Left Alone But Not Left Alone

, , | Hopeless | March 12, 2017

(It’s the second day of seventh grade, but the first day for me, as I had had a medical procedure done the day before. I am not in the best frame of mind. I know I should have been home recovering but the school won’t let me. I have to deal with the chronic illness that has resulted in the procedure having to be done, I have an unstable home life that has left me breaking down and crying right before I come to school, I am still trying to comprehend something traumatic that had happened to me the year before, and to top it off, I am starting to show symptoms of the bipolar that would be completely ignored until diagnosed as an adult. And I am late for school. In short, all I want is to be left alone. In reading period, we are allowed to go to a separate room, provided we behave. In that room is a closet that has its door removed, that has been turned into a private reading nook. At the beginning of reading period, I take my book and make a beeline for the nook, getting there first and settling down. I don’t get far into my reading before a group of kids who had given me trouble the year before appear in the doorway.)

Kid #1: “Get out.”

(I ignore them.)

Kid #1: “I said get out!”

Me: “No.”

Kid #2: “We want in here.”

Me: “Go away.”

Kid #3: “Get out or we’ll make you.”

(At this point I’m frustrated enough to do the unthinkable: I flip them off. Naturally, they have a freak out that would put an association footballer to shame. They run to their teacher, screaming about what I have done. I get a sinking feeling in my gut — not too far from where the procedure had been done, in fact — and try to get a few more sentences in before Hell comes crashing down upon me. Their teacher comes flying into the room, straight towards the alcove. It’s her second day, too. She’s new to the school, new to the students, and she’s not my main teacher. All she knows about me is that I had to spend time in her class that morning because I had come in an hour late and my class was out in the field. She’s furious.)

Teacher: “Were you bothering [Kids]?!”

(I look up at her, but I have no idea how to answer that.)

Teacher: “Did you flip them off?!”

Me: *quietly* “Yes…”

(Now I don’t know if it was my honesty, my general quietness, or some look on my face, but her features instantly soften. She stares at me for a few seconds, and when she speaks again, it’s much gentler.)

Teacher: “You just wanted to be left alone, huh?”

(I nod.)

Teacher: “Well, it’s against the rules so you’ve lost your reading room privileges for the day, but why don’t you come read at my desk? No one will bother you there.”

(I nodded and she reached out a hand and helped me off the floor. As I followed her to her room, I saw the kids gloating at me and running to the alcove, but I didn’t care. She was right, no one bothered me at her desk, and every so often she would look up from her work and smile at me as I read quietly. When I graduated middle school and the teachers made speeches about all the eighth graders, she’s the one who made my speech. I never got to properly thank her or say goodbye, though, as she left school early to pick up her daughter from her own last day of school. So, Ms. H, if you’re reading this: Thank you and goodbye.)

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