I dreaded getting up in the morning. Every day, dragging my body and the lead-heavy weight it carried out of bed. The sun was blinding my dark world as it shone obnoxiously through my room's only window. I spared a tired glance at the alarm clock on my dresser. I groaned… it was 8:00 am. The annoying ringing of my alarm clock persisted. I hauled myself out of the comfort of my bed, where only my dreams bothered me, and slammed my hand onto the snooze button.
That damn thing was just so irritating. Not just because of the infuriating beeping, but also because it signaled the time for me to head off to my own personal hell. You might call it school. I considered, as I did every morning, to skip school and fake sick but I knew my mom wasn't about to fall for that…
I got ready for school and headed downstairs to the kitchen for breakfast. My mother greeted me with a warm, sleepy smile, as she shuffled around in her pajamas, preparing my breakfast and lunch. I spared her a fake smile.
"Good morning, honey!"
"Ready for school?"
I sighed. "I guess."
"What's wrong, sweetie?" she asked, concerned.
"Nothing. I'm just sleepy."
"Oh. Alright." She seemed to accept my explanation. "Well then rise and shine, sleepyhead, you've got ten minutes to get to your bus stop!"
I grabbed the banana she set out for me and stuffed my lunch into my bag, taking a few bites of the eggs she had prepared for me. Just so I wouldn't feel bad about just ignoring her efforts…but I wasn't hungry.
With the banana still in my hand, I rushed out the door. As soon as the door closed behind me, I slowed to a crawl. I was in no hurry to get to the bus. I didn't even care if I missed it. But my mom didn't need to know that.
I slipped the banana into the side pocket of my bag, usually where a water bottle would go.
I gripped my backpack straps with both hands as I walked. Each step was an enormous effort.
I got to my bus stop just as the bus pulled up. I trudged onto the steps as the door opened for me. I nodded hello to the bus driver and looked up and around for a seat. Since I was one of the last stops, there was rarely an empty seat in someplace I wanted to sit. And I never ever wanted to sit near the back.
Which of course, could only mean that the only empty seats were indeed in the back of the bus, where anything could happen and the bus driver was completely oblivious. This was also where the most "popular" kids sat. Unfortunately for me, I was their favourite person…to bother.
I took the walk of humiliation to the back of the bus, feeling their bloodthirsty stares on me. I finally found an empty seat, and slumped into the farthest corner of it. Typically, she and her friends where only a few steps away.
I heard whispers, then outbursts of mean laughter. "Ahaha! Just look at her! What a loner!" I heard Angela say.
I knew she meant for me to hear; why else would she say it so loudly and deliberately. Besides, it was her fault I had no friends.
"Ewwww do you smell that, Chantel?" Angela made a show of fanning the air around her nose. "I can smell loser-breath from all the way over here!"
Chantel joined in with the fanning and the laughing. "She's so gross! Why don't you take a shower, huh, loser?"
I gritted my teeth. I had taken a shower just last night. "I have a name," I said quietly, afraid they would hear.
"Oh my God, did you guys hear that? The loser says she has a name!" Angela shrieked with laughter. This brought on more laughter from Chantel, Angela herself, and their friend Salwa.
I slumped lower into my seat. Why did they hate me so much?
Salwa got up and scooted in beside me on my seat. She flicked her long curly hair over her shoulder before she gave a smug smile to her friends, then turned her attention towards me. "What are you hiding from, baby?" she said with fake-sweetness. Then her tone changed. "Man up, loser! You look like a man anyway." She laughed "I mean, right, Angela? Look at her ugly short hair."
I just so happen to like short hair. What's so wrong about that?
I wished I could just shut them all out. But I couldn't. This was reality. And I could never escape it. You'd think I was used to it by now, but every insult was a blow to my skull.
Angela reached over and plucked a hair from my head.
"I wonder how you would like it if we just cut all your ugly hair off. We'd be doing you a favour, right, loser?"
Chantel just laughed along with them…until she noticed the banana I had jammed into the exposed pocket of my backpack.
* * *
They force fed me and my face that banana. In front of the whole bus. And there was nothing I could do about. Nothing.
Not only that, but Salwa managed to get a lot of it into my hair. I was late to first period trying to wash it out in the washroom sink. What a great year grade seven was turning out to be.
I hated middle school.
By the time I got to class, the teacher was already halfway through a new math lesson. I was already doing horrible in math, and missing half a lesson wasn't going to help in any way.
