Kathy walked through the lunchroom, carrying her lunch tray. Nearly everyone in the room was watching her.
Kathy sat down by herself at a table near the back of the lunchroom. As she picked through her food, she could hear people whispering.
What's wrong with her? What the hell happened? Is she emo? Why would Kathy cut off her hair? Omigod, she's, like, bald! She is so ugly. She is so weird.
Kathy was actually hearing these things. People were actually gossiping about her like this.
Kathy put her head down on the table and cried quietly.
Some of the voices stopped, but the stares didn't. Neither did any of the people walking by.
My friends and I sat at our usual table in the lunchroom.
"So, do you guys have any idea what's going on with Kathy?" Alice asked Leo, Mouse, and Tae-Hyun.
"She just wants attention." Leo said.
Mouse punched him in the shoulder hard, "Do you have to be such a prick?"
Leo scowled and Tae-Hyun said, "Mouse..."
"Yeah, Mouse. I'm not a prick." Leo said.
"Well..." Tae-Hyun said.
Leo's eyes widened and Alice, Chris, and I snickered.
"What?" Leo said.
Tae-Hyun shifted uncomfortably in her seat and said, "Well, you haven't exactly been very nice lately. Kathy is obviously very upset and I'm not asking you to give her empathy, just... Don't be so harsh."
Mouse nodded and said, "Listen to your girlfriend, Leo. She's a smart cookie."
Tae-Hyun smiled a little and Leo scoffed, "Come on, you too? Why are all of you guys siding with Kathy?"
"Why not? You have been freaking terrible." I said, laughing, "Seriously. What is your problem?"
"Why are you all ganging up on me?" Leo said, throwing his hands in the air, "I didn't do anything!"
"Yes you did!" Chris said, "You called Kathy a b-"
"I know what I called her! That was weeks ago! Let it go!" Leo said.
Chris pointed a finger at Leo and said, "Let me finish. You called Kathy a bitch, you won't forgive her for acting up, and you lashed out at me for agreeing with the girls instead of you."
Mouse added, "And today he flipped out on Kathy again."
"Really, guys?" Leo said, "You need to learn to let things go."
"Do we, now?" Tae-Hyun said.
Leo looked at her and said, "What?"
Tae-Hyun stared at Leo and said seriously, "We need to let things go? Kathy tricked me and beat me up weeks ago and now you hate her. Didn't you used to date her?"
"Yes, he did." Mouse said.
Tae-Hyun looked like she had just tasted something sour, or like she was disgusted. She said softly, "You used to really like Kathy. Then I came along and she didn't like me, so now you can't like her either?"
Leo didn't say anything.
Tae-Hyun shook her head, "Is that fair? No. I don't think we need to let go of the past, I think you do."
With a barely angry look on her face, Tae-Hyun took her lunch tray, studied Leo for a little longer, and walked across the lunchroom to a different table.
Leo looked at me like he didn't know what to do.
I nodded and said gently, "She's right, you know."
Leo stared at me blankly. Then, he wordlessly went back to eating his lunch.
Tae-Hyun, go figure.