It started out with a look, a snide remark, a hip check against the lockers. When I walked down the hallway, Monica appeared surrounded by her "cronies". Her braying laugh echoing in the enclosed space as I tried to squeeze past unnoticed.
"Hey, Turkey! Where's the cranberry sauce?" she taunted, accompanied by her gangís giggles.
With downcast eyes I hurried on, my face burning with embarrassment. At my locker I felt a sudden shove against my back and pens and papers scattered over the floor.
"What a klutz!" exclaimed my tormentor.
Picking up my scattered items I muttered, "Pick on someone with a brain your size Ė a pea." No one heard.
My favourite class, Art, became a nightmare. Monica loved to bump into me while I painted, flicking thick black paint over my pristine ocean scene. Her "hip check" during ceramics knocked over bottles of glaze, a sticky mess for me to clean up.
I could handle most of the teasing, catcalls, and occasional bumps, until Monica overheard me talking to my best friend, Debbie, about a boy I thought was cute. That's when the torturing really started.
Monica and her cronies were part of the "cool" crowd. They hung out at the bus stop, smoking cigarettes, wearing jean jackets and discussing whose party to crash. They battered their mascara-clad eyelashes at the guys, including Todd, the object of my desire.
"Hey Turkey, think Todd would like your fat thighs?"
"Hey Turkey, Todd wants to squeeze your breasts!"
"Hey Turkey, want Todd to 'baste' you?"
Ashamed, embarrassed and in tears I would flee from these taunts. I hated my last name! 'Turney' so easily turned into 'turkey' to create the most crude and disgusting jokes.
Then the threats started.
"Meet me after school for a 'gang bang'"
"If I see you at the skate rink, better bring a body bag!"
"Donít go out after dark."
Debbie assured me that Monica was all bark and no bite. But I wasn't so sure. I grew nervous and developed stomach pains.
Gradually the threats and abuse faded some. I began to relax a little and let my guard down. And then it happened. Sitting at the bus stop after school I saw a shadow loom over me. It was Monica flanked by her gang.
"Hey Turkey, want me to give you a double-decker?" she sneered.
"Leave me alone Monica," I said.
"No, you bother me," she retorted.
"Please, go away."
"What afraid of a little double-decker?"
Before I could reply, Monica clenched her two hands together, swung her arms and struck the side of my head. Pain burst through my skull. Through buzzing ears I heard, "here's number two" and then 'thwack' another blow struck my head. Bursting into tears, I staggered to my feet. I vaguely heard someone shouting and running footsteps. Then I was lead by the hand angry voices of concern surrounding me.
At the principalís office my friends told the story. The school couldn't do anything as the incident had happened off of school property. I had an egg-shaped swelling on my temple and a basketball-sized headache. Yet, Monica wasn't going to be charged.
That weekend, I lay in my bed nursing my head and broken pride. I opened my bible.
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.Ē (Romans 12:20, NKJV)
This was how to deal with Monica.
Monday, at school, whispers followed me down hallways. Unashamed, I held my head up high.
"Hey Turkey, how's your head?" mocked Monica in art class.
"Fine, thanks for asking" I smiled back.
"Oh...." Monica, for once, was at a loss for words. I smiled serenely as she walked away.
At the skating rink on Friday night I ran into Monica. She whispered to her friend, Lisa, who sashayed over to Debbie and I.
"Monica wants you to tie her shoelace. " Smirked Lisa.
"Sure, if she needs help, " I said and walked over to Monica, bent down and tied up her shoelace. Still kneeling, I looked up. "There you go, be careful. Try not to trip."
Monica blushed and her friends giggled nervously.
"Always nice to help a friend. " I said, loud enough for the girls to hear.
Monica never bothered me again. Did I heap "burning coals" on her head? Perhaps. The Lord showed me kindness is how to deal with bullies.