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A story about being bullied.

The shelf had fallen down, the books that had been perched on it lay scattered on the floor.  “You did this” said the pretty 25 year old teacher as she shot a burning look in one of her young student’s direction.  The receiver of the look, a 12 year old red headed girl, pounced to her feet and ran across the room to pick up the books and attempt to fix the broken shelf. She had not been anywhere near it at the time it fell, but something about the look in her teachers eyes let her know that somehow she was to blame and the onus was on her to fix it. She tried to fix it, but no matter how earnestly she picked up bent books and loose screws, the guilt for the shelf falling was already palpable in her heart.

It was always like that with Miss Willy, If something wasn’t right the girl would be responsible for making up the flaw.  If blame had no where to rest, the little freckled preteen was forced to make it a bed. The rest of the class was encouraged to direct unkindness toward the girl.  They were as much victims as she was.

One time, during a reproductive health class the girls and boys were separated.  The goal was to let these young minds learn about their bodies, to ask questions, to allow curiosities and to dispel myths. One girl asked about how much blood a women looses during her menstruation, “about a spoonful”, another about the difference between tampons with a cover and those without, “some people don’t like to touch so the cover makes insertion of tampons easier for them”. The young girl had a burning question after the teacher had explained about fertilization of eggs, she asked “ can you get pregnant on your period?” Miss Willy, theatrically rolled her eyes, to let the other children know how she felt and then shot the girl one of her burning looks “ That’s disgusting, you are disgusting, who has another question?”

Then there was the time the girl found her backpack and shoes in the garbage bin, with old lunch scraps thrown on top of it. It was the end of the day when the girl found them, she could hear her teacher snickering with a few of the other pupils as she fished them out of the cloak bay rubbish. She didn’t dare look back to see their faces as she retrieved her ratty backpack and bargain store shoes from the receptacle. She walked them home barefoot, and tried to clean the items the best she could on the way.

The girls mother worked so hard to provide her with everything she needed, sometimes working two jobs, but mostly as a caregiver in a rest home. It was a family responsibility to look after the things she did have. Her grandfather always referred to her dad as the “coulda, shoulda, woulda man”, he was always on the verge of some great success, some business, some idea that was going to drag her family out of poverty. He spent most of the money made “networking” which truly meant playing golf and drinking at Golf course member clubhouses.  Occasionally he would drain the families mortgage, bills and food budget for his “networking”. It left the girl feeling as though she had to be good, that nothing could ever be wrong, she wouldn’t want to be more of a burden on her mother, and she wouldn’t want to get in the way of her father finally “making it” If anything ever did get in his way, his skin would change colour, almost grey and his eyes would get mean, his shadow would somehow become taller and his audience would feel scared and small. The girl found it best to nod and smile, she became an expert in human emotion changes, internally, she became responsible for them. They knew she was bullied, and the family supported her to be strong and not worry about the opinions of others.

One time someone had taken out several books from the school library under the girls name and not returned them, she was informed by her teacher that she was responsible for their return anyway as they were on the girls account. The girl spent every morning before school, every lunchbreak, every day after school searching the library and classrooms for the books for 2 weeks solid. Unable to find them, she was handed a request for payment to give to her parents for the cost of the books. The girl had never felt so helpless, her parents were filing for bankruptcy at the time… there was no money, there wasn’t even always  food. Her mother worked to much to qualify them for financial assistance, but her father drained the bank accounts to regularly for there to be any money for things like missing books. Her big brother was having a baby with his girlfriend and she was very ill from complications during the birth. Her teacher was unsympathetic to the fact she has never taken the books out. There was no one the girl felt she could tell about the “book bill”. The girl took the bill for the payment of the books and sat on a hill in a park on her walk home from school and cried.

Another time the girl had been sent to school with a severe cold, no one was home to take care of her in the morning, she she was sent to school with the agreement that she could come home at lunch if she still felt bad. The girl over the course of the day had only gotten worse, her usually rosey complexion and turned green and it was clear she needed rest. The girl went home at lunchtime as agreed, her father called the school to inform them she was sick at home for the rest of the day. The girls teacher told her father that the girl was a little liar and demanded he drop her back at school. It became clear to all at that moment that something was unbalanced in the relationship between the girl and her teacher. Her father asked her if she had A: not even looked at her today as she is visible very unwell, or B: she was an idiot who cant identify a sick child and last but not least what right she had to question her father’s judgment as a parent and demand anything of him.

The sick day incident sparked an investigation, unfortunately it was the end of the school year at that time, and the nightmare had reached a natural end. the girl had gone from the previous year with a graded above average , adult, reading level and good report cards, to her current teachers sullying report cards stating that she was barely literate.  For the schools facility this did not add up. The girl was retested and found to be misrepresented in the reports. The teacher contract was not renewed for another year at the school.

Years later, the girl saw the teacher driving in her car, the teacher glared at her out the front windshield, slowly raised her hand and then her middle finger. The light turned green and the women drove away. This was the last the girl ever saw of the teacher. The girl would always wonder why. The girl would always wonder if there was something wrong with her that made her teacher hate her and if other people hated her for it too. Maybe other people just have better manners.


Submitted: October 30, 2017

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