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The playground echoed a sound so soft that it felt as though I wasn't really there. It must be a dream I thought for the briefest of moments. It's time to wake up now. Yet...it wasn't a dream.

Me, holding onto his head so tightly that I knew it would only take a slight tug and he would become undone. I would become undone. Mike was heading straight towards me. Bile rose into my throat. Don't cry. You need to be stronger than this. He deserved this punishment.

The mean girl materialized that day but not in the way you might have imagined. I hadn't even seen it coming. Of all of the moments and all of the experiences, this one would be the one that would redefine me. After all, even being 'mean' requires an evolution.

Mike was coming close and fast. His friends were tailing right behind him. My friends, (or whatever they were to me) just stood there. I couldn't let him go. The reality was not lost on me that if I didn't let him go my window to escape would fade away. How could I let him go? If I released him, nothing would change. He would continue to touch me where I didn't want him to, and I would always be his victim.

I couldn't allow that to happen. I had broken free from one monster I wasn't going to give myself another one. With that resolution, I allowed my anger to flow over me like a warm blanket. My indignation stirred me to press deeper into my hold on him. I would NOT become his victim, not today, not ever again. No matter what happened next, I was prepared to face my future.

His tears poured hot and heavy as his brother approached. Mike's eyes went wide as he stared down at the two of us.

"Let him go!" he commanded. His baritone voice resonated deep into my very essence.

His voice filled with deep determination. Yet, I would not be phased even though I was terrified. I would not allow him to see my weakness.

"He started it, and I am going to kill him," I replied.

There was a tremor in my voice I hoped he didn't catch. He looked at his brother and looked back at me.

"If you kill him, I'll have no chose but to kill you too. Is that what you want?" there was a desperation in his words.

I knew he didn't want things to escalate. I needed to give him an opening if we were going to walk away from this. I couldn't bring myself to give him an inch.

I pressed just a little bit harder, the strain on his neck visible. A little more and it would snap. His eyes went wide.

"Go ahead and kill me. He will already be dead. He can't just do whatever he wants. He kept grabbing my boobs and touching me in places that I didn't like. Him and his asshole friends. I'd rather see him dead." I said deadpan.

By now, my friends are begging me to stop, to let him go. They are apologizing for standing by and doing nothing while he and his friends groped me. One of them is crying though I can't remember who. I just remember the sounds of their soft sobs. It echoed in my mind...stop.

Mike looked shocked.

"He did that to you?" concern filled his voice.

"Yes!" I said in an elevated voice.

Shame. Shame is what Mike wore on his face.

"I'm sorry" He spoke on behalf of his brother.

"He will never touch you again. I promise. Just please let him go." I felt it.

He was being truthful.

"How can I know he will agree? How can I know he won't go right back to doing what he has been doing when you are not around?" I asked, holding back tears of frustration.

He looked down at his brother. Anger flared in his eyes

"Jim, look at me." Jim's eyes moved towards his brother.

The rest of his head belonged to me.

"You will NEVER lay a finger on her again. Do you understand me?"

"Yes," Jim sobbed. "I understand."

Mike looked up at me. "Are you happy now?".

I stared at him. "How do I know you won't attack me the second I let him go?"

He thought about it for a moment.

"I don't want to hurt you. My brother was wrong. You were just defending yourself. Just let him go. " he paused briefly "Please."

My will faltered. Release him. Stop. Let him go. My mind raced, and I felt myself slowly releasing him from my grip. The tears were starting to pull at my eyes, but I needed to remain strong. I needed to remain strong. I needed...he was free. He got up and ran towards his brother.

"Go home" Mike said to him. He didn't turn back to look at me.

I sat there. The emptiness filled me, the tears that once threatened to break free were now gone. I was hollow inside. A shell of my former self. The old Catherine was dead, and I didn't even get to say goodbye.

Mike turned to leave, and his friends asked him if he was going to show me why I shouldn't mess with his brother. He looked at them and looked at me.

"Nah man, I told her it was cool. Besides, I ain't going to hit no girl. Let's get out of here." and just like that, I was alone.

My friends stood silently watching me, but I was never more alone than I was at that moment. They didn't exist to me. Not anymore. I would still be friends with them, but the story had changed. They would soon discover that traitors are not rewarded.

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Author's Note: So what do you think? Should she have let him go?

When You Realize You've Become a Mean Girl...and What Comes Next (In Editing)Read this story for FREE!