I had gotten almost all the way through school without ever being bullied. Not being the confrontational type, I maintained a low profile when trouble brewed. But that all changed during my junior year of high school.
As I foraged around in my locker for a book, I saw two girls standing a few feet away. They whispered something to each other. Then one of them, Debi, came over.
“Donna, I thought you ought to know. Someone’s threatened to beat you up.”
“Me? Who in the world would want to do that?”
“Do you know who Brenda Greene* is?”
The name sounded familiar. “Isn’t she the girl who likes Danny*?” I still couldn’t figure out what this had to do with me.
“Uh-huh, that’s her. She thinks you want to steal Danny from her.”
All I could do was shake my head. Where would she get that idea?
I turned around to go to class, and as if on cue, here came Brenda with two of her friends. She gave me a withering look. My pulse quickened when she passed less than a foot away. She towered over me.
For the next week, threatening messages promising future harm made their way to me. For someone as timid as me, this uncharted territory caused me great distress. I took great pains to ignore Danny even though I considered him only a friend. A couple of times, I saw his look of confusion when I rushed by as he called out my name. Didn’t he know his attention might cause me a few lumps to the head?
The other thing I couldn’t fathom was why this Brenda Greene, tall, beautiful, and slender, with short blonde hair and blue eyes, considered me a threat. I’d noticed the eyes when they shot shards of ice my way.
Most of the time, I kept friends with me. Finding safety in numbers seemed the wise thing to do until this thing blew over.
I made a quick trip between classes to the girls’ restroom. When I exited the stall, I came face to face, or should I say, face to chin, with Brenda. She shot me one of her now familiar, yet still fear-inducing looks. I glanced around. We were alone.
I walked stiff-legged over to the sink. I pulled my one hundred, ten-pound frame to my full height, and stared straight ahead.
Brenda stood to my side, never moving a muscle as I washed my hands.
Once I escaped to the hallway, all I could think was, “Thank God!” and then I thought She’s not so brave without her ‘gang’ around her.
About that time, Brenda swept by. She looked over her shoulder to smirk at me, but the icy glare had dissipated. Maybe she respected me a little. After all, I didn’t dissolve into tears or beg for mercy.
A bully’s main weapon is the ability to instill fear of consequences, real or imagined. I’d never been in a fight before, so I couldn’t imagine the outcome being favorable for me.
That night I called Danny. “What’s with your girlfriend and all the threats?”
“Well, first of all, she’s not my girlfriend,” Danny said. “And I didn’t know about the threats until today. You really don’t know why she can’t stand you?”
“If I did, would I be calling you? Tell me!”
Danny hesitated – unusual since he was never at a loss for words. He cleared his throat, and then said, “She’s figured out you’re the one I want to be my girlfriend.”
I’d never thought of Danny ‘that way.’ I sat with the phone cradled under my chin, and pondered this new revelation. Shouldn’t I have figured this out? I liked Danny a lot, and didn’t want to ruin our friendship.
“Danny, you know I like you…”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Danny sighed into the phone. “Don’t even finish that.”
“I guess. I gotta go.”
We hung up, and I felt terrible. I also felt a teensy bit sorry for Brenda. Her bravado covered her feelings of inadequacy based on false assumptions.
I guess Danny must have talked to Brenda, because the messages quit coming, and the intimidation ceased. That week was one of the longest of my life.
Boys! They can get you in such trouble, can’t they?
By Donna J. Shepherd
*Names changed to protect the bully, the boy…and me.