As I sit here listening to the rain beating off my window panes, I wonder why it is now that I have chosen to write about this. Do I feel under-exposed? Has this affair gone too unnoticed for my liking? Every day I am reminded of it. So many faces that were involved in some way bring it all back. Recently, bit by bit, I have been reliving it. All those tiny details have boiled up to this moment. I promise you, after tonight I will never write about this again. The rain is pounding now; a certain indication that this paragraph is due a mighty climax, right about now. So without further adieu, I would like to welcome you to the start of my story. My journey through hell.
It was late evening; I can’t remember the time exactly. It was two years ago after all. I was nervous, indecisive, scared. My heart was racing as I dialled the number. I got it wrong first time around; my hands were shaking too much, as they are right now. The phone rang, my chest went numb. Her sister answered – she recognised my voice immediately. There was hesitation on my behalf; mumbling voices on hers. The phone was passed over – the atmosphere changed suddenly. “What do you want?” or some other similar phrase was hissed down the phone at me. I splurged out the lines I had been rehearsing all evening. An agreement was reached – “tomorrow… lunch… outside”. And that was it. A two minute phone call that ended the life I had known.
I don’t remember much from the following day. To be honest, I’m not even certain what month we were in. Estimated guess, September or October. Not that it matters a whole pile. All that mattered to me was the 12:55pm bell. It was almost like a life or death situation. It rang. I froze. Was this really happening? Before I knew it I was face to face with her. Panic streaming through my veins. I should’ve asked her to come alone. I was being surrounded, even by people two years younger than me. I did what I came to do – apologise. I was met with extreme backlash. Insults were blasting holes through me from every angle. “Bitch, liar, lesbian, cunt, faggot, twat, bullshitter, attention-seeker”; I heard them all. Then out of nowhere came the one teacher that actually helped me in all of this. She asked what was going on. The girls laughed and told her we were just talking. The teacher asked my name. I was unresponsive. One girl gave me a fake name and told me to agree. Shame I couldn’t speak. I was told to go inside, and I did so without looking back, for fear I would be followed.
I sought refuge in my classroom. What had just happened? My thought process was abruptly interrupted when the girl I had wished to speak to appeared in the doorway, accompanied by her best friend/ sidekick. Within seconds they were screaming at me. I could feel my back edging closer and closer to the wall. “My dad told me I should beat you up… If it wasn’t for our sisters, I’d have you pinned against the wall by now”. The rest is a blur. Her sidekick was even worse. I hope no-one ever experiences verbal abuse like I did that day; it’s scarring. One final hurricane of words and they were gone. As I returned to my seat, I remember two people asking was I okay. I nodded, ignoring the terror on their faces. Shock had paralysed my body. It is unclear to me how the remainder of the day unfolded. However, I can assure you that was indeed the culmination of my day.
Dates are just numbers. Numbers are just a reminder of how lengthy this torture was. Let’s just go with a week.
A week later I was called out of class – the principal wanted a word. I was terrified. What had I done? She began to speak; I knew immediately where this was going. After what seemed like a lifetime of questioning, she asked could she bring the other girl in. Naturally, I said no. Somewhere in the midst of our discussion she handed me a small book. ‘Be-good-to-yourself Therapy’. Yes, I was in counselling at the time, but who gave you permission to tell me I’m fucked up? Within seconds there were three of us in the room. The fear returned. I was alone again. Even my principal’s body language suggested I was outnumbered. The girl sitting adjacent to me did not want to be there. She showed no remorse and denied everything. She insisted it was a fight; a two-way thing. I began to feel less like a victim and more like a guilty culprit. How was she doing this? I could see my principal being slowly enticed around the girl’s little finger. My only hope for safety was vanishing before my eyes, and all I could do was sit, cry and watch.
To recall precisely how this horror escalated would be impossible. It started with regular meetings. Every Thursday afternoon during double maths to be exact. Letting the whole class know indeed what was going on. Subtle Ms, very subtle. I would only have to see a shadow outside the door and I would be halfway across the room, knowing undoubtedly that I was the one being summoned from my seat. To begin with, we weren’t allowed into each other’s classrooms. That, to me, was a huge relief. Finally, somewhere I could escape the harassment. Therefore you can only begin to imagine the horror in my eyes when I walked into my newfound haven one lunch, only to find her and her friends sitting in and around my desk. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A sudden panic came over me and I rushed to find my principal – what we had been told to do if either broke the classroom agreement. I stood there silently and watched them be escorted from my room. If looks could kill…
I don’t know why I was surprised when I learned that they had been discussing me publically on Facebook. I found an old status the other day which was made by this girl. It read “OMG OMG OMG ul neva guess wat I found ……. (devil) u noo wat I mean now hahah I swear haha I am shocked haha”. Presumably this was written about my return to Facebook. A comment underneath from her sidekick read “haaaa omg ppl liiok ere shudnt b aloud on fb liok ….. sycoooo haaaa :D …. Dd it ask yhuu ta b friends wiv ere :/”. I apologise if you were unable to comprehend those horribly written comments. It pained me to write so grammatically incorrect.
Anyway, another meeting was called and this time there were six of us in the room: the girl herself, her sidekick, another of her friends, the principal, the vice principal and myself. I had accepted defeat before a word had been spoken. How could I stand any chance of being listened to when it was blatantly three against one? Everything I tried to say was shot down within seconds. The shouting was intolerable. I was asked if the third girl had any real involvement in the situation and I said no, meaning she was allowed leave the room with her reputation untouched. Yet she still managed to throw one final insult at me on her way out. This seemed to spark some sort of anger inside of the sidekick, because no sooner had the white door closed, she was standing beside me, screaming. “I have to leave, I’m so close to punching her” were the words that came from the anxious presence towering above me. Eventually she calmed down and re-joined us at the table. The discussion moved swiftly to the online abuse, which apparently was aimed at “no-one in particular”. That’s convenient. Then the joking commenced. The four of them were sharing quite a nice moment actually. Laughing, smiling, and wagging fingers humorously. It was an ideal picture of what a teacher-student relationship should be like, were it not for the pool of tears forming on the table below me. God, I ruin everything.
Quite frankly, it was one of the worst days I have ever experienced. To this day I hold a strong grudge against the one person in that room that could’ve saved me from months of misery. But she consciously made the decision to ignore my counsellor, my parents and most of all the truth, just to save her the trouble of perhaps having to write up a bullying report. Yes, I believe I was bullied. Not in the most extreme fashion, but just enough to damage every aspect of my being. In the end, we were both blamed for the drama we had caused.
I am still haunted by what I have just written about. I’m not sure how long it will follow me; maybe for the rest of my life. Forgive me if you were expecting worse from the title of this, but none of you will ever truly understand the depth of my torment. Here’s to you attempting, though.