More than ten years later, I got in touch with Amanda. (That’s not her real name. None of the names in this article are real. But it doesn’t really matter.) I didn’t want her to say sorry. It doesn't matter to me, either way. Instead, I thought about the strangeness of our young minds. How could I have suffered for three years instead of changing my account, or going for help? What kind of person sends suicide notes to another girl for three years straight? I saw on Facebook that Amanda had children now. Had she changed?
I remember my consternation when some of the first cyberbullying stories starting making the news in the late 2000s. I was in college. I kept reading about the parents and the bullies, but I wished I could hear from the girls who had been bullied. This was impossible, however. These girls had made the news because they had killed themselves. I thought about how good it would have felt if I had known, at 13, that I would survive, and that I wasn't alone.
* * *
Amanda is now a fat, happy mom in the suburbs and I'm still terrified of her. I know this because, for this story, I started contacting her on Facebook Messenger. I soon developed a Pavlovian response to the Facebook pop. It made my hands shake and my heart race. Sometimes I buried my face in my palms for two breaths before I checked the message.
Amanda and I are not Facebook friends (I know, shocking), but we have friends in common. Coaxing her to talk to me took weeks and not a few messages to our mutual friends. The whole time, my anxiety never lessened. I spent a lot of time hyperventilating on trains and on my couch at home.
At first, Amanda said she didn't remember anything. "We were friends, and then we went different directions socially. I don't remember many details, it was a long time ago," she wrote.
With prompting, she recalled signing into my email, "likely multiple times." As a kid, I had asked her face-to-face if the person disappearing my entire inbox was her. At the time, she had always denied it.
"Do you remember what it felt like to sign into the account? Was it fun or exciting?" I asked.
"I think I probably felt smart," she replied. I thought that was the most I would get out of her.
When I finally felt I'd buttered her up enough—and how painful it was to have to feign sweetness and sympathy with her!—I asked the Big Question. "Do you remember leaving calendar reminders for me to kill myself?"
"Omg no! That's horrible," she wrote. "I'm really sorry."
She has still never admitted to leaving the calendar reminders. Later, she said they "sound plausible"—plausible that she could have set them—but she also wondered if someone else might have been in on it, too, because she couldn't recall doing it. How would I know? "Did you share my information with anyone else?" I asked.
"I can see it as something I *may* have done, because, who knows what goes through a teenager's mind, but I really have no recollection," she said. "I can't remember if Diana was involved or not." Diana was a friend Amanda had had since elementary school. She, and two other girls, made up Amanda's core of closest friends at the time.