The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

Follow us on:
Share Youth Communication Follow Represent on Facebook Follow Represent on YouTube Follow Represent on Twitter
Follow Represent on Facebook Follow Represent on YouTube Follow Represent on Twitter
Contest Winners #201
Do you want revenge?
Writing Contest Winners

Amall Alatoli, 17
Edward R. Murrow HS

I was insane. I couldn’t control myself. I felt as if someone had reached down into my throat and pulled my stomach out. Pacing around my small bedroom, I realized the only thing I wanted was revenge. I wanted to physically hurt the person that disrespected me to the point where I couldn’t breathe.

“Yo, you got some bombs I could borrow? Homies keep messin’ wit’ me and they ain’t scared yet.” That was what a 7th grade boy had said to me earlier that day. I’d just given him a nasty look and turned away.

“Hey, don’t you be ignorin’ me, Bin Laden!” the boy roared. With that, he placed his hand behind my head and forced my head scarf off, revealing my hair to the entire cafeteria.

At that moment, it felt like my whole world came crumbling down on top of me. Teachers came rushing to my side to help me, but all I could see was the boy and everyone else in the cafeteria laughing and jeering. It sounded like their voices were in surround sound projected at me.

Almost involuntarily, I pulled away from the teachers and ran out of the school. I didn’t stop for 20 blocks until I was home. My mother freaked and headed straight out the door for the school. And that is when pictures of revenge brewed in my mind.

I thought about how I would get back at that disgusting boy. I knew I was not strong enough to take him physically, but I wanted him hurt. I wanted him to get kicked out of the school for good. I never wanted to see his face again.

When my mother came back, she told me that the boy was being suspended starting the next week. I wasn’t satisfied. He would have no school while I would have to return there, too mortified to walk into the cafeteria.

The next day, people told me that the boy was spending his lunch period in the principal’s office because he wasn’t allowed in the lunchroom. I headed there before I could change my mind. I peeked through the office door and saw the boy alone, sitting at an empty desk with his head in his hands.

I waited until the end of the period, thinking, “Do I really want to do this? I know what the consequences are—but this will make me feel better, won’t it?” When the bell rang I jumped up and watched as the boy gathered his things. It was the moment of truth: Would I do it?

The boy came out into the hallway, but instead of my fist going up toward his face, it went behind my back. He saw me in my weird pose and we just stood there staring at each other. Then, without warning, I asked, “Why did you do it?”

He just shrugged and mumbled something I couldn’t hear.

“You know, my head scarf is very important to me and my religion,” I stammered. “There’s a reason why I have it on. Muslim women wear it to show modesty and to not attract boys. You shouldn’t have pulled it off. I felt so bad when you did. You could’ve punched me and I wouldn’t have felt so bad.”

Instead of apologizing, the boy just hung his head and left without a word. I stood there with a great weight lifted off of my shoulders. From then on we never acknowledged each other again, but today I am extremely proud of the way I reacted. Now that I am older I know that violence is never the answer. Letting the boy understand part of my religion was far better than hurting him and giving him an excuse to hate me. That is, and will always be, my attitude for everyone else in the world.

Keeping Us in Check

William Arrowsmith, 18

Karma isn’t a mysterious force of the cosmos—it’s a righteous and brutal force made by man, driven by emotion. Nobody wants to see crime go unpunished, and when it strikes close to us we interpret the punishment as our own responsibility. There’s a lot of negative social stigma surrounding revenge, but I think it can be healthy and even necessary to society.

As a young child, I was frequently the victim of bullying by older children. I’ve always been obese, so I’m a natural target. When I realized that there was a physical advantage to being larger than other children, I initially struggled with that and made a point of never treating other people the same way I had been treated. But I also learned how to stand up for myself. There was a point in middle school where I had a confrontation with an older boy who had bullied me throughout 5th grade, and I accidentally sent him to the hospital with a sprained ankle.

I have never felt so guilty in my life—sending someone to the hospital is a hard feeling to walk away from. But while revenge brings out our darker, less civilized side, there are also many good things about revenge.

Revenge is a display of strength that discourages aggression. It keeps people accountable for their actions. From an early age, we learn that the decisions we make have consequences, and you can’t go around pushing people without expecting them to push back. They say that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, but that’s completely missing the point. People are less likely to take eyes at all if they know they’re going to lose theirs in return.

Realistically, the concept of revenge is really why we’re all still alive today. During the Cold War the threat of retaliation prevented nuclear warfare between the United States and the Soviet Union.

There’s nothing wrong with standing up for yourself when you need to, and sometimes there’s only one way to deal with a bully. In an ideal world, society would have no place for revenge. But this is not the case, and as an important ingredient in social dynamics, politics and even survival, I see nothing inherently wrong with it.

Angry at God

Brandon Terry, 17
West Side HS

About two years ago, I lost my father. I was at my grandmother’s house watching TV. As I sat there, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was happening. Eventually, I decided to go home and make sure everything was all right.

