Surviving the Mean Girls

January 12, 2013
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I ran and hid behind the cars. I could just see those mean girls, running about, peeping behind the cars looking for me. I sighed with relief as their head girl, Sam and her friends and Melanie ran past the car I was behind, not noticing me.
Hi, my name is Molly.
And these mean girls are big bullies. We go to Saffron Academy, and there, everybody thinks these girls are wonderful. So if I tell the teachers that they trouble me, nobody would believe me. That is why I hate everybody in my school. I peeped out - and froze. Slowly I looked up and saw Sam, hands on her hips, smiling down at me, menacingly. And her two friends were right behind her, smiling in victory.
“Why do you want to have all my money?” I asked, acting innocent.
“Don’t play with me, Molly. You know we like to eat ice-creams, and because we don’t have any extra money, we borrow money from you” Sam said angrily. She flashed me a warning glare. “You don’t want to create a scene.”
I didn’t. I didn’t want to be publically humiliated by them, so I put my trembling hand inside my pocket and pulled out whatever money I had. Today was Wednesday, and usually I saved my money throughout the week so that I could buy something from the cafeteria.
Looks like no cafeteria food today.
“And Molly, you remember the Math test tomorrow? You know I hate Math, right? So remember to give us your answer sheet after you write your answers.” Mel said, smiling brightly.
I looked down at my shoes. Mel was once my best friend, but when Sam came to the school, Mel, and Steph, who just to be the kindest girl, agreed to be her friends. They had asked me too, but I had rejected. I didn’t like Samantha – especially the way she used to force other girls. And so, after being rejected, she made sure to bully me the most, marking me as their only target.
I had become their public enemy.
I fought back. I did. I acted strong, as if nothing they did or say affected me. But the truth was losing Melanie had wounded me. We used to be close friends, and she had ditched me for one of the meanest girls of our school. She had told Samantha all my secrets, but that didn’t matter. She would laugh at me and call me names, but that didn’t matter.
What mattered was that she didn’t care. I had watched the warmth for me in her eyes evaporate. I didn’t know what happened. I had no idea what made her hate me so much. I wasn’t close to her in studies – and I was not exceptionally good looking. I couldn’t compete with any of them in anything.
I walked into my classroom and sat by myself alone at a table. Roy came and sat next to me. I briefly looked up at him, but then just kept my head down at my desk. Roy, Mel and I used to be best friends. But when Mel left me, and started mocking Roy for still being close to me, Roy left me too.
I was completely alone.
“What is it Roy?” I asked bitterly. As if I wanted his sympathy now.
“I heard a new teacher is coming today,” Roy said hesitantly. “I just… I thought you’d want to know.”
“What subject is she going to teach?” I asked, slightly interested. Last I had heard no new subject was being introduced.
“A subject called The Circle Of Life. Whatever would that mean?” He asked, shrugging. I appreciated his coming and talking to me – nobody else did, but I was sure they had seen everything that had happened in the student parking lot. It was visible through the windows, and I could see Samantha, Mel and Steph walking out of the lot slowly, laughing – probably about me.
He was waiting for an answer. I shrugged – I hadn’t heard any subject like that before. “What’s her name?” I asked.
“Tina.” He said. As more and more kids were starting to come, I could see him hesitating in the seat next to me. He didn’t want to be seen with me, and I understood that, so I pretended not to notice when he got up and walked away to his new group of friends.
“Good morning!”
A tall woman with understanding eyes and a beautiful face entered the room. I had never seen her before. The class settled down quickly, probably as curious as I was.
I looked around distastefully. My class had about forty kids – none of which wanted to sit with me. From being one of them, I had become the only one. The only loser of the class – at least, that’s what Sam had said. And what Sam said, stayed.
There was a knock on the door. Samantha, Melanie and Stephanie stood outside, still chuckling over the money incident, though they did seem surprised to see the new teacher.
“Sorry,” Samantha said airily, as she walked inside the class, her boots clucking loudly. “We got late, miss.”
Tina scowled and ignoring them, spoke to the class, “I want these tables to form a circle please”.
We all stared at each other, surprised. But we arranged the class desks in a circular formation anyway. After fifteen minutes Tina sat down and said, “I want each of you to stand up roll number wise and tell me something about your life.” My roll number was 2, and I had a bad feeling for this Circle of Whatever.
But I was bitter and disgusted. I felt threatened from these girls, and they had made my life hell. I had initially wanted to keep being bullied a secret, but now as the whole class knew, I knew what I had to do too. When my turn came, I stood up straight and tall, and waited for a minute to let the class stop sniggering.
“I am the poorest girl in the academy and yet I have to give over my lunch money almost every single day. I don’t have any friends and yet I am the one laughed at the most. And now, I am personally tired of being the centre of this nonsense.” I sat down, slumping against my desk, trying to avoid Mel’s and Roy’s eyes.
“Are you being bullied my child?” Tina asked.
Silence descended upon the classroom. My classmates were all looking at me, waiting for me to answer but I kept my mouth shut. Sweat dripped down my forehead. Now, at an afterthought, I didn’t know if what I had done was smart at all.
“I would like the bullies to stand up and own up immediately,” She snapped.
