The roaring crowd of children told Jennifer everything she needed to know. Just when things had seemingly settled down and dare she think it feel comfortable again, Jennifer knew that when she reached her destination she would be enraged all over again.
Taking off towards the chaos Jennifer sighed; this routine was incredibly exhausting for her but what else could she do about it Aidan was her best friend and she understood that none of his troubles were actually his fault. Aidan’s damaging social relationship with Gareth and his friends had aided the transformation of Jennifer; her cherubic eighth year presence now housed a fiercely protective spirit and an abrasive tongue. Jennifer bolted out of the classroom towards the raucous hoping it wasn’t Aidan, despite her gut confirming what she already knew. Typically Jennifer had found it quite useful to attend the lunchtime art club, the supporting teacher admired her creative projects and she used the time to release all her prepubescent angst. However, the art was nowhere near as important as Aidan they had been friends since they gurgled, a point that Jennifer’s mother regularly reminded her of by keeping cringeworthy photographic evidence in her purse.
Jennifer sprinted across the grass towards the cage; a court space marked for both basketball and football that was frequently monopolised by Gareth and friends. They were a popular group of boys known by students throughout the school for breaking rules and habitual detentions. Jennifer only hoped she wasn’t too late to get to him. Jennifer waded through the crowd of children receiving dirty looks, rude remarks and empathetic expressions as she apologised for stepping on toe or bumping sides with other students. Jennifer heard Aidan’s pain response and felt his agony in her chest, she no longer cared to be polite and barged her way to the front to help her friend. She didn’t even notice the infamous group of older girls making a barrier at the front of the fight and accidentally pushed one.
‘Oi!!!’ The girl accompanied her call with a snobbish look as if Jennifer would miraculously infect her with a life threatening condition. Jennifer shouted equally as loud,
‘I need to get through my friend’s in there!!!’ Another older girl browsed Jennifer’s appearance with disinterest before reluctantly responding.
‘It’s going to cost you,’ the girl was supported by her friends. Jennifer counted, six. She quickly weighed up her options before deciding they didn’t matter she would have to do what was necessary. Aidan could still be heard shouting in agony just an obstacle away. Just a few girls away, Jennifer finally found an appropriate context for the use of her theatre club skills her mother had been right all along. She thanked her mother in her thoughts before putting on a brave performance,
‘I don’t have time for this.’ Jennifer attempted to push the older girls out of the way but her efforts were ineffective. Other students gasped or laughed at her new incident of excitement, she felt their stares engulf her as they waited for the rest of her problem to unfold. The first girl was covertly embarrassed that someone of Jennifer’s age and stature had tried to undermine her position. Feeling very empowered in the presence of her clique, the possibility of future infamy and the exaggerated encouragement of bystanders she replied,
‘I think you’ll find that you do. Only our year can pass this line so if you don’t want to end up like that stupid boy in there (she gestured to the court where Aidan was held captive) you’ll keep your mouth shut.’
Jennifer was incredibly conscious of the present, Aidan could be occasionally seen trying to find some energy to protect himself from a barrage of both shoes and fists that belonged to the older boys. It was upsetting, Jennifer swallowed to force down the fears that choked her ability to answer. Her senses were heightened by her mother’s reminder the weak ask for fights and the wise ask for reasons, Jennifer knew she would have to reach a decision before it was made for her.
The girl approached Jennifer and her choice instantly rolled off her tongue,
‘Sorry I don’t speak stupid and there is no reason for you to spit when you talk, it’s disgusting. Where are your manners? Also you shouldn’t be bossing anyone around especially me, when you know your mum tells my mum everything.’ The girl was perplexed she knew her mother spoke to a lot of people as she was a member of the parents’ board but she wondered whether this smaller girl really knew anything personal about her, she sure sounded like she did. Jennifer used the hesitation of her rival to rescue her friend she stomped on the older girls expensive looking shoes. The girl winced in pain and one of her friends tripped Jennifer up. The crowd began to roar with laughter at her fall but Jennifer wasn’t about to let the older girls have the upper hand. She brushed off the debris on her knees and rushed to a safer position incredibly aware that a seven on one situation wouldn’t work in her favour. Once at a safe distance and heaving with her exertion to escape Jennifer shouted from the entrance of the court,
‘I’m not scared of you Abigail (she finally remembered her name). Your mum, told my mum that you still wet the bed.’ This enthusiastic share was met by rumbling beginnings of laughter whilst Abigail repeated,
‘She’s lying, it’s not true’ to the disbelieving faces around her. An expression also shared by Abigail’s friends and as the laughter and other comments grew louder Jennifer didn’t stick around, she didn’t care if she was a sensation she needed to get to Aidan…
Copyright Teherah Wheeler (©) 2016
If you or someone you know is being bullied help them by at least informing someone of authority. Incidents can be recorded and communicated in writing, especially if speaking about it feels difficult. Don’t put yourself at risk if it can be helped. Finally, and most importantly pretending not to notice doesn’t stop the abuse.
All the best