Flashback…Lyra, age 13
Pain erupted behind her eyes as her head was slammed against her locker. Anita D’Amico. God she hated this girl. Anita was popular, pretty and a bully. She loved nothing more than to terrorize those around her and for some reason, she’d chosen Lyra as her permanent target. Anita’s hand was wrapped tightly in Lyra’s dark curls.
“What’s up, nerd?” Anita sneered. “Got my homework?” Lyra was so tired to getting pushed around and forced to bend to Anita’s will.
“No, Anita I don’t. You really need to learn to do it yourself, you know.” She couldn’t help it. Salvadors weren’t meant to lay down and take abuse. That was something her uncle always said.
“Oooh the nerd has a mouth on her,” Anita laughed. Her cronies joined her, high fiving each other. “Well I guess you get the double treatment today, nerd. Beat once for not doing my homework then beat again for talking back.” Before Lyra could breathe, Anita’s fist connected with her stomach sending her to the floor. Lyra slumped against the lockers, trying to catch her breath when Anita kicked her in the ribs.
“Stay down nerd,” one of Anita’s friends whispered. “It will only piss her off if you get up.” The tears streamed down Lyra’s face as she focused on regulating her breathing. Anita reared back her leg to deliver another kick but instead of landing in Lyra’s ribs, she found herself upended on the floor.
Lyra rose from the floor, her eyes blazing with hatred. “You will never touch me again, Anita. None of you will. This stops today!” With a battle cry, Lyra launched herself at Anita. Straddling the girl’s chest, she took advantage of her surprise and delivered punch after punch. The sound of fist meeting flesh spurred Lyra on into a wild rage.
“Oh hell no,” she muttered, getting up and walking with long legged strides over to the group of girls. “Hey! Why don’t you try that shit with me, Barbie?” The smaller girl whimpered as the hand in her hair tightened.
“This doesn’t concern you, bitch,” she sneered. This girl was as fake as they came, from her awful blonde extensions to her botoxed lips and silicone breasts. “Do you know who I am?”
“Do I look like I give a shit who you are? I’m not going to tell you again to let her go.” Her two cronies stepped in front of her, trying their best to intimidate Lyra. “You best back your bitch squad up before things get bloody,” she said, cracking her knuckles. She rolled her shoulders and snapped her neck. The blonde threw her victim away from her and squared off against Lyra. By now a crowd had gathered, watching with rapt attention.
“Listen new girl, I will give you one chance to turn around and mind your own business. You don’t know who you are messing with. My girls and I will fuck you up.” Lyra smiled menacingly.
“Then come at me bitch,” she said. This girl was stupid. Blondie #1 swung first. Lyra ducked and punched her in the sternum, sending her to the ground choking for breath. She smiled again when she saw the fear in Blondie #2’s eyes. Taking a defense stance, she lowered her center and motioned for the girl to take a shot. Blondie #2 backed up, shaking her head. That pissed off the loud mouthed one.
“Fine. I’ll do it myself,” she said as she shoved #2 away. She stalked forward raising her hand to deliver a hard slap. Lyra grabbed her wrist mid swing and twisted her arm behind her back, wrapping her in a headlock.
“That all you got, Barbie?” she taunted. “I’m disappointed. Wasn’t much of a fight.” Lyra slowly squeezed the girl’s throat with her arm, cutting off her air supply. “If I see you go anywhere near that girl again, I will end you. If I see you putting your filthy hands on another human being again, I will end you slowly and painfully. You feel me?” A quick nod earned a release and Lyra dropped her on the ground.
Making her way over to the dark haired girl quietly sobbing behind the crowd, she held her hand out. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up. You ok?” Wide brown eyes looked at her, a trembling hand taking hers and getting up. “What’s your name?”
“Um…Ch-Cherry,” the girl stuttered. “Thank you,” she squeaked. “No one’s ever stood up for me before.”
“Well Cherry, how about I teach you how to stand up for yourself?” Lyra smiled at the girl, handing her the backpack on the ground. Cherry’s eyes got even wider, if that was possible and a slight smile tipped the corner of her mouth. But just as she was about to speak again, a look of horror swept over her face. Lyra knew what was about to happen. Obviously Barbie hadn’t learned her lesson. Just as she rushed from behind, Lyra landed a roundhouse kick to her chin knocking the girl out cold.
“Oh my gosh,” she whispered. “You’ll really teach me?” Lyra nodded, taking a deep breath.
“Ms. Salvador!” The booming voice of the school administrator echoed across the yard. “We do not start fights at this school!” The thin woman stomped into the yard, stopping inches away from Lyra. Her severe hairstyle and pointed features were drawn in fury. “This kind of behavior may have been tolerated at your last educational institute but it will not be tolerated here at Hunter’s Crest.”
“I didn’t start any fight, Mrs. Thatcher, but I damn sure finished one.” The crowd whooped and cheered. This only incited Mrs. Thatcher further.
“My office, young lady. NOW.” Her long boney arm pointed to the building.
“E-excuse me, Mrs. Thatcher, please don’t punish Lyra on her first day. She was only defending me against those three,” Cherry’s soft voice broke through. Mrs. Thatcher turned her stony gaze to the shivering girl. Cherry relayed the events without stopping to breathe. Several of the students corroborated her statement. Plus, the burgeoning bruise on her cheek cemented she was telling the truth.
“Fine, fine,” Mrs. Thatcher huffed. Looking at Lyra, she gave her a look that usually quelled any student. But Lyra stood her ground. “While I commend you for defending Ms. Maxwell, I cannot condone violence in my school. This is your only warning, Ms. Salvador. I suggest you heed it.” She gave instructions to the other administrators to take care of the Blondies. The crowd dispersed with whispers and pointing and Lyra led Cherry to the nearest restroom.
As Cherry washed her face and combed her hair, Lyra stood against the sink observing. “So why were those girls picking on you?”
“I don’t really know. Sonya thought I was ogling her boyfriend, I guess. She’s hated me since freshman year.”
“How many times has she done something like this to you? And who the hell is her boyfriend and what makes him so fucking special?”
“Leo Brighton,” Cherry sighed. “She thinks every girl wants him. I mean, sure he’s hot and all but I’m too shy to even breathe the same air as him let alone look at him.” Lyra chuckled.
“Well I meant what I said about teaching you how to defend yourself against bitches like her. I have a gym at my house we can use for training.” Cherry’s eyes watered with unshed tears.
“Why would you do that? I’m nobody.” Taking the girl by the shoulders, she looked her in the eyes.
“Listen to me, Cherry. You are somebody. You are Cherry Maxwell, soon to be badass queen of Hunter’s Crest. I can’t stand a bully and I refuse to let you be subject to something like that again. I will train you and by the time I’m done, you’ll be able to come close to kicking my ass.” She giggled and pulled Cherry in for a hug. Cherry returned the hug and the giggle.
“I’d really like that, Lyra.”
“Awesome! We can start today after school if you want.” Cherry agreed and the girls left the restroom.