Sunday, October 4, 2015

Are We Called To Be Neutral ?

Gabby slipped through the busy hallway with her two best friends in tow, careful not bump into anyone. She squeezed one ear to her shoulder trying  to shield it from the roar of voices, clanging, footsteps and laughter. The first day of seventh grade, she smiled. It was going to be a great year! The locker next to her clanged shut, she winced. Hopefully, her ears lasted that long. She opened her locker and began gathering her books and laughed as Jen told a funny story of her plane ride home from vacation.  It was good  to be back with her friends. She had missed them.

A loud crash sounded at the other end of the hall. All other noise instantly stopped. They all turned to see what had happened, a backpack lay on the ground its books strewn across the floor. Three boys surrounded a girl. She was short with red curls that made her resembled little orphan Annie- that is if Annie hadn't washed her hair in two weeks and had a black eye. The boys began to push her back and forth between them spitting in her tangled hair. Grabbing her by her hair and pulling her by it.

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure  suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the  tormented. - Elie Wiesel

As if on cue the noise started again. Lockers clanged, students talked, people laughed.  Jen grabbed her arm- "Come on. You don't want to get involved, besides we'll be late for class. Gabby stared at the girl for a moment longer, as she pushed her locker closed. What could she do? It's just part of being the new kid, we've all gotten beaten up once, right? It's better to ignore it, they will leave her alone eventually. She turned her back and followed her friends to class- after all what business of it was hers? What was she a referee? Soon 'little orphan Annie' in the hall was long forgotten as she told of the things she had done on vacation. As the year went on she noticed the 'Annie' every once in a while, felt the pull to talk to her. But then she simply reminded herself that she didn't have time for more friends, and so she turned her back and walked away.

Gabby grew up, and Annie was long forgotten. Boxes lay strewn around her childhood room filled to the brim with the things she would be taking with her to collage, and what would be packed away. Collage! She couldn't wait! Her phone jingled, she sat the box on the bed and picked up her cell. It was Jen, packing as well. She had found an old friendship bracelet they had made when they were little. She smiled at the memory. An old yearbook tumbled from its precarious perch on top of one of the boxes. She stooped to pick it up and smiled as she thumbed through the pages of the book from 7th grade. Wincing at the picture with braces.

Curly red hair caught her attention. She studied the face for a moment, trying to remember the little girl 'Gertrude Hamms'. What a name. She picked up her phone and asked Jen if she remembered her. She didn't. She snapped a picture of the page and sent it to Marcy. Surely she would remember. Her phone rang, and she answered it.

"Why do you want to know about Gertrude?" Marcy asked, sounding more than a little annoyed. Over the years, we'd grown more apart, but that was her doing not mine. Why was she so touchy about Gertrude? Or was it just the fact that I had called her?

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

"I don't know," What was with Marcy anyway? The silence stretched, uncomfortably between us. Finally, I couldn't bear it anymore "I just don't remember her... I asked Jen, but she didn't remember her. Errr... and I thought you might," I babble. She is silent for a long time. "Uh... Marcy? You still there?" I finally ask. She lets out a breath-

"Yes I am still here, and yes I remember Gertrude- though I guess there is no reason you and Jen should." If tones could kill- she'd be dead.

"Hey, what did we do?"

"Nothing. That's the point you walked away."

"What are you talking about?" That's it she thought, she's lost it.

"You saw those boys beating her up and you turned around and walked away," Marcy answers, tears choking her words. "And I followed you. That is my greatest regret. Maybe I could have saved her."
A click and then dial tone left Gabby staring at her cell. What on earth? She pulled her laptop out of its caring case and typed in 'Gertrude Hamms' in a search engine. A newspaper clipping pulled up. She opened it and scanned the page. The story headline ready Local Girl Commits Suicide. Gabby froze. Suddenly a memory surfaced battered 'little orphan Annie' tossed between boys. Spit on. Her turning away. Ignoring. She'd killed herself? Guilt hit her in the gut and she understood what Marcy meant. Maybe, if they had only not turned their backs. Not been neutral she would still have been alive...

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