A short story,
Based on a true events.
By Penny Hooper (aka The Girl Who Whispered)
“Are you okay?” said a big scary woman in her strange blue clothes said as she bent down to look at me.
I nodded viciously, hoping she would just leave me alone. It was easier to just sit here quietly. I wouldn’t get in trouble if I sat and stayed quiet. What if I wasn’t allowed to speak to strangers? I didn’t know this woman. Even if she looked like she worked there.
She smiled at me and just walked off. I sighed. And tried to calm my beating heart as I sat on the hard plastic chair in the corridor of the hospital.
But I didn’t know what to do. What do I say? Do I say something? Do I sit and wait? Do I find him? Or had I been left here? I had no concept of how long I was sitting there panicking. I knew I was there to think about what I had done. Dad was angry with me the moment he burst into my room. I hadn’t even got in his way yet. Or said something wrong to him. But I had an idea of what it was I had done. He tried to get me to speak. I refused. He got angry.
But I couldn’t think about what I had done. I only sat, tried not to cry – I wasn’t allowed to cry – and hoped that he would come back for me. Eventually.
I couldn’t forget what happened to me though, even though I wasn’t thinking about it at the time. I hoped one day I might forget. A kid at school had trapped me in tables and chairs. The teacher had called us all over, I think it was reading time, but the kid, he was ignoring the teacher and was instead moving the tables and chairs to trap me. I don’t know why. Was this a game? He was laughing. Or had I done something wrong? But the teacher had called us, she wanted us all over to her, we would get told off if we didn’t!
I got told off. For not going over to her. For playing. I didn’t know I was playing. I was trapped. I couldn’t go anywhere. How could I explain that to her? But I just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to be there anymore. What did I do wrong? How could I have done that differently?
I had decided not to talk anymore. The grown-ups didn’t listen. They didn’t see and they didn’t listen. I was just a kid. But it was okay, that kid was a boy. Boys will be boys after all!
But why did I feel so bad?
I had gotten home after school and refused to talk to mum. Mum didn’t like it. But dad was angry at me. I don’t remember exactly what happened, it all went by in a flash; he took me in his car and drove me to the hospital, told me to sit, I obeyed and then he walked off. Taking a cigarette out and walked off without even looking back at me.
After what felt like hours, I saw out of the corner of my eye, dad was coming back. I felt a little relieved. I hadn’t been left here. I wasn’t going to have to live on this plastic seat for the rest of my life. But I was also nervous. What if I did that wrong? What if I sat here wrong? What if I was supposed to do something? What if he yelled at me again? What if he forced me to speak again?
I sat in my class, staring at my book and scribbling notes hurriedly, trying not to look at anyone. I didn’t want to grab someone’s attention and then they pick on me. If I ignored everyone, maybe they’d leave me alone. I already had a bad day in my previous lesson. Physical Education. PE. I hated PE. It meant changing in a room full of other girls and playing sports that I hated and wasn’t even good at. It was a good lesson to have others laugh at you too. At least if you’re writing and got your head in a book, the other students can’t see how terrible you are. I was stupid after all.
PE was up there with Drama. I hated Drama too.
“Oi, you talking yet?” I heard someone whisper behind me. I felt every muscle in my body go tense. I hadn’t been small enough. Someone was talking to me. I pretended I didn’t hear.
“I thought you had a sore throat?” another kid said from behind me, I recognised her voice, “Been going on for a few years now hasn’t it? Faking it much?”
I gulped as I felt the tears in my eyes again. I had already fought the tears back after my PE teacher told me off for having an attitude. I didn’t have an attitude. I didn’t hear her call my name and then turned round to see her staring at me angrily. I got called into her office. The smelly PE office. She told me off for ignoring her. I wasn’t ignoring her. I crossed my arms, not knowing what to do with them. They felt suddenly heavy and in the way. I got told off for crossing my arms.
I can’t do anything right.
“She’s such a looser,” said one of the girls behind me and the other one giggled as if it was the funniest thing her friend had said.
I stared at the same word on my page in my school book, attempting to control my shaking and my beating heart and blinked away the tears. I wasn’t sure what was worse, the popular kids name calling me and throwing things at me or the kids that weren’t popular, the smart ones, calling me names now too.
I sat and pretended I was somewhere else. Anywhere else than here. Well, maybe not home.
I heard whispering and giggling from behind me as I sat on my computer. I looked round at the two girls that used to be my friends. They stopped and turned round as if suddenly getting caught doing something wrong. They had.
Were they upset with me? What had I done? I know I was hanging out with my two guy mates more. I got on with them better. We had more in common. It was cool to hang out with them. But I had no idea that the girls didn’t like me anymore. I still said hello to them, asked them how they were. Although one of them completely ignored me that morning. I didn’t know why.
