He was shoved in the chest by a pair of forceful hands, and he toppled backwards, falling in the grass on his rear. He glanced up in fear at the boys who surrounded them, excitement in their eyes and amusement in their grins. The one who pushed him down, their unofficial leader, kicked him where it hurt. He heard fuzzy laughter as he saw stars. He would have thought—would have hoped—that it would end there. But it didn’t.
He wasn’t sure how many bruises he would have to cover up after this, just that it hurt. He was in pain. He didn’t want to feel pain. He wanted out. He had to get away from the pain. He had to get away from the root of the pain. Instinct reminded him of the pain givers that stood above and around him in the back of the schoolyard, relentlessly kicking him with their worn sneakers and pounding him with their child fists.
Suddenly the pain was ignored and his body was numb as he instinctively stood up, yelling, before breaking through the group and running. After that burst of adrenaline, his body started aching again and his lungs became sore as he ran. But he wouldn’t stop. He couldn’t stop. Ignoring the watching eyes all around, from innocently curious students to those who waited for him to fall, he ran into the school building and down the corridors that felt like a trap waiting to be set off.
He ran straight into the boy’s bathroom, letting the door swing behind him as he went into one of the middle stalls. He locked the stall door with a click that went unheard behind his heart beating madly. He stood on the porcelain toilet, hoping anyone passing by would assume that the stall was empty. There he waited in fear. The washroom would be completely silent if not for his ragged breaths, tired and scared. Each passing second was an eternity, and until the bell rang, nothing was certain.
Any hope he had was extinguished like a waterfall dousing a candle in an instant. The bathroom door swung open, slamming against the wall as a few boys entered. One boy started kicking stalls open, one by one, until the boy stopped at his stall. Then all the boys started pounding on the stall door, yelling. He was terrified. He was trapped. They would be there, like they always were, waiting for him. It was hopeless, just as it always was. He was a punching bag. He was less than human.
He stepped down from the toilet, took a deep breath, and unlocked the stall door. He stepped back to open it, then ran out, flailing his tiny fists as a scream tore his throat open. The group was caught off guard by the usually quiet class mate and backed away from him, suddenly afraid. He looked around at his enemies, breathing heavily and shaking all over. They looked so scared. They thought he would hurt them. They were afraid of him.
Everyone jumped as the bathroom door slammed open and an adult entered the room. Their teacher. The instructor grabbed his sleeve and pulled him out of the bathroom, leaving the group behind. Was he saved at last? Would his teacher make the group stop their vicious beatings? Would he be able to roam freely at recess without constantly having to look over his shoulder? He was dragged into the school office, sat down at a desk and given sheets of paper and a pencil.
“Write an apology letter to each of those boys.”
She sat quietly at the back of the class room, reading a book. It was raining, so it was an indoor recess. That was fine by her. She could just read her book while the boys played with their blocks or played games on the computers that weren’t blocked while the girls sat by the radio, chit-chatting about celebrities. She didn’t really share common interests with either the boys or the girls, but that was fine. Not everyone needed friends.
Suddenly her book was pulled out of her hands, and she looked up to find that a handful of the girls were standing around her. She was particularly familiar with these girls. She used to play with them in kindergarten a few years ago. She wasn’t sure what had changed, but suddenly she wasn’t friends with them anymore. The girls spoke about her behind her back, she knew, but she liked to pretend that they didn’t.
The girl who took her book ripped out a page, and she stood up and yelled for her to stop. If it was her book, she would be rather offended but could still tape the page back in. But this was a library book, and she would have to pay out of her own pocket for the damage done. Just as she reached out for the book, the largest of the girls went behind her and held her arms back. The girl with the book kept ripping more pages out.
She yelled at the girl to stop it, that it wasn’t her book, that books shouldn’t be treated that way. But the girls only laughed at her. The boys started laughing, too. She started crying. They always did this. The girls had stolen and ruined so many of her possessions, from her scissors to her video game to her books. The books were the worse. Those books always took her away from school, away from all the mean kids. They took her to places she wanted to be, to people she wanted to meet.
And watching the girl tear each individual page out was like witnessing the whole world it contained being burned. Destroyed. Torn away from her heart. She screamed and kicked the girl behind her, who released her arms. Once free, she snatched her library book back and picked up all the fallen pages before running out of the class room, out of the school and into the rain. She hid beneath a tree until her mother picked her up and took her to the school counselor’s office.
She had never met the counselor. She never spoke to the counselor. She didn’t know the counselor, and the counselor didn’t know her. But the counselor spoke as if he knew who she was.
“I would suggest taking her to a mental health clinic. She clearly has issues.”
~Silence the Victims, by Alexa L.
“Ultimately victims of bullying are powerless. All they can do to help themselves is run from the problem. Few victims seek help for their own reasons. There are those who can help, but most refuse to or would rather turn a blind eye. And then there are some who put blame on the victim for whatever reason. Perhaps it’s thanks to favouritism. Perhaps they simply don’t want anyone else to be aware of the bullying that is going on. Either way, victims of bullying suffer in silence. The events in this two-part short story are based on true events, one experienced by myself, another experience by my younger brother.”