Megan -- a story by Tiffany Cook


by Tiffany Cook

Listen to Tiffany Cook Reading Megan

There she was. Sitting there, quiet as a church mouse, alert and attentive to the health teacher. I sat two rows away from her and one seat back, watching her closely. I hear someone abruptly snicker behind her, and align my gaze to the disturber of the peace. I see a young man picking up a mechanical pencil, gripping the eraser with his teeth and pulling it out. I gave a friend of mine next to me a look full of thoughts. Thoughts like stupidity and disgust that these people call themselves sophomores in high school.

The whole class was watching out of the corner of their eyes, catching only snatches of the health teacher’s “sex talk” to us. Following the young man’s every move, I watched him slide the eraser to the tip of his fingers. Looking up innocently at the teacher, he passed the eraser up the row to a buddy of his directly behind her.

Holding the eraser in the palm of his hand, he waited until the teacher turned to draw a diagram on the board, slipping it flawlessly down the back of her shirt. He broke into spasms of laughter, as I rolled my eyes at the obvious immaturity, but said nothing.

Megan was a sophomore in my health class. She was also in the Special Education program, although for what, I didn’t know. It was obvious to all of us at ages ranging from 14 to 16 that something was wrong with Megan, but none of us bothered to look into it to find out what it was. Most ignored her, and the ones who didn’t tortured her.

I am most ashamed to admit that for the first two years of high school, I did the same. If Megan remembers me at all, she probably remembers me as most did in high school; the dark, long haired quiet girl who gave off odd vibes, had loud friends, and a reputation of being dangerous and suicidal. It isn’t anything personal; I admit fully to all of it. But seeing Megan go through that in my health class that year changed my mindset. I had seen similar events a hundred times, but the unfairness of it got to me that day.

Two weeks later I made my first three week trip to a local mental hospital be an inpatient for severe self mutilation and suicide attempts. Being with those people 24/7 who had problems, and were considered “outcasts” at school just like Megan and me, made me realize that it’s not the problems, or lack thereof, that make a person unique. It is the emotions, thoughts, and goals of a person that make them who they are.

On my first day back at school from the hospital, I did the unthinkable:

I waved at Megan in the hallway.