TW: This story contains acts of bullying. It also contains mild violence (dragging someone around, pushing someone, etc.)
You were only five and and a half when Olivia first bullied you that sunny Friday afternoon. She snuck around the playground, looking all around for you. For reasons we all have yet to fully understand, no one else mattered to that little girl but you.
When she finally found you, playing with your colorful plastic toys in the sandbox, she had this freakish grin on her petite face. That grin slowly turned into a wide smile, full of mischievous excitement.
After staring at you for a few minutes, she raced towards you, arms outstretched in front of her, and grabbed you from where you were sitting. You were too surprised to scream or cry. Oh, how I wish you had screamed, or at least called for your mom or dad. We would’ve come running, ready to protect you from her.
But you never did. Not even once. You simply struggled to keep up with Olivia as she pulled you along, around the playground and under all the slides. She didn’t seem to have an end goal in sight, until finally she did.
The merry-go-round was a shiny new addition to the neighborhood playground. It was made of metal, each handle painted a different color. Hardly any of the kids touched it, since most of them were either too young to know how to use it or too old to play on it around all the little kids.
Olivia, however, knew exactly how to use it. She had three older brothers, so she liked to watch as they spun themselves silly on the metal thing, their hair and clothes whipping around. These older teenage boys liked to use the merry-go-round later in the evenings when everyone else was at home after school or work. Olivia wasn’t really supposed to follow them there, but her parents assumed she just wanted to play at the playground, so they never thought much of it.
That sunny Friday afternoon, Olivia had dragged you over to the merry-go-round, and you stared at it in awe. You hadn’t yet learned how to use it, so you usually kept your distance, almost as if it was some sort of monster you had to avoid. Olivia decided to show you how to use it, but in her own special way.
Using all her strength, she shoved you towards the merry-go-round. You weren’t prepared for this, so you fell down onto it, your exposed knees scraping against the flat surface. You gave a small yelp in protest, but Olivia ignored you.
As you started to stand up, she started pushing the merry-go-round in one direction, causing you to fall down once again. The force of the spinning made you slide towards the very center, your hair whipping in your face as you spun around.
She started to push the merry-go-round faster, your small body being pushed further towards the center of the spinning contraption. She started to giggle then, the sound eerily similar to a witch’s cackle.
In your eyes, the world was nothing but a blur as you spun. You had no control over how fast you were going; all you could do was grab onto one of the metal handles and try to beg her to stop.
“S-stop it,” you whimpered, eyes welling with tears. “I want to get off now.”
Olivia kept pushing the merry-go-round and giggling at your quickly-moving figure. Neither your father nor I knew what was going on then, since we just assumed you were simply playing with one of your friends. If only we had been more observant, you wouldn’t have been stuck there for as long as you had.
When I finally looked up from my phone, you were spinning pretty quickly on that merry-go-round. Thinking it was a funny sight, I chuckled to myself a bit before nudging your father, who was on his phone next to me on the bench.
“Look at our boy go,” I said to him, a small smile forming on my face. “That little girl sure is strong, isn’t she?”
Your father looked up from his phone to take a look. Within seconds, I watched as his face went from mildly interested to slightly worried to full-blown horrified.
“He shouldn’t be spinning that fast,” your father blurted out, quickly rising from the bench and pocketing his cellphone. “The rapid disorientation of our small child’s brain could have lasting effects on his overall mental development.”
“Huh?” I sputtered, not comprehending what he just said. I stood up beside him. “Could you run that by me again please?”
“If he spins too fast, he could get way too dizzy,” he replied slowly, as if he were talking to our child. “If he gets way too dizzy, then it could possibly affect his brain negatively in the future, since he’s still growing.”
Comprehension finally dawned like a pile of bricks. I started walking towards the spinning merry-go-round, your father quickly falling into step beside me.
Once we got to the contraption, your father stretched his arms out towards the handles, his poor hands getting battered relentlessly by the spinning hunks of metal. I did the same, my hands also getting a firm beatdown from the metal. Finally, thankfully, the merry-go-round slowed to a stop. Olivia just stood there, looking up at us, the mischievous grin on her face slowly fading away.
I climbed atop the merry-go-round and gently picked you up. You were shaking a bit, and your face was streaked with tears. My heart nearly broke at the sight of you so shaken up.
Your father crouched down next to Olivia, perhaps to ask where her parents were. Without warning, Olivia ran away, her brunette pigtails bouncing behind her. Your father stood back up, a sad grimace on his face, and turned towards me holding you.
Without another word, we quickly exited the playground. You were so brave, holding in your sobs until we got back to the safety of our home. Once you finished telling us the whole story of what happened, your father and I did everything we could to ensure it never happened again.
Even though we promised you we would keep you safe from that mean Olivia girl, it still happened again. And again. And again. This exact same incident just kept happening until you were about ten or eleven, when we finally decided to move out of that neighborhood and into a much safer one across town.
Little did we know, Olivia’s family had moved there, too. You just can’t seem to stop the inevitable.