Behind What You See
Ally Campton has been bullied through every year of high school so far. She didnâ€™t even think it was possible to go near her school without being hurt in some way. But after moving twice with her mother, she finally thought it was over.
But when her troubles followed her, she didnâ€™t think she was strong enough to stand up for herself. At least not on her own.
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Today was my first day of school in Colorado.
My mom and I had been living just outside of Denver for two weeks now. We were now 20 minutes away from my new school, and just over thirty minutes from the city. I told my mom that we were practically living in middle of nowhere, but I didnâ€™t care. While Colorado was colder than I was used to, the house we were living in was quiet and seclusive, and it gave me a sense of security for the first time in a long time.
The schools in the city had started back up after summer break two weeks earlier, but my mom agreed to let me start late.
It gave me some peace of mind for a few weeks, and some time to adjust to Colorado.
But the night before I was supposed to start at my new school, I received the first message from my old class mates.
Hey Ally! Remember us? You used to go to school with us. We just heard you're not going to 11th grade with us. But I just thought Iâ€™d tell you that we all say hi, and we sure hope youâ€™re doing okay. We will totally miss you!
They sent it to me on my Facebook page, and I knew they meant every word to be dripping with sarcasm. But what surprised me, was that the message was sent from Holly Travisâ€™ account. She always just seemed like the follower, and she tended to leave me alone.
But no matter who had sent it, I really had no idea how to respond or react to the message. I never thought that my classmates knew I had enough of a life to have an account on any social site.
But the truth was: the Internet was my only link back to my old friends in Florida. My mom and I would visit St. Petersburg once every summer, and if I was lucky I would get to meet up with a few of my old friends, but other than that, if I wanted to have any contact with them, it had to be on the Internet.
I just stared at my computer for close to an hour, but I finally just decided to ignore the message.
I did my best to forget about it, but it kept me up all night.
My mom insisted on driving me to school the first day, even though I was supposed to start taking the bus. But I was grateful to her for offering, because I wasnâ€™t looking forward to riding the bus. The longer I could put it off, the better.
I hadnâ€™t ridden the bus since ninth grade, and my last ride didnâ€™t end well.
I got off the bus after the second stop, and I jumped off so fast, the driver couldnâ€™t even stop me. All I wanted to do was escape the abuse from the two girls sitting behind me. They were leaning over the seat telling me that I would never have a boyfriend.
After that day, I walked to and from school every day, completely alone.
All I could do was hope that I would be ignored on the bus this time.
â€œDonâ€™t forget to get your schedule from the principal,â€ my mother reminded me as we pulled up in front of the school.
â€œI wonâ€™t,â€ I said as I got out of the car.
"I'm sure youâ€™ll be fine," she replied.
I forced a smile, â€œIâ€™ll see you later.â€
I closed the passenger side door, and watched as my mother drove off.
There I was, about to go into another school. I slowly turned to face the tall brick building I was about to enter. It was smaller than the school I was used to, but it still scared me. It gave me a sick feeling in my stomach and a rush of adrenalin at the same time. Almost like I was about to go into a haunted house, or into surgery.
At that time, I wouldâ€™ve taken either over going to school.
I sighed. All I could do was get it over with.
Walking quickly, I climbed the steps to the school and pushed through the front doors. It took a few minutes, but I was able to locate the principalâ€™s office.
As I went to knock on the office door, it suddenly opened and I jumped back a step.
â€œOh, Iâ€™m sorry! You must be Ms. Campton,â€ a short, brown-haired, woman said. â€œIâ€™m Mrs. Ryan the principal.â€ She held out her hand to me.
It took me a second to recover, but I shook her hand. â€œIâ€™m Ally,â€ I replied quietly.
â€œNice to meet you Ally,â€ she stopped for a second, as if she had forgotten something. â€œOh, you must be here for your schedule!â€
I followed her into the office, as she searched thought stacks of papers on her desk. There were papers and books covering most of her desk and one of the chairs in front of the desk.
â€œAh-ha! Here it is,â€ she said picking up a piece of paper with a Post-It note stapled to the top. â€œYour classes are on the front, and your locker combination and bus number is on the Post-It.â€
â€œThanks,â€ I said, taking my schedule from her.
I just stood there for a second, not sure if I should leave, or keep talking to Mrs. Ryan. But after a moment of silence, the phone on Mrs. Ryanâ€™s desk rang.
She picked it up and had a short conversation with the person on the other line.
â€œI need to go meet with someone,â€ she said as she hung up the phone.
I nodded, â€œI need to go get to class.â€
The school day went by in a blur, like the entire thing was a dream. No one had really noticed me; it made me feel like I was invisible. But I would take being invisible over being bullied any day.
Even the bus ride was quiet. But I spent the whole day feeling like something should happen. Maybe I just felt like I couldnâ€™t go to school without someone telling me that I was the most worthless person on the planet.
Sometimes I felt like I was the one telling myself that.