A story about me by me

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

The final project for my creative writing class was to write a short story about myself. hope you enjoy it.

Class project 2021-06-13

Entitled “Write about you”

 

This may be the last thing I ever write but I doubt it, you never know with someone like me. This story starts where most stories do at the very beginning, but to save us time and to save you patience ill drop it line by line while skipping a few years in between.

Year seven I remember very little; I was allergic to an ingredient called sulfa in the pertussis vaccine and therefore contracted hooping cough. A funny sounding name for a virus that fills your lungs with mucus and causes you to hack and spew sounding like a dog. I have only a few memories of this as I’ve repressed most of it.  I remember looking at my mother sleeping on the couch, her back turned to me, there is nothing very special about this memory other than the fact that I still have it. In my mind there’s more symbolism to this than any of the other moments in my seventh year. However, I couldn’t tell you what that might be, a fear of loneliness, a foretelling of my own depression or a grander issue with abandonment that has followed me to this day.

The next memory is of lying in bed and coughing like a dog, this is how I know the symptom because out of a six month long stay with the virus this is the only memory I have of the actual spasmodic laryngitis, I forced sputum out of my lungs and was visited by my father. I hacked so hard that I puked in a bucket and he changed it out for me.

The following memory I’m at the hospital in a single bed and I’m alone, my parents come in the room with my younger sister and give me a McDonald’s hamburger. I remember them having to leave and after that there are no more memories. Not until the following school season.

Id like you to remember that memories change overtime, this doesn’t contort the validity of this recounting.

 

The year started the same way the last one had but with one distinction, my classmates from the following year had all moved forward and I had stayed behind. I remember thinking this was fine because I had enjoyed what little time I spent in my first grade class. This feeling didn’t last as one day in the courtyard I was approached by two boys I had known from the previous years class.

Me being an awkward child and having lacked the ability to communicate properly I felt an immediate panic at the sight of two the boys. They asked why I hadn’t continued onto the second grade and as I had no response I merely teared up in the eyes and walked away. My instincts had warned me of their malicious intent as they had already decided to outcast me, although I wouldn’t know it until our next meeting.

That night I asked my parents at the dinner table, why didn’t I move on to the second grade? I said that they must have made a mistake that the other children had switched classrooms and teacher, Instead of an answer explaining that I had been sick and hadn’t attended enough class to move forward I was told, you were held back. Or at least this was the portion of the conversation I held onto.

The following meeting with the two boys in the courtyard I was asked the same question, why hadn’t I passed grade one. My response was as awkward as I was, it came out of my mouth jumbled with nerves. It made no sense to the boys and they laughed repeating what I had said, OLDEBACHK. Later in my life this would become a pattern, saying something in a nervous unintelligible way and being made fun of for it. But back to this moment, what I had really said was, I was held back. This being the truth I saw nothing funny about it, in fact even at that moment of my youth I saw the tragedy of it.

I spent the following year avoiding these boys and narrowly succeeding as once out in the courtyard there was very little supervision. At least once a week they would find me while I hid in the surrounding foliage or made my way back towards the school building and they would say the same words while laughing as if it was some running joke to them. OLDEBACHK, at least that’s how I imaged it was spelled, again and again it would bring me to tears and I would think about why I was in this situation never realising there was a solution. The solution would have been switching schools. Instead I learnt the word bully but never once used it to defend myself or seek help.

By the end of the first grade I had taken to hiding from my afterschool activities, when signed up for wrestling or chess for instance I would go to the first floor washroom and sit in a stall with the door locked. Often, I watched the kids who entered hoping that it wouldn’t be the two that harassed me. Despite the feelings of angst I had each morning until the end of day, I never said anything. At least until the day I decided to go home early.

I remember sitting in that same washroom in that same stall and thinking it was awful quiet in the building. A bell rang and despite it being early my child mind had decided it was time to go home. Imagine that eight years old and already skipping school. I stepped outside without being stopped by a teacher or monitor and waited in front of the building. Normally my grandmother would pick me up but today she hadn’t even showed. I dreaded the sight of those boys so much that the knot in my stomach pushed me to do something horrifying in my mind, I would walk down the three blocks and cross the street to get home. Once home I knocked on the front door and was met by my father looking confused, he asked me why I was home and I told him that the day was over in my own confusion.

