The Fight



I sat there trembling…looking at the bottle of fingernail polish remover.  I kept telling myself to just put it to my lips and drink it.  I couldn’t go on like this.  I couldn’t do it anymore.  I ran to the laundry room in our basement and studied the ceiling.  Metal poles were everywhere: connectors that supplied water and heat to our home.   Rope.  Rope.  I need rope.  How was I going to do this?  I found a sheet and wrapped it around my neck to see what it felt like.  Tightened it. 

I fell to my knees.  I have to get out of this.  Adrenaline ran through my veins.  I will not cry.  I’m tired of crying and running scared.  Done.  I needed a way out.  How did this happen?  It was surreal. Unbelievable.


I am 40 now, married with 2 boys – 9 and 10.  Facebook has hit the building.  I tentatively build a page for myself.  I have had no luck on MySpace, but all of the hoopla around this new Facebook had me curious.  After I created my page, I started looking for people.  I had moved when I was 13, so I had two high schools to explore.  I found some of my friends from high school and added them, delighted to be in touch again.  After contemplating the pain it might drudge up, I look up some people from my home town.  Familiar feelings of inadequacy fill me.  Still?  Really?  Can some old people from 27 years ago still stir such feelings?  I couldn’t believe it.  The faces start bombarding me, and the disgust for virtually everyone in that town creeps in.  I needed a drink.

How does this world come back into my life?  How did I let it?  A stupid computer that "connects" everyone?  I feel so lucky I can just walk away and sit on my couch to enjoy my beautiful family.  My "after" life. 

Why would I be the type of person to be bullied?  How did my individual personality play into this?  My upbringing?

  I was 13 yr old, and made it through most of my life without torment from any of my peers. 

I look at the way I was raised.  My mother, who is probably a manic depressive, would always praise me for my beauty and brains.  "You can do anything!  Write a book now!   You are not too young. "I had the perfect desk in my room, complete with a stack of paper and pens.  I would sit there and pretend to be an established author, starting story after story but never following through with them.

Then there was the dark side of my house.  My mom would lay in bed for days and never get up to get us ready for school.  My 11 yr old sister and I would try not to wake her, because if we did, she would inevitably yell and probably hit us for being loud.  We would come home from school and she would be just waking up and having her coffee.  We would try and be on perfect behavior and hoped our little 5 yr old brother Keith would not cause any trouble either, because then WE would get it.  Dinner would be served; we would all sit down and adhere to remarks such as, "Shelly, sit up straight.  Put your fork down while you are chewing."  "Eat ALL of it" Later, we would go to bed, hoping and praying we didn’t get a beating.    Please, Keith, don’t act up! 

"Get to bed Keith!  Stop jumping and lay down!"


"I’m counting to 3.   1….2….3…

"Alright.  Where’s the hairbrush???"  She would scream. 

I lie there, my heart thudding and tears coming to my eyes.  This is so not fair.  I have done nothing.  The hairbrush hurt more than the hand.  Keith used to hide it, but this infuriated her.


"I don’t know!"  

I knew Christy was lying there as scared as I was.

Mom rushed to my room, went right up to me, and smacked me on my legs.  Then she would start hitting me, over and over while I screamed "I didn’t do anything!!!" 

"I’m sure you did something I don’t know about!!"

Finally I would give in and cry.  She rushed to Christy’s room and I heard the smacking on her legs and butt.  Christy would just cry.  Then mom would come out in the hall, panting hard. 

"Goddamn kids"

I lied there and cried.  I hated her.  Sometimes she would come and apologize, but I didn’t want her fucking apology.  It meant nothing.  I would wonder why she even had kids.

My father took a lot of abuse also.  Dinners would sometimes consist of mom berating dad while we tried to chew and swallow.

"Son of a bitch!  You will never amount to anything, because you don’t try!  Why don’t you get a better job?"  Then she would look at us.

"Your father has no ambition.  You could be living a lot better, but he won’t try."

Chew.  Swallow.


Then happy times followed.  We would wake up to hot cream of wheat.  Kisses goodbye. 

"How was your day?"  Followed with a big hug when we came home.  This was a safe time, where we could be normal kids.  Christy and I would squabble like normal siblings, and we could even tattle on our little brother Keith.  Keith never got beatings like us, and she always favored him.  "You need to play with your brother."  Christy and I would watch in disgust as he got away with kicking us and changing channels on the TV while we watched our favorite programs.

"He just wants attention."  Mom would say.

This was the time I would walk in on my mom and dad hugging and kissing.  It made me feel safe yet embarrassed. 

Mom would buy us all m&ms and we had our own bowls.  I would suck on them forever, to make them last.  Weekends were filled with making cookies and the occasional movie.

But you never knew how long it would last.



Houses were being built in our neighborhood.   New people were invading our 13 year history of friends and neighbors. 

My "neighborhood" girlfriends consisted of Pam, Lori, Annie, Amber, and Carla.  Pam went between Annie and I, manipulating us to the point we were practically competing to be her "bestie".  She had money, confidence, and somehow made us feel we were special when we were with her.