We were all rather afraid of her now. When nobody stood up Tina looked around. “I will tell you by looking at the guilty faces”. Her glare stopped at them. Really, it was no surprise, since everyone in the class was staring right at them. The gaze of the class had turned from me, to them.
“Are you the bullies, young ladies?”
A few people gasped. Samantha, Melanie and Stephanie – people had called them intelligent, polite, popular, cool and sophisticated – but no one had ever called them ‘bullies’ before. Maybe that was because they were as two faced to the teachers as they were to our classmates.
Then Melanie said, “I’m not…I’m not a bully!”
“Are you not?” Tina asked. There was something in her stance as she walked over to the seated threesome that yelled trouble. There was a collective intake of breath from the entire class. I sank low in my seat.
“Yes!” Melanie cried. “I mean, I’m no bully! I’ve never troubled Molly! I’m her best friend!”
It was a long time since I’d heard her call me a best friend. My insides ached, and somewhere deep inside, I felt bad for her.
“And you, young lady?” Tina turned sharply to Stephanie. Stephanie audibly gulped.
“Me? A bully?” She laughed nervously. “No way, miss! I don’t trouble others! You can ask Molly, we’re not her bullies!”
“What’s your name?” Tina asked Samantha. She was the only one who was not sweating, or looking the least bit affected.
“Samantha,” Sam said coolly. “And I have no idea what you’re talking about, miss. I’ll say this now: none of my friends; are bullies.”
“Are you?” Tina asked shortly.
She walked up to the centre of the class, and spoke in a crisp voice. “Bullying is not just hitting some other child. Bullying is troubling someone weaker, or smaller than you. Bullying is making that one person suffer. Publically humiliating one; or persistently mocking one is bullying. I’m saying no names – lord, I dare not. But I know what bullies are, and what they stand for. Personally, I was myself a bully in middle school. Yes, I was. But it was when I started watching my own actions as the person being bullied that I realised what wrong I was doing…”
The bell rang thankfully. Everybody got up.
“You may all leave,” Tina said loudly. “Except, Samantha and those two other girls, please…”
We all filed out. I could feel my heart thumping loudly in my chest as I walked out with the rest of my classmates, but as they all headed to their lockers, I stood outside, too dazed to make sense of whatever was happening around me.
I had my ear pressed to the door, which was now firmly closed. Suddenly the door opened wide, and before I knew what was happening, I fell on the floor inside the classroom. It was Tina who had opened the door. “Molly, may I see you in?”
I walked inside, now dreading each step. Samantha, Melanie and Stephanie stood in an attentive line next to the teacher’s table, their head bowed low. Tina stood with a defensive hand on my shoulder, and turned me gently to face them.
“When Sam came, she was the most popular girl in school. I wanted to make friends with everyone and at that time I had….” Mel glanced at me, “…. only you and Roy as friends. I thought I would become popular too. But Molly disagreed entirely. And so I was her friend. I’m sorry.”
“I was not the cool or popular girl in school at all. So when Sam came and asked me to be her friend, I just couldn’t disagree,” Stephanie mumbled. “Molly, I’m so sorry too.”
“I am sorry” said Sam and put one hand on her hip as if she was entirely bored. At least her friends looked ashamed. “Kind of...”
Tina slowly shook her head.
“I’m not angry at you, girls. I’m sorry for you. Bullying is not a choice – it’s a sickness. Where I come from, bullying is a crime.” She sounded strict, but also had a note of hopelessness in her voice.
Silent tears were going down Mel’ and Stephanie’s cheeks.
But Samantha didn’t lose her cool. She was smiling. Later on, our Headmistress came in.
“Good morning, ma’am,” Tina Turner said to the Headmistress. “I would like you to meet Samantha, Melanie and Stephanie. No, they are not what you think they are – they are not over achieving, excellent students, no, dear God no! They are shameless girls who would take her money by force and snatch her answer sheets in tests and examinations to copy her answers,” Tina breathed deeply because she had said all these in one breath.
The head teacher was quite taken aback. She glared at us, even me. But she nodded thoughtfully at the new teacher, whispered something in her ear and walked away.
I could see Samantha trembling slightly by now.
Tina sat on a chair facing us. “I am not going to tell you to mend your ways. I am not even going to give you any big lectures. I was inside the car behind which Molly was hiding, early in the morning,” This earned her surprised looks from everyone, including me.
Now she turned to me. I was shaking while sitting next to Melanie, little tears flowing down my pink cheeks. “Molly, children were not friends with you because they liked they were afraid of these girls. I’ve told you, bullying is a sickness, and it affects everyone. It’s not your fault,” She smiled kindly. “It’s not.”
After this, things changed. Melanie, Samantha and Stephanie were not punished as severely as the situation looked – maybe because the Headmistress was still under the impression that they were excellent girls, like other teachers.
But the minute I was in my class again, Roy, and many other classmates of mine became my friends. I was very happy. I always scored first in my class, the teachers started paying attention to me even more, and I even found out I had a passion for writing. Miss Tina Turner left the school soon, as soon as her workshop in Saffron Academy was over. And you know what? I am the most popular girl in the school now. Not that it matters. But in the end, I would just like to thank the woman who made standing up against bullying possible.

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