There was a saying about stick, stones, names and bones, and Georgia Lee despised it. Names would
hurt you. Of course they would, that was the whole point of them. There was nothing to be gained by simply being numb to them, or trying to close yourself off from other people's opinions.
Once, Georgia Lee had thought it possible to make herself immune to insults. She'd believed, had genuinely believed, that she could perfect herself to the point where no one would be able to insult her: there'd simply be nothing to insult. Looking back it seemed naive, but at the time it'd been a huge source of motivation for her. She was grateful for that, she supposed.
Not all criticism was constructive though, that was a lesson she'd learned. No matter what you did, how hard you worked or how much you improved, there would be people who'd find words to tear you down. People insulting you was a manifestation of their own insecurity, she'd read, and it certainly seemed that way to Georgia Lee. The better she did, at school and after it, the more names she'd hear. Not to her face, not often, but a few desks behind her in class, or across some lockers in the changing room, or down the hall from her.
"Bitch" was common. She didn't mind bitch. "A woman who asserts herself" was what bitch boiled down to, so it couldn't be said to be inaccurate. She was happy being a bitch. "Try hard" was another: hardly even an insult, really. It was like calling someone "read good" or "run fast". This one she liked less, simply because of its sheer laziness. If someone were going to insult her, they should at least put in some effort, she felt.
"Hypocrite" though, was a new one. Hypocrite hurt
Georgia Lee knew she wasn't a hypocrite. There was no divide, no distinction between what she said and how she acted. She'd not been disturbing other people's study in the library, and she wouldn't disturb others' study in the library, either. Not ever. She respected the environment of learning.
Simply pointing out that their carryings-on were interfering with other people's learning made her a villain, somehow? She was prepared for mild annoyance, or perhaps some sass. Even being dismissed out of hand. The look in Ty's eyes though had been murder. It shook her.
She knew Ty Yazzie, of course. He was a hard sight to miss, with his mohawk and his tattoos and his capsicum skin. Fiyori too, the she-giant of Cochise. Did they think themselves anonymous, that their little party could just swear at her, insult her in the library in front of everyone?
She wasn't a hypocrite.
Georgia Lee felt like chasing them down, grabbing the boy by the arm and shaking him. Explaining what a hypocrite was, what it meant, how it didn't apply to her situation. How it wasn't her. Did the ox simply not know what the word meant?
And why did she care so much?
This shouldn't be bothering her, not as much as it was. He'd be gone by the end of the year, and her by the end of the next one. Any favour she might curry, any opinion that any of her peers might have of her would be worthless come graduation day. All that would matter then were her results, and she couldn't be letting people like that jeapordize them.
No. No excuses. People couldn't be blamed for distracting her, no more than weather could. Boys like Ty Yazzie would always be loud, always be angry and disruptive. It wasn't their job to get her into Columbia, and they weren't likely to change their natures any time soon. This was on her. It was her distraction, her failing, and now it was her standing here, obsessing over something that should be inconsequential
Fiyori asked her name. Was her tone mocking? Annoyed? Amused? The strange girl's face gave away nothing, and the question troubled Georgia Lee. She needed some air.
"Just some junior"
Her voice came out harsh, though she hadn't meant it like that. She didn't stay to correct the impression, though. Georgia Lee gathered her things, and left the library. She tried not to look like she was hurrying.
[Georgia Lee Day, continuing in Puddles]