I walked into the room. You guys were both sat at opposite ends of the front row of desks. I sat in the second. I was empty, emotionally numb, my cheeks tight with dried tears. The people sitting around me knew. They knew what you’d said. Someone turned around and offered to punch He for me, but I said no. I sat there, trying to hold the breaking parts of myself together.
And then at some point (He) you laughed loudly. At your friend’s joke. But (She) you were chatting away too, smiling and giggling. I couldn’t stand to see you both smiling when your words had made me want to die and you still didn’t even have the decency to speak them to my face and give me a chance to put you right. That’s why I’m now so honest with people, if I have a problem I say it to the person’s face because in my mind it is only fair to give them an opportunity to explain or change, and they can do neither of those things if they are not aware. Anyway, I knew I was going to cry. So I took my iPod out of my pocket, stood up, and walked towards the door to the chemistry lab – I wanted out.
“Where are you going?” our lovely young chemistry teacher paused, puzzled. I wasn’t one to misbehave, I was terrified of rocking the boat and hated drawing attention to myself, but in that moment I didn’t care about anything other than leaving that science lab.
“To the toilet.” I blurted the first thing I could think of and let myself out of the room. I’m not sure anybody really knows what happened next, apart from the teachers who found out. I stood in the corridor, and I put in my headphones, and I fought so hard not to cry. I went for a walk as the tears began to fall, with Fall Out Boy playing loudly in my ears. I ended up crying in a toilet cubicle for the first time ever. But I got a grip, pulled myself together, sorted myself out in the mirror, and walked back into the room.
“Where have you been?” lovely young chemistry teacher asked.
She, do you remember what you said before I had time to answer? In fact you didn’t say it,
“She’s been having a poo!” You shouted, roaring with laughter at your own immaturity. The people sat behind you looked at me, watching anxiously in suspense – they thought I was going to kick off. I felt like you’d slapped me in front of everyone, but I stayed perfectly calm. As I went to walk past you to get back to my seat, you dropped a bit of paper on the floor, I hope by accident. You told me to pick it up. I paused, Don’t you dare one of my friends mouthed at me. But there was no need to be immature or anything other than civil with you. I picked up your piece of paper and placed it calmly on the desk in front of you, wanting to do anything but behave calmly. “Ta!” you chimed obliviously.
“She is asking for a slap”
“Why didn’t you just hit her? Do you want me to hit her?” Were some of the responses that my friends gave when I sat back down.
I shook my head and melted away again.
When I tried to talk to my form tutor about it, she told me to grow up, get a grip and get over it because I was 18. I completely lost all hope then, I felt even worse, and I wanted to end it all.
Next lesson with the awesome young chemistry teacher:
Our lovely young chemistry teacher needed to go somewhere in the school (the hall I think, not far) but she was new to the school and didn’t know where it was. I was the only one who offered to show her how to get there, so off we went walking. She asked me what really happened the last lesson. And I couldn’t… Hold back. I told her everything you’d said, everything I’d been told about the pair of you and the spiteful things you’d spread that other people claimed not to agree with (you were so two-faced that I trusted nobody). She was horrified. She double checked your names over and over,
“The ones in my class? In year 12?” She said she didn’t want people like that in her classroom. She said she’d expect something like that from her 12 year old students but not people preparing to go to university and supposedly the role models for the rest of the school. She apologised for you because you never will. She was shocked. Appalled. She said she wanted to raise the issue with the head of science. Yes, he knows, and he took it even further. I didn’t want it taken anywhere, I thought that was the end of it, the last thing I wanted to do was get you in trouble.
The next day the deputy head of sixth form appeared in my English lesson. He looked at me, hesitated, and then walked over to my Canadian English teacher. A few minutes later, our young teacher (who most of the population of the school for some reason had a crush on…) walked over. He told me to go to the deputy head of sixth form’s office as soon as possible, but told me that I could wait a few minutes so nobody figured out where I was going.
I ended up sat in the head of sixth form’s office with her and the deputy head of sixth form, who mostly lead the discussion. Not only did they know what sort of things you had both been saying, but one of my biology teachers (we had two teachers for each subject – one for each half of the course – and I still can’t work out which of them went to the head of sixth form but hey, at some point they each taught both of you t00) had been to see them because they overheard me melting down at the boy who was my first friend in our year group (he became like a brother to me very quickly) that I was suicidal over it all. I cried at him right before I said that. Everybody knew how seriously it had affected me then. I didn’t cry at a lot. If I did, it was never in front of people. And never, EVER at school. I broke all three rules for you, and the absurdity of this was noted.
I instantly told them I was over that, even though it was the only thing I could think about, running to the grim reaper. They didn’t buy it but eventually I persuaded them and they asked me what you’d said. I was scared to tell them, but then I did. Slowly because I kept pausing to defend you both. I blamed myself. It was instinctive to blame myself, not you. They shook their heads a lot, they were confused as to why on earth you would say such things, they said it was ridiculous and pathetic and showed bad character. They apologised that I hadn’t felt able to approach them about it. They apologised on behalf of my form tutors (I’m pretty sure one of them hated me). And they wanted to deal with it, because they were very aware of the healthcare route that one of you (possibly at that stage both?) wanted to go down, and because it had clearly had such a severe effect on me. They called it bullying. I tried to tell them that it wasn’t.
I begged them not to talk to you. I told them to leave it over the summer and we’d see what happened. I don’t know if they talked to you or not, but the deputy head lost interest over the whole thing, and at least one of you was made a prefect. I didn’t want your feelings to be hurt and I didn’t want you to find out I’d grassed and beat me up as had happened before when I was younger. But they knew. For a few days I didn’t feel alone in dealing with it.
Over the next year you continued to make comments. Mostly He. You said that I should be kicked out of the school, you continued trying to spread your hatred of me… But there was nothing left of me to break. And nobody went along with you. I dreaded coming to school. I was afraid to be unwell in fear of fuelling your fire… And it all backfired.
I’m not the only one who knew, but I was the only one, in the end, who cared… And the one who paid the price.