Wordy Wednesday (“Lesson of the Day: How to Torture Julia”)

We’re leaving for the Writer’s Digest Conference the day after tomorrow.

Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, somebody please slap me across the face, because I am FREAKING. OUT.

I basically just constantly look like this right now:


Two parts excited. One part scared out of my mind.

While we’re on the topic of WDC, just some quick housekeeping type stuff:

  • Just like last year, I’m going to be blogging from the conference throughout the weekend, so be prepared for a slew of extra posted over the course of the next few days.
  • Also just like last year, I’m going to be posting my notes from the sessions (although let’s try to abbreviate that this year so it doesn’t take two months again to post everything, shall we?).
  • Because I’m going to be posting conference notes for the next few weeks, our usual Wordy Wednesday voting process is going to be suspended until I finish with the notes, because those will be coming to you every weekend and Wednesday instead of my usual posting.
  • The next chapter of This Is a Book will be going up on Thursday, April 11th on this blog. Mel and I are super apologetic about all the breaks we’ve had to take from posting that lately, but it’s just been crazy trying to keep up with everything, between school and the conference coming up and, you know, all that other unimportant stuff like sleeping and eating and occasionally even socializing with other humans. (Craziness!)
  • While I obviously can’t say much about it (no details allowed en ze internet), I did want to let you know that I have officially begun querying Cadence, and so far it’s not going completely awful or anything. Which could change at any given point in time, but whatever. (And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter.)

Okay, now on to this week’s Wordy Wednesday! This piece is a memoir I wrote back my sophomore year of high school for the unit on the memoir genre in honors English. We wrote a lot of memoirs. All of mine are fairly horrible. And this is one of them.

I give you: “Lesson of the Day: How to Torture  Julia”


Probably the worst thing that can happen within a group of peers is for one person to turn on another, and for no one to listen to the innocent one. There’s no way out of that situation, and it hurts really bad to be the one who is turned upon. When it happened to me, it made me feel helpless, and worthless, and eventually, I began believing all of the lies, too. I mean, my friends were saying them about me, so how couldn’t they be true? And that belief just made the pain even worse.

            It was back in sixth grade… not the best year for me. Both of my parents went away on business trips; Mom to Sweden, Dad to Germany. This meant that I was left with only one or the other home for a week or so at a time. I wasn’t really used to that. On top of that, my beloved guinea pig, Diana, was really sick, and my last gerbil, Chewy, was starting to get old. My great grandmother was unwell and moved up to Michigan from her house in Florida, and more. There was a lot going on for me.

            So, in turn, I was pretty stressed out. It didn’t help that all of my best friends were in other classes, leaving me with no one to hang out with the entire day, including at Lunch and recess. But, lucky for me, pretty quickly a girl new to the district, Erin (fake name, of course) befriended me, and began hanging around with me more and more. We partnered up in all of our classes, sat together at Lunch, played together at recess, and talked in the hallways. We spent every moment of school together. She was new, and so didn’t have many friends. All of my friends were in other classes. We were the perfect match.

            That is, until about January. At that point, one of the other friends we’d made was discovered to have attempted leaving a hateful note in my desk… only that it wasn’t her handwriting, and Erin was the first to know it was there. Of course, I didn’t jump to the conclusion that Erin had done it to try to break the rest of our group apart or anything, because she had never been anything but nice around us, but as time wore on and we began holding our own “court” during recess everyday to try to figure out who the culprit was, it became more and more evident that she had done it.

            For weeks, I suffered on the inside, torn apart at the idea of my best friend doing something that cruel and devious. When I finally brought it up, with pain in my voice, I asked Erin, “You know, I’ve always wondered… why did the handwriting on that one letter look so much like yours?”

            As I soon learned, that was the wrong question to ask. She immediately threw a sort of temper tantrum, and turned on me, shouting for the entire playground to hear, “Huh! I don’t know, Julia! Maybe it’s because you’re trying to frame it like I did it, so you can have all of our friends to yourself!”

            “What? Of course not!” I objected, but it was too late. Erin had that sort of persuasive power… she could make anyone believe anything she wanted to. Starting that very moment, she spent all of her time avoiding me and spreading awful rumors, telling the entire grade secrets I had sworn her never to share with anyone.

By the end of the week, she had built up her forces enough that she was willing to approach me again, and decided that it was quite entertaining to come at me every day at recess. She would have her new friends form a ring around me, shouting out snide remarks about how I was dressed, about my family, about the words I said, and my dreams. She would threaten me, and ridicule me, and get everyone to laugh at me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get away, and none of the adults ever believed me, because she was super nice whenever one of the teachers came within earshot.

I cried myself to sleep every night, and wondered why, when I was already having enough trouble coping with life, fate just had to throw another awful thing on my plate.

But, even that wasn’t the worst of it. When the rest of the friends I had managed to make that year saw what was happening, and they heard the words Erin was saying about me, they began joining her side. At first, one or two joined the mob, and then I suddenly looked up and there wasn’t a friendly face left in the crowd. I was all alone in the cruelest world I had ever known: being below the bottom of the totem pole of the sixth grade class.

At one point, I tried getting my mom to talk to Erin, to try to get her to leave me alone, but she pulled the same act as she had with the teachers. Mom still believed what I was saying, but the fact that Erin was never mean around her meant that she couldn’t exactly reprimand her for her behavior.

Then, the next year, Erin tried being BFFs with me again. Over the summer, her fire had died out, leaving her with no one standing beside her, either. Everyone else was bored with torturing Julia, and had left to continue on with their regular lives. But I had lost all trust in her, and refused her offer of renewed friendship. Eighth grade, Erin moved districts again. Her mom explained to mine that she had trouble keeping friends, and so every couple years they moved to give her a new beginning. I was apparently one of the longest lasting friends she had ever had.

It’s hard to look at someone like Erin and think that she’s anything but innocent, when in truth she was far from it. Sometimes I wonder what could have happened to make her the way she was. Others, I just let it go.



Talk to you this weekend! (AHHHHHHHHHH!)



5 thoughts on “Wordy Wednesday (“Lesson of the Day: How to Torture Julia”)

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