After tea, Lucy settled down for some intense gossiping with ‘the girls’, now that her phone had charged back up and the dreaded homework was out of the way. She hated to admit it, but it actually was better to just get it done, as now she could relax and chat with her mates. She couldn’t wait to catch up with them all, it had been at least 2 hours now since she’d seen any of them, almost a lifetime!
She smiled as the phone powered up, all of the notification sounds telling her that there was lots to catch up on, and also reassuring her that she was still popular with her friends despite what had happened earlier at school. She had been so worried.
As she began working through them all, however, her heart sank and the tears that seemed to have been ever-present that day returned for an encore. Message after message, post after post, they all seemed to be mocking her. She was absolutely heartbroken, how could her friends do this to her?
What really did it though was when she came across a photo, posted by one of the girls in her class. Not just any photo though, this was a photo of her wet and dripping, walking to the classroom door with Mrs Jenkins arm around her and the biggest, most obvious wee stain right across the back of her school skirt. Lucy felt crushed, absolutely devastated. She cried out in anguish, and sobbed uncontrollably into her pillow. Any hope of keeping this quiet had gone, the photo had been shared dozens of times already. She doubted there was anybody in the town, never mind the school, who hadn’t seen it. She was finished, and she knew it.
Hearing her young daughter crying out as if in pain, Mrs Daniels immediately called up the stairs “Lucy, are you ok? What’s the matter?”
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” Lucy screamed in reply. “I WISH I WAS DEAD!”
Panicking now, her Mother abandoned the washing up and ran up the stairs, bursting through Lucy’s door to find the girl curled up on her bed and absolutely distraught. She realised there was no point trying to get any sense out of Lucy whilst she was in this state, so sat down on the edge on the bed and tried to soothe her daughter whilst she calmed down.
Eventually, some time later, Lucy was able to stutter out “E..e…very bbbody knowsss Mummy.” Between her sobs, and gestured to her phone which was lying abandoned on the bed.
Picking up the phone and glancing at the photo which was open on the screen, Mrs Daniels blood ran cold. Who had done this, and why? What a cruel thing to do, now she could see why Lucy was so upset.
It took an awful lot of reassurance from her Mum, but eventually Lucy did calm down, and together they looked through the posts and messages. By doing this, she could see that whilst the wider class and school had all been sharing her shame, her own circle of friends were notably absent, and the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach did ease a little at this realisation. At least her girls were sticking by her, and boy was she going to need them if everybody else was making fun.
The most devastating thing for Lucy though, by far, was when she realised just how many older kids had commented or shared the posts and the photos. This meant that everybody in her new high school was going to know. She’d forever be the little girl who weed herself at school in year 6. As somebody for whom image was everything, Lucy felt like her whole world was crashing down around her ears. How would she ever be able to show her face in public again? In school? She couldn’t bear to even this about it.
Lucy had lost her appetite for gossip now, knowing that half of the kids in the town would be talking and laughing about her kind of took the shine off it for her. Besides, she was worried about talking to her friends just in case they were going to make fun other too. They’d not shared the photos, but that didn’t mean they didn’t think she was a baby. No, right now she just wanted to be alone.
It was only early, still before 8pm, but after her Mum went back downstairs to carry on her chores Lucy decided she’d had enough of today, and wanted to call it a night. She popped to the bathroom to clean her teeth, washed her tear streaked face and then drank two large glasses of ice cold water. All of that crying had made her so very thirsty.
Crawling under the duvet and cuddling up to her childhood soft toy, which she hadn’t slept with for at least a couple of years, poor Lucy cried herself to sleep, wishing she didn’t have to wake up the next day and face the world.
Downstairs, Mrs Daniels was seething. She couldn’t abide bullying, and seeing her little girl so heartbroken made her shake with rage. She toyed with the idea of writing an email to the school, but quickly realised that she wasn’t in the right frame of mind and would no doubt make everything worse. Besides, from what Lucy had said, many of the kids involved were older and had already moved up to the high school. Instead, anxious to vent and also hoping for some reassurance that Lucy’s friends were still on side and would help her through this, she picked up her phone and called her friend Jenny, who was Becky’s Mum.
The call was quickly answered with “Hi Lesley, how are you?”
“Hello Jen. Don’t ask!”
“Oh dear, that doesn’t sound good. Becky told me Lucy had a really rough day today, how’s she doing now?”
“Oh she’s absolutely in bits love, genuinely heartbroken. She’s mortified by what happened, of course, but I’d just managed to calm her down and then she found out people had taken photos and where sharing them around on the internet. I just don’t know how to help her, she’s cried herself to sleep upstairs.”
“Oh the poor love, that’s awful. Why are some kids so bloody cruel? I really hope Becky hasn’t been involved in any of this? I’m sure she can’t have been, she’s been so upset for her little friend since she got home, bless her.”
“No, no, nothing like that. At least not as far as I know anyway. Lucy showed me the posts, and it looks like they were started by some other girls in the class, but now it’s mostly the older kids from the high school that are sharing it everywhere. That’s why she’s so devastated, because they all know now. You know how much the girls like to feel grown up, and something like this could destroy the rest of her time at school. So sorry for disturbing your evening Jen, I just really needed to vent.”
“Don’t be daft Les, you know I’m always here to listen. Rant away!”
The two mums chatted away for most of the evening, eventually moving on to different topics and putting the world to rights. It had been far too long since they’d made time for a proper catchup, and whilst both wished the circumstances were different they were grateful for the opportunity.
“When Lucy wakes up, please tell her that Becky has been asking after her.” Jenny said, as the call drew to a close.
“I will, thanks Les. And thank you for letting me bend your ear. Now I really must get off to bed, or we’ll be running late in the morning when don’t want to wake up!” The pair chuckled a goodbye, and then each made their way to bed, looking in on their respective children as they did so.2
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