My name's Elissa. Elissa Hollinrake. Most girls would kill to be popular, to be pretty and well known and adored by everyone in the year. I'm not one of them. But I am well known. Well known for being an easy target for bullies. Well known for having moved schools several times in the past four years. And well known for having a drug addict father and a mother with cancer. My calls for help always fall short, but this time, I'm telling my story to the world.


4. I Want to Help You

The rest of school passed in a blur of misery. No good lessons, stupid people, and to top it all off, I was cornered in the toilets by Louisa, who was not in a good mood.

I'd just exited my cubicle, and was washing my hands, when Louisa pushed against the wall and slapped me across the face, hard. My eyes widened in shock. So many things rushed through my mind: why did she slap me? What had I done to deserve this? Was the physical bullying going to start again?

"You vindicitive little bitch, Elissa! You stay away from my boyfriend! He has no interest in you, so you can stop throwing yourself at him!" she growled, pinning me against the wall, putting pressure on my chest. "I swear, if I ever see you acting like a tart around him again, I will make sure you don't live to see the day after."

And she was gone. She'd stormed out of the toilets, and I could clearly hear her gabbing with her friends about her supposed victory. My stomach clenched, me chest tightened, I felt violently ill. I scrabbled to my feet, propelling myself into the cubicle I'd come out of, and threw up. I wasn't sick one or twice. It was numerous times, emptying my stomach of the meagre amount of food it had been holding. When I was completely sure I'd finished vomiting, I flushed the toilet, left the cubicle, washed me hands and face and sloped out of the bathroom.

The thought of being the victim of physical bullying again made me feel faint. It's happened in the past, but that was in my old schools. Any bullying at the school I'm at now has always been mental bullying. The girls used to play mind games with me, invite me to places and then not turn up. Some of the boys have shouted at me in the halls, calling me a whore and a bitch. You get used to it after a while. But I'd never expected to be physically bullied again.

Trying not to attract any attention, I hurried to my locker to change my books, only to find Jason at the opposite end of the hallway, staring at me. I exchanged the relevant books, slammed my locker door, checking my pad-lock was locked, and strode off in the direction of home.

I live in a nice-ish neighbourhood. Nice people, nice houses, low crime rate. My house is close to school, so I walk there are back every day. Nothing bad ever happens in my neighbourhood, so you don't make a conscience decision to check over your shoulder every five minutes, or when you take a corner. You don't listen out for any strange noises, and people don't take note if you aren't yourself. Today was no different, so as I jogged home, no one stopped me to ask why I was flushed

When I arrived home, I couldn't hear any movement. No surprises there. My mum is always out at therapy or at the doctors, and my dad is very rarely home before nine. I dumped my bag at the bottom of the stairs, poured myself a glass of water and brushed my teeth, trying to abolish the taste of sick that lingered in my mouth. I scrubbed my teeth for five minutes, used two caps of mouth wash and chewed a stick of gum, leaving my mouth so hot with mint it brought tears to my eyes.

I padded back to the kitchen and looked out of the window, sipping my water slowly. I looked down, for the briefest of seconds, then looked up again, finding myself face-to-face with Jason, who was one the other side of the kitchen window. My glass fell from my hands, plummeting to the floor where it smashed. I swore loudly, loud enough for Jason to hear on the other side of the double-glazing, and glared at him before setting out to tidy up the mess on the floor.

While I was on my hands and knees with a dust-pan and brush, cleaning up the smashed glass, Jason let himself into the house and leant against the door jamb, watching me.

"What are you doing here?" I sighed, not bothering to look up from my work.

"I came to see how you were," Jason replied. I avoided his eye as I emptied the glass into the bin and put my equipment away.

"You don't need to check up on me, Jason. I'm fine. You don't know me, I don't really like you, there's no point," I said, finally turning around to face him. I leant against the kitchen work-top, trying to read his expression.

"I understand what it's like, Elissa. I know what it's like to be bullied. That's why I hang around with the people I do: to avoid the bullying."

"You don't know what it's like to be me though. My life is hard. I have been bullied in every school I've been in. It hurts, y'know, not to be accepted," I explained, my voice wavering. I rammed the heel of my hand into my mouth, scared that I was going to start crying. "Your girlfriend slapped me in the girls' toilets earlier."

"I know she did," Jason admitted.

"And you didn't try to stop her. How am I not surprised?"

"It wasn't my place. You have to stand up for yourself, like you have with me, otherwise you will never gain the respect of you deserve and people will never know what you're really like, who you really are and what an amazing person you are underneath." I stared at him, not particularly impressed with his suggestion. "And I want to help you."

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