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Fight and Flight
“ I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE PUT ME NEXT TO HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
The first time I saw Stephen he was slamming a little kid into the lockers. I didn’t know who he was, so I reported him. The next day he found me after school and twisted my arm around, and I couldn’t move my fingers for three hours. He told me that since I was new and I didn’t know how things worked around here I got off easy, but next time I wouldn’t be so lucky.
I am just a normal girl. Normal height, normal weight, normal brown hair. I am nothing exciting or int eresting. I’m not really smart, but I’m not stupid either. I’m not athletic, but I’m not horrible at sports either. I even have a really normal name, Kara. I don’t have a lot of friends, but I do have a few O.K. friends. I mostly just get overlooked. That doesn’t bother me though because it means that I also got over looked by Stephen.
Stephen was the gorilla-like bully at our school. He seemed to be at least ten feet tall and very muscular. I might even have considered him slightly cute if he wasn’t into making people’s lives miserable. He always walked in this very annoyingly cocky way, like he ruled the world. He slammed anyone he wanted in to the lockers, whenever he felt like it, and stuffing little kids into trashcans is probably his favorite sport. Stephen is a menace, and he was hated by all.
Except by his dad. His dad is the principal at our school. This allows Stephen to be a complete menace and if you report him his father just says, “ Oh my boy would never do something like that!” Then conveniently Stephen will ask his father at dinner who tattled on him. Of course his father tells him. The next day Stephen comes in to school and beats up the kid who tattled. It is just a lose-lose situation for us victims.
You would probably tell me I was stupid to even go within 50 feet of Stephen, but it wasn’t my choice. I didn’t want to go near Stephen; it was out of my control. It was my science teacher. All the kids know what Stephen is capable of, and what he did. We kids really know what happened to the last kid that got in Stephen’s way, and let me tell you he did not die of a mysterious disease. No, it was Stephen that did him in. But that’s another story. This story is about Stephen and me. About sticking up for myself, about making good choices, about not getting in the way, and about homework.
“Gosh, I’m so glad I’m not you right now!” one of my good friends Tanya says, “ I’d probably kill myself if I were you, rather than sit next to Stephen!”
“ Yeah,” Katie buts in, “ and Mrs. D doesn’t even change seats until semester.”
“ Well, thanks a lot, guys, you’re really making me feel a lot better about this,” I say sarcastically.
“ And Mrs. D
told us at the end of class that we have to work with our table partners for the whole biology project!” I continue.
“Boy, am I glad I have don’t have Mrs. D for science!” Jill puts in.
“Yeah, you’ll probably be stuck doing like, all the work, because we all know Stephen is not going to help you at all.” Katie tells me.
“ Sucks to be you!” Tanya says.
“Yeah, sucks to be me,” I say under my breath.
“You could always try talking to Stephen, or the principal,” Jill says trying to be helpful.
I smile at her. She’s just trying to be helpful I say to myself.
“ Well, I might as well try it!” I say, “Since I’ve got no other solution!”
We part ways, and I slip into science class and slid into my sea, right as the bell begins to ring. I take a deep breath and turn to Stephen.
“ Um, Stephen, I was wondering if maybe you could bring in the dirt samples, I already brought in all the leaves.”
Stephen gets real close to my face and I can smell his breath, which, by the way, does not smell good. It smells just about as bad as the fish market!
“ Talk to me about that again, and you’ll be so sorry you ever crossed my path.” Stephen says.
Well, there’s your answer I say to myself. Guess I won’t be talking to you any more!
Here he comes again! Bang! I see his face up close to mine, and I can feel the cold lockers that he has just rudely slammed me into against my back.
“ Hey Shrimp,” Stephen says in mocking tones. “Do you like getting beat up? Is it fun for you? Well maybe you deserve it for talking to me.”
He gives me another little shove for emphasis.
“Now don’t wimp out on me. Don’t start balling like a baby. Don’t go crying to mommy, or anyone else, â€˜cuz I’ll find out, and hurt you bad. Real bad. You’ll be so sorry. You should be sorry â€˜cuz your such a little slime ball. You want me to help in class. Well I’ve got news for you, you’re not gonna’ get any help.”
