If you missed part 1 of this story, you can read it here. This week, we find out how to stop bullies. What happens in part 2 may surprise you.
Remember, this is copyrighted material and Julie Polanco retains all rights to her work. If you wish to own your own copy, you can purchase it here.
Not another dragon
She sat there and rocked me in her arms, saying nothing for a while.
I could hear the gentle ticking of the clock and felt her soft breath against the side of my face. I wished I could live in that cocoon of warmth forever and never go back to that hateful place. After a while, she pulled away from me and her glittering eyes held mine.
“Now, do you want to tell me what happened?”
I took a deep breath. There were no more tears left, just an emptiness, a deep hole where my heart lived once. Slowly, I spoke, and then my words just tumbled over each other as I tried to tell her about all the torment. She sat there, expressionless, except for her eyes. Her eyes gleamed, then narrowed, then brimmed with tears.
When I finished speaking, there was silence. At first, I thought maybe she didn’t believe me. I studied her face, hopeful. She breathed deeply and then I heard her whisper something that sounded ridiculous.
“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who insult you and persecute you. By doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
“Are you saying that it’s okay for them to treat me like that?”
“Oh, no, no. Evil is never okay. These kids, what they do, it is never okay. No. But, if you do what they do, then you are just like them.”
“But, grandma, I’ve tried ignoring them, I’ve tried telling myself that they are liars. I’ve tried talking to them. I don’t A know what to do. I can’t take it anymore. Maybe they are right and I’m just a clumsy, ugly, too smart, nothing.” I turned away from her and hid my face.
A New Strategy
Grandma gently turned my chin towards her.
“No. You have infinite worth. You are so valuable that you were worth dying for. Don’t ever say that you are nothing.”
“Shhh. I’m going to tell you what you could do. Now, listen. What I’m going to say is going to sound strange to you, but if you try it, you will see the truth.”
“What would happen if you went to school and every time one of them kids said something mean, you gave them a compliment? How about bringing extra snacks to school and sharing with them at lunch? What if you brought your favorite game and invited them to play at recess? What do you think would happen?”
“Are you saying that I should be extra nice to them?”
“Well, you’ve tried everything else, even hitting the kid in the face.”
“I know it’s hard to be nice to mean people, but it’s also hard to continue to be mean to someone who’s being so nice. Would you be able to continue to mistreat someone who is really nice to you?”
She got up from her chair and went to the refrigerator.
“Do you want any more milk? You still have two cookies there.” I shook my head. She came back and plopped down in the chair again with the gallon of milk in her hand. After she poured herself a fresh glass, she continued.
“All you can do is give it a try.” She winked. “And let me know how it all turns out.”
The Dragon Returns
Two days later, my suspension was over and I went back to that dreaded place called school.
Dennis, the kid I hit, had a blue-black bruise that spread over his eye and down his nose. He glared at me the minute he saw me and made motions with his hands, hitting the palm of one with the fist of the other. I shrugged and kept walking. Most of the other kids avoided me altogether. Nobody said anything to me that day and nobody approached me at recess. Maybe I can get away with doing nothing, I thought. The rest of the week was the same. For the first time that year, I didn’t hear that awful name they gave me. Maybe hitting Dennis worked. Maybe they finally got the message.
I was wrong. The second week after my return, school supplies started disappearing from my desk. My lunch decided to feed someone else a couple of times. Then, I received a note. The note had one word–that awful name–repeated over and over and over again, covering the entire piece of paper, in death black and blood red ink.
I made myself throw up so the teacher would send me home early.
Fighting the Dragon
What to do, what to do, what to do. Don’t do what they do or you are just like them. My grandma’s voice floated across my brain as I tried to think. Maybe she’s right. I have nothing left to lose.
That evening, I decided to make cupcakes for my class.
I passed them out at lunchtime the next day and then I waited.
“What is this? Is it your birthday? Happy Birthday, freak!” Dennis threw the cupcake at me. A few others joined him, but many of the kids shrunk down in their seats and quietly munched their desserts. One girl, Tracy, caught up to me at recess.
“Hey, thanks for the cupcake. It was yummy.” She smiled at me and skipped off. I smiled, too.
The next day, I brought some of my scented stickers. I went right up to Dennis and gave him an entire sheet of root beer scented ones.
“These are for you,” I said and walked away.
He sounded suspicious, almost angry.
“I thought you might like them.”
He didn’t reply. He just stood there, his face all scrunched up, looking back and forth at the stickers and then at me. I didn’t know what to make of it, so I just left him standing there.
A couple of days later, Dennis came up to me and asked for a pencil.
I gave him one.
Victory is at hand
He came back a few minutes later and said, “Why did you give me this one?”
“I thought you might like it.”
I looked up from my work and met his gaze.
“It’s yours now. Enjoy.”
“No. I can’t take it.”
“It’s just a pencil, Dennis.”
“No, it’s not. It smells like peppermint. Where did you ever get a pencil that smells like peppermint? That’s my—.”
He stopped. This time, when I looked at him, I really saw him. His shoulders slumped and his eyes pleaded. His clothes were disheveled and a bit too big, his hair wild and overgrown.
The boy in front of me wept.
Soon, the teacher heard him and so did the rest of the class. She came to his side, scowling at me.
“Are you okay, Dennis? Did she hurt you?’
“No, no. She . . . she. . .”
I tried to become as small as possible, squeezing under my desk. That didn’t really work so well. I slowly unfolded myself and sat back in my seat. Everyone was staring at me.
“She . . . nice . . .to me.” He struggled to speak through his tears.
“Why are you crying then?”
“She . . .she . . .it’s my fav . . .favorite.”
The teacher smirked.
“All right, everybody. Back to your seats.” Then to us, she said,
“Keep this kind of stuff for after school, okay?”
I didn’t know what she was talking about, but Dennis was never the same.
The next day, he placed a chocolate candy heart on my desk with a note that said
Ginny, there’s nobody quite like you. You are the only one who was ever nice to me. Ever.
I am sorry. Can we be friends?