I wrote this short story a long time ago. Wanted to experiment with writing from two character’s points of view. It’s an unfortunately true story about bullying that I’m glad I can share. And for all you curious types, Sue’s my nickname (well, actually it’s Susu, but that sounds like a very bold word in Tagalog. Google it. Yeah, my mom was pretty angry at my dad for giving me that nickname — he didn’t know any better, but I can’t change it anymore). Enjoy!
The Blue Hat Bully
Part One — Sue’s Story
My name’s Sue, and I’m a fourth-grade bookworm. I’m the scrawny girl with the two long braids and the big heavy bag stuffed with books and papers which never bear low grades. Teachers give me honey-tart grins whenever I bashfully smile at them, and classmates don’t give a sniff about me since I’m quieter than a whipped puppy, not to mention I also resemble the playfulness of a dead leaf. Maybe if they join me someday at my farm they’d discover how fun I can be. I have loads of animals to show them: ducks, chickens, dogs and cats, the occasional gopher, tadpole or lizard that I’ve caught. I also have a tree house. But in school, I’m too shy to tell them about my interesting life at home. So here I am, Ms. Quiet, a skinny little chicken thrown from the coop into a forest full of chop-licking foxes… and speaking of which, here comes one now.
The bully always wore the same stupid blue cap, which was fine for me since it made him easier to spot from the crowds. He was a skinny boy with two cronies protectively flanking his sides, and he walked with a gangly gait, arms swinging like loose twigs barely stapled to his body.
It was the end of my class, but I had to wait for my younger sister to get out of hers. She was on a late-bird schedule, which meant that her classes ended thirty minutes after mine. That meant thirty minutes of torture for me with my blue hat bully.
I don’t recall the first few days this bullying began, but I remember clearly the times when I was already being bullied. Maybe it’s because of the fear I started to feel whenever I anticipated the bullying to start. My heart would pound real badly, and I’d feel awful sick and pale.
That’s how I was feeling when I just spotted him. I started the first tactic of my usual escape-the-bully routine: Hide.
What I’d do here is that I’d cram myself in the crowds of leaving students as much as possible, dodging the bully’s sight and preventing him from finding me. But when the crowds were swallowed in their parent’s cars, I had no place to hide. I’d be like a mouse in a field that’s just been plowed, no weeds to hide in, and he’d be like the hawk high above, spotting me in an instant.
So I’d have to jump to my second routine: Run.
We had a school with three large building complexes, each out in the open by the side of a large playground field. My class was in the middle building complex. It was around this building that I’d push my scrawny legs to the limit and dash like a rabbit round and round the building, once, twice, three times! All the while the bully and his cronies at my heels.
But I’d grow very tired, and very quickly. When you reach this level of fatigue, a sick sense of hopelessness starts to eat at you. I’d try a few sad attempts to hide close to the stairs of a locked classroom, but since this was an open-air building, you can imagine how easy it was for them to find me.
The bully’d then snag at my arm. This was the part I hated most. For one: where’d he get an evil clutch like that? It really hurt, all the time, like two trucks smashing into each other, my arm would be right in the middle of that crash. For two: I hated feeling that sick sense of defeat. Did you ever see this Discovery Channel predator-and-prey animal chase? The one with the pretty snow rabbit being chased around by some fast-as-lightning fox? I know, the poor fox is real hungry, but look at the rabbit! Running and running, and there are these moments of hope for her when she dashes under a log or boulder, but then that fox would scratch at that rabbit until she freaks and dashes out again. You could see her energy draining. She’d dash, stop a moment, and then the fox would almost catch her. But she’d dash again, but more feebly this time, until… finally….
Well, let’s just say that fox won’t be hungry tonight. But imagine. All the energy the rabbit spent going through those moments of fear and hope, only to get caught in the end. The only difference between the rabbit and I was that the rabbit would scream a death-cry… and I wouldn’t utter a sound.
So now I’m caught, feeling sick and defeated. What would happen next? I’d go to my third routine, and this one came naturally to me: Stay quiet.
The bully and his cronies were clearly upset that I had tried to run – you could tell from their pissed-off expressions – and Blue Hat wouldn’t let his painful grip loose on my arm. His cronies would surround me and he’d start dragging me over to the playground park to this copse of trees by the faraway fences. Ironic thing was that this was a beautiful place, but I never really liked it because of them. Blue Hat would corner me into the thick trunk of a tree and let go of my arm, and his cronies would encircle me, making sure I had no way to escape. Then he’d start talking.
He’d ask me my name. I wouldn’t give it to him. He’d keep on asking until he got fed up with my silence, then start talking to his cronies. I really don’t remember what they talked about, but it must have not been good because they’d laugh so obnoxiously after each line.
This would go on for a few minutes and I’d wait until they’d let me go. I was used to them being this way, and it was always the same thing. They’d eventually get really bored of my silence, and then Blue Hat would break the circle so I could walk away.
But today, something was different.