The new houses grew, and with it came young growing families and new boys.  One particular house down the street stood out.  As 13 and 14 yr olds, we discovered the couple that lived in this house was "cool".  They adored all of us kids, and we LOVED having a place to hang out.  Our parents did not approve.  What would a 30-something yr old couple want to do with a bunch of kids?  My mom seemed to figure it out.  DRUGS.  I never saw any, but that did not stop my mother from banning me from that house.  Unbeknownst to me, it   also didn’t seem to stop her from calling every single one of my neighborhood’s friends’ parents to inform them that their children were doing drugs, and this new couple was dealing them.   Oh, and by the way, please keep your kids away from MY daughter.

So, I was banned from the house.   OK.  Pam didn’t seem too interested in the house anyway, so I still had my neighborhood friends, right????



I am roller-skating, round and round the rink.  My hair is blowing back and I am laughing.  I look back at my friend Jennifer.   She is laughing and I am supposed to spend the night with her, even though I had already told my controlling friend Pam I would stay the night with her.  But Jennifer was much more fun.  I couldn’t wait.  I stay the night, and we have the time of our life.



I walk to the bus stop.  I haven’t seen or talked to Pam for awhile.  She and Annie walk to the bus stop, glued to the hip giggling.  I look at them, and they totally ignore me.  Carla walks up and joins them.  Doesn’t say a word to me.  Luckily my friend Amber comes out and joins me, oblivious to what is going on.  She is a year younger and always has stuck by my side.  Lori walks up and joins Annie and Pam.  I walk on the bus seriously confused.  Luckily my sister was still in grade school on another bus.



My school day is normal.  I get on the bus to go home.  I sit by my devoted friend Amber.  I don’t understand why no one is talking to me.  I hear giggling behind me.  I hear "Nark"... "Bitch" I don’t ask what is going on.  I am bewildered and confused.  I get off the bus and run home.  Cry.



"I have no idea why they would ALL be mad at me though.  What could Pam have said to sway them ALL?’  I was sharing my dismay with my friend Jennifer.  "I knew she was mad at me because I’ve been spending the night with you, but what could she have said?"

"I have no idea.  Hmmmm…."  Jennifer answered.

"I think she told everyone that I narked on that druggie couple down the street"



I wasn’t too freaked out yet.  I had my school friends still.  There were 3 good friends in all:

Dee, Carol, and of course Jennifer.  Luckily my neighborhood friends were in none of my classes.  The school decided to separate the "smart" kids and put us all in the same classes.  I saw the same people over and over.  Dee also was with me in every class, and we formed a bond since we weren’t as "popular" as the other smart kids.  Our confidence was shot this year.  I had nothing in common with the richer, smarter, better dressed kids.  Jennifer and I’s bff’s dumped us for each other, so even though she wasn’t in the smart classes we became close.  Carol was in band with me.  She was a tough chick no one wanted to mess with.  If I stuck with her at school, I felt safe.

All I had to do was get through the bus and bus stop.  I had Amber to sit with, and I just wouldn’t talk to the rest of the girls who now hated me.  That, I decided, I could live with.


After I boarded the bus after school the taunts started.  "Shelly’s a fucking bitch!"  Mortified, I took a seat up front and willed Amber to hurry up and sit down with me.



"Ugly bitch"

Amber finally sat down.  After a few minutes, she realized the situation and got scared. 

Finally the bus starts moving.

"I’m gonna kick her ass" 

I didn’t even know who was saying what.  Words just kept flying around  behind me. 

"You’re gonna fight her Annie?"

"I want to!"  Was the reply

Crumpled pieces of paper start bouncing off our heads and into the seat. 

A piece of gum lands on my lap.  GUM.  Shit. 
"Did it land in her hair?"
"Hope so!"

"Oh my God!!  Look what I found!  Throw this rubber at her! "

"She probably has no clue what it is"

A packaged rubber bonked me on the head followed by peals of laughter.

"I can’t believe you did that!"

Silence and giggles.  The hard textbook slammed against my head so hard tears sprung to my eyes.  Amber looked at me in disbelief.

"Did you just hit her? "  Lori asks someone.


"Look at her.  She just sits there and does nothing about it."

FINALLY.  My bus stop.  The weekend. 

"Bye bitch!"


What do you mean you’re not going back?"  Mom asks

"I’m just not.  I made up my mind."

Mom bites her lip and looks thoughtful. 

"I hate this neighborhood.  We need to get out of here."  She says

That’s it?  That’s all she says?  What about the situation going on right NOW with her daughter?

"Can I go to a different school?"  I ask hopefully.

"Can’t afford it.  Do you think you can make it until summer?"

"No.  I just won’t go"

"Shelly, you HAVE to"

Tears run down my face.

"Don’t worry.  I’ll take care of this" She assures me

I lie in my bed and stare at the ceiling.  How could this happen?  I am soooo scared.  I cannot go back.  Tears stream down my face.  Sunday night I decide there is now way I would go back.  Simple as that.

