Shattered pane of glass

Claire's cyber bullying experience wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been, but maybe it need not have happened at all?

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1. Shattered pane of glass

 

If Becky hadn't been living next door, then I wouldn’t be telling this story right now. Maybe I’d be too scared, maybe I’d be lost, or maybe I wouldn't be anything at all anymore.

 

You see, in the real world I was quiet. I didn’t really have many friends, other than the riff raff of students who frequented the school library as much as I did or played in the schools band despite its dwindling numbers. I was bullied briefly, and that’s when I became a true introvert. Now my name, Claire, was rarely spoken aloud, and I liked it that way. I preferred to be on my own, in a different world to everybody else. When I was younger, I read books quite a lot but two years ago my dad bought me a laptop for my birthday.

 

That’s when everything changed.

 

Soon enough I discovered the infinite worlds that the internet encompassed. Some people kept a blog, some people shared their thoughts through videos, and some people simply talked to strangers in chat rooms. It all felt so new and exciting and innocent.

‘Everyone is doing it.’ I would tell myself as I logged in daily.

 

Of course I chatted to so many people, within a week I’d had more conversations than I had ever had previously. It was nice to feel wanted for a change. It was nice to just talk about things without having to look someone in the eye and have them staring back. It was nice to just be me.

 

Then one day I logged on to find that I had a notification…

 

Steven has invited you to a private chat, do you wish to talk to him?’

 

I accepted, feeling that excited rush that I always got when I started talking to someone new. Steven introduced himself, and we talked about our interests. Soon we found that we had a lot in common and before I knew it we were chatting like we were the best of friends.

 

Steven told me that he was 17, and he only lived a few miles away from me. He liked reading and playing music just like me, and he would listen to everything I said. Or rather, every thing I wrote.

I told him all about myself; it never occurred to me that maybe I was telling him too much.

 

Soon enough I would almost run home from school to talk to Steven. He was always there for me. I thought of nothing and nobody else. Until one day everything went wrong. …

 

I logged in as normal and of course Steven was online already. We chatted for a while and then out of the blue Steven said “Will you send me a picture of yourself?” and I didn’t think twice before agreeing. I took a while selecting the perfect photo to send and he sent me one back. He looked friendly and happy and smart too. “Wow,” he said, “you’re so pretty! Do you maybe want to meet up?”

My heart skipped a beat. For weeks I’d wanted nothing more than to meet Steven in the flesh, to hold his hand and look into his eyes and… I hadn’t needed a photo; I’d known for a while that I felt more than just friendship towards him. I wanted to say yes straight away, but I hesitated. I remembered all of the warnings we’d been given about meeting people from the internet and even the chat room sent regular notifications warning against it.

“I’m not sure, I don’t know whether it is safe…” I told him.

“Don’t you trust me?” He wrote back.

“Of course I do!”

“Then what are you worrying about? You know me, we’re friends.”

‘friends?’ I was sold. We set a date and a time, the coming weekend, five o’clock in the park of a nearby town. Excitedly I said goodbye and logged off, then rushed to my wardrobe and began tearing through it. I had to look perfect for him. He had to like me in the fresh!

 

The weekend came slowly but when it finally arrived I could hardly breathe. I caught the bus into town and arrived in the park at the arranged time, however, there as no sign of Steven. I waited for half and hour, my heart slowly breaking with every tick of the hand on my watch. Deflated, I was just about to give and leave when a man of about 25 began approaching me. Uncertainly, I remained where I was, trying not to attract his eye contact by checking the time, scrutinizing the timepiece around my wrist. I had a strange feeling in my stomach.

 

“Claire?” a voice said, and I looked up. The man was looking down on my, fixing me with a cold glare. My throat went dry.

“How do you know my name?” I asked, but years of warnings told me that I already knew the answer.

“I’m Steven…” he said quietly, huskily.

“I know. But you aren’t 17, why did you lie?” I asked shakily.

“You seemed so nice. I wanted to talk to you in person…You liked me didn’t you?”

I hesitated. Did I like him? I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know who he was. This couldn’t be the boy I talked to online, could it? But what could I do? Say no? What might he do to me then? I made a decision.

“Of course I did. I still do.” I smiled, trying to look genuine.