For one, he wouldn’t let go of my arm. He pressed me to the tree’s trunk, and his cronies just stood slightly away, not forming the usual circle around us. For two, he was really quiet, and so were his cronies. I hated more the way they seemed. It was the solemnity about them, as if they knew something they’ve never seen before was about to happen, and they were curious.
My heart was still beating fast after our usual chase, but now it doubled in pace, and I started to feel prickles of fear cross all up my back and neck.
He jerked my arm so I could stumble close to him.
“Kiss me, come on. Give me a kiss,” he said.
I tried to pull my arm away but he held tighter to it, pulling me closer.
“Kiss me. Kiss me—”
“No, let go,” I numbly said, jerking my arm away from him. Since this was the first time they’ve ever heard me talk to them, Blue Hat paused as if mildly shocked, but this didn’t last for long. He gripped my arm harder and pulled his face close to my own, asking again and again for a kiss. I really started to panic, squirming and pulling my arm, and all the time I was saying no—
“Kiss me, just once—come on, give me a kiss—”
And my heart and my nerves were more terrified than all the chases this bully had ever subjected me to.
“No! No, let go!”
He stopped. He let go of my arm, backed away a bit from me, and his cronies kind of looked grimly bewildered. A heavy silence fell. I felt numb and couldn’t look at them, only at the ground. My arm still hurt from his grasp, my heart pounded wildly. I finally looked up.
Blue Hat looked incensed, humiliated. For a long while he wouldn’t do or say anything. Then he told his cronies to get the worms that live in the bushes near the trees. They came back with – I think I remember, three or four of them. They weren’t worms. They were these fat caterpillars, vibrantly colored yellow, black and orange. He took them and grabbed my hand with his free grasp, and he put the caterpillars in my palm.
I was not scared at all by the caterpillars. In fact, I really liked them. How does he know that I’m the farm girl who likes looking under stones and collecting the slugs and slimy things that crawl beneath them? So I took the caterpillars and I fished into my bag for my pink and purple SpaceMaker box. I threw out the crayons into one of my bag’s compartments and put the caterpillars gently in the box, and then I placed this into my bag.
The boys never asked what I was doing, but if they did I’d probably tell them that the caterpillars were going to become my pets. Yeah, my mom would probably throw a fit if she found out that I had them, but I’d make sure they were well hidden under my bed, with plenty of their favorite leaves to eat.
Another long moment passed, and they finally started their usual talk with each other. It was as if nothing happened. I started to leave, wondering if they’d stop me, but Blue Hat looked like he didn’t care. As I was leaving, I had this strange feeling that they finally seemed alright with me, as if the bullying was over.
And you know what? Ever since that day, I never saw Blue Hat again.
Part Two — Jace’s Story
Hey. Yeah, I’m Jace. Look at the back of the class and you’ll see me slouching there, the papers on my desk scrawled with stick-figure people running away from zombies. I couldn’t focus on Mr. Woodrow today. I’m really upset about something. My mom made me dress up in the same crappy clothes she made me wear yesterday, this moldy grey shirt and faded blue jeans. The only thing I have to make me look better is my favorite blue cap. I couldn’t stop shaking my leg. I was really nervous today. I shot glances at the two desks beside me.
My buddies Bill and Joe looked bored. They’re not so bright to hang around with but they make me feel clever around them. They also listen to anything I say. My parents rarely do that.
Mr. Woodrow sternly reminded me to copy down today’s assignment. I started writing but my pencil was dull from all the scribbling I used the lead up with. It was also so chewed up that I couldn’t properly sharpen it, so the bell rang before I could finish copying my assignment. I really didn’t care, for that bell ringing just sent a blaze of adrenaline through my heart. Class was over.
I appeared casual as I was getting out of class, but my heart was thudding really fast. I pulled my blue hat snugly over my head and my two buddies flanked my side. A lot of kids were leaving their classroom and it was all just a chaotic mess, so I stopped just outside our classroom stairs and started looking over the crowds.
You see, there’s this girl I always hang out with after school. I don’t get why she wears the same dull clothes every week, nor do I get why she keeps the same boring braid, but for some reason, I’m drawn to her. It’s really lame though, the way she acts shy and stuff, but I admit she’s sort of pretty. Sort of.
My eyes are sharp, so it’s not long before I spot her getting out of class.
I once watched this cartoon, the one where the big bad wolf goes after a lady in red after she makes his eyes pop out when she’s performing on stage. She runs from him and he chases after her. I’m reminded of this cartoon whenever I see Braidy (yeah, I’ll tell you later why I don’t know her real name, real stupid reason). A funny thing about her is that, after trying to slip past my sight by hiding with the crowds, she really knows how to run. A girl who knows how to run that fast not only makes my blood boiling mad, but shot with the same stuff that makes that big bad wolf chase after little red riding hood. At least, that’s the best way I can explain it. I don’t really get what I feel sometimes.
