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An angry woman at a restaurant | Source: Midjourney
An angry woman at a restaurant | Source: Midjourney

I Served A Woman Who Scoffed at Me All through High School & Finally Took My Revenge after 20 Years

Prenesa Naidoo
Jun 28, 2024
08:31 A.M.

After years of being bullied in high school, Lily finally gets to confront her bully, Karen. Karen walks into Lily's restaurant and falls into her petty high school-self, but when she realizes that Lily has successfully navigated her lisp and stutter, and owns a successful business—Karen flees.

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Under the soft glow of the evening lights, the restaurant buzzed with the cheerful din of a successful night. Yet, as I moved between the tables, careful not to bump into any sharp table corners, a familiar and unwelcome face caught my eye—Karen.

An interior of a restaurant | Source: Pexels

An interior of a restaurant | Source: Pexels

She hadn't changed at all. Even after 20 years, the same haughty expression adorned her face, a look that had tormented me throughout my school years with her cruel taunts about my lisping and stuttering.

Suddenly, I was taken back to high school where my lisp was at its worst, making me second guess speaking.

An angry woman with folded arms | Source: Pexels

An angry woman with folded arms | Source: Pexels

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School speeches were the worst part of my entire schooling life, where girls like Karen would begin laughing from behind their hands and end up hanging off their chairs, tears streaming down their faces.

I would escape to the library and spend every free moment there, just to escape the taunts.

Teenagers taking a selfie | Source: Pexels

Teenagers taking a selfie | Source: Pexels

I remember the one incident where I was clutching my books tightly to my chest, trying to make myself smaller, trying to blend into the gray of the lockers as Karen navigated the sea of students, in her impossibly high heels.

I could feel Karen's gaze like a spotlight, singling me out from the crowd.

A row of gray lockers | Source: Pexels

A row of gray lockers | Source: Pexels

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"There's Lisp-Lily, boys!" Karen's voice boomed, drawing a circle of laughter around me.

"Give us a smile and a speech, Lily," she said. "Show us that stellar s-s-stutter," she mocked, her words stretching out with malicious exaggeration.

A girl sitting on a chair |  Source: Pexels

A girl sitting on a chair | Source: Pexels

I remember wanting to cry myself to sleep that night. I sat in the kitchen with my brother, Alex, and I told him all about the events of the day and how Karen had lost it.

"You should give it back to her, Lily," my brother said, spooning ice cream into a bowl for me.

Two bowls of ice cream | Source: Pexels

Two bowls of ice cream | Source: Pexels

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"If I could, I would," I said. "But the moment I open my mouth, you know what happens."

My brother went off on a tangent about how I should never allow anyone to make me feel less than myself.

"You've got to stand up for yourself," he said.

A smiling young man | Source: Pexels

A smiling young man | Source: Pexels

And I did. In my own way.

At school, I made myself scarce often seeking my teachers during lunch breaks or after hours if we had to do any speeches.

And then, I went to a speech pathologist to help work on my lisp and stuttering. I was going to put an end to the constant bullying.

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A teenager sitting in a classroom | Source: Pexels

A teenager sitting in a classroom | Source: Pexels

Inside the quiet, sunlit room of the speech therapy center, I sat across from Mrs. Thompson, her speech pathologist. The room was a cozy space filled with soothing blues and greens, designed to make patients feel at ease.

"Lily, today we're going to start with some new exercises that are specifically designed to help with your lisp and stutter," Mrs. Thompson began, her voice calm and reassuring.

A person writing notes during a therapy session | Source: Pexels

A person writing notes during a therapy session | Source: Pexels

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"We'll focus on techniques that improve your speech fluency, and we'll also work on building your confidence in speaking situations."

I nodded, my hands nervously fidgeting in my lap. The mockery from Karen and the others often echoed in my mind, but each session felt like a step to reclaiming my voice.

A person's hands on their lap | Source: Pexels

A person's hands on their lap | Source: Pexels

And the best part was that Alex was always waiting outside for me—ready to whisk me off for ice cream or pizza or whatever I wanted.

After leaving school, I entered the culinary industry—I knew that it would be the best place for me because I discovered that cooking was my passion and although I had sorted out my speech issues, it was a place where I didn't need to speak.

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A woman tasting from a pan | Source: Pexels

A woman tasting from a pan | Source: Pexels

Now, seeing Karen in my restaurant was unnerving. I tightened my apron nervously.

