From Chapter Two of Grumble Bluff, by Karen Bessey Pease in honor of spreading awareness about Cyberbullying.
The worst part of each day at school was the lunch break, of course. Not only was I nervous about getting picked on in the less-supervised atmosphere of the lunch hall, but I was worried about getting my meal taken away from me, too. So far this year, that hadn’t happened yet. My second-least-favorite time of day was between classes, when I had to go to my locker or make my way down the halls to another classroom. I had to brace myself for the inevitable insult hollered at me as I went along, or the occasional push or trip from the more brazen kids.
It was on the Wednesday of the second week of seventh grade that an unusual thing happened during one of my journeys from the English room to the cafeteria. I usually kept my head down and hugged my books for all they were worth, staring at the floor to avoid eye contact with any would-be bullies. This posture also helped protect my textbooks from being knocked to the floor, unless the knocker was exceptionally resolute. But on this day, something caused me to lift my eyes from the square, beige tiles below my feet. That something was the sound of mocking voices down the hall. Mocking voices, mean voices, nasty voices. I was used to them by now. But what surprised me was that–this time–those voices weren’t aimed at me. Someone else was being picked on.
I’m ashamed to admit that my first reaction was a huge, tremendous, HUMONGOUS feeling of relief. Was it possible? Was there someone in Mountain Junior High School who was actually more repugnant than I? Yippee! I felt like shouting. In that brief moment, I’d have even done a little victory dance–if I hadn’t been so worried about drawing the bullies’ attentions.
I approached the group of kids, determined to scoot around them and quietly make my way into the cafeteria. I saw the usual gang who were the loudest and meanest taunters and torturers–Carolyn Clark, Tommy Thompson, Jessica Hutchins, Ned and Ted Tibbets, and a few other hangers-on. In the center of the group stood a small, curly-headed pixie of a girl with big, green, wide-open eyes. I felt a quick jolt of surprise. She was pretty, and she definitely wasn’t fat, like I’d half-expected. If anything, she was a string bean. And the eyes¼ well, I knew those eyes. Those were my eyes–green instead of blue, but my eyes, nonetheless. Those eyes were scared, and confused, and even a little angry, and every emotion I read in those pretty green peepers I’d felt myself, time and time again. But that girl’s eyes said something else in that brief second that I met them–something I’d never dared to let my eyes say, for fear of rejection. Those eyes said, “help.”
If there’s one thing I, Katherine Anne Kirby, hate–it is confrontation. I don’t like to make waves even when I’m swimming. I especially don’t like conflict when there are several mean, self-assured bullies on the side opposite mine! But for some reason, I couldn’t ignore those eyes. My big, clumsy body wanted nothing more than to scurry into the lunchroom, grab my meal and eat in peace. But my conscience wouldn’t let my body do what it wanted. My conscience made my body stop, right behind the same rotten kids who had been tormenting me and making my life miserable for the last year. Not only did I stop, but I also spoke, which naturally drew their attention to me. Joy of joys.
(From Chapter Two of Grumble Bluff, by Karen Bessey Pease)