She was lying down in a foetal position, hands over her head and stomach. Everything hurt so bad, as feet connected with her back, her arms and legs. She opened her eyes but what was there to see? Legs surrounding her: a group of 5 or 6 at least. And through the gaps between them more people watching from the corner of their eyes, as if nothing were happening. She could have cried: the pain was enough to make anyone cry really. But it wasn’t the reason: no, the fact that nobody would intervene, that could make her cry. All bystanders, none witnesses.
The bell rang, calling an end to recess. They all dispersed. Her books and pens were scattered across the ground, some broken by people who purposefully stepped on them. Nothing precious in her bag anyway. She knew better. She gathered the torn notebooks; thankfully they hadn’t damaged the schoolbooks. Her parents would be so pissed otherwise: it wasn’t as if they had lots of money to spare.
“What are you doing Keaton?” One of the monitors growled. “You’re going to be late.”
Of course… her fault. She finished grabbing her things and nursing a bleeding nose, she went to class. Her back hurt, her stomach.
Her classmates sniggered when she came in, being told off by the professor who didn’t even look at her. Nobody would speak for her. She still needed to figure out what she’d done to them. It had been two years and she still didn’t get it. In the end it didn’t matter. Because the truth was she hated them. She hated them for making her feel like she was worthless, for watching her being kicked and doing nothing. She hated them for being sheep and bullies. She hated them for isolating her, making sure no new kid on the block tried to make friends with her.
Changing schools? Out of the question: it would mean private school or something that required a bus pass, something her parents couldn’t afford. Besides neither of them would understand what she was going through: her mom was a cheerleader, her father – of his own admission – the high school bully. Bullying was necessary he said. Forged one’s temper. He’d laugh at the thought his daughter was the bullied not the bully.
And it would mean they won; her pride was probably misplaced but she wouldn’t let them win. They’d done everything: she hadn’t cried. Never in a place they could see. They hadn’t broken her… yet. She knew it was a question of time. She wasn’t stupid.
A knock at the door. A student from another class.
“Mrs. Grant, my apologies. The principal is asking for Keaton in his office.”
He looked right at her; how was it that everybody knew who she was? What the fuck had she done to the world? She stood.
“With her bag.” He added, a huge grin on his face. She was in trouble.
Everyone was trying not to laugh, as she left the classroom. The other student didn’t even try to speak to her. He walked as fast as he could, like he was trying to claim she’d been slow to come. She suspected he’d taken his sweet time before making it to the classroom that she would be blamed for lateness. And she was right at that. When she opened the door to the Principal’s office, he gruffly welcomed her.
“You took your time Ms. Keaton.”
“I came as fast…”
“Save your excuses. Have a seat.”
She did. It took everything she had not to bite her lips. She didn’t know what to expect. She’d never been summoned to the principal’s office before. She was a good student; a reason for the hatred?
“I’ve had several students coming to tell me something disturbing. They witnessed a fight in the school yard.”
She clamped her mouth shut. She wasn’t a snitch. That would be nail on the coffin. He raised an eyebrow and resumed.
“A fight they claimed, involved you. Do you have anything to say?”
“Oh I don’t know Ms. Keaton. Why would you start a fight with no less than 3 people?”
Flat. It would be stupid to start a fight period.
“Are you claiming four people lied?”
“I’m claiming they might not have seen what happened.”
“So you’re pretending that Mr. Howard’s broken nose isn’t the result of you punching him?”
She hadn’t had the chance to raise her hands to even defend herself. How the hell was she supposed to have hit anyone? And why would Clay say such a thing? He probably broke his nose in PE. The asshole.
“I’m going to have to suspend you Ms. Keaton. Witnesses…”
The rest just was a babble of sounds she didn’t understand. Could they truly hate her this much? She didn’t understand. Could people be this cruel? Could teachers be so blind?
They’d just screwed her entire life: suspended for violence. No university would bypass that on her file. What was the point? She’d hoped the tunnel would end after high school: they made sure there would never be any light. The train wreck was just right there. No point crying: she was dead already.
In response to the Daily Post writing prompt Witness