91: The Ultimate Revenge

91: The Ultimate Revenge

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens

The Ultimate Revenge

Sin makes its own hell, and goodness its own heaven.

~Mary Baker Eddy

I sat in my chair in seventh grade homeroom staring cross-eyed into the taut rubber band stretched in front of my left glasses lens, the only thing separating my eye from the sting of the snapping elastic. “I’m gonna snap your lens out!” the boy sitting in front of me said, much the same as he did every day. My blond, blue-eyed torturer’s name fell in the alphabet so close to mine that I had no hope of ever escaping him; whenever we shared a class, he sat in front of me.

Being the “new kid” in seventh grade left me feeling like an alien. My parents had just divorced; my mom got my brother and me and a cramped apartment on the other side of a set of abandoned railroad tracks. After only a few weeks in the brand new school, I still felt alone and sad, missing my friends and my old comfy bedroom. At half the size, my new bedroom felt as cramped and dark as I did inside.

My homeroom torturer only added to what I already felt was the start of a miserable, lonely, painful year.

Every day the boy turned in his seat and stretched that rubber band in front of my eyes, I stared at his improvised weapon and tried not to show any fear. I’d never been bullied before, and I didn’t really have any game plan to deal with the threats. I woke up in the morning, dreading the homeroom class and the forty-five minutes of wondering and worrying when he’d turn around in his seat and taunt me again.

Most bullies are very careful to hide their actions from the teachers, and this boy was no different. I was so embarrassed when he’d pick on me and other kids sitting near would laugh into their hands. It was so unfair! I wasn’t the one acting out and breaking the rules, but it seemed like everyone was on his side and against me. I kept quiet, because I knew it would only get worse if I told on him. I had let him pick on me without a word for weeks.

That day, though, something inside me changed. I got angry. I was so mad I wanted to push him or shove him down on the hallway floor in front of everyone so they would all laugh at the boy who got beat up by a girl. I wanted him to feel as embarrassed and outcast as I felt! But I also knew my thoughts were really only stupid fantasies and that I would never actually hit him or do anything violent.

I just knew I didn’t want to take his malicious teasing anymore! I stared past the rubber band, looked him in the eye, took a deep breath, and calmly said, “If you hurt me, you will get into trouble.” He frowned just a little bit, and he pulled his hand back, slightly. “So you might as well stop. You don’t scare me.” He rolled his eyes and called me a chicken, or a baby, or some other stupid name. But he turned around and left me alone the rest of the class.

You know how you feel when you master a complicated move in a video game, or you learn a new chord on your guitar or you play your piano recital piece all the way through with no mistakes? Like you want to do an end zone dance? I felt that way in that moment. I stood up for myself and didn’t back down to a bully! And I did it without any kind of physical violence. I felt great!

That wasn’t the end of the story, though. I made a good start, but I only won the first battle. He picked on me throughout junior high every time we shared a class. I never again took his teasing quietly, though, and always stood my ground. He may not have quit, but he never actually hurt me, either. Plus, I made lots of good friends who respected me for standing up for myself.

Seems like a pretty lame ending to the story, doesn’t it? I mean, in our fantasies, the bullies go on to meet their match, get beaten up and never pick on anyone smaller than them again, right? Sometimes, real life can bring an even better ending.

As luck would have it, I didn’t have to share any classes with my bully in ninth grade, so I didn’t give him a second thought. Until tenth grade. There he was, sitting a couple of seats in front of me. Even though he’d grown taller and was no longer the scruffy little boy from junior high, I recognized him immediately. I groaned inwardly, thinking about the trial I would have to go through all over again. Finally, we were paired in a group assignment and I noticed him looking at me an awful lot. Uh-oh, he’s recognized me, I thought, and braced myself for more teasing.

Almost as anxious as those days in seventh grade, I waited and waited for him to humiliate me in front of our classmates. Several days after the group assignment, he approached me in the hall. Here it comes, I thought.

“Hey, um,” he stammered and seemed a little embarrassed. “Uh, did you catch the last page of the homework assignment?” he finally asked.

I stared at him in disbelief a moment until I caught myself and answered, “Um, yeah, it’s page fifty-eight.” Where was the teasing? What was he going to do? These thoughts ran through my head, while he fidgeted and looked around the hall, everywhere but at me.

Finally, he swallowed hard and said, real fast, “So, are you going out with anyone?”

I blinked slowly and then said, “Um... what?”

He scratched his right ankle with the toe of his left foot, his face reddening and said, “Uh, you know... are you, uh, ‘with’ anyone, like, um dating?” He took a deep breath and added, “You know?”

I couldn’t help it; my mouth fell open and I started to laugh a little. Was my junior high torturer really asking me out? Then it dawned on me. As much as he’d changed, I had changed too! “You don’t know who I am, do you?”

He looked at me weirdly, so I pulled a rubber band out of my bag, stretched it like he used to and said, “Maybe this will remind you!”

I plopped the rubber band in his hand and walked away feeling that “end zone dance” feeling. My torturer wanted to be my boyfriend, and I got to tell him no!

~Julia D. Alexander

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