Susan stood sobbing quietly in a toilet cubicle. She waited for the pounding footsteps to die away before emerging. Cautiously she gazed out of the entrance and then turned to face the dirty mirrors in front of her. She gently prodded the skin below her swelling left eye and flinched with pain. On examining her face she saw that as well as the blotchy redness that appears on your face after crying the beginnings of bruising were also emerging. She heard footsteps approaching and ran quickly back into the cubicle and locked the door.
” Susan! Susan are you in here?” called a voice softly, ” It’s me, Nadine.”
The door to the cubicle opened slowly and Susan emerged.
” Oh my God!” exclaimed Nadine, ” I heard them laughing and talking but I didn’t think they’d actually done anything! Are you ok? Does it hurt?”
” I’m fine!” snapped Susan ” It doesn’t matter now anyway. Do you have any foundation? I can’t let Mom and Dad see this.”
” Yeah, yeah of course I do” murmured Nadine; she had given up trying to persuade Susan to tell her parents about the bullies a long time ago. Nadine delved into her bag and pulled out a stick of foundation. The two girls went over the afternoons happenings as Susan carefully applied foundation to cover the bruising which was now a shade of red on her pale face. By the time she was finished the bell had rung and it was lunchtime.
Susan and Nadine said goodbye and Susan left for home.
” Susan? Is that you?” she heard her mother’s voice sing from the sitting room.
” Yeah, I wasn’t feeling too good so I came home.” Susan mumbled.
You should have called and asked me to pick you up” her mother replied sharply, ” We bought you that mobile phone for a reason.”
Susan, who was still standing in the hallway, hadn’t told her parents about the gang of girls who tormented her. Therefore they did not know that her new Nokia phone had been stolen from her bag last week and by now had probably been sold on to someone for half the price Susan’s parents had paid for it.
” Susan? Come sit in here with me and I’ll make you a nice cup of camomile tea.”
” No it’s ok mom,” Susan wondered why camomile tea was her mother’s answer for everything, ” I think I’ll just go lie in my room for a while I’ve got a really bad headache.” And with that Susan trudged upstairs.
” Susan! Nadine’s on the phone!” her mother called upstairs sometime later.
Susan padded across the hallway and picked up the extension in her parent’s room she spoke to Nadine and assured her that she was all right, whilst going over the day’s events in her head. She had not gone down for dinner that evening but had called hello to her father from the top of the stairs when he arrived home from work so that he would not get suspicious.
Half an hour later Susan had hung up the phone and was trying to do a little revision for the GCSE’s she had coming up later that year but her thoughts continued to return to the bullies.
She wondered what would happen if she told her parents of the suffering she had endured due to her persecutors. She could imagine her mothers reaction, a completely over the top drama queen act during which she would insist on going directly to talk to the headmaster in whose office she would continually sob about her daughter’s anguish and demand justice as though it were a court room. Her father on the other hand would tell her to stand up for herself and fight back.
” You’re a big girl now.” He would tell her in that patronising tone of voice she knew so well, ” You can’t continue to rely upon your mother and I to fight your battles for you. You have simply got to stand up for yourself.”
Yeah, a fat lot of good telling them would do she told herself before falling in a fitful sleep.
The next morning she heard her mother come bustling into the bedroom,
” How are feeling today dear?” she asked in that singsong tone of voice that got on Susan’s nerves.
Remembering what had happened the previous day Susan quickly drew her head under her covers and told her mother in a muffled voice that she was feeling no better but agreed to have some breakfast and asked for a head ache tablet. As soon as her mom left the room Susan clambered out of her bed and looked into the mirror that hung above her dressing table. The bruising was not as bad as it had looked like it was going to be yesterday although, it was dark under her eye and along the left side of her face. Susan scurried into the bathroom, foundation in hand. By the time she went downstairs for breakfast it was impossible to see the bruising.
