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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

The Fall

James Preller

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NOT LIKE ME



Two weeks before Morgan Mallen threw herself off the water tower, I might have typed a message on her social media page that said, "Just die! Die! Die! No one cares about you anyway!"

(I'm just saying, it could have been me.)

And I say "could have" because the message was anonymous. Untraceable. Nobody knows who said that horrible thing. That was the beauty of the deal. Nobody knew exactly who said what, except for Athena, I guess. The rest of us sent messages from the shadow places and let them run loose like wolves in the forest.

No one was responsible.

I sure don't know who typed what. Whose fingers punched the keys? Who said such cruel, unspeakable things? I wonder, Could it have been me?

No, that wasn't like me at all.



CAST OUT



I barely knew her. Not many people did. But I knew this: She was out there.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask you: Am I not allowed to say even that? It doesn't make me a bad person for stating the obvious. It was a fact-Morgan Mallen was different, but not in a good way. Like in a waaaaay way.

For example: The sky is gray, the grass is green, and Morgan Mallen became the saddest girl I'd ever seen. It even rhymes. Green, seen, mean, teen, sardine.

(Etcetera, etcetera.)

Some girls in school claimed she was this and alleged she was that. There was also a selfie that famously made the rounds. She maybe kissed the wrong boy. Who knows what really happened.

Once a message was spray-painted on the girls' bathroom door, and another day it appeared on the side of the snack shack by the football field: "Morgan Mallen is a slut."

Check that tense. Was, not is.

Was a tramp. A selfie-sharer. An outcast.

None of this makes me a bad person.

Right?



Copyright © 2015 by James Preller