I looked back round at my computer, I was trying to figure out this problem. I was starting to think college wasn’t for me. My two mates sat next to me were happily tapping away on their keyboards, they looked like they knew what they were doing. But I couldn’t get past this one bit. How could I do a whole two years of this?
I sighed just as I heard whispering and giggling again. I turned around and noticed the two girls were looking at me again.
“Do you have a problem?” I said loudly, everyone in the class looked round at me.
But to my joy, the two girls stopped, went pale faced and looked back round at their own computers. They left me alone from then on.
I felt proud. I’d spoken up for myself.
I found out a few days later why they didn’t like me. I had said something to one of the girls. Apparently she took offense. I didn’t mean to be nasty, I was just joking with her. Had I of known I upset her, if she told me, I would have apologised. But instead she decided to pick on me. But I had enough of that at school.
College was supposed to be different.
Sometime between 2012 and 2013.
My heart dropped when I saw the text message that my boyfriend had been deliberately trying to hide from me. I know he had. He said he didn’t. But I wasn’t stupid. But when I read the text message over his shoulder I saw why he was trying to hide it from me. His brother had text him to tell him that I need to suck it up and go to the New Year party because he wanted to see his brother.
I snapped. I was angry. Hurt. Upset. Both at his brother and at my boyfriend too.
“That’s it, I’m not going now!” I said.
He looked at me in shock.
“I’m not taking that!” I said, “I’m sorry! But that is just an asshole thing to say! I’m not going to make a scene there! I was just worried about that guy being there, he doesn’t like me, and you know I’m nervous in big groups of people!”
I remember the day I met the guy in question. It was about a year ago. I was at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. He at his brother had decided to have a few friends over for a barbeque, I met a load of his friends for the first time. I was stupidly nervous. I was trying to fit in, feel included. A song came on that reminded me of an ex and I told my boyfriend’s brother he was a chav if he listened to that song. It was a joke. He thought it was funny and turned it over. His friend didn’t. He had a go at me. Thought I was calling him a chav for liking the song. What was worse though, I went inside feeling stupid and all eyes were on me. Everyone hated me. My boyfriend followed me in, asked me what was wrong. He was there, he heard what went on. But had no idea why I was upset. He even told me that I was being rude for calling him a chav. I never called him a chav. I called his brother a chav. It was a joke.
But we had been invited to a New Year party at my boyfriend’s brother’s house, only that guy was going to be there. I was nervous. I was worried that he was going to have another go at me. I also wasn’t doing too well. I was lonely, missing my very few friends back home who were slowly forgetting me. I had moved far away from my hometown. I was upset too and struggling to stay happy, I had lost two grandparents and another grandparent was seriously ill and my childhood dog had died. I was tired too. Always fighting battles.
And now, I felt even worse because I felt like I was the bad person for not wanting to go to a New Year’s party and my boyfriend was starting to resent me and none of his friends liked me.
This was supposed to be a happy time of my life. I had escaped my parents. I had moved in with my boyfriend. We were living together in our first house. It was supposed to be new and exciting. But I was still miserable. I was starting to believe that I was supposed to be miserable. I must have done something really bad in a previous life to deserve this.
I just wanted to be happy.
“Why you taking your phone? To take a selfie in the bathroom?” my dad jeered as I stood up to go to the toilet. We were in a bar.
I looked at him in utter shock. Did he really think I was one of those girls? Who goes into bathrooms just to take a photo of herself? I wasn’t one of those girls.
“She doesn’t have any friends to show it to anyway!” my mum commented and I snorted and just walked off.
Any normal day, it would have been funny. It would have been me that said instead of her.
But today, it wasn’t a normal day. I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to take those jokes. But I couldn’t complain. I couldn’t fight back. It was best I just said nothing. Or just made a joke back, pretend I thought it was funny.
I walked into the bathroom and sat on the toilet, staring at my phone.
It was true. I don’t have any friends. Aside from the odd one or two I sometimes speak to. I looked at my last text message on my phone. The last text message was just an automated message with a code to log into a service. Probably PayPal. That was two weeks ago. The last text message I actually got from a friend was six months ago.
I sighed and locked my phone up. It was pointless having a phone. No one called. No one text. It was my parents’ choice that I had a phone. I was happy without one. At least if I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t have a constant reminder that I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t have anyone that cared. I was alone. A loner. A loser. Billy no mates.
Even my dad didn’t like me. Didn’t even know who I was.
Maybe I should have changed those settings on Facebook. Then I’d get a few people who would notice me today.
Today was my birthday. No one remembered.
No one liked me.
Check out my other works:
Check out my Prologue for Rose Garden Sanatorium here.
Read how I come up with character names, here.