Keeping my eyes on her, I see Braidy trying to hide in the crowds. Kind of makes me feel sad seeing her do that. Where’s she going to hide after all the kids have left? So I don’t need to rush when she’s trying to hide. All I have to do is watch her from a distance, following her just enough so she doesn’t slip too far away.
Okay, the crowds have finally gone. Now she’s really out in the open. And sure enough, there she is, lingering close to some classroom as if hoping they’d be out any second. Real sad. But I find myself smiling, and my two buddies smile just as amusedly beside me. She watches us approach her until we’re only a few feet away. I can’t stand that look in her eyes, like a deer caught in the headlights. Then she bolts.
How she’s able to dash like that with her heavy bag behind her, I have no idea. But she keeps on running nonstop round and round the fourth-grade building complex. I really don’t get why she does this, every-single-freaking-time. Really gets me frustrated, especially when my lungs are burning and legs killing me. But soon enough she gets worn down and she starts to feebly hide behind a stair wall. I lunge at her and manage to grab her arm as she makes one last attempt to flee, and since I’m so furious with that chase she gave us, my grip on her is really tight. Let her know exactly how mad I am.
She never makes a sound. That really gets on my nerves sometimes. We half-drag, push her toward this copse of trees that hug the far school fences. I really like this place. It’s shady, private and quiet. Nice to hang out with people you like. I started taking her here long ago, thinking that maybe she’d like it. Fat chance. She hated it.
What we’d do next was keep her against a tree while my buddies and I surrounded her. After having to chase her so much, how can I trust that she wouldn’t dash off again?
Now I’ll tell you why I never knew her name. It’s because, no matter how many times I’d ask her for it, she’d stay quiet! What’s the big idea?! So I’d drop my questioning and start up some jokes with my buds, try to make her, you know, laugh a bit. But she was like a corpse pinned to the tree, head always facing the floor and as dull as a book without pictures.
Today, however, I didn’t plan to continue the same routine with her. My buddies Bill and Joe knew what I was up to, but by the way they seemed so silent as they watched me press her against the tree trunk while I was holding her arm real tight, I noticed they were shocked to realize I was serious. Now you know why I was so nervous today, and the reason why I was so pissed that my mom had made me worn the same dirty clothes I was dressed up in yesterday. Who’d want to have their first kiss smelling like dirty laundry?
My heart was racing really fast, and it wasn’t from the chase that I just had with her, but because I felt so excited, in a furious way. I really liked this girl, but why was she always making it so hard for me? Yeah, I tried to express myself to her many times before. You know, taking her to this nice place so she can hang with me and my buddies, telling her jokes and such, but what do I get? A ring-around-the-Rosie chase, and her forever persistent snub-me routine. I couldn’t take it anymore, really, and now, here I was, heart beating like an out-of-control wrecking ball in my chest.
She was so close, and she looked really pretty. The world around me faded to black, and all I could see was just how close she was, her big brown eyes and skinny frame stringed with a mix of fright and rebellion that drove me to finally lose it.
I jerked her toward me and tried to pull my face close to hers.
“Kiss me, come on. Give me a kiss,” I said. She was like a fish caught on a hook, trying to wriggle free, but I held on tighter to her arm and only pulled her closer. “Kiss me. Kiss me—”
“No, let go.”
That shocked me. Imagine having known someone for so long, but you’ve never even heard them speak once to you? Can you guess what a surprise it was for me to finally taste just what kind of voice she had? Hers was numb and low, sadly sweet. That voice of hers spurred my wish for her kiss only to heighten. I gripped her harder and pulled her close to me, trying to push my face to hers—
“Kiss me, just once—come on, give me a kiss—”
I was so close, but she was like a rabbit squirming to be freed from the jaws of a fox. This was more exhilarating than all the chases I’ve ever had with her.
“No! No, let go!”
And suddenly, just like that, like a hundred breath-knocking blows thrown against my chest… I stop. A searing flush of humiliation crossed my face; I back away, and I can’t look at her. It really hit me then — this girl didn’t like me. She hated me, she was frightened of me, and I just realized that… I was rejected.
The long silence afterward sent a bitter cold sweat across me, and I was suddenly very angry. I wanted to get revenge on her. Joe and Bill were no help at all. I couldn’t stand the way they were staring at me, as if they felt sorry for me or something, so I ordered them to get those worms from the bushes. I’m going to make her shriek with disgust. Girls hate worms.
I took the worms and slipped them into her palm. But could you believe it? She… she looked cheered by them! Where’d she grow up in, a swamp or something? The girl placed the worms into a SpaceMaker box and tucked them into her bag. Guess we were all dumbfounded because we didn’t say a thing.
A moment passed and my buddies started their usual joking around, and I joined them. Was like nothing had ever happened between her and I. She started to go and I just let her. She’s kind of alright, in an odd sense. Not like any other girl I’ve known before. By the way she liked those worms, she might’ve liked to join my all-boys’ club. We’ve got spiders and moths in jars. And she runs almost as fast as a boy. That’s admirable.
And since that day, yeah. I just let her alone. But I missed her a bit. Just a bit.