Susan took that Friday off and by the time Monday morning arrived the violent wave of purple bruising was almost gone. Nadine arrived at Susan’s house at 8-30am on Monday morning so that the two friends could walk to school together.
” I thought I was never gonna get out of there!” exclaimed Susan as she locked the front gate on her way out.
” Did they not notice the bruising at all?” Nadine asked looking at Susan’s face, Susan had covered it with foundation and you couldn’t tell there were any marks on her face whatsoever.
” Nope. And even if they did they didn’t say anything to me.”
The girls walked in silence until they reached the school. Susan froze outside.
” It’ll be fine. They won’t say anything.” Nadine assured her.
” Yeah, it’ll be fine.” Echoed Susan, speaking more to herself then Nadine.
Susan walked into her registration class and immediately she saw them, Lauren and Sophie glared at her as she marched purposefully to herteacher’s desk, taking out the note her mother had written Susan handed it to Mrs. Fraeser and sat down at her seat beside Nadine.
Susan felt that the next few weeks were fairly manageable, the two bullies did not go out of their way to intimidate her. Instead they stuck to small things, tripping her in hallways and throwing Polo’s at her, but she was able to cope with all the little things that Sophie and Lauren did to put her down. Soon, Susan found that she was feeling better than she had done in a long while, the bruising had completely vanished and she and Nadine were getting along fine.
One Friday morning about four weeks after returning to school Susan and Nadine arranged to go shopping in town.
” I’ll pick you up at about 10am tomorrow morning!” called Nadine as the bell signalling the end of the lunch break rang.
” Ok!” was Susan’s reply as she gathered her bag and made her way out of the toilets.
She felt someone bump into her and glanced up to apologise when she saw Sophie and Lauren standing in front of the door. Susan straightened up and looked about her, the three of them were alone except for a girl who was applying make-up at the sink. Hastily Susan grabbed her things and headed for the door but before she got there she felt someone grab her roughly by the arm, spinning round she saw Sophie’s leering face.
” You!” Lauren called to the little girl at the sink, ” Get out!”
The girl looked up questioningly but left the bathroom anyway.
” Long time, no see. Wouldn’t you say so?” muttered Sophie, tightening her grip.
” Let me go!” said Susan through gritted teeth.
” Now, now.” Lauren chided sarcastically ” That’s no way to talk is it? Not very nice at all.”
” Let me go! I’ll scream if I have to.” Susan’s voice was becoming high-pitched and her eyes were filling with tears.
” Ooh! Poor ickle baby gonna have a cry. Here, I’ll give you something to cry about.” Muttered Sophie letting go of Susan’s arm and punching her.
Susan tried to hit back but the two bullies wouldn’t back off, Susan felt the punches and kicks rain down on her body. She sank to the ground but Lauren pulled her back to her feet.
” No, we’re going to do it properly this time!” she yelled banging Susan’s head on the tiled walls.
After that Susan could not tell how many times she was punched and she felt as if there were more than two people hitting her, suddenly she felt someone grab her throat and felt her head bang off something solid. She slumped to the ground and felt warm, sticky blood running down the back of her neck and the last thing she heard before slipping out of consciousness was the sound of laughter and running footsteps.
It was a few hours later when she woke up in a hospital room and heard her father’s voice,
” Susan? How do you feel?” he asked.
” I’ve got a headache.” Susan answered groggily, looking around her. Immediately a nurse bustled into the room and began fluffing pillows and checking Susan’s pupils and pulse.
After the nurse left Susan saw her mother sitting in a chair at the foot of the bed.
” We’re so sorry that we let this happen to you. But you’ve got a very good friend who told us what has been going on.” Said her mother with tears in her eyes. At that Nadine stepped in from behind the curtains and smiled at Susan.
” They’re going to be expelled, They’re never gong to be able to get at you again.” Nadine said approaching Susan’s bed and squeezing her hand.
Susan nodded before finally falling into a much yearned for peaceful slumber.