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Dave: I think you were brave, I think you still are. My question is why? 

Me: Why not? Indifference is never the right answer when we’re talking about abuse. Bullying, name calling, harassment…no matter how it happens, if you ignore it you become an accomplice…

“-That’s the best cheeseburger I had in years! Wait a minute! I think that…last time I went to McDonald’s was years ago! See, Matteo? That’s why I wanted the ice cream and the apple pie! Because I was suffering from lack of…fast food! Yes! Acute lack of McDonald’s!

They were laughing so hard and Matteo kissed her saying “Anything you want, sweetie, just don’t suffer anymore!”.

-Now serious…thank you for bringing me here. I feel a little guilty thinking about all the children from the orphanage who can’t afford eating at McDonald’s…

-Well…about that…I thought of something. I’ll talk to Padre Antonio and, when we’ll return to Rome, we’ll take the children to McDonald’s,  we’ll buy Happy Meal for each one of them. My treat, of course!

-Oh…you’re amazing!

She hugged him and kissed him spilling the ice cream on his shirt.

-Yes…I’m amazing and you’re a sweet kid with no care at all for people clothing…But I love you and I’m so grateful to have you…

Leah and Adrian were smiling. Relaxed, in a good mood, nothing seemed to remind them about the huge fight four days ago.

-Well, Cari…it’s good that you can afford to eat fast food. If you finished…can you please help me with something? I need to go to the ladies room…

She looked puzzled at Leah, but she said “yes, of course” and follow her to the bathroom. Leah found a corner and looked around, just like she were afraid to be seen. She was shaking, with sweat covering her forehead.

-Leah, are you alright? Do you want me to call Adrian?

-Sssssshhhhhhtttt…have you lost your minds? Here…take these money…I want you to go to the window outside…make sure no one sees you…and buy me a Big Mac with a large portion of french fries. And a milk shake. Hurry, please…I feel like passing out here…

She did what Leah asked her to do. The things started to become so clear. She realized she didn’t saw Leah eating breakfast, or lunch…or anything at all.

-Thank you…hold this (her purse) and stay here so no one will see…Cari, you’re an angel! Please don’t tell Matteo…I just saw you eating and I couldn’t stand…I felt so hungry…my stomach was in pain…

-But why, Leah? Why are you eating like that…in the ladies room…is not even clean here…We could go to the table, Matteo and Adrian would understand…

-What? That the fat girl is eating fast food? Junk food? That I promised Adrian I’ll be on diet and I’m breaking my promises? Or what? I’m eating more than you do, Cari…I eat more than Adrian…and I can’t stop. I hate myself…but I can’t stop!

Leah was crying and eating with desperation. In a matter of minutes, the food was over and Leah covered her eyes, crying. She took her in her arms.

-It’s alright…oh, Leah…I had no idea…You’re not fat…you’re beautiful and sexy. Who told you you’re fat?

-No one. But I saw it in his eyes. You know that magazine I was looking in? The one with bride dresses? I was admiring one…a mermaid dress and Adrian looked at me with that expression…like: “are you kidding me?” and he said that we need to work those fluffy hips before even considering a mermaid dress…Cari, I thought I’ll die…

-My God…how could he? He should be ashamed! You’re nothing but beautiful! And if you’re happy, you’re shining! A mermaid dress would be lovely, but I always imagined a princess dress for wedding…

-You…cause you look so skinny, you can wear anything you want…But me…Ever since I met Adrian I’m struggling with myself. I’m not his type…his eyes are wondering…looking after girls…girls like you. Blonde, skinny…I was always a little…fluffy…and I know I can lose him…so I promised him I’ll be on diet…I can’t, Cari, I’m sick all the time…Now you know, please don’t tell him…

She had so many things to say to Leah…About how love should be, about how she wasn’t supposed to be hurt by the man she adores…about trust and about anger. But she instinctively knew that all Leah needed at the time was to open her heart.

-I wont tell…but I want you to trust me…tell me everything. You said I’m like your little sister, please, Leah, just open your heart to me, let this pain out of your chest. Is this the reason you never took off your clothes on the beach? Because you feel fat? I noticed…but I didn’t wanted to ask in front of Matteo…

-Partially yes…no one should be forced to see me without clothes. But mostly because of these…

She lifted her sleeves…Some of the cuts were old, forming white fine lines on her skin. Others were in process of healing…others were dark red, the recent ones…

-I shocked you…Five years…since I started to cut myself. The day I turned 20…I wanted to surprise Adrian with a new sexy lingerie…He looked at me…and nothing. Just nothing…he said something about the lingerie…that maybe I should try something to cover my…my abdomen…my big fat belly…He didn’t used the exact words but…I ran to the bathroom and I started to cut myself. When I feel the pain…it’s like feeling free again…like I’m in control over my body…I know you can’t understand, Cari…because you look so annoyingly perfect…and you can eat…without getting fat. I would give my life away…for a day from your life.

-Maybe I can’t understand about feeling fat, Leah…but I know all about pain. And about losing control over your own life. I know how it feels to wanna die…I know how it feels to have no choice, no place to run away and no one willing to listen or to care…That’s why, I just want you to know…I’m here for you and we’ll gonna fight this together!

Matteo came to asked them what’s taking them so long. She smiled and said “nothing…you know…girly talk”. They went back at the table.

A family was passing by their table. Mom, dad and a little girl. All beautiful, blonde, tall and elegant. The little girl pointed at them.

-Look, mommy…there’s the lady who was eating in the toilet…

-Who, honey?

-Over there! No, not the girl with the long hair! The other one! The fat one!

-Sssshhhhtttt, honey…is not nice to talk like that! Fat girls don’t like when you call them fat! You know, she’s human too.”

Me: I wanted to go to them and to tell them how wrong they are. That Leah is not a fat girl. She was my friend, a beautiful girl, an amazing person, talented, sweet and unique. Instead…i just stood there…That makes me an accomplice. 

Dave: Ever since that day…you started your own battle. Against bullying of any kind, real or cyber bullying…

Me: Cyber bullying is very real. The victims are real, the pain is real…Every mean article, every mocking against people who aren’t physically perfect…by the way, who’s establishing these fake standards anyway…is touching a soft spot in my heart. 

Dave: Are you winning your battle, Cari? Are you ever winning?

Me: The point is not winning…tell me, Dave, was it ever a time when good and justice truly won? The point is showing to all the victims that taking attitude is the only option…

 

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