"Don't forget to take your lunch!" said Lauren as Roy was about to leave for school. His mother always reminded him as he tended to forget to pack either his books or his lunch. It was going to be another long day at school for Roy. A day which he hoped would turn out for the better. The last days had been especially hard. The other kids, the "bullies" as his mother would call them, had really put Roy on the edge. It wasn't easy for him. He'd felt like an outcast ever since he got into high school. Elementary school had been quite okay, but then again the kids were not that much into their cliques and popularity contests. This all changed once they got into high school and their puberty kicked in. They tended to pick on the weakest and it turned out that Roy had become the target. They kicked his backpack and sometimes would take it and throw it into the trash bin. It would make Roy bite his lips and he'd cry from the inside. Trying to hold back the tears, he would walk into the bathroom seemingly careless. That's where he would let the tears flow.
He felt so alone. So lonely on this world. There was nobody he could hold onto, except for his family. It was so hard and he wondered why he even went to school in the first place. He wondered if all the people in the world were like this. His mom, Lauren, said the world was filled with good and you should meet people with the impression that they mean well. Yet Roy started to question all of this. Perhaps it wasn't true at all. Perhaps the whole world had turned against him, from the girls laughing at his clothes while riding his bike to school to the teacher doing nothing when he took a beating in front of the classroom. He did have support from his parents, but only so much. He kept being sent back to school and this resulted in more bullying, people stealing his lunch, more bruises. His lunch package was taken from him so often that he just stopped taking it to school altogether. His dad said “Well, just hit them one time. Show them you won't take it anymore. You can't go on like this. Make them swallow it.” But Roy was not a violent person. He had not a single bad hair on his head. He woulnd't hurt an ant, he thought. Roy had been stuck, he didn't know whether he should speak up or stay silent and just take it, until he would finish high school in a few years.
He had no idea how it had come this far. The years just seemed to pass. From September, when he'd get in school, he'd be in a new class each year. However, he always had at least a few bullies coming with him from the last class. While in general the people in the new class didn't know each other yet, the bullies would slowly start picking on Roy. Then, the others saw it as a green light and they'd lighten up finding out they'd have a new target for the year. Someone new to release their own insecurities on. Roy was so sick of it, but he couldn't stop going to school. His parents would have none of it.
And so, another year had started. Roy was on his bike to school. He liked to stop near the station and look at birds in the trees and on the power lines. He'd then watch the train pull out of the station. Roy would then ride his bike past the bus station. Greeting one friendly driver on the way. Roy loved to ride the regional bus out of town on the weekends. He would buy a ticket for one day, visiting some towns in the region. The drivers would ask where he was going, more out of concern than out of interest. He'd reply he liked traveling. Then the drivers started recognizing him and said hello as Roy passed on his bike, on the way to school. Passing the drivers at the bus station made Roy feel like he'd reached a safe haven, a sort of checkpoint he could fiel relieved. Nobody making fun of him on the way, could be the beginning of a good day. Nobody pushing him off his bike, even better.
Roy reached school and walked to his locker. He'd just say hello to some random people, in the hope they would say hello back and he'd manage to establish some acquaintance or friendship. Most of the people at this big school didn’t know Roy, so they all ignored his friendly hello's and good morning's. He took off his jacket and put it into his locker. He wore a new sweater vest his mom had bought him. On the front, large letters spelled "DUDE". He felt pretty confident wearing it. It was in dark blue, with yellow and grey letters. His favourite colours, perfect for autumn, he figured. Directly as he walked up the stairs, two girls started giggling as they passed him. Nothing special, he'd think, while moving on. He then entered the classroom and sat down. He was late and the teacher reminded him by saying "Dude, be on time tomorrow!". A soft "Yes, sir" came from Roy's pale lips. "You want him to be your dude?" said Carley to her long-haired blonde friend Angela. "Well no thank you.." she replied. It had already taken all confidence out of Roy. He still liked the sweater vest though and kept wearing it with the little pride left in him.
