“Have a great day at school, sweetie. We love you.”
His mom’s voice rang in his ears as Jamie walked to the bus stop on the first day of school. She would never understand that great days at school don’t happen. They’re something that comes along one day a year: the last day of school. This was true in first, second, third, and fourth grades. Jamie knew fifth grade would be no different.
“Hey dweeb!” Brett’s bullying voice cramped up Jamie’s stomach as he went to the back of the line at the bus stop. Jamie stood there quietly, staring at the backpack on the child in front of him.
“I said Hey Dweeb!” He continued to ignore the bully. He closed his eyes and started daydreaming about being back at home, playing with what he felt was the only living thing in the world that understood him: the cat.
“Aren’t you coming, dweeb?”
Jamie opened his eyes and saw the school bus. Everyone else had gotten on board. Brett’s fat face was glaring at him through an open window. Jamie slowly walked onto the bus amid laughter and pointing. Holding back tears, he walked through the aisle, looking for an open seat, but none were available. Brett’s leg bolted into the aisle, tripping Jamie and causing his small frame to tumble to the floor and tossing his thickly framed eyeglasses in the air.
“Hey look, four-eyes is two-eyes again!”
On all fours, Jamie crawled forward, his arms stretched into his blurred area of vision, searching for his glasses. He found them, underneath Brett’s large shoes and split in two pieces. He picked them up and crawled to the back of the bus, sitting on the floor and leaning his back against the emergency exit.
He made it to the school office by holding up half of his glasses to his face, drawing mocking glances and laughter.
“Here, we’ll get that fixed for you,” the secretary lady in the office said. She pulled out a roll of packing tape and reattached the two halves, placing the repaired spectacles on Jamie’s face. The thick wad of tape pressed against his nose.
“Brett stepped on them on the bus. He’s always making fun of me.”
“Oh, well, never pay that mind deary. Bullies do things like that to make themselves feel better.”
To make themselves feel better, eh? Jamie needed to feel better. As he walked down the hallway, he spotted Mickey putting books into his locker. Mickey was a smaller boy than Jamie, with thicker glasses.
“Hey punk, you’re a loser, you know that?”
Mickey stared at him.
“Yeah, that’s right, Umm, and you’re a freak. Yeah, a big freak. Ugly freak.”
A tear started to roll down Mickey’s cheek. Jamie walked to his next class with a big smile on his face.
The bell rang, and the last class of the day was over. Maybe there are great days, he thought to himself. He was still feeling good from making fun of little Mickey. Jamie ran to the school bus and was one of the first onboard, picking a seat in the middle. He stared out the window watching cars drive away, smiling and humming a happy song to himself.
“Whatcha humming, dweeb?”
Jamie’s smile turned downward. Brett’s large body shook the seat as he landed on it, cramping Jamie against the window. Two of his friends were there, one in the seat ahead of him, one behind. All were laughing at him.
“Was that a pretty song? A pretty song for a girly boy? Makes sense, since Jamie is a girly name!”
Brett grabbed the backpack from Jamie’s lap, and tossed it on the seat across the aisle.
“Hey! Give that back!” Jamie yelped in a high-pitch tone, his voice cracking.
“Awww…. Poor Jamie wants his bag back! Well you’re gonna have to get through me, dweeb! Or should I say, dweebette!”
Jamie pushed against Brett, but nothing could budge. Brett’s arms pushed against Jamie, slamming his small body against the wall of the bus. The three of them laughed, as did some others sitting near him.
“Nice glasses there, dweebette. Did you use a whole roll of tape?”
The tears started rolling down Jamie’s reddened face.
“Awww… poor Jamie’s crying! Like a girl! Ha Ha! Do you want your mommy, little girl? Would a Barbie make you happy? I bet you’d look so pretty in pink!”
Brett pulled a can of pink party string from his pocket, squirting Jamie in the face.
“Now you’re so pretty!”
The tears now poured from Jamie’s face, mixing with the party string. His fists clenched up, and he turned to the side and, with all his might, punched Brett in the shoulder.
“Is that all you got, little girl?”
Laughter seemed to be coming from every direction. Jamie curled up in a ball in his seat, drenching his shirt with tears.
Finally, his stop came. Jamie grabbed his backpack, which was now also covered in pink party string. He ran into the house, crying.
“Hi honey! What’s wrong?”
Her mother’s voice seemed to join the others in mocking him.
“Nothing! I just want to be left alone!”
Jamie ran to his room and slammed the door. He sat on the edge of his bed, still crying. After several minutes, the tear ducts calmed, and Jamie stared at an empty space on his wall.
I can’t take it any longer, he thought to himself. For years I’ve let this all slide. People always telling me it’ll get better. That they don’t mean it when they make fun of me. That I should ignore it. Well I can’t anymore.
“I’m going, Mom,” Jamie said the next morning.
“Oh, okay dear. Have a great day,” she said.
“Uh-huh. Gotta go, bye.”
“Oh, okay hon—“
He slammed the door and ran to the bus stop. While the bus ride did not result in broken glasses, Jamie was once again laughed at and mocked. He arrived at school and went to his locker, but didn’t open it. He stood there and waiting.
Around the corner came Brett. It is time, he thought to himself. He deserves what he has coming to him.
Brett was still a good distance down the hallway when Jamie made his hands into fists. I’m going to stand up to him finally, he thought, and show him he can’t do treat me like this anymore.
His arms with clenched fists hung down along his body as Jamie tried to look tough enough to punch Brett in the stomach. His face morphed into that of a madman, waiting to strike his target and prove his manliness. He started hearing laughter around him as other children noticed the strange pose he had struck.
Brett was near, yet so far oblivious to Jamie’s stance. Soon Brett will be on the floor, his brain reeled, looking up at me. He won’t even know what hit him. I’ll prove my worth and maybe then he’ll leave me alone.
Jamie expected to charge forward and knock Brett onto the floor. However, the push came from behind, knocking Jamie to the floor. He laid there on his stomach for a moment, not understanding how this had happened. Had he missed Brett passing by?
He flipped himself over and sat up, looking at the feet that were standing in front of him. Looking up, he saw the feet belonged to Mickey.
“You were the only one I thought understood me. But you’re no better than the rest.” With that, he ran down the hallway, crying.
Laughter erupted around him as Jamie sat there, staring at the floor where Mickey’s feet had been. No better than Brett? He asked himself in his mind. Have I really become the exact thing I’ve grown to hate? Have I become the bully?