I see people walking past, too scared to look, and too frightened to do any thing. I know they are all praising God that it isn’t them. I remember when I used to do that too; now I know what it feels like to be the kid getting beat up. < /SPAN>
Stephen gives me one final shove and stalks off. My friends all wait until Stephen turns the corner, and then they all rush up to me.
“ Oh my gosh, that was so scary! Were you freaking out or what? I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it! Did he do that to you â€˜cause you asked for help? He is such a freak, wow. I just can’t get over it. I don’t get he’s so mean. Gosh!” Tanya splutters.
“ Calm down! It’s not like I have any broken bones or anything,” I retort.
“ I am soo sorry! This is all my fault, I told you to talk to him!” Jill apologizes.
“ It’s totally not your fault. Maybe I’ll just talk to Mrs. D about it. You never know what could happen,” I say
“ Yeah,” Katie says. “You never know.”
“ Um, Mrs. D could I maybe talk to you a second?”
“ Why of course, Kara! What is your question?”
“ Well, really it’s more of a request.”
“ Well I have been having a few troubles getting Stephen to bring any samples in from home, and I am doing all of the work. He is not doing a single thing, and I cannot work it out with him, because he won’t listen to me.”
“ So, you want a new partner.”
“ Well, yes, well, no, well, I’m not really sure. But I’d rather work by myself than with Stephen.”
“ I’m sorry, Kara, but there is no partner switching, and you should know that very well by now, seeing as I explained it for just about half the class on Monday. So, my answer is you have to work with Stephen; you have no choice. Goodbye Kara.”
“So what is the Stephen torture update?” Jill asks sympathetically.
“Well, he’s being a real pain. He sits next to me and just stares at me working. It really is getting on my nerves. He will laugh at me and mock and stuff. I really hate him. Also he says stuff like, â€˜Having lot’s of fun working on that project?’ or â€˜Boy, that looks like a lot of hard work, too bad you don’t have someone to help you work on it!’ Sometimes he’ll go over to another group and ask if they need any help. He tells them that I’m just not done with my half of the project! He is really getting to me, and the worst part is that he knows it. He loves watching me sit there and work; it’s like his new favorite pastime!” I rant. My friends all try to be nice about it, and they are all really trying to make me feel better, but it’s not working. I am mad, really mad. I know it’s only a matter of time before I will have to do something with all that anger.
I walk into science class. The project is due tomorrow. I sit down in my chair. I pull out my project that is not nearly done. The bell rings.
“Class, could I please have your attention for a moment please,” Mrs. D says. “ I’m going to get some more coffee, and I will be back very soon. I expect all of you to be hard at work when I come back in.”
I pull out my markers and begin writing on the poster. Stephen leans in real close and whispers, “ Too bad you’re not going to finish by tomorrow. It’s just so sad you had to do the whole thing by yourself, with no help from your table partner.” He sneers.
I am mad. I feel the anger bubbling up inside me. It’s building momentum like a mudslide after a heavy rainstorm. I whirl arou nd to face Stephen.
“ I can’t take it any more!” I hollered, “ I hate this stupid project, I hate having to do all the work by myself, and I hate you, Stephen! I hate you!”
The whole class sits there, silently staring at me. I can tell they all pity me, but that just makes me even angrier.
“This is all your fault,” I holler at him. “You go around acting like you rule the world, with no regard for anyone else! I don’t know why they let you stay here in this dirt bag of a school, they should just kick you out, and everyone would be so much happier! Or maybe you should think about others for one time in your life! You could leave, and that would make everyone so happy! We’d probably never stop being happy, because you’d be gone!”
Even as tho se cruel, bitter words left my mouth, I knew they would not hurt Stephen. I wanted to make him hurt, I wanted him to feel my pain ten times over.
I pull back my fist a thrust it forward with all the force I could muster. I hauled off and hit Stephen. That’s right, I hit him. I broke his nose actually, although I didn’t know it at the time.
The second my fist made contact, dark red blood spurted out of Stephen’s nose. I heard a few audible gasps that escaped the lips of a few people in the room. For what seemed like at least an hour, but in reality was only a few seconds, the class sat in shock. Even Stephen, with blood still gushing out of his nose, was in a silent state of shock.
