About A Bully
It takes me about ten minutes longer to get to class than any other kid in school. I have a very specific method of avoiding all the hotspots and it takes a lot out of me. By the time I get to class the teacher is already there and I am always out of breath and dirty. I’m pretty sure the teacher is lenient on me because he thinks I’m poor. My life is quite the opposite, though. I live in a middle-class home and my parents send me to school every day in clean clothes. I have delicious lunch lovingly prepared by my mom and my dad always gives me some money for tuck shop. This is more than most kids in my community. But I have a dirty little secret. I hate school and, therefore, I hate my life.
Last year, when I was in second grade, this kid next to me was convinced that I’d stolen his math set. It was a ridiculous notion, no one uses a math set in the second grade! He was supposed to be in the third grade but that didn’t make a difference. I was already smaller than the rest of the kids in the class, but the age gap did give him a small advantage.
My torment started with pencil stabs and ruler slaps, always done out of the view of teachers. He was quick to threaten me with more serious jabs and stabs if I ever thought of telling the teachers. According to him, the cost of a new math set was $5. This entitled him to lunch money, my lunch and anything nice I had in my pencil case. He claimed my coloring pencils and cute erasers, even toy cars I hid away in my pencil bag to play with during recess. I was always the first kid out of the class. How did I get saddled up with this guy two consecutive years?
Running was always my strong suit. I was fast, faster than any other kid in my grade and most kids in the next. I knew that if I got out of class before he did, I could outrun him. On the days he did catch me, he would take all my money, lunch, and toys. Of course, he would rough me up before he let me go. On the days where there was no cash, my body took a more serious beating. On these days, I would run as far as the river and go down to the water, knowing that he couldn’t swim. There was no way I’d let him know that I couldn’t either.
At home I would beg my parents for a transfer to another school, citing the reason as being closer to my other friends who lived in the area. I would fabricate stories of the education levels being higher in this other school. My manipulation seemed to have no effect on my parents, however, and I feared every new day. Feigning illness was a regular occurrence, but my mom saw right through it. Facing my giant was a daily struggle and it was wearing me out.
The money I paid over to this guy was enough to fund math sets for the entire second and third grade, not that we needed it back then. My lowest moment was stealing $5 from my dad’s wallet to pay this guy off, only to be harassed again the next day. Not only was this guy ruining my life, he made me do something sneaky and dishonest. We were sitting in class and he was telling me that he couldn’t wait for recess. He kept telling me how he was finally going to get his money back, despite getting it over and over again. I knew that if I didn’t do something, I was going to die. Hiding underneath the shed and apply guerilla tactics wouldn’t help me forever. I wanted to get out of the mess and I wanted to play during recess like a normal kid. I wanted to sit on the playground and eat my mom’s delicious lunch instead of hiding in the toilet. I wanted to play with the marbles I got for my last birthday instead of handing all my toys over to this guy.
He was breathing his smelly breath into my neck and his sticky fingers were wrapped around my left arm. He repulsed me. I just couldn’t take it anymore and eventually I did the only thing that made sense. My right arm connected with his jaw and I could see his eyes roll in his skull. He hit the floor like a massive lump of lard and then the most incredible thing happened. He started crying. The kids were all silent and we witnessed this child break down and bawl. The teacher was outside the classroom talking to the department head, oblivious of what was happening inside the classroom.
For the first time in my life I felt sorry for this kid. My heart went out to him and I decided to bend down and help him up. Eventually both of us were crying. Both of us knew that this was over and that we would never engage in our hostility again. I held his shoulders as he sobbed and one of the girls gave us tissues.
We spent all recesses together and after a while he confided in me. Losing that math set was the worst thing that happened to him. His father gave it to him before he went to first grade and was shot while on duty shortly thereafter. He didn’t make it. That was the last thing his father gave him and someone at school said he thought he saw me with it. That is where our whole mess started. This kid was just hurting and he was venting. I could give him $500 dollars and he still wouldn’t feel satisfied.
I look over at him now, standing tall and proud in his suit. He cleaned up well. The man has the silliest smile on his face and as his best man, it’s my duty to keep him calm until his bride walks down the aisle.