Okay, I’ll admit it. I wasn’t always this confident teacher and writer, wearing her freak flag like a badge of honor. Back when I was a kid, I was the naive one that brought her Scooby Doo lunch box to the first day of junior high. And that set me up for years of ridicule. From, “Dog” to “Freak” to “Your face makes me vomit,” my days were filled with absolute torture. And I never said a word, just shrunk further into myself, believing their every word.
But now I’ve found my revenge, in writing. Every one of my novels has some sort of bully who teases, taunts, lies, and cheats and a misunderstood character trying to navigate through life. As my heroes find courage within themselves, they realize that the bullies only have power if it is given.
For example, in Artania III- Dragonless Sky 13-year-old Gwen, who has always reveled in skateboarding and working out, begins to try to mold herself into the populo group’s image.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Yuck,” Gwen muttered. Nothing on her face seemed right. Her lashes were so blonde you couldn’t see them. Her lips were as pale as the toilet. And her green eyes could have been the ugly tiles on the floor.
With a long sigh, she laid a long swathe of lip gloss on before lining each lid in fluorescent blue. Next, she squeezed in cheeks and brushed pink streaks up each one. Almost passable. She thought.
The tube of black mascara popped open with a snap that surprised her so much she almost dropped the wand. Catching it just before it tumbled out of her hand she lifted it slowly to her face and began to apply coat after coat of Midnight Black. She looked in the mirror and blinked. Weird, like tarantulas framing her eyes.
Gwen held the mirror at arm’s length barely recognizing the stranger peering back her. She suddenly got a déjà vu feeling. An image from a memory, or maybe a nightmare tugged at the edges of her consciousness. What was it? She tried to summon it, but all she got was a vague feeling that this mask protected her. As if makeup would save her from something horrible.
Just then the mirror shimmered and her image blurred. The glass rippled and seemed to melt. Unable to look away, Gwen gripped it tighter.
When her face came into focus it looked just like it had before. And that face terrified her.
“What the–?” she gasped dropping the compact.
“You okay in there?” a familiar voice sneered.
Lacey. Oh no! Gwen scrambled to pick up her mirror and shove it in her backpack. Zipping it closed tightly, she smoothed her skirt, put on a placid smile, and opened the stall door.
“Oh my gosh,” Gwen said, trying her best to imitate Lacey, “Someone must have been a total spaz. T. P.’s on the floor. Gross.” She kicked at the imaginary mess on the floor and crossed her fingers behind her back.
“Probably some seventh grade cronk,” Lacey said. Then she smiled. “Look at you! Love the skirt and that eye shadow. The cream!”
“Thanks, wanna borrow some?” Gwen suggested letting out the breath she’d been holding.
As the weeks go on, Gwen tries ever harder to fit in with Lacey’s crowd, but deep down she knows it’s not who she really is. I went through the same thing as a kid, trying desperately to make those bullying girls accept me. In the end, I forgot who I truly was.
That’s why I wrote this line of the Artanian Prophecy.
Our world will be saved if their art is true.
I’ve learned that when we are true to who we really are, bullies don’t matter quite so much.