I clumsily made my way to my desk. I felt everyone's eyes on me, staring me down like some sort of criminal. My hair was sopping wet and my face red of embarrassment. My eyes stung as I tried as hard as I could to hold back the waterfall that was threatening to make its way out of my eyes and down my shameful face, giving away my weakness.
I held on though, the same way I had done many times before. But one day, I just knew, that one day I would not be able to hold back the increasingly heavy stream of tears that was building up in my ducts. As I pulled out my notebook, I realized there was no way I would be able to focus anyway. I almost put it back away but noticed the teacher's glare. I pulled out my pencil and started to copy down what my teacher had been scribbling on the board the entire time I was washing banana guts off myself. I only got the title down and hadn't even realized that I stopped writing until the teacher called on me.
"Bailey, what do you think the answer is?"
I froze. I was so spaced out, lost and feeling surreal in my own gloomy world that I hadn't been paying attention. Crap.
"I…uh," I stuttered meaninglessly.
I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned ever so slightly. It was Chantel. "Sixteen," she whispered.
Wow…was Chantel helping me out? Maybe she wasn't so bad after all.
"Um, sixteen," I said to my teacher.
My teacher sighed. "No."
The class erupted in laughter.
"No, Bailey," she repeated. "The number of angles in a triangle is not sixteen."
I reddened and slouched lower into my seat. I'd been had by Chantel. The loudest laughter came from directly behind me…her, and them. Those bitches.
I held back tears.
My teacher continued droning on about angles. I spaced out again, and didn't return to earth until the dismissal bell rang.
When is this ever going to end. What did I do to deserve being constantly tormented? Was it because I wasn't popular like Angela? Or because I didn't suck up to Angela like Chantel? Or because I wasn't pretty like Salwa?
I can't even remember why or how or even when this began. It seems like every day has passed me by, leaving me heavier, and more scarred on the inside. The scars just get deeper and deeper and I don't have the capacity to heal them. Let's face it, even if I did find a way to heal my wounds, they would always return. deeper and more painful than 7the ones they followed.
I can't take this. I can't live like this. I don't know what to do, or where to go, and there's nobody I trust. And 'telling an adult' would clearly get me nowhere. My mother would create a problem and make matters worse. My dad would just tell me to deal with it. My teachers and bus driver witness it but never say a thing. Even my classmates…not a single boy or girl has ever stood to my defence.
And I'm just weak, and helpless.
Just two more days until the weekend. My only refuge in the week and I won't have to see any of them. Hopefully I can hold out until then.
All the girls in my class rushed to the change room. We had gym today. Of all the classes that I hated, and I pretty much hated all of them, I especially hated gym. Mainly because it gave my fellow female classmates (including but not limited to THOSE three), a chance to show me what a loser I was every chance they got. But also because of the dreaded change room.
I hated changing in front of people. They stare and judge and whisper. Sure, I'm not as developed as everyone, but I don't care. Why does it matter?
If I was more developed like Angela, Salwa, and even Chantel…would people have liked me? I'm just a shapeless, skinny twig. Maybe it does matter.
As soon it freed up, I rushed into the only bathroom, clutching my gym clothes. I was too slow…Angela blocked my path. "Where do you think you're going?"
I tried to go around her. She sidestepped and wouldn't let me through. I looked to my sides and saw Chantel and Salwa walking over, attracted to the scene. I was trapped.
Everyone had already changed while I was waiting for the bathroom, and they were leaving to the gym. Now, only the three of them, me, and a few other stragglers were left in the locker room.
"Leave me alone." My voice shook; betraying me.
"Leave you alone? But you're always alone!" taunted Angela.
Chantel and Salwa laughed.
"Why don't you have any friends?" asked Salwa, with a mean smile.
"Because she's a loner," said Chantel.
I gripped my gym clothes tighter to my chest and tried to get by them again. I wasn't allowed.
"Come on guys…"
"NO. You're not going anywhere," said Salwa.
"Yeah," agreed Angela. "We're not done with you yet."
I gulped. This was going too far. What where they going to do!?
Chantel knocked the bundle of clothes from my arms. They fell to the dirty floor. By now, we were the only ones left in the change room. I bit down on my lip to keep from screaming or bawling like a baby. I was scared. I leaned over to pick up my shorts and t-shirt. Angela lifted her leg just enough to knee me in the face.
