How did all of those famous authors start their journals? Because I have no idea how to begin writing this. Um … hi? My name is Avery Rodriguez, I’m 15 years old, and I go to Oshkeen South High School. I like drawing, writing, and I play a few instruments. All right. I guess those are the basics. So I should probably explain why I have to keep a journal now. It’s my parents’ fault, really. They’re making me. They keep saying something about it “helping with my depression” or something like that, but the real reason is because I complain too much. They’re both sick of it, I can tell. I guess they want me to write the stuff that happens to me at school in here instead of complaining to them. So I may as well, since I’m pretty sure my mom is standing outside the door, making sure I’m writing.
The day started off as usual. I was reading my new book, carefully ignoring everything that was happening around me, when someone decided my day wasn’t going terrible enough.
“Hey, Rodriguez!” Russell's voice shattered my bubble of silence.
I buried my face in the book, doing my best to ignore him, but Russell wasn’t satisfied.
“Got a razor for me, Rodriguez? I’m feeling super emo right now.” He whimpered, exaggerated sadness plastered all over his face.
I rolled my eyes but didn’t respond, much to Russell’s annoyance.
“Hey! Pussy!” He slammed my book down onto my desk, and, doing my best to keep my nerves about me, I locked my eyes on his.
“Hey, douche.” I kept my voice level and monotone. Please just leave me alone. I pleaded silently.
Russell, a huge grin plastered on his face, staggered backwards and put his hand on his mouth. “Oooo, that’s some harsh language from you, Rodriguez. You must be feeling extra emo today.”
I rolled my eyes, any fear I had dissolved into annoyance. “I am not emo, Russell. Just drop that line of ‘teasing.’” Unconsciously, I tugged my sleeves down over my wrists.
Russell let out a barking laugh. “Yeah, right! You wrote the book on emo!” He scoffed.
“You don’t say.” I muttered as I picked my book from my desk.
My first big mistake.
Russell’s eyes widened and his cheeks colored, but I only had about three seconds to admire this development before he grabbed my shirt and hauled me out of my desk. I gasped for air as he pulled me in. His eyes burned with rage.
“Look at me when I talk to you!” He screeched.
I grabbed Russell’s wrists and struggled to pull them off. Spots begin to swim in my eyes as I struggled for breath.
Just then, the sound of the bell filled the hallways.
Russell let out a small huff of annoyance as his eyes flicked to the door. I could see him pondering whether beating me up was worth the expulsion. After an uncomfortably long time he let out a breath.
“Damn.” He muttered as his grip loosened on my shirt. “I was really looking forward to giving you the what for.” He planted his hand firmly in the center of my chest and shoved me back into my desk. The loud screech of metal on linoleum filled the classroom as my desk shifted a foot backwards from the force. Russell curled his lip into a sneer then swaggered back to his desk.
I gently scooted my desk back into place and picked up my book. I lifted it up and feigned reading but kept my eyes focused on Russell, worry churning in my stomach.
Once the school bell rang, the hallways cleared out within minutes, with me only a few seconds behind the bulk of the crowd. I slung my backpack over my shoulder and headed out the doors. I turned a corner onto one of the side-streets surrounding the school and began my daily walk home.
I’d only gotten about a block when Russell stepped out from an alley and into my path.
“Well, well, well,” he sneered, “look who we have here.”
I took a step back, my chest burning with fear.
“Don’t think you’re off the hook from English, Rodriguez.” He snarled. “I’m going to make you show some emotion.”
I took a deep breath and steadied my stance before looking Russell in the eyes. “Do your worst.”
A grin slowly worked its way onto Russell’s face. He took a step toward me and, with one swift motion socked me in the jaw.
Pain raced from where he’d hit me into my eye and my vision wavered. I clasped my cheek, but kept my face steady, devoid of all emotion.
I would not give Russell what he wanted.
Russell, obviously frustrated, kicked me in the ribs, forcing all of the breath from my lungs.
After that kick, it all became a blur. First pain shot through my leg, then my stomach, then my head, then my wrist. I collapsed onto my knees, head down, using all of my effort to not pass out or throw up.
“You got it all out yet?” I whispered as loud as my injured ribs would allow.
After a moment of silence, he kicked me upside the head. I fell onto my back as the taste of blood filled my mouth.
The sound of sneakers on concrete told me that he was leaving. Once the sneakers faded away, I sat up, gasping with pain as I did so. With a hand covered in blood, I pushed my hair out of my eyes, and allowed the tears that had been threatening to overflow to stream down my face.
I staggered the rest of the way home and had to lean on the door handle for support as I limped inside.
“How was school, hun?” My mother asked, not even taking her eyes out of her book.
“Bad.” I collapsed onto the couch, relief flooded through me as the pain lessened.
Confused, Mom looked up from her book. She let out a terrified gasp when she saw me. “Oh my god! What happened?”
“Russell beat me up again,” I dismissed her, “it’s no big deal.”
“No big deal? No big deal?” My mom screamed, and my dad ran in.
“What’s going on?” He asked. Panic wild in his eyes.
My mother stood up and pointed at me. “Some boy beat Avery up!”
“No, no, really I’m fine!” I protested, my voice thin. “I-”
My dad broke into a grin. “Yeah, of course he’s fine! He’s my boy, nothing’ll keep him down for long!”
“Right, Dad,” I muttered. “Of course.”
My mother looked from me to my dad and back again. “Are you sure you’re all right, Avery?” She asked.
