it better.
But you committing suicide made us realize;
We should have been there for you.
You were the funniest, sweetest,
and nicest person in the world!
No one thought that you would do that.
We Love and Miss You

Alanie Marie Martin/Mesteth

Runner-Up Middle School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved
Wacipi Hope for Future

Hope For the Future
By Cetan Ducheneaux

I have lived here for 15 years….
a place of serenity and wide open space,
to let your thoughts flow through the wavy grass,
the trees speak to you by rustling together a quote on quote “happy place.”

The only way you are reading this right now is in ENGLISH,
a very invasive language that has taken over many people,
Lakota Language blew away in the wind,
by a people who seem to think they can get whatever they want,
in this life and the next is all fun and games to them (wasicu),
My culture and many others are dying off every single day,
because of these reasons….

Alcohol, a poison that course through your veins,
to so called make you “happy,”
taking your wheel and endangering lives,
3 cans equal one life…..,

Television, a screen that ruins our vision,
taking us into their electrical flow transforming our lives,
technology has mad us more distant than ever,
and will never get better unless we shut off and come back to reality…..

Youth being bullied at home because they did not do their chore “right,”
then, they transform into a mind numbing bully,
making lives miserable by the minute…..

Lastly there is war, a mind chosen process that instructs you to kill,
taking the bullet of life and striking the tip into another’s heart,
it is saddening and horrifying just to even think about,
we are fighting people that are just like us,
over beliefs and differences…..

All these reasons are flat out solvable,
but our world is rough and rigid because of these reasons,
I imagine a world where we all hold hands,
to make the world circular again,
All lives matter — we, as living beings, need to realize that.

Runner-Up Middle School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved
Jetta Help You

How Can I Help You?
by Jetta Tobacco

I chose to write about suicide because there’s a lot of it on the Rez and just last week someone decided to take their life — they said it was because they were being bullied. There’s a lot of cutting on the Rez, too.

I ask my friends why they do it, and some of them just say ‘’I don’t know.’’ This makes me sad: Why are you trying to take your life? Why are you hurting yourself? How can I help you if you don’t even know why you want to hurt yourself?

I wish I could convince you it’s not “cool” to hurt yourself, and if you think it’s cool, it’s not. It’s not a solution. Ending your life will create a lot of pain for everyone.

I am here to help, but at times I feel helpless… Suicide needs to stop. I want to help.

So, that’s the reason I chose to write about suicide.

Runner-Up Middle School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved
Kiana Text

The War Within
by Deanna Rae Chipps

Fear, Hate, Madness, Loneliness, and Pain are things we have to face in our lifetime but of course, we all have happy moments and those are the moments we don’t want to ever miss, forget, or ever stop having. This story is about the trials and tribulations of a young girl whose older sister guided her to find the little girl that lives inside.

There was a little girl, who one day was laughing, smiling, and enjoying life. She took notice of her own happiness. She knew she was loved. She never wanted to let that go.

As time went on, and the girl grew, everything began to change. She began to experience Fear, Hate, Madness, Loneliness, and Pain. So one day, while they were sleeping, she picked them up, put them in a safe, wrapped a heavy chain around the safe, and locked it, so she would never have to feel them again.

Unfortunately, soon she found herself running again from Fear, Hate, Madness, Loneliness, and Pain. She would not face them, but they called out for her over and over and she heard their screams. The old chain she had placed around the safe where they were locked got really rusty and old, and they broke free and escaped. No matter how fast she ran, she could not out- run them. They caught her!

She was angry —  angry at herself and everyone who ever hurt her.

She was angry at GOD for giving her a life that only broke her heart.

She disliked everyone.

She disliked herself.

She felt deserted, forgotten, abandoned, and hurt, and she was afraid that she’d get hurt even more than ever before.

She began cutting herself because she felt she need not live. She said, “I’ve had enough!” She continued to cut more and more, and soon it became an everyday thing. She started using drugs, because it all made her feel frozen.

She didn’t realize that she had not been deserted.

