Author's note: This is the sequel to the story, "Playground Hell" that is already posted on my blog. Periodically, I will be posting Elizabeth's story. It is not an easy story to write because I was Elizabeth. I know her pain. It is hard to revisit those days of constant, unrelenting bullying, but I also know that telling this story is important. I'm not sure where I'm going with it or why I feel compelled to write it now after all these years, but I'm trusting that God will lead me.
Inside, she melts into her wooden chair hoping that she is as invisible as she feels: Invisagirl - able to vanish in an instant! Now you see her; now you don’t. No such luck. The heat of their burning stares makes her face grow hot and red under the humming florescent lights. She knows that they are scheming some awful, horrible plot in which she holds the dubious title of the starring role. Only she didn’t get to try out for this play, she was chosen just like all the other kids that didn’t want starring roles. They all had one thing in common; a horrid twist of fate that made them the targets. Maybe you were too skinny, wore glasses, wrote with your left hand, didn’t wear the right clothes or came from the wrong side of the tracks. Whatever the reason, if you were among the “chosen” your life became an odious game of cat and mouse where you were always the mouse and the cat always won.
On this day, the teacher had not entered the room yet, allowing the cats time to narrow their steely eyes on the prey. She didn’t actually see him sidling up behind her chair, but she felt him just the same. She readied herself for whatever was to come, hoping it would be over soon; but it would never be over because she knew that she would relive this moment over and over again like a scratched, skipping record playing the terrible tune in her mind.
Then it happened, his slap cracked of thunder in her ear. In an instant, she went from upright in her chair to curled up in a ball on the floor holding her now throbbing face. The thunder continued, but it wasn’t in her head anymore, it was all around her as the cats laughed, pounded their desks and licked their sharpened claws.
Can’t cry...can’t cry...can’t cry...
No matter how much she willed herself not to cry, the hot tears defied her brain as she slipped silently back into her seat. The sight of her blotched, snotty face made the cats howl even louder.
“What’s going on in here?” Sister Pat demanded as she strode into the room surveying her class. At the sight of the nun, the cats stopped yowling and the mouse hid her face.
Sister Penguin’s (her 5th graders nickname for the waddling nun) gaze froze on Elizabeth who was slouched in her chair hiding her face.
“Elizabeth!” she screeched in annoyance, “Are you crying again?”
Don’t look at her...don’t cry...don’t say anything...don’t...
“I’m talking to you, young lady!” The nun doddered over to Elizabeth’s desk. “Why are you crying again?”
Don’t say anything...can’t tattle...can’t...
Sister Pat regarded the cowering slumping child and wondered just what to do with her. Obviously she could not allow this disruption to continue. “I’m sending you to the principal’s office.” she stated in her most displeasing voice, “Maybe she can get you to speak.”
Yes! I’m outta here!
She took her pass wishing that she could bolt for the door, but she knew Sister Penguin would drag her back by the ear and make her walk. She considered the door all the way on the other side of the room like it was an escape hatch from a sinking ship and she didn’t know if she would reach it in time. It was her escape hatch and her ship was sinking fast. It felt like time stood still and she moved in slow motion trying desperately to reach the portal of freedom. As she fled the scene, she could feel the cat’s eyes boring the wretched event into her soul leaving another gaping wound that would fester with all the others. Finally, she opened the hatch and felt the cool air of deliverance fill her lungs.
Once in hall, she leaned against the wall and waited for her pulse to slow and her breathing to return.
Deep breaths...it’s over for now...don’t let them...
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sight of the popcorn head boy coming toward her. At first she thought he must be psychic showing up just as she made her escape, but then she noticed his bathroom pass. She almost welcomed the sight of him.
“Hey.” he said as he walked by her, “See you ttttt...mmmm...orrrrrr...ow?”
“Sure.” She says, as a faint smile paints her face and she pushes off the wall toward the principal’s office.