Chapter 1: The first incident
The slam of the locker door ricocheted off the school hallway and everyone turned and stared to see who had caused the unnecessary disturbance: Mike Roberts. He had slammed the door in frustration. It never fully closed; this was his second year of using this stupid locker and he couldn’t understand why. When he asked his teacher, he didn’t get a convincing reply because all she told him was that all the other lockers were taken. To Mike, that was not much of an excuse. Now he was in Grade Eight and he was hoping this year wouldn’t be a repeat of the dreary Grade Seven. He didn’t want to be treated as the “loser” of the school anymore.
Excited about school, Mike headed for his English class when a foot came out of nowhere and tripped him. He fell flat on his face and all his books were scattered around.
“Hey klutz, what are you so happy about?” mocked Bradley Brock.
Mike focused on the locker door as he slowly stood up, trying to ignore the bully’s booming voice. Bradley had been bullying him since Grade One and Mike wasn’t going to allow him to be victimized any longer. The bully’s small brownish-black beady eyes looked down upon him. Bradley bullied for just one reason: attention. He didn’t care if people liked him or hated him. He just cared that they would get out of his way when he came by and maybe even fear him a little. And Mike was a perfect target; he was just a skinny boy who could be picked up and thrown down as easily as lifting up a tiny twig.
“I’m not happy about anything.” Mike made sure he looked directly at Bradley with his diluted green eyes.
“I bet you’re happy that you’re going back to school. Only losers are happy to go back to school.”
“Well I guess I’m a loser,” sighed Mike. He was hoping Bradley would just leave him alone.
“Well, since you’re a loser, you know what I do to losers?”
“No,” moaned Mike dreading what was happening next.
“I do this!” boomed Bradley. And he ripped five pages out of Mike’s new math textbook.
When Mike finally got to class, Ms.. Rond looked up from her desk. “Why are you late Michael?” Her brown eyes glared at him through her bright red glasses that were resting on the bridge of her nose. But Mike wasn’t intimidated by her stance; he was more intimidated by the fact that someday those glasses would be crushed by the bone structure of her face.
“My locker wouldn’t shut,” replied Mike as he took his seat at the front of the class.
“You are fifteen minutes late. Detention!”
“Great,” moaned Mike.
“Before we begin, I hope everybody had a great summer. We will go around the class and you will tell me all about your summer. Mike, you’re last.” Ms. Rond stared at Mike after her last sentence.
Mike listened as the students gabbed about their magnificent holiday. He couldn’t wait for the day to end when it hadn’t even begun.
After school, Bradley was bullying Mike as usual.
“Hey stupid, how’s life? Horrible? Good, let’s make it worse.” And then he pushed Mike down the stairs.
For the next fifteen seconds all Mike heard was thud! thud! thud! and the odd crackle of his thin body tumbling over dead leaves.
When he reached the last step, his face slipped into a pile of damp leaves. Once he removed himself from the mess, he saw a beautiful girl standing just a few feet in front of him. Her name was Cindy Welkey and she sat beside him in English class. Her flowing blonde hair blew in the wind and she looked like an angel standing before him. But it wasn’t just her hair that dazzled him; it was her smile. It wasn’t over the top nor did it seem like she was stressing it. It was a gentle, sweet smile. In that instant, Mike was deeply in love with her but he knew there was no way Cindy and he would be together. She was popular and he was well…a loser. Besides, Cindy didn’t want him. Who would wanted to be with a boy who got pushed around by a big house named Bradley who enjoyed throwing weak civilians down stairs and into swamped leaves? No, she wanted some boy who could love her, protect her, and who had muscles on him instead of just skin and bones. She probably had a boyfriend anyway.
Mike looked at her longingly until Bradley ruined the moment by grabbing him and pushing him into Cindy. “Why don’t you kiss her, lovebird!” And then he ran away so it would look like Mike tripped over his own feet.
Mike collided into Cindy and that sent both of them crashing to the ground.
“What the hell is your problem?” exclaimed Cindy as she picked herself up. Even when she criticized it sounded beautiful. Mike didn’t say anything; just stared longingly at her as she picked up her bag, deliberately hitting him with it. He kept staring as she ran to catch up with her friends who were waiting for her. And he was still staring at her as she walked away, chatting animatedly to them. He wished he had friends or at least someone his own age he could relate to. The only person he really knew was Bradley and they didn’t really have a friendly relationship.
When Cindy was no longer in sight, he picked his backpack up from the ground and headed home as well.
When he got home, the first thing his mother asked was, “How was school?”
“O.K.,” Mike said. This was his usual response. His mother still did not know that Mike was being bullied every day. She just assumed everything was fine, but nothing was. Mike never wanted to tell her. He didn’t need to feel weaker and more helpless. Besides, what could his mother do? He knew the bullying would escalate if he mentioned a word about it.
Looking away from his mother, he went up to his room. Once inside, he sat on his bed and looked up at the ceiling. Why did Bradley pick me? Why? He was still staring at the ceiling when his mother opened the door looking concerned. “I’m stuck on a math problem,” he lied. His mother didn’t look convinced, but decided not to bother him and headed back downstairs. Once she disappeared, Mike decided to actually work on his math homework. The first problem was (-3) + 4. Oh that’s easy, Mike thought. It’s um…positive seven. No, positive one. Yeah, positive one… yeah. Mike had never been a genius when it came to math and it took him about three hours to complete ten questions. After that, his brain was too tired to function so he went to bed.