As I walked through the door, everything seemed normal. The lights were on and the TV was as loud as usual. I walked into the bathroom, then went to check my parents’ room. I opened their door and saw my father lying on the bed in an awkward position. I walked over to him to wake him up, but he wouldn’t move at all. I checked his pulse and I couldn’t find one, so I called 911. Then I called my brother. After that, I called my mother at work and she thought I was joking. When I finally got the point across to her, she said she’d hurry home.

Soon after I hung up, the EMT arrived at my house. They tried to bring my father back to life with a few machines for about 30 minutes, but nothing was working. When my mother got home, we took my father to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

For about a year and a half, I blamed God for everything that happened to him. Even though the doctor said that he died of a heart attack, I didn’t care. I felt that this was God’s doing and that he personally took my father away from me for no reason.

I wanted revenge against God, but I wasn’t sure on how to get it. How can you get revenge on God? Maybe by not believing in him in the first place. In other words, I’d withhold my faith, loyalty, and love. However, if I simply stopped believing in God, that would eliminate the entire rationale of me wanting revenge. If there was no God, there was no one to blame.

Furthermore, if I stopped believing, then I wouldn’t be on the same side of God anymore. I would be on the other side. That’s when I realized that you can’t seek revenge on God without going to the “dark side.”

Right now, I’m not sure who to blame. The truth of the matter is that my father isn’t here anymore and regardless of whose fault it is, nothing can bring him back. I may no longer have anyone to blame or seek revenge upon, but I don’t know if I’ll ever let go of the anger.

Lowering My Fist

Malika Hall, 16
Edward R. Murrow HS

It was a regular school day and as I set out from home, I felt confident—mainly because I was handing in a project I’d been working on for nearly three weeks. The assignment was quite simple: to create a model structure of our bedrooms. What really counted was the creativity that we put into it.

When I arrived at school and removed my structure from its wrapping, everyone was impressed and complimented me on my work. I was flattered. We went to lunch, and upon my arrival back in the classroom I heard my classmates screaming, “Malika, Malika! Come look!” Immediately I knew this couldn’t mean anything good. Sure enough, I walked in to see my project on the table, smashed to pieces. The kids in the room directed me to the person they believed committed the act, Mara (not her real name).

I was livid and ready to fight anyone I thought had some part in this. I approached Mara, getting ready to strike. But with my fist aimed at her, I saw the fear in her eyes and something inside told me to lower my hand.

image by Steve Castillo

As my fist came down, my teacher pulled me aside. She explained that no fight would help my project reappear and that I would be the one to bear the steepest consequences. She also said she had graded our projects as we brought them in, and my anger died down as I felt comforted that all my work would not be disregarded. I was still disturbed, however, that one of my classmates could do this to me.

The next day I received my grade: an A+. I couldn’t have been more elated. Another surprise was that later in the day Mara came up to me, crying. She explained that she had smashed my project not because she didn’t like me, but because she was jealous of the work I’d done compared to hers.

When I heard this I no longer felt angry, but sympathetic. I truly understood her actions and was able to forgive her. I was happy I hadn’t chosen to fight her, since I would have been giving in to temptation just as she did.

I realized through this incident that we are all susceptible to temptation. It is how we react that determines who we are and who we will become. I could have hit her, and gained that temporary satisfaction we all love, but in the end I would have been the one who lost.

To this day that incident dictates how I react to temptation. I try to do not what I want to do, but rather what I should do.

Avenging My Mother’s Murder

DeJour Francois Droughn
Susan Wagner HS

Back in 1997, I was 3 years old and I lived in Brooklyn. I was in my room playing with my toys when, out of the blue, I heard my mother scream at the top of her lungs. I got scared, so I got into my bed and hid under the covers. The next minute I heard the front door slam open and a male voice screaming, “Police.”

The next thing I knew, a female police officer came into my room. “We got a kid back here and he looks really scared,” she announced. She picked me up took me to the elevator. Then she put me into a police car with a male officer, who told me his name was Mark. He let me press the siren button in the cop car five times. Then I started to cough and he brought me back upstairs to the apartment so I could get my jacket and a pair of shoes to put on.

When we entered, the other police officers started to scream and curse at Mark for bringing me back into the apartment. In my mother’s room I saw my mother lying on her bed with a knife stabbed into her stomach. Then I looked to my right and saw her boyfriend (who is not my father) lying next to her with a knife in his left arm. I was shocked. I will always remember that day, the day of my mom’s death.

Sometimes I feel sick or depressed because I never had the chance to say goodbye to her, and I can’t even remember her face. But I still remember her boyfriend’s face and if I ever see him again, I will put him through hell like he did to me. He put me through a lot of troubled times after my mom’s death. If I see him again, my response will be to beat the living crap out of him.

