“Wanna try again?”
“Why not? We have nothing to lose.”
Blythe and Katharine stepped out of Blythe's car to get to school on time. It was a chilly October morning, the leaves on the trees were bright flames like the tops on a candle. It was the 49th day of 7th grade as they’ve both been counting. Blythe and Katharine both have gotten bullied many times, together and separate. They made a resolution to try and overcome that, to stand up to the year-long bullies that had ruined their lives. They tried every day, so far they have only failed, but they kept going, just in case some miracle happened.
“Where do you think they are?” Katharine asked, shivering in the brisk October air.
“I don’t know, maybe near their lockers. They’re always there,” responded Blythe.
“Yeah, or maybe in the bathroom.”
“Or the cheer stadium.”
“Or the staff room, stealing all the food and getting away with it!” They both shouted, giggling and smiling at each other.
It wasn’t funny at all, but they had just made it into a joke to make it easier to shrug it off.
No matter what Blythe and Katharine did, the bullies never could get caught. They were the teacher’s pet, probably so the teacher would favour in their opinion, even if they had done something wrong.
The bullies had a quite interesting definition of wrong.
Once, Blythe had witnessed a 2nd-grade girl named Sarah get bullied by Julia and her crew of girls. They were teasing her about her clothes and her hair, about how her little pigtails looked babyish. One of Julia’s crewmates almost punched Sarah, until a teacher came by and asked what they were doing.
You what their answer was?
“We were just giving her fashion advice,” Julia had said.
Her girls just nodded along, and the teacher walked right away.
Julia had sneered at Sarah and sashayed off, leaving Sarah with tears welling in her eyes.
Blythe had went over and asked, “I saw what they did. Did you know that I get bullied too?”
“You? A big kid like you?” little Sarah had asked, little streams of water flowing down her face, to her chin and dripped on the granite floor.
“Yeah, Julia is one of the meanest.” Blythe had responded, brushing the tears from Sarah’s face. “You should be proud, you survived them and didn’t get hurt. The first time Julia bullied me, I got a big bruise on my forehead.”
“I’m sorry,” Sarah said. “I’m gonna tell Mommy that I survived a bully, a monster, a giant big dragon with pink lipstick and a ponytail!”
“Okay, tell your Mommy that when you get home,” Blythe had answered.
Sarah had nodded and skipped away, a newfound happiness woven into her step.
Another time, Katharine was in Grade 4 and just went to the bathroom during class when she got ambushed.
“Oh hi, Katharine. What a basic name, the alphabet is shaking.”
It was Elizabeth, and this time, she was alone.
Katharine didn’t understand how Elizabeth called her name boring when Elizabeth was like the most commonly known name ever, but she stayed silent.
“Haha, not responding huh?” Well, if you don’t say anything, things will have to get rough,” Elizabeth threatened, balling up her fists with an evil grin on her face.
“What should I say? There’s nothing for me to say, you said my name’s boring and that’s fine by me,” Katharine answered, swallowing the other words down her throat.
“What should I say? Oh, why don’t you change your name then, to something prettier?”
“Mom said my name was pretty. . . “ Katharine murmured, looking down at her feet.
“Well, guess what? Your mom lied to you, Katharine. It’s not pretty at all. It’s so ugly a caterpillar would’ve won a name contest even if it was named Smurfy McCuddlepants,” Elizabeth said, advancing onto Katharine by the second.
“Caterpillars are cute though, they have little legs and-”
“Cute? You’re a nerd Katharine, and an ugly one at that.”
Elizabeth slapped Katharine across her cheek, long and hard. It gave off a strong sting, like when you cleaned an open wound with alcohol. Katharine’s breath caught and she almost started to cry when Elizabeth walked out of the bathroom and slammed the door.
This memory was recent and fresh in both Blythe and Katharine’s minds.
It was about a month ago after the bell had rung and everyone was tired, exhausted and ready to get home.
“Katharine, can you carry my backpack for me? My arms are getting sore from the dodgeball game earlier,” Blythe had asked Katharine.
Blythe slipped off her grey backpack and stretched out her arms while Katharine bent down and hoisted it up onto her back.
“Blythe, the one who gets tired after a dodgeball game. Isn’t that so lame girls?”
Giggles swarmed the air around Blythe and Katharine, making them stiffen up.
