Part 12

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12. Arya

I tap my foot nervously, my hands folded in my lap as I stare at the door ahead.

'Vice President Moira Smoak', reads the silver metal plate next to the door.

My throat is dry and itchy and although I had time to prepare for this over the past two weeks, all I want to do is run right out of here and never come back. I need to focus on the cause and remember why I'm doing this. I didn't spend the last two weeks researching, shutting the rest of the world out.

"Arya, Mrs Smoak will see you now." The secretary calls over her desk and I smile politely, feeling my heart beat in my throat.

I climb out of my seat, grab my folder and take a deep breath. Almost as if in slow motion, I move towards the office, feeling the secretary's eyes burning holes into my back. Another deep breath and I knock against the door.

"Come in." A female voice calls and I push down the door handle, my fingers shaking just the slightest bit.

"Good morning." I try my hardest not to freak out when I step inside the office and shut the door behind me. In front of me stands a tall, slightly voluptuous, woman with her golden blonde hair pulled up into a neat bun. She looks professional yet stylish in her navy skirt and crème coloured blouse.

"We'll see about that, won't we?" Mrs Smoak chuckles, offering her hand for a hand shake. I quickly wipe my hand down my black skirt and shake her hand. "Is it okay if I call you Arya?"

"Of course." I smile as I sit down, placing my folder on my lap.

"Right, you know I'm a very busy woman but I did want to make time for you. I've heard a lot about you already and that's something that usually does not happen. I am very interested in what you have to tell me and I am sure you have prepared a pitch, so just start whenever you are ready and you'll have my undivided attention." The tall woman finally sits down as well and leans back in her seat, her eyes intently focused on me.

I clear my throat and take a final deep breath to calm my nerves.

"I would like to tell you a little bit about myself before I go into why I'm here. It is very important to me that you understand where I am coming from. Would that be okay with you?" I ask and Mrs Smoak nods once.

"My parents passed away in my teenage years which lead to me withdrawing from friends and family. I always felt like I was an outcast and soon enough people caught onto that and began to treat me like one. I was severely bullied to the point where I fell into a depression, was afraid to go to school or even leave the house. I became suicidal and had to change schools multiple times as not only did I desperately want to die, I had kids telling me that if I didn't commit suicide, they would..." I lick my lips and take a second before I continue. "I was getting death threats. So you may be able to see that this bullying issue that we have hits very close to home to me and I'm not just going to accept the fact that young children are made to feel worthless for no reason."

"Now, once I started accepting help from the authorities, from the friends that I made and my family, I managed to get through this. I found myself again and built my strength back up. Obviously that is exactly what I need in this situation and believe me when I tell you that I will use every last bit of strength inside me to find a solution to this problem."

I slide my folder across the table and open it.

"Here you can see a list of names. It continues on for a few more pages, if you are interested." Mrs Smoak puts on a pair of thick rimmed glasses and starts going through the pages. "Ever since 1800 students have been killed during hazing rituals. 135 students have been killed. 36 of those students in the past fifteen years. Twelve in the past five years."

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