Then, at that moment fear enveloped me. I realized what I had done. Stephen is going to kill me I thought. Stephen still isn’t moving. Is this a good sign? I don’t know! Well, he hasn’t tried even taking a swing at me yet, so maybe he won’t kill me after all, So, I opened my big, fat mouth again. I leaned in real close to his face and whispered, “Bet you thought I was scared of you. Bet you didn’t think anyone was brave enough to do that did you? Well I’m brave enough! I’m not scared of you. You think everyone’s scared of you. Now no one will be scared of you. They’ll all just remember how little, weakling Kara punched Stephen in the face and all he could was sit there. He couldn’t even talk!”
I knew I was pressing his buttons; I was doing it on purpose. I knew how to get to him now, and I wanted him to feel sorry he ever decided to pick on me.
Stephen slowly stood up, the blood still dripping from his nose like a leaky faucet. Every two seconds another drip would fall off his nose down onto his shirt or sometimes land on the floor.
“ You think you re so brave,” Stephen said. He spoke each word so slowly everyone in the room would hear and understand, “ but you are not. You are weak. You didn’t even hurt me. You think that you are so brave, punching me, but you are not.” He was circling me like a shark before it attacks. Making me nervous, showing me that it would be a slow painful death. Showing me that he would not be rushed, and that he would come out on top. “ You think you can push me around and make fun of me, but you can’t. You were so stupid to even talk to me. I could kill you, but I don’t think I will. No, you’ll go through something much, much worse.” He paused and grinned mischievously.“ I will hurt you. I will draw it out so the pain you feel will be too much for you to bear, but you will not die, no I won’t kill you, but what I will do to you will be so much worse.”
At this point I was a little freaked, but I thought, what the heck? I mean he’s already going to torture me, so why not give him a little grief. He obviously deserves it! I was beginning to get a little suspicious. I mean he was throwing all these threats at me, but if he was really as mean as everyone thought he was wouldn’t he have thrown at lea st one punch at me by now?
So I started talking again.
“ Oh really,” I said in my most mocking tone, “ What exactly are you going to do to me? I mean are you going to cut my fingers off one by one, or what? I bet you wouldn’t even have the guts to do that. “
The whole time Stephen and I had been having our discussion; every one else in the room had just been sitting there too scared or still too dazed to do anything. Everyone in the room at least. In the room next door, people heard shouting, and had called the principal down to our room to see what was going on. He came in just as I was finishing up my last sentence and Stephen, fist raised, was coming at me.
The principal was happy to escort us to the office. Once there he sat us down. Immediately he started yelling at me. “ What have you done? Only a bully could provoke my wonderful son to violence. He would only resort to that if he felt that he had to protect himself! You must have been really hurting him! What did you do?”
I was so tired of this I just didn’t have time to come up with some witty response that would get me out of trouble so I just said what I had done.
“I punched him in the face.” I said exasperatedly.
“ And why in the world would you do something like that?” he said through clenched teeth.
“I punched him for a number of reasons, the first reason being that he was not doing a single thing on a project that we were suppose to do together. Also he has been terrorizing me for the past three weeks,” I continued.
“ You say terrorizing, what do you mean by that?” He asked.
“ I mean teasing me, threatening me, and hurting me, shoving me into lockers, and tripping me in the halls.”
He turned to Stephen sitting in the chair next to me.
“Son,” he said, “ is anything this girl says true? Are you really â€˜terrorizing’ her?”
Stephen gives me a sly look a turns to his dad.
“ Everything she says is a lie. I have done nothing to her; she is the one terrorizing me! She threatens me all the time! She punched me and I was just trying to defend myself!” Stephen says.
I leave the office with two weeks suspension and possible expulsion.
Two weeks after the incident my parents told me we were moving to Australia. I was actually thrilled at the prospects of moving. All I wanted was to get away from Stephen, and anybody else I’d known for that matter.
Now we live in Australia, and we are worlds away from what happened back in New Jersey. Sometimes I still have nightmares in which Stephen comes back to hurt me, but I always wake up. My life isn’t perfect now, but I do like it here, without anyone I have to worry about. I can finally just live. That is until I get to high school. I hear there are some pretty sketchy kids there…