Kylie stepped up, as the leader and said, “Weak Blythe, how are your legs? You’ve been sitting so much today that I’m sure they must be sore.”
Hyena laughter found its way into Blythe’s ears, twisting her emotions.
“Blythe is the weirdest name ever right! It has a ‘th’ and ‘y’ in the same word and none of your teachers know how to spell it right,” Kylie exclaimed, clearly having a good time.
Blythe looked at Katharine with pleading eyes.
Katharine knew for a fact that none of Blythe’s teachers could spell her name on the first try, but she ignored that and spoke up.
“She’s tired because she has competitive swimming before school for 2 hours. That’s why she’s tired,” Katharine lied, trying to undo the mess that Kylie made.
“Oh. Well, swimming isn’t that tiring, all you do is wave your arms around and bring your head up to breathe every few seconds. I bet you I could race against Blythe without any practice and win,” Kylie said.
Katharine looked over to Blythe and saw her normally calm cheeks a bright red, with her body vibrating as if trying to shake Kylie away like she was a dream.
But she was not, and nightmares don’t normally end with a happy ending.
“Stop it,” Blythe forced out, the words rolling out her mouth like a trail of marbles.
“Stop what?” Kylie asked obliviously.
“Leave us alone now or else I will hurt you,” Blythe responded, her hands curled into fists so tight that her knuckles were white.
“It’s not like you’re gonna hurt me. You’re too weak.”
That was it for Blythe.
Her right fist shot out from her side and aimed for Kylie’s chin, followed by a strangled cry from the leader of the gang.
Blythe had just punched Kylie, and it looked like she knocked out a tooth.
“Oh my gosh oh my gosh there’s blood, THERE’S MY TOOTH someone help me! Nurse! Principal! ANYONE?!” Kylie called out in desperation while her gang helped her up from the floor.
“What seems to have happened here?”
A teacher appeared at the exactly wrong time, in the wrong place with the wrong people.
“Blythe punched me!” Kylie called out, pointing a shaky finger at Blythe.
“No, she didn’t!” Katharine started. “Well, Kylie was-”
“Why did you do that Blythe?” the teacher asked, her hands on her hips and an eyebrow raised.
“Kylie was bullying me! I said to stop, but she didn’t so I punched her.” Blythe said simply.
“Oh Blythe, I’m afraid I’ll have to send you to the principal’s office.”
“There are no buts. Kylie, go to the nurse’s office. Blythe and you there, beside her, follow me to the principal’s office.”
And that was the end of that.
“What about all the others? Standing up to one of them won’t stop all of them,” Katharine stated, the fall wind whipping at her ears.
“Let’s try once first, one is better than none,” Blythe responded and looked up to the front doors of the school.
They looked at each other and yanked open the door and walked inside, confident that today was the day that they would succeed.
Katharine followed Blythe to her locker near the bathroom, aka the bully hotspot.
“Hahaha look at this, Katharine is hiding behind Blythe cause she’s scared. Whatcha scared of Katharine?”
It was Julia.
“I’m not scared,” Katharine said confidently, “I was just gathering my fists in case I’ll have to use them.
Julia looked a little taken aback but bounced back quickly. “Honey, it’s fine if you’re scared, you’re just a little girl anyways.”
“Little girl? You’re only 2 years older than us!” Blythe spat out, coating her words with hate.
“2 years can be the difference between babyhood and maturity,” Julia scoffed.
“First of all, could you explain that to us? Second of all, we should be older than you guys, since you act as if you’re five,” Katharine said with a satisfactory grin.
Someone cleared their throat.
Click clack click clack
“Students, who started this brawl?”
“Julia!” Blythe shouted before anyone could interrupt her. “Julia came out of the bathroom and said Katharine was a baby.”
The teacher gave Julia a look, not of sympathy, but of disgust.
“Come with me Julia, the principal would like to speak with you.”
“But you didn’t even ask my version of the story-”
“Follow me please.”
The teacher strutted away and beckoned Julia to follow.
Julia hesitated but finally followed the teacher with her head hanging low.
“Katharine,” Blythe said. “I think we just did it.”
“I think we just got Julia in trouble.”
“Is this a dream?”
“Oh, I hope not.”
Katharine jumped into Blythe’s open arms and as they hugged each other, the whole world seemed to melt away.