Her older sister noticed her pain, and saw all that she did to try not to feel the pain. The girl was so caught up in her emotions, that she had forgotten everyone around her.

She had forgotten herself.

The older sister was so worried for the girl. She tried to talk to her, tried to help her, but no matter how hard she tried, the girl would not let her sister help. The girl was so angry at herself and so angry at the world, hurt and afraid that she still didn’t even notice that her older sister was trying to help her.  She was screaming, “HELP” but the only one to hear her was the little girl inside her.

The older sister tried to point the girl forward by showing her how to face her problems head on. Her older sister helped her walk through her problems one by one, instead of fighting them. The girl began to feel brave. She began to have hope…. She opened her eyes and was able to see how to walk through her pain.

It reminded her of a story someone once told her about a person lost in a dark forest, who never tired of trying to find her way out. She never gave up because the thought of never seeing the people she loved again made her work even harder to escape. When she finally found the light at the end of the dark forest, she was happy again.

The days the girl spent lost in the forest trying to find her way out taught her an important lesson — that if you work through all the pain and all the struggles rather than fight them, there is a light. A little guidance from someone who cares really can impact a person’s way of looking at life.

Runner-Up Middle School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved
Going to be okay

It’s Going to Be Okay
by Ayiannah Carroll

Suicide happens often, but can be prevented. Sometimes people do suicide over break ups, or bullying. There are programs for suicidal thoughts, and they can help. Movies, shows, and friends talk about suicide. Many members in my family have committed suicide.

I have a friend and she has parents who drink a lot. She is bullied by a group of girls, who beat her up twice. She never told anyone until she started cutting. I noticed her arms but when I asked, she said it was just a paper cut. I noticed she was hiding something because she never was laughing or being as happy as she was before.

Every time I see the group of girls who bully her, I think “why?” She never touched you or talked about you. I would know because she’s my best friend, and she tells me everything…

She also gets beat up by her parents — they are just making it worse. Her life is worse then theirs. I always tried to give her the courage to make her feel good about herself.

She tried committing suicide three times, and I was there for her. Sometimes I’d ask “why?” She said “I’d rather let the pain inside destroy me than everybody else.”

I cry when I see her alive, because that’s how I know she’s okay. People cut, lie, push you away, and cry —  that’s because they think they’re supposed to be like that. None of us are perfect. I wanted to tell someone, but she’d never let me, and I was scared I might lose her as a friend.

After a while she started dating a guy. He was really really nice and sweet to her…. After a little while he was really mean and demanding. She could never talk to any other guys, or even say a boy’s name. I was really worried about her because I thought he was going to hurt her. When she felt uncomfortable around him, he broke up with her. She cried and cried for a long time.

When she started cutting again I cried, too, because this time she cut deeper —  over the scars from the other cuts. I was really, really worried about her.

I called someone for help. When I did, she was really mad at me. I knew it was the right thing to do because she has people who could help her to get better. When they took her away, she never talked to me again. I never see her now, because I can’t. She has not gotten better and people call her “crazy.” Everyone was talking about her, and it was so annoying knowing how many people hated my best friend.

So remember if you’re ever dealing with suicidal thoughts, call for help. There are people who are there for you, and you’re never alone. Never think about suicide because people are going to miss you.

Call for help and always think bright.

Runner-Up Middle School Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
©Lakota Children’s Enrichment, All Rights Reserved

bully tree

Young Adult Honorable Mention

The Bully
by Ladeanne Young Bull Bear

Annie stands at the front door of her middle school dreading the day. She isn’t very big for her age, and not too popular. She doesn’t conform to the ‘status quo.’  She has long dark curly hair, and looks even smaller in her light blue skinny jeans, and white shirt. A light blue vest completes her image, and her black and white shoes don’t really match. Nervously she lifts her backpack further up on her shoulders, clutching the straps like a lifeline. She always hates coming to school. She reaches for the door to go inside, but freezes in fear when she hears familiar voices. She looks up, and her worst fears are confirmed. The group of girls coming towards her are her daily tormenters