I don’t remember much else about that day but I do remember being brought back to the school, after what felt like hours of being questioned about where I had been all those days I missed my activities. I thought I had gotten away with it since I had spent so many of them in that washroom. Thinking about it today I believe I slipped by as a shy and quiet kid, that no one had noticed that I wasn’t there and that the questioning was for my father’s benefit. It was that day that I told them I was hiding. Out of fear of the impending confrontation I wouldn’t say from who. Yet even after the school was informed and I was told about bullying and how to stop it, I still hid in that bathroom stall and no one once came to look for me.

Because I hadn’t done anything to confront the boys or even said their names to anyone that could help me, my father would come and speak to me at night and finally I cried to him that I didn’t want to go to school but I can’t recall if he even knew why. That year as I do recall I was allowed the day off for my birthday and that’s when I realised I didn’t have to go in if I didn’t want.

If I told my parents that I felt sick, most days there would be no fuss and I would stay home with my grandmother. Still my homework would come and I would run into a very similar situation with my grandma, she was old-school and was tough on me if I didn’t do my French work well enough or fast enough. So again I was left with a knot in my stomach, this knot became my stomach ache and without the realisation I would tell my parents, I don’t feel well, they would push me to go to school and I would last until first recess where I would go to the kind secretary and tell her, my stomach hurts. This would lead to my grandmother being called and me being picked up and taken home. For lack of a better phrase I had started to “hate life” and this was what I told myself when things got bad. In the morning if I couldn’t stay home I would tell myself, I hate life, if I was picked on in the courtyard I would say, I hate life and so on and so forth until today where I find myself saying the same words quite often despite attempting to defeat the habit. Imagine an eight year old not wanting to stay home and not wanting to go to school. My escape was in my mind where I would make up fantastic stories and tell them to others as if they really happened. If someone believed it I would feel good for a moment, that was until the kids caught on and I was labelled a liar. My only true escape was the break in between the school-year at my cottage.

 

From the end of June to the beginning of September I would spend my time in the country at a log cabin that had been in my family for generations. It was my parents and my sister that I had for company but as I let my feelings fester I began to take them out on the people around me, so I was left to my own devices. I would create stories about being a forest elf or a druid and I spoke to the animals. I played with sticks as if they were swords and pretended to be a great warrior fighting my foes. For I wished I could hit those bullies that tormented me. The time I spent around others at the cottage I would usually act out and be mean to my sister who was an innocent victim in all this having the natural social abilities I did not.

I remember sitting on the swing and pretending I had someone to share the wilds with, someone that could understand me and as the years passed that story became a great desire, one that was rarely filled with a friend. In fact, even in school I hardly had any friends, with my tendency to lie and mistreat others I was shunned. Don’t feel bad for me because all of this added up to be someone that had to grow an awful lot to become who I am today.

During the school year I was still picked on and as the boys got older they added more friends to their group and I in turn became more angry and bitter. In the fifth year of school I was given a teacher that was a vile old woman, so now even in the classroom there was someone tormenting me. At least in this case it wasn’t just me, others were able to complain, still nothing was done about the abusive teacher until it was too late. The knot in my stomach continued to grow as I reached puberty and the anger I had felt for five years now had to release itself in the form of self abuse and self hatred. I began to scare the people around me by giving into instincts that were completely irrational. The need for money to buy things and the want for violence, still I was older that the other kids and none of them truly understood, so again I would be alone.

The next summer, my parents needed a break from me due to the way I had been acting, they sent me to a summer camp for two weeks. Despite the camp being a beautiful place with a well-rounded staff again I was picked on for my social inadequacies. No, the boys hadn’t followed me there, but there were new kids older kids that would choose me as a target. There seems to be something about certain people that makes them more prone to being bullied. Maybe it’s the lack of friends, there is safety in numbers. Or maybe it’s the way I walked and talked, staring at the ground and not making eye contact.