Monday morning I went through with my plan.  Lucky for me, mom slept in and I stayed home.  When she awoke 2 hr later I surprised her.

"OH!  What are you doing here?"

I start begging and pleading.  "Please mom, just let me stay home today.  Please…. I need a day off from this."

"I guess so."  She looked thoughtful again.  "This is ridiculous."

She grabbed the phone and dialed the school.

"Hello?  Yes, I need to speak with Mr. Lockhart.  Alright…

Mr. Lockheart?  Yes this is Margie Parker, Shelly Parker’s mother.  My daughter refuses to go to school because she is so afraid of these girls from our neighborhood.  She thinks they are going to beat her up.  Mmmhmmm?  No, it’s not happening at school as much as the bus.  What about the bus?  You need to protect my daughter on the bus to and from school.  Mmmmhmmm.  Ok.  Thank you."

She hung up and looked at me.  "Tomorrow should be better."


I gathered up my strength and headed to the bus stop.   I knew it would be bad because they haven’t been talked to yet.  The giggles and stares started as soon as I walked up. 


I didn’t reply.


No reply from me...

"Annie wants to fight you."

Nothing from me.  I just had to make it to school and then they would get talked to.  Then it would stop.

Amber watched from her house across the street, coming out only when the bus came.  I decided I would do the same from now on.

School was usually a safe haven for me from these girls.  But today it started spilling over into my school day.  Jennifer and I were walking down the hall together when I heard snickers and giggling behind me. 
"Bitch!  Nark!  I knew she was a nark but now MOMMY is calling."  I heard new voices.  The followers were growing in numbers.  I heard a new voice, a seriously scary big girl that no one wants to mess with.  "I want to kick her ass right now."  The new voice said.

"I dare you to run up and kick her." I heard Lori.

Jennifer gave me a pitiful glance.

The "warning" the principal gave the girls obviously back fired. 


The bus calmed down a bit.  If someone yelled "Bitch!" The bus driver would yell "Knock it off"

I decided to stay home again tomorrow.


I spent then night with Jennifer Saturday.  WE had pizza and ice-cream, listened to music and watched "Officer and a Gentleman."

"Maybe you should fight them." She offers.

I thought about it.

"What if I lost?  I could get beat up and then it would be even worse."

Jennifer had nothing to say.


I knew I had to go to school Monday.  I decided from now on I would take Tuesday and Thursdays off to make the week more tolerable.  Lucky for me my mother was too lazy to actually drive me to school, so all I had to do was miss the bus. 

Monday I walked on the bus and the first words I heard were

"SHELLY GO HOME!  SHELLY GO HOME!!"  I rolled my eyes and sat down with Amber.

Someone yelled   "Are you going to fight Annie?  C HICKEN!!"  Thank God tomorrow was Tuesday.

As the days passed, the pressure on Annie and me to fight became worse and worse.  A fight was a lot more entertaining than a bunch of bullies picking on a girl that did nothing back.  The girls stood behind Annie and told me I would get my ass kicked.  I definitely believed it.


That weekend I hid in my house.  I could hear them outside while my parents were gone one night.  They has gathered together in our neighborhood and decided to walk up and down my street." Shelly!!!  Come out and fight you fucking bitch!"   I felt like I had no safe haven anymore.  They were finally invading my safe weekends with my family.   Finally the voices stopped.

I began thinking of a plan. 

My father was a police officer.  I knew he had a gun upstairs in his closet.  I even knew where it was.  I figured all I had to do was waiting until the middle of the night when everyone was dead asleep, get the gun, and sneak out.  I would walk to Annie’s house, go to the bedroom window and tap on it.  When she came to the window I would shoot her in the head.  As soon as she was shot she would look at me like, "OH MY GOD, this girl is serious.  She has WON."  Then she would fall over and die.  I would run away, put the gun back exactly where I found it, and run to my bedroom,   her parents would find her the next day.  They would know nothing about why it happened.  "WHY? WHY? "They would cry y.  As soon as Pam, Lori, and Carla would hear about it they would think of me.  "Could Shelly have done this?  NO WAY.  You think?  She had to.  Who else would want her dead?  Wow.  She is crazy!"  What would everyone think about that????  Fuck them.  Then they would know I was serious and I wouldn’t take any shit.  This thought comforted me.  I would just shoot her.  Simple.  Easy.  Then all the bitches would look at me with fear in their eyes.   I would look back and say "DON"T FUCK WITH ME"

I drifted to sleep with a smile.  The first smile I had had in weeks.


Next day I was still feeling very strong.  I remember Annie had loaned me a shirt last summer.  I went through my dresser drawers, searching… Once I found it, I ripped it with fury, saying "You fucking cunt.  Don’t mess with me.  Don’t fuck with me."  Adrenaline ran through my veins as I ran outside.  I would cut it and put it somewhere between our houses.  Once it was torn, I ran outside and looked for a puddle.  After finding one between her house and the bus stop, I wadded it up and stomped into the mud puddle. 

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