Many things passed through David Goodrew’s mind as he walked through the corridors soon afterward, seeing the students pass by him. A lot of them were the same questions, the same admonishments. He thought of asking the questions, interviewing his staff, demanding to know why he’d not been told, demanding to know why he’d thought it was unique and a quirky edge to his school. Who in their right mind would have thought that?
But those thoughts passed by quickly, as he turned through a door and out into the cool, spicy air. It wasn’t about him, and all of his years had at least taught him that. It was about Peter.
The sky above had turned a miserly grey, the clouds a flat-pan across the sun. The golden-brown leaves churned up like years, and with each step David walked through all of the days he’d been teaching. But he would not recount them all, only the highlights, those that would ready him for the next few moments.
His feet touched the grass, and as the bell rang out in the main building, across the yard, his steps took him to the furthest flung corner of the school field. And why? Because those years had taught him that bullies were cowards, and would hide their victims away, out of sight, where they’d be and feel most vulnerable. Those years had taught him that he had to stick to the rules, but to be unpredictable would catch them clean, because bullies liked routine, loved their victims to know that a certain place, a certain time, would bring them fear. Those years had taught him. He’d only forgotten.
Apathy, he thought.
Most of the students had gone now, left the field leaving muddy footprints, churned up earth and scattered leaves—so many leaves. A mitten was on the floor, and he thought perhaps a hat to go with it, near the trees over there. But where would they take Peter?
The trees to the left marked the very edge of the meadow and cut sharply to the left, following the line of the main road beyond it. The limbs were almost completely bare, the bark dark and crusty, and clustered with their contemporaries they made a hollow of their trunks where lots of things would live. Including spiders. Including bullies.
David stopped at the corner, aware that he was a man on a deserted field, that the classrooms would now be filling up and eyes would be on him. He heard voices though, and they were the voices of the three boys who’d chase Peter every day.
“…love them. We know you do. Eat one. Go on.”
“The bell’s gone.”
“Who’ve we got next?”
“Seaman.” The boys laughed, though David had heard it so many times. That’s Mrs Seaman, to you, he heard her cry.
“She’s never on time. We have a few minutes.” That was Billy Phillips, ring leader no doubt. “Enough time for Peter here to show us his super spider eating powers.”
“Yeah.” Robert Gallagher. Not in any of his classes, but known to him. Constantly in detention.
“Spider Boy, Spider Boy, does whatever a Spider Boy does.” The tuneful one was either Craig Norman or Stephen Goymer.
There was a muffled sound, and that was enough for David.
He stepped round the tree line and walked toward them quickly. “Just stop right there.”
Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.
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