I cried out and shot up right, clutching my nose. I heard their laughs, but they seemed to be distant with the pain reverberating through my head and enveloping my senses. I tasted and smelled blood. I took my hand off my nose, and sure enough, I had a nosebleed.
"Eewww! You're so disgusting, Bailey!" Salwa took a few steps back. My blood dripped onto the floor.
"Oh quit being a little bitch, Salwa. What, are you afraid of a little blood?" taunted Angela.
Salwa stuttered out a 'no'.
"Alright then," said Angela. She picked up my t-shirt from the floor, and threw it Salwa. She caught it and Angela continued. "Cover her face."
"You heard me Salwa. Cover her head with it. I don't want to see this skinny little loser's face."
I looked at Angela's body for a moment. She was shapely, but nonetheless…plump. Heavy. Fat. At least, in comparison to me. Was this why she hated me?
No…all this? Because she's jealous? Never.
She would kill me if I ever even suggested that.
Salwa threw the shirt over my head from behind. I was about to reach up and whip it off me, but I felt someone grabbing my hands and holding them behind my back. "Don't you dare." It was Angela's voice.
I was scared to death. I couldn't see a thing, and my hand were held behind my back. My nose was bleeding onto my gym shirt. I struggled to stop a whimper from escaping my lips. I heard footsteps shuffling, and then whoever was holding me pushed me forward "Move."
I blindly stumbled forward and didn't dare say a word. I heard a zipper being opened. I remembered that I had left my backpack on a bench. Either they found my bag, or they were reaching into one of their own for something…
Neither option was a comfort to me.
Blood still trickled from my nose, soaking my t-shirt and dripping down my face.
I awaited in silence as objects were shuffled and pockets were zipped open and shut.
Just then, the bell rang. I was late for gym class.
"Stupid bell," complained Angela, the suddenness of her voice surprising me. I started. I still couldn't see anything. I heard things being strewn about, then, "Let's go. Leave this nobody here. We need to get to class." The grip on my hands released.
Suddenly I felt a hand on the t-shirt, pulling my head back.
"Ah!" I cried out, shocked. I heard breathing in my ear.
"No one better ever hear about this, or you're dead. Got that, loser?" Angela's voice taunted me through the shirt over my head. She let go, and I heard steps, getting softer, then nothing. I was alone. Finally, this episode of hell was over. I let the tears come and now my t-shirt was soaked in blood and tears. I was too humiliated to even remove it from my face. I let the waterworks go for a bit more, before I decided to take the shirt off my face. I wiped my face with it; no use in trying to keep it clean now. Sobs shook me as I picked up my shorts from the other end of the change room. I saw my backpack, empty, and all my stuff strewn about the entire locker room.
I picked everything up, stuffed them into my backpack, washed my face, and went running from the school. I took the long way, walking home, hoping my mother wouldn't notice that I had left school early. Good thing gym was the last period of the day.
By the time I got home, it was already ten minutes past the time that I usually step into the house. I hadn't been paying attention and ended up taking a really, really long route.
My nose had stopped bleeding, but it really hurt. I didn't think it was broken, but it certainly wasn't fine. My eyes were puffy and red from crying; my face was still tear stained. My hair was a mess. I was a mess.
And no one could ever know why.
I had to tell my mom that I fell in gym class then missed the bus. She didn't like it but she bought it. She was about to call my teacher but I didn't let her. I went on about how I didn't want to seem like a baby. Truth was, I never even showed up for gym class. And my mother would soon figure that out upon calling my teacher…
So now, I had to keep up this lie to my mother, find an excuse for missing class to tell my teacher tomorrow, and keep my eyes wide open for danger.
I was in danger.
My safety was threatened, and I was too weak, helpless, and scared to do anything about it.
Well…it'll probably pass sooner or later. No need to make things worse. Just lay low. And take it.
Finally. Finally. I couldn't believe it. It seemed like ages since last weekend. The thought elated me. Two whole days at home. Away from school. I smiled in spite of being at school at that very moment. Just a few more hours, and I'll be free.
Walking into class, I caught myself smiling. I wiped the small grin off my face, but not fast enough.
Angela had already spotted me. I felt her eyes lock onto me and I stayed looking down as I made my way to my desk. Why is that everywhere I go, they are just a few steps away? On the bus, in class, in the hall. Why?