At camp we were taken on a one night canoe trip to an small site a kilometer away from the main area, I doubt the counsellors knew how fragile I was because they had never put a stop to the abuse happening right in front of their eyes. That night they told ghost stories to developing minds and once the canvas tent was set up and we were all wide awake from fear, they decided to play a little prank on us. Two counsellors crept up on our tent and started to make noises as if some disturbing animal were outside. Then they grabbed my counselor who had gone out to check on what was happening. In a moment the noises became wicked howls and they beat the tent around us grabbing at those closest to the walls by their arms or ankles and pulling them out into the open. The kids screamed and as quick as it had begun it was over, the counsellors had disappeared back into the woods.

The year was secondary one or the first grade of high school, still the knot in my stomach was there with the pressures of meeting new people and learning more evolved subjects. I felt like my whole life up until this point was some kind of nightmare and it was just getting worse. The anger I felt from the previous years and the lashing out was still a big part of me. I didn’t hide in the washroom anymore, at this new school I didn’t feel I had too, but that was when I learnt that people were going to be horrible no madder where you were. I often tried to make the first move and be horrible myself but as I was no where near as talented at that as the others I would make myself look like a fool. One of the kids had come off with some remarks in the first few weeks so I thought I would assert myself. I mentioned weed and how I could get some but as someone who knew nothing about it I merely gave the kid some pill capsules filled with tea. He showed them to his older sibling and in backlash I was again ridiculed by everyone around me, they called me oregano, which of course was not what was in the pill capsules but it was just as hurtful as any other name. again, I would be called another horrible nickname while the kids laughed. He used my defeat as a way to draw others to him and time after time without fail they would press on me finding new and inventive ways to turn my overcompensations into ridicule.

Finally, I stopped trying and merely attempted to exist, but even that was enough to be one of the chosen people. After a semester of this I had enough and brought a knife to school, I had wanted to use it on one of the boys or just show it off so they would leave me alone. Even that failed, it dropped from my pocket one lunchtime while I was luckily alone. Except there was one person around and as they saw me putting it back in my pocket they came over and said. You don’t need that kid, its more dangerous for you to have it. I was shocked, this person hadn’t insulted me or tried to physically harm me, they didn’t yell or curse, instead they were appealing to the person I would become on day. An actual human being who uses his feelings to stand up for others and not in a preachy angry way but in an educated and compassionate way. He knew that with the right prompts I would take my pain and use it to be kind to others and not be horrible like so many of the kids I looked up to. He knew that I didn’t want to just protect myself he knew I wanted to make an example out of those bullies. So he took the knife and I never saw it again.

A lot happened after that day, it took me a very long time to become that person I could be happy living with, even now there are times I’m not happy with who I am, but I know that inside all of us is someone good trying to get out. Someone who won’t take advantage of others because they can, a person that will look out for the best interests of everyone even when it hurts them. I still saw those bullies from grade school and they still said the same thing OLDEBACHK, I remember being hurt even after I hadn’t seen them for years and we were just passing on the street. After high school I’ve seen all the kids that picked on me and I’ve even felt empathy for some of the horrible things they’ve had to go through. Despite what life brings some of them haven’t changed, they haven’t learnt, but I have. I don’t let that anger get to me anymore, at least not the anger about them, I feel sorry for them and not having become that better person.

I still have fantasies about being accepted and wanted by certain people or groups. I still have that need for someone I can love and walk through the forest with, someone to be beside me while I write my stories and that can inspire me. In a way I may always be looking, I may always be fighting back that little kid who was full of anger and didn’t know how to express it, the kid who lied and stole and pitted people against each other so that he could feel better about himself. I try not to blame the people who molded me for in fighting back that little kid I became someone different, someone better.

I still hurt inside don’t get me wrong, I still have anger and in tough times it comes out of me. But later I regret it, it doesn’t take me long to reflect on what’s happened apologize to the people I’ve hurt. Maybe I’m trying to apologize to myself sometimes for everything I went through, 10 years of constant bullying and self hatred. I’m sorry Jonny, it wasn’t your fault.  still I run into people who are angry and lash out at others, some of them much older than me. And to this day ill feel sorry for them, because they can’t fight back that angry little kid.

Just because we cant see someone’s pain doesn’t mean its not there, try and be a decent person and it will come back to you.

 

A story by and about Jonny Nagels.


Submitted: June 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Stranger Lobe / Jonny Nagels. All rights reserved.

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