This is a little story about a real incident (with a few fill ins where my brain has forgotten bits) that happened to me at the age of 13 with one of my school bullies). All my short stories, apart form blackness, about bullying have actually happened.
“Why do you want to take drama?” Mr X asks. He is frowning at me, an evil glint in his pale blue eyes. He is slouching casually in his chair, his white school shirt un- tucked from his black smart trousers.
“Because I like it” I mutter quietly. I don’t really understand why he is reacting like this. What does it matter to him what I decide to do?
We are in year nine at school and deciding what to take for our G.C.S.E classes. Mr Harris has split us up into groups of five and as usual I am in Mr X’s group. I have noticed that Mr Harris pays me a lot of attention, not in a weird purvey way but in a concerned way. Maybe he is aware I am seeing a councilor now, not sure why he cares all of a sudden.
We are sitting on hard red chairs in a little circle. Mr X has positioned himself in front of me; the other three people in our group are looking awkward and uncomfortable but are not saying anything.
“You can’t act so what is the point?” he spits out at me. Why is he so angry about this? I have never seen him like this in the three years I have known him, to be honest it is a little scary. I don’t know what to say or do to make it better, to make him stop shouting at me.
No one else in the room seem to be able to hear anything and Mr Harris is no where to be seen. Earlier Mr Harris had been pleased that I wanted to do drama, especially when I said I hoped it would improve my confidence, which is pile of crap because I don’t give one about that but it was good to think that someone thinks my choices are good. I don’t think either of my parents are particularly thrilled about my decision as they see the subject as pointless.
I look up at Mr X, my green eyes meeting his blue and he looks away while shaking his head. I suddenly feel so angry, how dare he think that he can make these decisions for me! But I know with such clarity that I won’t take drama because it will be more than my life’s worth if I do. I know he knows this but I guess that’s just it, it’s my life but I do what he wants me to, no arguments. Or is that true?
Depressed? What is that? I look confusedly over at mum and she has tears building up in those grey eyes of hers. Behind her thick rimmed glasses I can see the effort in them to stop from letting them pouring down her face.
Fifteen minutes earlier me and mum had left the house and marched up the road to the doctors. When I say march I mean it almost literally, it seems mum just wants to get it over and done with. We are going because, as mum put it herself, to
“Sort out my eating’ whatever that means. I don’t care about going to the doctors because I have stopped caring what happens to me at all, it’s become too much of a bother.
Maybe at the doctors they could put me down and out of my misery like I have seen vets do on Animal hospital. Unfortunately that is probably not going to happen (but I can hope) as I seem at least to be worth more than a family pet.
We waited in uncomfortable silence on uncomfortable chairs for what seems to me like forever (why does everything have to take so long). It’s like life goes in slow motion now. I spend my time reading browning and ripped leaflets on contraception, asthma and the flu jab that are pinned haphazardly to the board in the waiting room.
Eventually we are called in. Mum says nothing as we stand and make our way through to a tiny and dingy room at the end of the corridor. It feels like a funeral march, maybe I am being put down after all!
I smile when I go in but then worry that I shouldn’t of. Are people like me supposed to smile? Surely I can’t look unhappy all of the time. The doctor is blonde, young and petite. I immediately don’t like her, she looks like one of the popular girls from school and she turns out to just as patronizing.
I never talk when out of the house unless someone asks me a question so I am more than happy for mum to do all of the talking even though most of what she says isn’t strictly true but as I said before, I don’t care.
Mum tells her I’m not eating and throwing my lunch away but no one asks me why. I tune out and study the room instead (far more interesting). It’s a dull, muddy brown color. I can’t help thinking it should be white, since it’s a doctor and should look clean. There is an awkward looking bed at the back and various instruments of torture. There are three chairs other than the ones we are sitting on and they look ancient. All mismatched and fading.
I realize that everything in the room has gone quiet. The doctor has just said I am depressed. Is this important? Does something have to happen now? In the silence that follows the doctor’s announcement I feel as if the air is getting thicker, stuffier. I hear my mum ask the doctor what she should do.
I have absolutely no idea what is going on. I thought we had come here because I won’t eat? Maybe I was mistaken. I thought I was being bullied and that was why all this was happening. Why all of a sudden am I depressed?
I have wedged my hands under my thighs so I don’t keep fidgeting. Mum always gets at me for doing that. I want to go home now, be in my room on my own, listening to my music, it’s where I am happiest. Not here with all these confusing thoughts, in a life I don’t seem to have any say in.