I sat down, and was about to place my backpack on the empty chair beside me when Angela swooped into that very chair. She nudged my pack to the floor with a graceful violence, and moved over closer to me. She faced me, and I faced my desk. I felt myself begin to turn red and sweat of fear. I tried to appear nonchalant-- it didn't work. Angela, like a dog, smelt my fear. I could tell by the smirk on her face.
Over the next few minutes, I suffered constant taunts, and the teacher, having walked into class in the middle of it, seeing the class in snide hysterics, did nothing but ignore it until it got so out of hand that he was forced to ask for attention in order to begin the lesson. He did not make eye contact with me. I felt like shit.
* * *
I trudged home. The sun was shining, the weather; beautiful. It didn't matter to me, though. I couldn't see the sun past the clouds that surrounded me wherever I went, raining on me every chance they got. Raining knives.
I got home, and went straight to my room. I needed to think. There had to be a way to escape.
I hadn't eaten in a few days, so it was hard to think. I felt so weak, but I had no appetite whatsoever.
Before long, I had my solution.
I couldn't wait any longer. My dad would not be home for another hour or so, and I knew where he kept his sleeping pills. I just had to make sure no one saw me. Trying to feel happy and relieved that I had found a solution, I held back tears and wrote up a quick note. My parents had to know it wasn't their fault. But they couldn't know about any of this until I was gone. Gone, gone, gone. That sounded nice in my head.
Before long, I had acquired the bottle of small, round, yellow-tinted pills. I closed the door to my room and slowly walked over to my bed. I was going to do this. It's the only way. I won't have to live in misery after this.
I didn't know much about overdosing to death. But I did know it was possible. There was a good 20 or 30 pills in the bottle. Fortunately for my cause, my dad had recently got his prescription refilled. This was bound to be enough.
I was just going to have to take more and more until it was over.
I dumped the pills onto my bed and stared at them. My friends.
I picked one up and eyed it. It was small and smooth. I picked up my water bottle. Then decided against just one, and picked up two. I was pretty good at swallowing pills. I could do two at a time. I sucked in a breath, closed my eyes, and tried to prepared myself mentally. I opened my eyes and took one last look at the pills before I threw them into my mouth and they disappeared down my throat, followed by a sip of water. I would have to save the water; I had many more pills to go. I popped two more. I didn't really feel any different.
Two more. I needed more water this time. I tried not to think too much. I was too far gone to turn back now. I glanced at the clock and realized I had been sitting there staring at the pills and slowly taking them for a good 10 minutes. I hadn't realized how long it was taking. I had only taken six pills or so. It was time to speed things a long.
The next time I reached for two more pills, I felt a sudden twinge of confusion. I shook it off and tried to ignore it as I focused on popping the pills, then drinking the water. Popping, then drinking. I checked the clock every few minutes or so. Why did it seem like time was racing me, and I was a snail? It had already been half an hour; 10 pills.
I felt a falling sensation, coupled with the confusion I had tried to ignore and I was convinced I was dying. I was dizzy and I felt like I was going to be sick. I held it down. I'm just nervous.
I needed to take more. I wasn't gone yet. Was this even going to work? It had to!
I felt faint. I forced two more pills down my throat.
How long until I fall asleep forever? I was already feeling drowsy but I didn't like the sick feeling.
It wasn't as bad as the feelings I was feeling before. Those horrible feelings.
I tried to ignore the bitter taste in my mouth. This wasn't candy. Plus, a metallic taste threatened to follow me to my grave.
Due to the fact that I hadn't eaten properly for a long time, I knew that even if I just passed out, I would have little chance of waking up again. Maybe for once, my skinny little body would do something good for me.
It was like a rhythm now. I looked down at where the pile of pills had been. There was less than half left.
Two more. Just in case.
Maybe I should sit back and let it take me.
Just let it happen.
I swallowed my final two pills as I tried to carefully put the remaining pills back in the bottle, but I just ended up dropping the pills and the bottle. I nearly fell off my bed. I felt horrible. I was so nauseous. I needed to throw up. I tried to hold back the vomit, but I could barely lift my hand to my mouth. I felt myself slowly fading in and out of consciousness. In, out, in, out. Black and white.
Stop fighting it, I told myself. Just fall asleep. Let yourself fall asleep. Close your eyes and breathe.
I tried to relax my body on my bed, but I barely had my head down and my eyes closed before the vomit spewed out of my mouth.
Then, I was gone.