Cornered

Featured on figment.com’s homepage in honor of Digital Learning Day, 2012

I never asked for this.

I had definitely not intended on living my life this way. I’m not a bad person, at least, I try to convince myself I’m not.

Because most of the evidence sitting on the table in front of me in crisp, curly handwriting points to the fact that I am.

“Would you like to explain yourself?” asks the principal, a balding man in his late forties, too kind for his own good and certainly too smart for his job. I shrug and continue looking at the floor. He’ll never understand, why does he even bother trying?

“Kim,” he says, his voice still calm but with a note of warning, “Will you please tell us what happened?”

I continue to stare at the floor, desperate now to hide the tears which are slipping quickly through my eyelids. I don’t want to face them; I want to go home. I want them to leave me alone in peace to recollect my thoughts. Mr Anders looks across his desk at my father, who puts his arm around me, less to comfort me, more to tell me to behave myself in front of important people.

Mr Anders lets out a deep sigh. “I can start by telling you Jaycie’s version of the story,” he suggests, “Then you can tell me what you think. How does that sound?”

I refuse to look up or say a word. Mr Anders takes that as a yes.

“Jaycie told me that yesterday, before English, the two of you got into a fight, during which you scratched her face, pulled her hair, and threated to break her glasses. Is that true?”

I hiccup in response. I am crying freely now, struggling even more to keep my face hidden.

“Kim, tell us if that’s true,” my father orders, squeezing my shoulder which, to an outsider, would have appeared an encouraging gesture, but to me it is just another sign of my helplessness. I wish he weren’t here. Perhaps then I might be able to have a civilized conversation with Mr Anders.

The silence is deafening. It is as if my father and Mr Anders have an unspoken agreement not to say anything until I crack and start to talk. I feel ashamed and cornered. I do not know what else to do but shake my head furiously. Two pairs of eyes bear down upon me, one of doubt, the other plain rage.

“It isn’t true?” asks Mr Anders, his voice clearly skeptical. “Are you sure, Kim?”

I nod, wiping my eyes on my sleeve. I know I am only making things worse for myself by denying it, but I am not prepared to take responsibility for what had happened.

The truth is, not only I had done all of those things Mr Anders had mentioned, but I had also stolen Jaycie’s copy of The Giver and hidden it under the window in the art room, written bad words on her desk in permanent marker, and destroyed the cute little kitten magnets stuck to her locker. But that was just yesterday. There have been incidents the principal and my parents do not know about, on which I have threatened Jaycie’s life. From the moment she walked into our classroom on the first day of fifth grade, I have taken it upon myself to make her time in school living hell.

And I have no idea why.

I spend hours lying awake at night trying to explain it. Jaycie is a perfect little girl, well cared for and happy. She’s not popular, which I am mainly responsible for, but she has her friends. She has that look about her of a girl who has never felt pain, never experienced failure, never gone to bed hungry. She has everything I don’t have, from a set of decent parents to good grades to perfect blond hair. That explains why I might be jealous of her, but it doesn’t explain why I can’t control myself around her.

I’ve tried asking for help, but the kids have no clue what to say, and the adults come up empty. If I thought there was any hope that this meeting with Principal Anders would make me stop picking on Jaycie, I would have come forth and told him everything. But Principal Anders is just a man, and he does not know how to help me.

My father is glaring at me, that look which tells me that if I do not satisfy him, I will pay for it later. The thing is, no matter what I tell them right now, I’m still going to pay for it later, so I figure I might as well drag my feet and make it harder for them.

“Tell us what happened.” It is not a request. I have to obey this time. I take deep breaths and tried to stop crying, but I can’t. Staring into my lap, I say, “I did do those things. I’m sorry I did them. I want to go home.”

Mr Anders seems satisfied, but my father does not. Luckily, however, the power in this room lies not with my father. The principal folds his arms and gazes down the bridge of his nose at me. “Do you think you could work this out with Jaycie?”

“Yes.” It is the most terrible lie I have ever told.

“Then I think you should go apologize to her, and come back tomorrow with a clean record.” Mr Anders attempts to smile, but it does nothing to dampen the anger radiating from my father. “You can go back to class, now.”

My father shakes hands with Mr Anders and thanks him. Neither of us speaks a word as he accompanies me back to my classroom. I walk into math without apologizing for my absence, and the teacher blessedly disregards this. I take my seat at my desk and ignore everyone for the rest of the lesson. I glance briefly around the classroom. Jaycie is not there.

I wonder where she is. Maybe she went home crying. Maybe she told her parents I had threatened to kill her, and they finally decided to take her out of school, away from what was hurting her. Away from me.

I never got the chance to apologize to Jaycie.

I never saw her again.

But I did find a cute little kitten magnet stuck on my locker the next day.

© 2011 Liora Sophie
All rights reserved

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