The doctor is telling mum that there is no system in place for young people with problems like mine but she recommends I go and see a councilor. I do not want to talk to anyone, councilor or otherwise. I’m causing even more hassle for mum; wouldn’t it be easier if I just wasn’t here?
I know he is looking for me out of the corner of his eye. I can feel his ice blue eyes searching for me even when I am not looking at him. He is purposely being aggravating towards Sir, swinging back on his chair and flicking his blonde hair out of his face before shouting loudly to his mate across the room. He knows what will happen just like I know what will happen because it is what always happens.
Sure enough only a matter of seconds later is when Sir moves Mr X to the chair next to me. Again I am thinking, why? Why when he was only on the row in front of me anyway? But as I said, it always happens. I don’t know why I insist on still asking that question when it has been the same for the last three years. Sometimes it feels like I must have done something to displease all the teachers but I can’t remember what. All I know is it must have been something bad, otherwise why would they let it happen?
I can feel the heat rise to my cheeks making them feel all prickly as he gets off his chair with a smirk on his face because it is exactly what he had planned. He sits triumphantly down next to me, still smirking. How come he looks so relaxed, with his legs apart, elbows on the table, yet I feel stiff as a board? I can feel myself start to sweat. Sir is still droning on, I wasn’t really listening before and now he sounds like a distant murmur. I keep my eyes to the table in front, hoping Mr X won’t notice I am there, you would think I’d have learnt by now.
Hours seem to pass before he speaks; he has brought a little purple plastic toy with him and is twiddling it in his hands, staring at it like he thinks it will suddenly do something magical. I’m half wishing for it to, it might get me out of this situation. But it stays the same, everything always stays the same.
“I got this for my Birthday” he says. I really don’t care but I want to please him so I tell him it’s very nice and asked if he had a good Birthday. He replies “yes” but then changes the subject. The teacher hasn’t even noticed we are talking and not paying the least bit of attention.
“Your going out with that David aren’t you?” he asks but I know it’s not really a question so I don’t say anything but carry on staring at the grey table with all its pen doodles from when students have got bored.
“Well my name is David to, you know?” he carries on. I know where this is going, where else could it possibly go? I look at Sir but he is still talking even though none of the class is paying attention although I notice he has sent the usual suspects out the room. They are messing about trying to pass the time before the bell rings, if only I was out there with them instead.
Mr X turns to me and puts his hand on my thigh and starts stroking it. I look to the other side of me but my other class mates don’t seem to notice. Sir is looking our way but says nothing. Maybe everyone now is so used to it or maybe there is something wrong with me because I think it’s wrong but no one else seems to be worried.
My cheeks are burning hot again; he must be able to see even though I am still not looking at him, this makes it worse. I push his hand away but it’s barely left my leg when he moves it back again. I leave it there this time as it never makes a difference but I feel slightly better for at least trying. I really wish Mum would let me wear trousers to school because then at least I wouldn’t be able to feel his hand on my thigh as much, his long fingers gently stoking my still childish skin.
I’ve stopped listening to Mr X talking now. I think he is telling me what he got for his Birthday and how if I went out with him it would be the same as with David because they were both called the same. He doesn’t want any answers and I don’t even attempt to give him any. I don’t even fancy this other David but he asked me out, saying yes was expected of me, but I don’t tell MR X this.
Eventually the bell rings and Mr X jumps up, almost knocking his chair over in his urgency. He has got his stuff and is out the door practically in one leap. I feel relief wash over me but it is only brief and quickly followed by dread because I know in the next class this whole act will be repeated. And tomorrow it will happen again, and the next day. Is this what my life is always going to be like?
© Lucy Williams 2012
The four walls are closing in on me. Ready to crush my bones to dust, I wish they would. The pain in my chest feels like it is going to rip me in half. I don’t know what to do with myself, I’ve never felt this alone before. Even when Mr X and Mr Y pick on me at school, calling me names and touching me.
I want to run away from the pain, away from my life but I’m rooted to the spot. Part of me can’t be bothered to run. Maybe everyone is right, maybe I am useless and stupid. If I’m not then why is this happening to me? Why does no one like me? I feel so confused about everything.
I’m tired, both because I haven’t slept for what seems like a life time and because of this life. Why is life so hard? Some people seem to glide through it with relative ease, my friend Jen is like that. She has all the boys after her and loads of friends but no one notices me standing in the shadows. I will probably die an old maid with hundreds of cats.
