8th grade; age 13
She’s looking for me. After weeks of torture from a fellow eighth grader, “Alejandra,” I am still standing, & she’s still bent on destroying me.
I was thrown to the juniour high sharks of the local charter school. I knew nothing beyond the safe, conservative walls of 4H meetings, church assemblies, & the family farm I enjoyed during my home school days. I don’t know how babies are made or what cuss words are. I don’t quite grasp this concept of betrayal & abandonment that people seem to be so familiar with. A middle finger flies up & people get offended & I have no idea why. I don’t understand that random hatred plagues the air of the real world, the land beyond the walls I know.
After being betrayed by the boy I like & the girl I was best friends with because of Alejandra pressuring them, she hasn’t had enough yet. She scours the lunch yard in search of me.
“But why?” I innocently wonder aloud, confused & afraid.
One of my friends standing in our group replies, “Not to talk.”
I furrow my brow. “Then for what?”
I grow terrified & pale, desperately searching the eyes of my group of friends for a saviour. They compassionately surround me so I am invisible to passerby’s. Alejandra walks by, obnoxiously demanding an answer from one of my friends if she’s seen me. No, my friends innocently respond. My bully moves along, continuing her search, anger & frustration simmering from her entire being. I breathe a sigh of relief, believing the danger to be over.
The first bell rings, declaring the end of lunch; just a few minutes until class will begin. Already done with lunch & near my classroom, I am the first one to English class. I calmly & slowly take a seat & unzip my backpack to retrieve class materials.
A voice behind me exclaims, “There you are!”
Petrified, a terrified chill races through my spine. I turn around. Alejandra stands in the doorway. She rapidly approaches me, bitter anger seething from her breath like a dragon.
I jump from my seat. She backs me into a corner, opposite end of the classroom’s front door.
I’m more confused than scared; why is she so intent on harassing me?
Vulgar words spew from her as I stand awkwardly & apprehensively. Class is beginning soon, so this can’t last long… right?
It feels like an eternity. Though I stand a couple inches taller than her, her hefty Mexican figure & bold voice intimidate me greatly. I am frozen, unable to move or defend myself.
“Got nothing to say?” she challenges.
Without a single response coming to mind, I remain stuck in my state of speechless shock. I am frozen & backed into a corner in an empty room by my number one enemy in the world. OH SHOOT DANG!, this is not good.
She raises her hand. I flinch at the thought of her next move. SMACK! With all the force she can muster, she strikes my face with a powerful slap.
My cheeks flush bright pink while the rest of me grows deeply pale.
Students begin filing into the classroom.
With a threat to continue this later, Alejandra storms off to her next class.
Trembling, I return to my seat, head down.
People are cruel for no reason. Lesson learned.
Several months later, she & I had both dropped out of the charter school & completed eighth grade in independent studies. To officially complete the year, we need to take a test held by the local school district.
I know none of this until I show up for my test at the end of the school year. Clutching two number 2 pencils & my small Bible with Psalms, Proverbs, & the New Testament, I enter the building, waving to my mom as she drives off in our turquoise van to run errands while I take my test.
Within moments I am seated across from my enemy. Once again, we are face to face. At first glance, terror strikes me. I remind myself that she can do me no harm in this setting. A sense of peace flushes over me. She acknowledges my presence but doesn’t say much. At break time, however, she confronts me.
I stand in shock.
The moment is beautiful.
Little do I know this is only the beginning of being bullied; it continued on through high school & even, childishly, through college.