“Good.” Steven said, taking my hand and pulling me up on to my feet. We stood for a moment, looking into each others eyes. It was not the way I had expected it to be. Then he kissed me. I couldn’t pull away and did not respond but his kiss seemed to last for hours. When he finally stopped I was shaken and scared. A tear fell from my glassy eyes.

“Don’t be afraid Claire, just come with me…” He said, beginning to drag me towards the park entrance. Suddenly I decided I couldn’t go on. Who knew what lay in store for me if I went with him?

“No!” I said loudly, pulling my hand away from his and turning swiftly. I began to run. I heard Steven yelling after me, but he did not follow. I didn’t care. I kept running, on and on until I reached the bus stop.

When the bus pulled up in my town I didn’t think to thank the driver. I ran on to my house and never looked back.

 

Running up my street I saw a girl who lived next door to me leaving her house.

“Hey, are you okay?” she said, gesturing towards my eyes which were streaming with tears.

I nodded briefly then ran past her and let myself in.

 

Once in my bedroom I let out a sigh of relief and sunk onto my bed. My laptop was waiting on my pillow where I had left it before I went out. I wanted to ignore it and never chat online again but something was calling me to log in. I did.

As I had half expected, I had a notification. My hand trembled as I read it.

“Why did you run? You ugly cow, I only wanted to be your friend. I’ll get you for making me look like an Idiot. “The notification read. I ignored it and deleted the post, but moments later I received another.

“Don’t try and ignore me…I know you are reading this…worthless and frigid, that’s what you are! Ignore me and I’ll find you, tell anyone and it will be the last thing you do!”

I pushed the laptop off my lap and it slid off the bed and onto the floor. There was a crack and I looked down to see the screen broken and shattered, pieces of glass adorning the floor. Suddenly I felt both relieved and upset. Taking a deep breath I let out a sob…Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Sniffing I wiped my face quickly.

“Come in.”

 

The door opened slowly to reveal the last person I had expected; it was Becky, my next door neighbor. I’d never talked to Becky though we were in the same year at school. Becky was a popular girl, pretty and funny and always surrounded by friends. In my opinion we were polar opposites.

“Hi, your mum let me in.” Becky said.

“What do you want?” I replied. I didn’t mean to be so prickly but couldn’t help it.

“I wanted to see if you were okay. When I saw you earlier you looked distraught and…” Becky trailed off, noticing the remnants of the laptop on near the foot of the bed.

“…I’m fine!” I whispered, but I guess my face told quite the opposite story and tears began streaming down my cheeks again.

“You don’t look fine…Will you tell me what’s wrong?” Becky asked, picking her way through the broken glass and crawling onto the bed where I was already sitting, hugging my knees tightly.

“I can’t, he’ll do something to me. He’ll get me if I do.” I was talking as if I was in a trance.

“Who will? Who’ll get you? Please tell me!” Becky begged, then her eyes caught sight of the laptop on the floor and she made the connection.

“Someone online, is that it?” Becky ventured.

I looked up at Becky, my tear stained face shuddering fearfully, “Yes.” I mouthed, as if I was afraid that Steven was listening in on me, “help me!”

 

Two years on, I can’t believe that I’d not talked to Becky before. When she found out about the bullying, the first thing she did was tell my mum, who cried and then deleted my chat room account. Then Becky invited me to join her group of friends for lunch at school, and I quickly realized that these people were not the unapproachable people I had first though they were… Becky never told anyone about Steven, and I never talked about it. I certainly never considered joining the chat room again and chose to forget about Steven. Sometimes I get a flurry of panic while walking on my own, especially in the local park, but I’ve never seen or heard from Steven instead. I still thank Becky for her kindness though, as without her I’m sure I would have ended up talking to Steven again. Now I friends in the real world I don’t need the likes of him any more. His actions were the actions of a bully, not a friend. After all, he manipulated and lied to me, and goodness knows what else he’s have done had he been given the chance. Luckily, he never was.

 

I’m so thankful that Becky lives next door to me, and that she cared enough to check up on me when I was scared. If it weren’t for her then maybe I’d be scared, or lost, or nothing at all anymore. Maybe it’s too dramatic to say that she saved my life, but who knows?

 

All I know for certain is that I’ll never need a friend like Steven again. 

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