Tears are gushing from my eyes, staining my cheeks. I can’t see anything; even the door a step away is all blurry. I scrunch the duvet up in my fists. My nails are digging into my palms, drawing blood. I don’t feel it. When I clench my hands I can see the diagonal scars across my wrist, a knife mark.
Suddenly I know what to do. It’s like a switch has been flicked in my brain, a fog has cleared. I have realised how to make it all better, how to make the pain go away and how to make everyone happy. Why didn’t I think of it before?
Without having to think, I shoot off my bed, out the door and down the stairs. I don’t even think to worry about waking my parents or sister; I know they won’t follow me. I quietly shut the door behind me with a click.
The weather is freezing and I have no coat or shoes. I shiver at the cool breeze whipping around my bare legs and arms. I have absolutely no idea where I am going but my feet seem to.
I walk fast down my street and turn abruptly round the corner onto the main road. The tiny village is like a ghost town, not a soul to be seen. I keep walking on in a relatively straight line. I squelch through soggy fields from last night’s torrential rain and scrape my way through a hedge or two. I don’t even feel the scratches on my bare skin.
Eventually I come to a stop; there is a roaring river in front of me, the noise is deafening but not loud enough to stop my continually circling thoughts. I collapse down onto the sodden grass, all my remaining energy now gone. Tears of grief mingling with the earth as I wonder how things could have turned out if I had been born a nice person. I crawl the short distance to the bridge and heave myself up to a standing position.
I briefly think of another world. A world with no pain and hurt, where people don’t hate me and wish I didn’t exist. I know I won’t go to hell because that is where I am coming from. I hope Mr X and Mr Y are going to be happy now. I hope my parents and sister can now get on with their lives without me being a burden to them anymore.
I slowly lean forward and close my eyes, I don’t feel cold anymore. I feel myself fall forwards but I don’t let out a scream. There is a rush of air all around me, pulling me downwards. My last thought is “I’m sorry” and then there is blackness.
I had started off ignoring them, even when my friend Rachel had told me they were talking about me, even when they started flicking paint in my direction, even when they started shouting my name and making crude comments about my figure, my breasts. Don’t they know how much I hate myself, how much I want to cut my breasts off?
I’m now sitting on a stool, my arms feel heavy leaning on the table in front of me with my head buried in them. My cheeks are burning red with shame, tears are pouring down from my eyes. I can hear the pack of boy’s behind me laughing hysterically, laughing at me.
“It’s O.K Lucy” I hear Laura say in my ear. I don’t move, too scared to lift my head up and show them they have got to me.
“I don’t understand it as Emma’s are bigger than yours” It’s Laura speaking again; she has her arm around my shoulders protectively. I wish I could just disappear through the floor and never come back.
I lift my head very slightly and see the teacher pretending nothing is going on even though it is involving the entire class. He is there looking intently at a piece of paper as if willing it to swallow him up, I know that feeling. It doesn’t cross my mind that he should be doing anything, probably because this has happened so many times before I have given up hoping.
I feel something hit my back, a piece of crumpled up paper, I don’t react. Mum always says you should just ignore them that they will give up if you don’t respond. I have an awful feeling that Mum couldn’t be anymore wrong.
“Why are you always so nasty to her, leave her alone” now Emma is involved, I can feel her standing behind me looking at the pack. It is not very often that anyone sticks up for me so I am grateful for the change.
I peep out at the pack from the crook of my elbow and can see Mr X and Mr Y making obscene gestures with their hands and the others all laughing and pointing, still the teacher says and does nothing.
At least Mr X hasn’t tried to touch me yet, that is always the worst. I can feel that familiar feeling I get when Mr X is near, the dread, the fear and the certainty that whatever is going to be happening is going to be excruciatingly embarrassing.
Finally the bell rings. The pack forget what they were doing, running out the door and tripping over themselves in their hurry to go to their feeding time in the hall. The girls quickly follow, one or two of them giving me a pat on the shoulder, a hug. Rachel says she will see me in a few minutes at our table.
I wait until they have all gone then slowly uncurl myself, run my fingers through my wet and disheveled hair. The teacher is still there but he has his back to me. I know he is aware of me but he can’t seem to turn to look.
I slowly walk towards the toilet to let my face become less red and angry before I go out into the world again. I have survived another morning in my living hell. I’m not sure if I can take any more.
I’ve been saved by the bell once again.