Two hands closed around my upper arms from behind, jerking me backwards off my feet. Struggling did little as I was effectively dragged away by parties unknown. Screaming did nothing, not when a large hand slammed over my mouth, jarring my still tender nose. Somewhere along the way, my laptop bag disappeared. That wasn’t my immediate concern; my focus was on where I was being taken.
It felt like a long time – but in reality it was probably a minute at most. My legs kicked, but I was always a small girl. And whoever had grabbed me was considerably larger and more muscled. I found myself being dragged out of the school building and into the middle of the football field. In full view of the school.
There were people crowded around me. Tall, muscular people, and shorter, slender people. Cheerleaders and football players. I wanted to roll my eyes at the irony of it; much later in life, as I recalled the incident, I did roll my eyes. At this point, I was a walking cliché.
However, being a cliché wasn’t my primary worry. My concern was what would be happening next. Those hands didn’t release me; they were joined by others. I didn’t scream, and I refused to struggle any more. The hands still gripped me, and I looked at the faces around me. Almost the entire football team was there. The entire cheerleading squad was there. And they were laughing.
Looking up, I could see the faces in the windows, crowding to get a better look at my sorry state. Camera phones were poised to film what was sure to be an exciting event. While it may have been exciting for everybody else, it wasn’t as exciting for me.
Two football players lurched from my left, each one carrying a five gallon bucket. Crap! I knew what was coming, and surreptitiously took a deep breath. “Happy birthday, Cassandra. Here’s your gift.”
The voice came from the cheerleader standing to my right. How had they known? That was unimportant, because at that moment one bucket was emptied over my head.
Cold. So cold. Chunks of ice hit my neck and shoulders as the contents of the bucket ran down me. The second bucket shortly followed, with the same result. Some of the liquid ran into my mouth, and I could taste the sugar. The liquid was also suspiciously green. As it turned out, green sugar water leaves a person sticky, wet, colourful, and freezing cold. A shuddering breath filled my lungs, my fingers turning numb from the cold. The hands let me go, and there was jeering and laughing around me.
The group left in a whirlwind of activity, and I dropped to my knees in the sticky brownish-green puddle beneath me. The wind blew past me, and I was beginning to shiver. But I refused to move. Either that, or I couldn’t. But I needed to get out of there, before they came back.
That thought as my driving force, I staggered to my feet and stumbled out of the puddle. Somehow, I made it to the parking lot, and crawled into my car. Nobody was around, none of the teachers had bothered to check up on me, and there were no friends to offer comfort or promise retribution. That feeling of utter loneliness hit me again.
There was nothing left for me here. Not even my discarded laptop bag was enough of a draw to convince me to return to the school. It was only books. I eased my car slowly out of the parking lot, and made my way home.