“Hey, Jenny, did your mum slap you with the frying pan?”
As I turned around in the crowded dining hall, Posh Boy tugged at his upper lip with his fingers and sniggered.
“Fuck you,” I retorted.
Heading out to the playground, I faked an air of nonchalance but inside I was burning with humility and anger.
I was twelve years old and used to kids – mostly boys – harassing me for the way I looked.
But with Posh Boy it was different. We were in the same class and he knew me fairly well, which made his taunts so much worse.
Our families frequented the same ski resort every winter, and I detested the way his mother ingratiated herself to my parents, seemingly oblivious to her son’s vile behaviour.
Posh Boy had an older sister who was every bit as nasty as her brother. A scornful look from her was all it took to intimidate kids she didn’t like; kids who were not cool like her.
My parents didn’t know what was going on, and I never told them. I was too ashamed of being the target of bullies to confide in anyone, and since I had a group of friends to hang out with, my parents thought I was alright.
Teachers never said anything either, although they must have known.
Ever since I first started school I had used my anger to hit back at bullies, and it seemed to work.
Except with Posh Boy. Not only did I want to make him stop harassing me but I wanted revenge. Sweet revenge.
I spent hours awake at night, lying in my bed imagining ways in which to claim my revenge. Finally, I had a plan.
It was Friday afternoon, and it was time for our weekly ‘fun hour’.
“So, who wants to kick off?” the teacher inquired as she sat down on her immaculate desk in front of the class.
Freddie volunteered some of his new jokes, but after the giggling had died down the class fell silent. I raised my hand.
“Jenny, what would you like to share,” asked the teacher with a smile.
My legs trembled violently as I stood up, and I could feel sweat breaking out all over my body. It was now or never.
I took a deep breath and turned to face Posh Boy, who was sitting a couple of rows away from me.
“I want you to stop bullying me,” I said as I looked straight at him.
A smirk appeared briefly on his lips but as I continued to speak, Posh Boy’s defiant attitude began to dissolve.
“For years you have tormented me. Do you understand the pain you’ve inflicted? Or do you just not care about the damage you’re causing?”
There was complete silence in the classroom. It was as if everyone was holding their breath. My legs had stopped trembling now, and I felt at once strong and in control.
“You’re so intent on making fun of me that you’ve not once stopped to ask yourself what happened to me; why I look this way. So let me tell you.”
“I was born with an incomplete upper lip and palate, and I spent four months in hospital before I was allowed home. They had to operate on me several times. At first my mum didn’t even know if I would survive.”
I paused and looked around the room. Everyone was listening intently to what I was saying, and no one was laughing, no one was sniggering or whispering. My friends gave me encouraging smiles.
Exhausted, I sat down and waited. What would happen next? After a moment of silence, the classroom erupted in loud applauds.
Everyone was clapping, except Posh Boy. He looked utterly defeated as he sat mute and stone-faced on his chair. Not even his friends paid him any attention.
During the break, kids kept coming up to me and say, “well done,” “that was so brave,” “wow, that was cool”.
Posh Boy never bothered me again.