Hiya, Welcome back to PEP! I’ve finally decided on the big trip this year. Well, sort of… This fall is a big birthday for me, and no, I’m not telling what it is. As such, I’ll be taking a trip but not only are there so many places I want to go but budget constraints are huge. As such, since I do really want a road trip, that’s what we’ll be doing. But I don’t know where. Something that’s on my bucket list is to go on a road trip with no chosen destination and throw a dart at a map and travel to wherever it lands. This year, I closed my eyes and pointed at three places on a map of the states and my travel companion is planning the road trip, choosing either one of the three, New York City or California; or we may be going to a beach resort, with the demand that we have to be somewhere cool or unique for my actual birthday. I’ll know just enough information to be able to pack as I’m very OCD about packing. But I won’t know where we’re going until we leave. This’ll be a test for me as I like to know what I’m doing, where I’m going, another part of the OCD thing for me. But it’ll be good for me.
This week’s question: Are you a brand?
My answer: Yes, I’m a brand. To be honest, everyone is a brand. Regardless of who you are, you are you, you are a brand unto yourself. No matter how loud you are or how quiet you are, you are known for something. It might not be a good thing or it might be a great talent, but you’re known for something, making that a part of the brand that is you.
What’s your answer?
This week’s baking and cooking: none this week, I’m afraid. But there’s a possibility I might have something next week.
This week’s writing: this was something that just flowed out of my fingers at the prompt of the day yesterday. As sad as it is, it’s currently fitting.
“Drop Dead! Do us all a favor and just drop dead!”
She stalked off, ignoring the flinch he’d barely suppressed.
He did his best to keep a stoic face considering that no one had argued with her, clearly everyone would be happier if he did commit suicide.
He was in his last class when her boyfriend walked up to him. He stiffened, he was one of the toughest bullies on campus. Catching his attention was the last thing anyone wanted.
“I heard you were harassing my girlfriend.”
He knew better but gave it a shot anyway, “I didn’t do anything.”
“Bullsh**! That’s not what she says.”
He sucked in a breath as his fist slammed into his face, putting the back of his head into the wall behind him. He didn’t waste his breath on trying to deny it anymore, instead saving all of his energy for bearing the blows. His jaw took another hit before he hit him in the back of the head with his elbow, taking him down to the floor, losing his books all over.
He landed hard on his knees and hands until a foot met his ribs.
He did his best to block out his words but eventually he didn’t have a choice as everyone picked up his taunt that he was useless, should just leave them all alone, shouldn’t even exist. A few of the bolder ones taunted him that he should die but most weren’t quite so cruel. But just enough…
Eventually he got bored and left him curled up, clutching his ribs, face bruised and swollen and eye blackened.
No one dared to stay and help him up, not wanting to rise to the attention of the bullies.
He finally managed to make it to his feet and gather his books. He took the ones he actually needed for homework, packing them into his backpack that had been in his locker and started his way home. He knew it’d take a long time as he’d missed the bus, both city and school, so he’d have to walk it.
Two hours later, he finally made it home only for his brother to berate him for not being there to let the family dog out before he made a mess. He kept silent, never mind the fact that his brother had better opportunity to let him out, being at the community college, it was apparently his job.
His mother could tell something was wrong that night at dinner but she couldn’t get him to open up, his father was too tired and his brother didn’t give a damn, still irritated about the mess he’d had to pick up when he’d gotten home after a long day of classes.
He went to his room and waited until everyone had gone to bed and would almost be guaranteed to be asleep.
The next day, everyone was summoned to the gym for a rare assembly. No one knew what was going on. The principal had just summoned them all after morning announcements.
Once everyone had settled down, the principal called them all to attention.
“I’m here for a grave announcement. I received a call from Mrs. Travis this morning regarding your fellow student Matthew Travis.”
Before the principal could continue, one of Matthew’s fellow seniors shouted out, “What’s that freak done now?”
The girl who’d started this all the day before by blowing a simple comment of his out of proportion smirked in amusement.
It quickly wiped off her face with his next sentences.
“Enough! Matthew Travis committed suicide last night.”
Oppressive silence filled the room. Of all things they’d expected him to say, that wasn’t it.
Their principal continued, “He left a letter behind. Apparently, he’d been bullied here for years and we teachers missed it all. Most recently, everyone kept telling him he was a waste of space, that he was useless, that he should die. Congratulations, he listened. This rests on you all who tormented him, not just those that told him he should die, it’s on all of you.”
With that, he left the gym, leaving every student in shock.
At home with the Travis’, it wasn’t any better. His mother was depressed, wailing; his father was in a stupor, unbelieving his son had committed suicide. His brother had yet to come out of Matthew’s room after the ambulance took Matthew’s body away. He refused, he couldn’t believe that his brother wasn’t going to come walking that door. He couldn’t believe that the last thing his brother knew from him was anger over a stupid accident the dog had done.
At the school, the assistant principal finished setting up the video equipment as the sound level in the room rose.
Everyone shut up.
“Along with his letter, Matthew Travis left a vid-letter labeled, ‘to anyone that cares’. His parents have agreed that you should all see it.”
He clicked on the video in the email and set it to play.
Matthew’s bruised face appeared before backing up, it was clearly a few hours after the beating as the swelling had gone down but his eye showed it was the day before.
“Hi, for those that care, my name is Matthew Travis. I’m 17, my favorite color is green, my favorite animal is the tiger, and this is my goodbye video. I can’t take this anymore. I’ve been insulted, teased, bullied, beaten up, and hurt for so long, I can’t remember a day I looked forward to going to school. I hate it. I hate this blackhole that my life has become. I have nothing to look forward to, nothing to be happy about. I’m done. I can’t.”
With that, he stood, leaving the camera recording as he picked up the laptop it was clearly on. A few clunks later, he stepped away. It took a few for the slower ones but they eventually all figured out what was about to happen.
The girl who started this all muttered to her friend, “They aren’t planning on making us watch this, are they? Not really? They can’t! We shouldn’t have to see this!”
She wasn’t alone but the assistant principal spoke again, “Silence!”
Everyone quieted once more and tuned back in to see that he was standing on a chair, tying something around something that was just out of sight of the camera. He brought his hands down and a rope followed, right at head angle. He hopped down from the chair, the rope now tied into a noose before climbing back up, this time with a sharp knife.
Everyone grew white and green as they watched him carve the word, ‘freak’ into his left arm before slicing both wrists.
As he grew lightheaded, he spoke even as he hooked his head through the noose.
“If anyone watching this cares, goodbye.”
With his last words, he stepped off the chair once more, the rope tightening around his neck.
Various students whimpered as his body jerked, blood dripping from his arms before he stopped moving beyond the sway from the fan in the room. The assistant principal paused the video.
“It goes on for hours, the timestamp shows he committed suicide at midnight last night but wasn’t discovered until this morning at 6 am.”
“I hope you all have learned a lesson at the cost of this young man’s life. Words can and do destroy. Remember that.”
© Paula Crofoot
Writing Prompt: two this week: Don’t ever try to get inside my head, it’s too dark for you. And: Do you know what it’s like to be tortured by your own mind.
My Book of the Week: Vision in White, Book one in the Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts. I’m working my way through all of her trilogies and quartets. But I’m not sure about these. I’m not one for romance books and I like her books for the hint of romance subplot that’s overrun with the mystery or fantasy major plot.
Monday Motivation: Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up, I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices- today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but to embrace it.
Music I’m listening to as I’m posting this: Not a Bad Thing: Justin Timberlake-Single
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