Bullied to the Brink

Oladunni Akindele, 15
Edward R. Murrow HS

In elementary school, my name was at the very top of the Loser List, probably with a star next to it. I had no friends and was used to being teased and eating alone. Even though the girls in my class hated me to no end, it was a group of boys who taunted me the most. One of these boys, I’ll call him Mario, liked to take things too far.

Mario and I were in the same class together from 1st to 3rd grade. He was at least a foot taller than me with a large head that reminded me of a fish tank. He had elephant ears and sharp, pointy fangs that made him look like a hyena.

Every day, he would seek me out at lunch time just to push me and hit me. When I told him to leave me alone he would cackle and snarl, “What are you gonna do about it?” When we were in class, he would take my notebook and glasses and hide them until I began to cry. He would stomp on my bag and throw my coat down on the floor.

I would tell my teachers about him, but when they talked to him it just made things even worse. Sometimes, they’d seat us next to each other to “help us resolve our conflict.” I told my mother and the principal, but they always said the same thing: “Just ignore him.”

But I couldn’t ignore him. I had tried absolutely everything in my power. I had stopped crying when he bothered me; this made him even more persistent. I tried to bribe him with my milk and cookies at lunch; he would eat my food and bother me afterward. I would try to be his friend; he would push me to the ground. As the days went by, I was becoming more and more aggravated.

One day, Mario stood behind me while we were lined up in the hallway after lunch. He pulled my hair. I said nothing as my face turned red. He punched my back. I raised my hand to get the teacher’s attention, but she was busy talking to another teacher. He knocked my hand down. By this point I was fuming. He kicked me in the back of my knees. And that’s when I turned around.

A million and one thoughts raced through my mind. I was envisioning myself grabbing him by his big ears and smashing his head into the wall. I wanted to throw him down and jump on his stomach. I wanted to cut open his heart and tap dance on his veins.

“Can you please leave me alone?” I asked through my teeth. “Or what?” He laughed as steam danced from my ears. He started hitting me again, over and over. My blood was boiling. I couldn’t see straight. He slapped my face. He pulled my hair. He punched my arm. And then, I snapped.

I landed a blow on his face and he immediately began to bawl. The teachers turned around. They saw him crying and me just standing there, shaking. I was finally placed in a different class.

Embarrassed by Sexting Ex


Last year, my ex-boyfriend posted a topless photo of me on Twitter. I’d sent the picture to him in confidence, and I never expected anyone else to ever see it.

Before we broke up, my then-boyfriend and I were hanging out at my place and he attempted to charge his iPod. When he hooked his iPod up to my computer, all my photos popped up, including a topless photo I’d been keeping there. Being naïve and giddy, I let him talk me into letting him put it on his iPod.

We broke up a year later and there was silence between us, online and in person. Then, getting ready for school one day, I logged on to Twitter. I saw my Twitter name with a link at the bottom of it and clicked the link. There was my picture, the same topless picture I’d given him a year before, the same picture I trusted him to keep private.

I felt embarrassed, hurt, and betrayed. I understood that we were no longer a couple and not even friends, but respect is respect. I thought, “I’ve got to get him back.” I was extremely paranoid, thinking that everybody I passed on the street had seen my picture.

Then, I thought of the perfect plan. I went to my kitchen, got everything I needed, and made my way to his house. When I got to his building, I stopped and thought about how hurtful people could be. When I finally got to his door, I went into my bag and pulled out the raw eggs I’d taken from the refrigerator.

I took a deep breath and threw all five eggs, then jetted down the stairs. I still felt bad about the picture, but I was relieved. I was looking out for any other girls he may think about disrespecting in the future.

All She Knew

Charlotte M.
Lansing Residential Center

Since I was a baby I’ve been treated badly by my own mother. She was hooked on drugs and sold her body, as well as her kids, just to get a fix. It seemed a crack rock meant more to her then her family. I was the last child my mother had custody of out of six kids, and one day my aunt found me home alone, sitting on the couch with Cheese Doodles in my hair, a dirty diaper, mismatched socks, and a phone number written on my leg in permanent marker.

As I grew older I became a beautiful, smart, intelligent young lady. However, all the pain and hurt I endured was reflected in how I lived my life. I found myself getting in trouble with the law all the time.

I always thought when I finally laid eyes on my mother again I would attack her, expose her to any drug I could think of, and beat her until I was tired. But when I finally talked to my mom after 14 years of not knowing how she looked or smelled, I wondered why I didn’t feel that way.

Don’t get me wrong—I cursed her until I saw tears falling down her pretty face. But after talking things out with my mom, I realized that she was really helpless and what she did to me was all the same as the abuse her mother did to her, so she didn’t know anything other than that.

My mother wasn’t able to support me or my brothers or sisters financially or emotionally. Giving me up for adoption was the greatest thing she did for me, but the most beautiful gift she gave me was life. The hours she spent in labor worked out great for me, and I thank her for that.

horizontal rule