The Voice Within

Caroline sat on her bed, and cried. It had been almost three months since she had moved house, and changed schools due to her father's job. And nothing had changed. Sure, they had a bigger, nicer house and a brand-new car, but material things meant very little to Caroline. Truthfully, all she wanted was a friend. Someone who liked her just as she was, flaws and all. Caroline knew though, that no one would ever like her in that way. The room she sat in was beautiful. It was an old cottage, with huge wooden beams running the length of her bedroom, which was set on the highest floor in the house, right in the roof. But no manner of lovely things could make up for the hatred her peers seemed to have for her.

"You'll get used to it." Her mother had told her, again and again. "The other kids will soon learn to accept you. Keep your chin up." And that was all she would say on the subject. But things had not got better, they were only getting worse. It had started off so simple. Caroline was not like the other girls. She was shorter, rounder, and very quiet. She took pride in her work, instead of messing around in her lessons like the other kids did. They had thought her weird for answering the teachers questions, and even for doing her homework. At first, Caroline hadn't cared. She wanted to make something of her life instead of wasting her years at school and learning nothing. Caroline let out a small sniff, and then a long, silent sob.

"Young girl don't cry,
I'll be right here when your world starts to fall,
Young girl it's alright,
Your tears will dry, you'll soon be free to fly.
When you're safe inside your room you tend to dream,
Of a place where nothing's harder than it seems,
No one ever wants to bother to explain,
Of the heartache life can bring and what it means."

The stereo was playing the song that she loved, and instead of singing along to it as she usually did, she sat and cried, the lyrics only succeeding in upsetting the girl more and more. She opened her journal, where she had written down so many thoughts and emotions over the last few months of her life. She read fragments from it, these words making her hate herself once again. "I am a fat bitch, and that is why they hate me." One part said. Tear drops fell onto the page, smudging Caroline's neat, curvy writing. Caroline knew what she had to do in order to end all the pain she was feeling, and she intended to do it.

"Little Caroline." She muttered to herself. "Boring, good little Caroline. Never does any wrong, never sets a foot out of place. I'll show them. I'll make them see what I can do." She looked to the pile of sheets on the ground, and picked up the first one. Taking her mother's largest, sharpest pair of sewing scissors, she began to cut the white, crisp material into strips.

"When there's no one else,
Look inside yourself,
Like your oldest friend
Just trust the voice within,
Then you'll find the strength,
That will guide your way,
You'll learn to begin to,
Trust the voice within."

"There." Caroline said, with a crazy smile, as she tied the final knot into her bedsheet-rope. She looked up to the beam on her ceiling, and smiled again. Standing on the chair which normally lived underneath her desk, she firmly tied the rope into place, and then made a noose at the other end. Stepping back down, she sat on the bed again, and tore a page from her journal.

"Young girl don't hide,
You'll never change if you just run away,
Young girl just hold tight,
Soon you're gonna see your brighter day,
Now in a world where innocence is quickly claimed,
It's so hard to stand your ground when you're so afraid,
No one reaches out a hand for you to hold,
When you look outside, look inside to your soul."

"Dear Mum and Dad," She scribbled, furiously. "I am really sorry that it came to this, but I am just so unhappy. I can't take it anymore. I can't take their insults and their bullying. I am sick of being covered in bruises at the end of each day, whilst you two simply turn a blind eye. I've been planning this for a while now. And you never knew. You never even tried to help me, to change the pain I've been going though. Once again, I am sorry. From your daughter, Caroline." She signed this with one big X, compensating for the goodnight kiss her parents would not be able to give her that night.

"When there's no one else,
Look inside yourself,
Like your oldest friend,
Just trust the voice within,
Then you'll find the strength,
That will guide your way,
You'll learn to begin to,
Trust the voice within."

Closing her eyes, Caroline thought back to the latest incident, the one which had caused her to step right over the edge. It was Donny, a horrible boy who punched her each time she walked past. The other kids would push her a little, but Donny always took it one step further. He had humiliated her on that day, and it had been worse than anything else she had ever experienced. He had pushed her up against a wall.

"Hey, Jake!" He had shouted to his friend. "Hold her still, will ya?" Jake had held Caroline up to the wall by her neck, and she had been unable to wriggle free. Donny had stuck his hand up her skirt and-

Caroline shook her head, shaking all of the thought out of it, trying to forget. The worst part of it, was that so many people saw it, and no one reported it. She had fled to the bathroom in tears and locked herself into a cubicle, sobbing. People had come in and out, and surely must have heard her, but no one stopped to ask if she was OK. It was as though she was invisible.

"Life is a journey,
It can take you anywhere you choose to go,
As long as you're learning,
You'll find all you'll ever need to know,
(Be strong) You'll break it,
(Hold on) You'll make it,
(Be strong)
Just don't forsake it because,
No one can tell you what you can't do,
No one can stop you,
You know that I'm talking to you."

Caroline had carefully weighed all of her options before she had come up with her decision. She had even seen the school counsellor, in the hope that the kind woman might be able to help her out a bit. She hadn't even tried though, she had done exactly what everyone else had done, and turned her back on Caroline, telling her that she would settle in eventually, and things would sort themselves out.

"That's what everyone keeps saying to me!" Caroline had protested. "It's all getting worse though. The bullying... it's destroying me... I need help. M... make it s... s... stop." Caroline had slowly broken down into tears as she spoke, and the counsellor had comforted her, and then told her to stop being so silly.

"Bullying happens everywhere." She told Caroline. "It's honestly nothing you need to worry about." But it was, and as it got worse, Caroline began to lose all hope, as well as the will to live. She had always believed in God, but on this occasion, he had failed her. Her prayers were not seeming to reach him, and if they did, then he wasn't answering them. He was not making the hurting stop, nor was he protecting her like a good father should.

"When there's no one else,
Look inside yourself,
And like your oldest friend just,
Trust the voice within,
Then you'll find the strength,
That will guide your way,
You'll learn to begin to,
Trust the voice within."

Caroline stood up on the chair, and fitted the noose comfortably about her neck, tightening it accordingly. She was scared, more scared than she had ever been in her life. But she had tried to make it stop, and there just hadn't been another way out. It was this, or live the rest of her life in misery, and Caroline knew exactly which option she preferred. She took a deep breath, and stepped off the chair.

"Young girl don't cry,
I'll be right here when your world starts to fall..."

*****

The lyrics in this story were taken from "The Voice Within" by Christina Aguilera