I didn't always work the restaurant floor—but when we were short-staffed, I was always happy to step in.

She was laughing, her head thrown back with a carefree abandon that made my heart clench. But as I approached to take their order, her laughter abruptly stopped, her eyes widening in recognition.

A person tying their apron | Source: Pexels

A person tying their apron | Source: Pexels

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"May I take your order?" I asked, my voice betraying none of the nervousness that fluttered in my stomach.

"Lily? Wow!" Karen exclaimed, her arms in the air. "You work here?"

Her voice curled with disdain as she spoke, as though she had just stepped in something unpleasant.

"Evidently, yes," I managed to reply, holding my notebook a bit tighter, my knuckles turning white.

A woman sitting at a table | Source: Pexels

A woman sitting at a table | Source: Pexels

"Oh, boy, after all these years," Karen said, looking at the man she was with. "And imagine, I still can't understand a word you're saying. Get me your manager, Lily. I'd like to order my food from someone who will explain what the dishes are."

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She dismissed me with a flick of her hand, her words and actions cutting me deep.

But the years had tempered my spirit, not weakened it. In a way, I had been waiting for this moment since my high school graduation.

A person flicking their hand | Source: Pexels

A person flicking their hand | Source: Pexels

In a smooth, practiced motion, I spun around in a balletic pirouette—a move that I had mastered in the many dance classes that had rebuilt the confidence Karen once shattered.

"Yes, ma'am," I said. "How may I help you?" I faced her again, my stance firm, my smile unwavering.

"Do you really think this is funny?" she asked, her voice sharp, her eyes narrowing in annoyance as she sipped from the glass of water on the table.

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A woman wearing ballet shoes | Source: Pexels

A woman wearing ballet shoes | Source: Pexels

"Not really," I said. "But I do own this place. And if it's not to your standards, then I'll happily escort you out."

"You? You own this place?" she exclaimed before laughing. Her laughter was incredulous, echoing off the walls, filling the space with her scorn.

But destiny was on my side tonight.

My brother, who often helped me run the place, was doing his rounds of the floor in a suit.

A man wearing a suit | Source: Pexels

A man wearing a suit | Source: Pexels

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"What's going on?" he asked, looking from Karen to myself.

"Does this woman really own this restaurant?" Karen asked.

Alex chuckled.

"Yes, she does," he said. "But she liked to wait on guests and sometimes run the kitchen, too."

A smiling man | Source: Pexels

A smiling man | Source: Pexels

Alex's voice was cool and even, his eyes fixed on Karen with a look that mirrored my own disappointment. He may not have known her personally, but he did know what she looked like.

Karen's face drained of color, her confident mask crumbling as reality set in.

My brother called for another waiter to come over, and ordered a complimentary glass of whiskey for Karen's date, a bystander in this unfolding drama, who kept shifting uncomfortably. His gaze kept darting between the three of us.

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A glass of whiskey | Source: Pexels

A glass of whiskey | Source: Pexels

"But, you used to stutter, and the lisp you had was something else," Karen said, her words faltering, her attempt to cling to the past making her seem small and petty.

"Yes, and after years of therapy and hard work, not only did I overcome those challenges, but I also built a successful business."

Karen, now completely deflated, couldn't meet my gaze. Her date drank his whiskey when it arrived, and she held onto her phone, although she wasn't using it.

A man drinking whiskey | Source: Pexels

A man drinking whiskey | Source: Pexels

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"Can I take your order?" I asked again.

Karen shook her head. And then got up from her chair, ready to escort her own shame out the door.

A woman walking out | Source: Pexels

A woman walking out | Source: Pexels

Later that night, as I sat in my bed, looking through old photos on my phone gallery—I realized that I had finally healed the teenager in me. The teenager who needed to be reminded that she could fight and find success and joy for herself.

It had taken about 20 years, but I finally felt free. I finally felt like I had unleashed all the trauma from high school.

A woman using her phone in bed | Source: Pexels

A woman using her phone in bed | Source: Pexels

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What would you have done?

If you enjoyed this story, here's another one |

Steve begins his day like any other — nothing out of the ordinary, just a man saying goodbye to his wife as he leaves for work. But as the day moves on, he receives urgent calls and texts from his son. When he gets home, nothing is as it seems. Now, there's a strange man in his house, a pregnant wife with a baby that may not be his, and a crying son. What does it all mean?

Read the full story here.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided “as is,” and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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