The leader is a large girl who loves to pick on Annie. Their eyes meet, and Annie flees in terror. The group of bullies chase after her, and catch her by the hair. They pull her to the back of the middle school and start to beat her, calling her names, and throwing trash at her. She cries in pain and fear, as they finally stop. Slowly Annie tries to gets up. She is covered in trash, and her school things are scattered all over the concrete. She collects her things, and manages to stand up. She barely makes it to her class before the bell rings. Her first period is with the selfsame bullies that just beat her up. She keeps her head down carefully keeping her hair covering her face despite all the trash tangled in it. She sits down quietly at the back of the class. Her classmates all look at her in shock-even the bullies that caused all her pain. She tries to hide even more behind her hair as her teacher approaches.

He kneels beside her and ask her what happened. She refuses to meet his eyes, and doesn’t answer. He presses her gently, and she finally makes the excuse: “I fell down the stairs at my grandmother’s as I rushed to school.” She tries her best to give Mr. Bennett her smile and hide her pain, but Mr. Bennett isn’t convinced. He moves back to the front of the room with no choice but to start the class. A tear slips slowly down her face as she thinks of her tormentors and the beating they gave her. She doesn’t know why they pick on her. They call her names like “whore,” and make her feel worthless. She was about to burst into tears when the bell rang.

She left the classroom as fast as she could, but didn’t know that someone had seen her pain. Annie made it to the lunch room, and had finally pushed the tears back. She picked a small table near the back, and sat down. Her bullies made sure she always ate alone. She didn’t have any friends because of the rumors the girls spread about her. But then again, no one ever took the time to get to know Annie either.  They all believed the lies. They all were able to act as bullies, because no one cared enough to ever help. She had only been at her table for 5 minutes before the tormenting started again.

Brook, the lead bully, came over and poured her milk over Annie’s head. The whole lunchroom laughed as Annie ran from the cafeteria. That is, except for Lisa who was new to the school, and felt sorry for Annie. She had been in a similar situation at her old school, but it wasn’t as bad as Annie had it. Lisa was always picked on for her long red hair that she kept in a ponytail.

Lisa followed Annie as she ran straight to her locker but was unable to open the locker because the tears blurred her vision, and her hands were shaking so bad. She crouched down in front of her locker, and was about to burst into tears when she saw a pair of shoes next to her. She looked up in alarm, but it was the new girl with her hand stretched out to help her up. She took Lisa’s hand, and was pulled into a hug. She burst into tears, and Lisa just held her. Annie had never had anyone pay any attention to her. Was she finally going to have a friend?

Annie was able to compose herself for the rest of the day, and when the final bell rang, she raced for her locker. The sooner she got out of there the better. As she opened the locker and reached in to get her backpack, the locker slammed on her arm. She knew she hadn’t been fast enough. She tried to get her arm free and flee, but the girls had already surround her.

All Annie felt was pain as they beat her again, only this time they went too far. Bloody, bruised and unable to move, Annie thought it would be good if she just died. What Annie didn’t know was that Lisa had seen the bullies ganging up on her, and had run to the teachers. But the gang had already done their work by the time Lisa and the teachers got there. Everyone was shocked to see Annie, and the teachers rushed to call the ambulance as Lisa began to comfort her new friend. Lisa tried her best to soothe Annie until the paramedics got there, but Annie had already blacked out. Lisa whispered, “I am sorry I was late!”

Annie woke up a day later in the hospital and was surprised to see the new girl holding her hand and asleep next to her bed. She gently woke the girl up and asked her what happened. Lisa told Annie that she had told the teachers and the cops everything. The bullies had already started in on another girl, and were caught in the act by the police when they arrived to arrest them. The girls were now being sent to juvenile detention, and would be there for at least the rest of the year. Annie’s grandmother pressed charges against them, and now the only thing left for the judge was the length of the sentence. They also had been expelled from school, so she didn’t ever have to worry about them again.

Tears of relief coursed down Annie’s checks as she thanked Lisa. Someone had finally seen her. She wasn’t the invisible beaten up girl anymore.

Honorable Mention, Young Adult Category
2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge
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