For my creative writing class (12th grade), I wrote a short story about overcoming bullying in school. It was a year after Columbine, and most of my stories reflected ways of getting the best of bullies without resorting to violence. On this assignment, I received a 50/50. Here it is:
Sept. 17, 1999
RESPECT ME, PLEASE
Sophie Lynn Jamison loved to paint but hated her art class. No one wanted to accept the way she looked. Mark constantly picked on her, Ms. Johnson saw Sophie Lynn’s classmates pick on her but blamed Sophie Lynn and yelled at her. Plus, she loved to draw what’s in her heart, but the teacher would give her a lower grade than what she deserved.
Usually Sophie Lynn let things slide, but today was a different story.
The students eyed Ms. Johnson, who modeled in front of them, so they could draw her. Everyone was into their work making sure to get every feature, except Mark.
Sophie Lynn tried her best to ignore his stares.
“Sophie Lynn, you look weird,” Mark whispered.
“Not weird. Just different. There’s a difference,” she whispered back. The class laughed. Sophie Lynn looked at her teacher, who stared blankly at the back wall.
Here we go again.
“Do you ever care what I say to you?”
“It goes in one ear and out the other.”
Mark leaned closer to Sophie Lynn; she continued to draw. He grabbed her pencil and put a heavy mark on her illustration. Sophie Lynn’s eyes widened.
“Get a life Mark.”
“Why don’t you off yours?”
She looked at Mark. He never gotten to her as he did that moment. She admired her life and wanted to live; however, day by day her art class took a piece of that.
“Seriously, you have a passion for art. Paint a famous work of art and then you know. Just like those famous dudes Leonardo Di Vinci, Michelango,” Mark continued.
No one laughed this time.
“Sophie Lynn get back to work and stop disturbing the class,” Ms. Johnson said.
This was the last straw. Everyday she and the teacher would get into it, and Ms. Johnson would threaten to send her to the office. Well today, Sophie Lynn really wanted to go.
“If I’m such a disturbance, then send me to the office.”
“I will if you don’t get back to work.”
The class looked at Sophie Lynn. She shoved her art materials on the floor. “I’m not getting back to work until you scold the right person, which I know you won’t because you and everyone else is too worried about picking on me to realize the real problem–yourselves. So Ms. Johnson, I’ll save you the trouble and volunteer to go to the office.”
Sophie Lynn stood up and looked at everyone. Two girls whispered, Mark looked confused, the others looked shocked, and Ms. Johnson crossed her arms across her chest. Sophie Lynn smiled and walked out of the room slamming the door.
The principal refused to talk to her until her parents were present.
“Is that all you would like to tell me?” Mr. Barr asked annoyed. Sophie Lynn was confused. She said everything that happened to her in class today and in the past few months. If the principal didn’t care, then who would help her.
“Well, let me say this quickly. I alone cannot stop this problem; you have to help me. You have to look normal, you know, dress like everyone else because this wild appearance you have going on is just bringing you the negative attention you may deserve. Now if your art class was such a major problem, then why didn’t you come to me sooner?”
“Because I was reluctant to hear what you had to say because I knew you wouldn’t hear my side.”
Sophie Lynn looked down at her favorite mismatched outfit–a yellow/blue polka dot shirt, red/green flannel pants, and rainbow sneakers she had painted herself. She wore green glasses and cheap jewelry. Her hair was in a funky hairstyle, which looked awkward since her hair was too long.
“Honey, why must you act like this. Mr. Barr, I swear my daughter wasn’t such an outcast until the 8th grade when her older brother died,” her mom said.
“All I have to say is be different and deal with the consequences,” her dad said.
Sophie Lynn wanted to cry but held back tears. Her motto was Express Your Individuality. Why did that cause so much pain? Why couldn’t people be more accepting?
After the meeting, Sophie Lynn and her parents went home. She stormed into her room and locked the door. Her parents didn’t bother to check on her; she felt alone. She was upset with her parents, people at her school, and herself. Particularly herself because Sophie Lynn was doing what she promised she’d never do.
She looked through her room to find her “normal” clothes. She found a pair of blue jeans and red Arizona shirt. She put on those clothes, brushed her hair into a regular ponytail, and put on her black glasses.
She looked in the mirror. Look normal, which means selling out so people will leave me alone, or stay the same and tolerate the rudeness of others. Sophie Lynn chose the first choice.
People at school didn’t know how to react. Sophie Lynn’s boyfriend and best friend were speechless until she clued them in on her plan. Eventually, people in her art class, including Mark, were nice to her; they apologized just like Sophie Lynn assumed they would.
A month later, her painting was chosen for an art fair. Ms. Johnson chose it over the rest of the class. Sophie Lynn dressed up wearing a formal blue dress. She wooed the judges and became another face in the crowd. When the contestants got a break from the judging process, Sophie Lynn and her best friend went into the bathroom to finish the rest of her plan.
Ten minutes later, the judges announced they had picked the winners, so the contestants stood back on stage. Instead of Sophie Lynn wearing her blue dress, she wore her favorite mismatched outfit with her painted shoes, funky hairstyle, and green glasses.
Everyone whispered. The judges hesitated to announce she was the first place winner. Sophie Lynn walked to receive her ribbon. No one applauded, except her boyfriend and best friend. She grabbed the mic from the judge.
“This past month I was given an ultimatum–either dress normal and have everyone respect me or stay different and deal with the rudeness of everyone. I chose the easy way out, but even then it wasn’t easy. I had to wake up every morning sad and low because I couldn’t dress the way I wanted. I remember what Sam, my deceased brother, told me. He said, ‘be who you are and the respect you deserve will come. Most importantly, you don’t need to earn anyone’s respect; they need to gain yours’. So, I’m here to say I have self-respect for myself, and I’ll continue to be the same person I’ve always been. Thank you for the award.”
After a few seconds, her parents clapped, followed by everyone else. The applause lasted for about two minutes. Sophie Lynn smiled. Her plan worked–she gained the respect of others, including herself.
Furthermore, no one picked on Sophie Lynn again during the rest of the school year. Everyone evaluated themselves to be happy. She wouldn’t want it any other way.