Here is my short story for #BlogBattle Week 4: Bludgeon (verb)
Bravery and Kindness
It was happening again. She walked with her head down, books held tight against her under-developed chest. The taunting words and accompanying laugh echoed around her. Or at least it felt that way as the eyes of the others in the crowded hall looked on in what she assumed was disgust.
Those words were like a bludgeoning. They weren’t true, they weren’t right, but they still stung. The ache and pain of humiliation was akin to having raised welts where the lashing of syllables had landed.
New school, same kind of people. Karen hoped she’d be able to fly under the radar during these last two years of school, but it seemed that bullies were everywhere and could somehow sense which kids were used to taking the vocal beating.
She quickly spun the combination of her locker and opened the door, hiding her face behind the cold metal shield. Crying would do her no good and would only give Gina and her friends something else with which to tease Karen. That was not going to happen. She picked up her worry stone and took two deep breaths while she rubbed her thumb on the smooth surface. The small task helped her calm down.
Karen had just gone to see the new Cinderella movie with her mom and little sister the other night. It caught in her mind that Ella’s mom told her almost the exact same thing her mom had been telling her for a long time: be brave and be kind.
Today, she needed that reminder because she didn’t want to be kind. When someone used their words to hurt her, Karen almost always wanted to retort with her own sharp tongue, to use it like a cudgel to bludgeon her attackers into a state of shock so they’d leave her alone. It wouldn’t do any good, though. It would probably only make matters worse.
She closed her locker and without looking back to where her taunter stood, she marched off to class, willing to be the bigger man, or young woman in this case.
Hours later, just after finishing her lunch in relative peace, Karen made her way to the restroom. She opened the door, halted half-way through, and almost walked back out. Gina was standing there. It was like coming face to face with your nemesis, but seeing something you were never supposed to see.
Gina wasn’t wearing her jacket as she stood in front of the sink. Her sleeveless tank top couldn’t hide the dark bruises she wore on her upper arms.
“Oh, sorry. I . . . are you okay, Gina?”
“I’m fine,” Gina replied. She sounded curt. She sounded scared.
“That doesn’t look okay. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Gina looked at Karen with a lot of anger and a touch of anxiety before she pulled her jacket back on. “No. Just leave me alone,” she said and pushed past Karen, exiting the bathroom as quickly as she could.
Karen stood there for a minute trying to take in what she’d just seen. There were countless possibilities, but she was pretty sure Gina had some issues of her own. She promised herself that if it was possible, instead of hiding from the bludgeoning of bullying, she’d face it head on by being brave and being kind.
Maybe Gina needed someone to see her suffering and help her out of it. Maybe that’s why she acted the way she did. If Karen could make a difference, she figured that was the best way to spend the rest of her days in school: living by example, treating others how she wanted to be treated no matter how they treated her.
The really crazy thing was, after that brief encounter in the bathroom, Karen never got another word-bludgeoning from Gina.
* * *
And if you’re like me, and you’re worried about Gina, I want to reassure you that Karen’s plan worked! Gina stopped bullying her, eventually they became friends, and when Karen was brave enough to ask her again about the bruises on her arm, Gina told her. That is a different story altogether, but she did get help. I’m just so glad Karen learned that kindness really does make a difference.
I hope that little tidbit from Cinderella isn’t a spoiler for you! It was central to the movie, so it probably is one. Sorry! It sums up how I feel about so much, and I wanted to include it in the short story this week. 🙂 Don’t be a bully! Instead, be kind. Sometimes, when faced with a tough situation, you have to be brave to be kind, but I know you can do it. 🙂
If you want to add a quick short story to the battle this week, here is the blog post with the info on how to go about doing it: Week Four #BlogBattle: Bludgeon
🙂 We’d love to have your story in the mix! ❤