After another long day, he rode his bike back home. He made a detour. Along the river. His best part of the day so far. Nobody around, nobody to be watchful for. Roy didn’t know what made him special. Or if he even was special. Was he even a someone? It could all be nothing – a life full of bullying and then it just ends. Or maybe not. His head hurt from thinking so much. Roy decided to stop at a bench, dropped his bike and sat down. He started his breathing exercises. His mom always told him to breathe in deeply and than slowly exhale at the ten-second mark. It helped him somewhat but still the thoughts raged through his head. He decided just to stop thinking and looked at the landscape, tall, green grass and birds flying over. The river just about fifty metres away. He wondered how nature could be so perfect, so peaceful. But what could help Roy, could it be the birds? Could he be friends with them? A pidgin flew by. Then again. It got down on the road and walked towards Roy, hesitantly. Roy hadn’t eaten his lunch. He took some pieces of bread and started feeding the pidgin. It came closer and they made eye contact. Strange but satisfying for Roy. Here was some being that didn’t judge him for the vest he wore. He felt much better all of a sudden, even though he could never exchange a conversation with this bird. He wished he could fly with it, all over the city. Then shit on some bully’s head.
A lady was on her way, on a bike. Still far. Closer and closer. Eventually, she noticed Roy. She stopped and the pidgin was scared, it took some more bread and flew away. “How are you doing young boy?” asked the lady with grey hair and red lipstick. “Great, some old witch with thick rimmed glasses coming to lecture me. Probably going to whine about the breadcrums.” She asked if she could sit down. Roy said “Sure” even though he hated the idea. They said nothing to each other for a few minutes. This broke the ice for Roy and he asked how she was doing. “Not too bad, I picked some plums from my garden. Would you like some?” “I could try, sure..” The lady took a little plastic bag and packed a handful of plums. She gave them to Roy. “I’ll be on my way now..” said the lady. “Wait, please, I would really like to talk a bit..” mumbled Roy. The lady saw the concern in his eyes and asked what bothered him. “I have no friends.. I am alone in this world. They bully me and I don’t feel safe..” The lady sat back down. “I am so sorry to hear that.. And don’t you have a girlfriend you can talk to?” “I am ALONE” said Roy, with tears rolling down his cheeks. The lady hugged him and again they were quiet for a few minutes. She did not know what to say. She admitted she didn’t have children and also wasn’t bullied as a child. She just listened to Roy, and what was going on in the school.
Eventually, after Roy had stopped crying, a group of boys and girls on a bike came by. Roy recognized them from school. A first couple yelled “FAGGOT!”. Roy didn’t know what to do. The lady was horrified as well. “Who’s that old twat, is she your grandma?” yelled a boy from his bike. At that point, Roy couldn’t take it anymore. He picked a few plums from the plastic bag and started throwing them at the bully. He was at least sixteen. Much older than Roy. Taller and stronger. But he didn’t care anymore. He had no feeling, nothing but anger. They had insulted his only friend, the lady who was sitting there, shocked by Roy’s sudden outburst. He kept throwing plums and the bully got off his bike. The bully rolled up his sleeves and Roy backed down. He knew he had picked a fight. Not a good decision.. He stepped back a bit more, until he was stopped by some bushes poking his back. “Leave the boy alone!” yelled the lady. “I’ll get to you later you old skank!”, yelled the bully. Roy then took his chance and grabbed the basked off the lady’s bike. At a moment the bully wasn’t paying attention, Roy hit him over the head with the heavy basked. Plums rolled out, into the bushes, onto the road. The lady got up and tried to stop Roy but couldn’t. The bully had fallen onto his shoulder and tried to get up. Roy pushed him back down and spit in his face. “You’re ruining my life! You and your friends! It’s ENOUGH now! I have never felt safe with you bastards around!” The bully was gasping for air and had his mouth wide open. Roy grabbed some plums and shoved them down his throat. “SWALLOW those pits you scumbag! I’ll make you shit plum trees you rat fucker!” The bully nearly lost it and had at least four plums in his mouth. The lady now pulled back Roy and the bully got up. He picked out the plums and looked in horror. He was too afraid to do anything. He had bruises all over his face and was in pain. Roy and the bully stared at each other. A pidgin, perhaps the same one, was looking from beneath the bench. The lady, the bully and the pidgin all looked at Roy in silence.
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