“Yeah. I’m fine,” I sighed, “I just… wish Russell would leave me alone.”
My parents exchanged a look, I caught a slight nod from my father before he turned back to me.
“Avery, have you ever considered keeping a journal?” He asked.
“I… no?” I replied, wondering where the jump between getting beat up and writing a journal came from.
“Well, you should!” My dad smiled. “I hear journals are really therapeutic for people in situations like yours.”
“Oh, that’s a good idea!” My mom started racing up the stairs. “I have an unused one around here somewhere!”
“Why would I write in a journal?” I held up my hands in a “stop” gesture.
My dad looked up at the ceiling in thought. “Well, you can pretend to be one of those famous book characters, like Frankenstein!”
“Frankenstein didn’t write any journals.” I raised an eyebrow at him.
“Well, one of the characters in that book did, it’s been a while.” My dad trailed off, rubbing the back of his neck. He leaned forward, his eyes bright. “But maybe your life’ll start to become more interesting! Hm? Just like one of those books that you like so much?”
My mom strode into the room. “I found the journal!” She held the book out to me. “Here you go, sweetie!”
I studied the book warily. It looked like a regular school notebook. It was bound with cheap cloth and had a dappled, black and white pattern on it. However, in the upper middle of the cover laid a large logo for Future Technologies.
“Um… thanks.” I reached out uncertainly and grabbed the book.
Not even a second later, my mom practically shoved me up the stairs. “Go on! Go write in your book!”
“Yes, son!” My dad echoed. “Go have fun!”
I stood on the bottom step of the staircase. I looked at my parents’ excited faces, then, with a sigh, I trudged up the stairs.
And so, that’s why I’m here now. Hopefully, my parents will have forgotten all about this by tomorrow, but… it is nice writing in here, while it’s still around.
Well, one thing’s for certain: they didn’t forget. Goddamn, it’d be easier trying to convince a serial killer not to murder than to try to convince my parents that I don’t need to write in a journal! Apparently they’re going to set aside time for me to write every day now. So, great. Now I have to relive every single day of my life, just what I need. Especially after a day like today.
I always eat lunch alone. That’s one of the many disadvantages to going to a school where everyone hates you. Is it lonely? Sure, but I always tell myself that I could have it worse. But, I guess the sayings are true: There’s safety in numbers.
I first noticed something was wrong when everyone sitting around me started staring and laughing at me. The whispers started out quiet but got gradually louder. But I didn’t have time to analyze what it meant before I felt a hot breath in my ear.
“Guess who-oo.” A voice sung, just inches away from me.
I felt a sting of cold as a knife pressed against my cheek.
“Warren.” I tried to keep my voice steady. “Please. Just leave. Russell isn’t going to give you the money he promised you for this.”
Warren cackled. “Oh, you think Russell put me up to this? That’s hilarious.” He leaned in closer. “I’m doing this for me.”
He pressed the flat side of his knife into my cheek, forcing me to look him in the eyes. “I just want to hear you scream.”
I grabbed his arm and tried to push it away. “Get away from me!”
I felt a sharp sting on my cheek as Warren flicked his wrist. I could feel something trickling down my face.
“Oops.” Warren smirked.
I reached for the knife and jerked the blade as far away from my face as I could get it.
Warren instantly sliced my hand and dug the blade back into the cut on my cheek. I cried out in pain.
“You shouldn’t struggle,” Warren hissed, “it’ll only make things worse for you.”
He’s going to kill me. My brain repeated over and over as I frantically scanned the lunchroom for a teacher, but no one was even paying attention to the room, instead focused on their lunches and their coworkers. Defeated, I took a deep breath, and forced myself to do the opposite of what Warren wanted. I fixed my eyes on a motivational poster across the room and slowed my breathing.
“What’s wrong, pussy? Too scared to speak?” Warren mocked.
When I didn’t reply he let out a low growl. “Fine then.” His blade traced a path from my cheek to my neck. “I’ll just let my knife slip ‘accidentally.’”
My breath caught in my throat. He didn’t care. He was really going to kill me. A tear slowly worked its way into my vision, but I didn’t move.
After a long time, I felt the knife slip from my neck.
“You’re not going to do shit? You’re kidding me, right?” Warren yelled. He removed his other hand from my shoulder and I collapsed onto the floor, my body limp with relief.
Warren towered over me, his eyes burned. “I’ll crack you someday, Rodriguez. Just you wait.”
Warren stalked away, leaving me gasping for breath, wondering what just happened.
It’s getting worse and worse. I don’t know why I’m the target to their bullying, I just know that they hate me for whatever reason. I’m totally scared, totally alone, writing in some journal like a madman from a book.
Today, I was tempted. I reached for the drawer, but I refused to allow myself to give in. I don’t do that anymore. I have more than enough scars to remind me of the past.
I just… I just wish that, somehow, I could fight back. Against both Warren and Russell, and myself.
So, this morning was… interesting. When I came downstairs today my parents were both waiting for me in the living room. I thought for sure I was about to get a lecture for that detention I got for skipping english, or maybe the dozens of missing homework assignments I have, but what they really had in mind was completely unexpected.
“Avery.” My mother chided.
I froze and turned around and started to slowly make my way back up the stairs.
“Come, take a seat.” My dad beckoned.
Terrified, I edged my way over to a chair and sat on the very edge, ready to bolt at any time. “What do you want?”
My parents exchanged a look, and my mom cleared her throat loudly. “Avery. Your father and I have been talking, and we both agree that this bullying is getting completely out of hand!”