A Different Plan
A Different Plan
The world was at peace. Everything-from the sounds of farm machinery to the taunting of my classmates-had disappeared. My mind was a black void, completely dead, completely silent.
A soft, niggling squeal permeated through the void. Instantly, my body tensed, my mind grasping at the place of peace and willing me to stay asleep. Dreams were hard to come by these days. But it was too late. My body knew instinctively what was going to come-something bad-and I could do nothing to stop it.
I opened my eyes, blinking against the dim light of my little room as a shadow rose over me.
My chest tightened as I held my breath, hoping that maybe the perpetrator would go away and leave me alone. I knew that the chances of that happening were next to none.
Laughter echoed down the hallway just as a plastic bag full of ice water struck me in the middle of the face, drenching me and knocking the breath from my lungs. I could feel the adrenaline start in my chest, burning its way through my body and filling me with rage and the familiar feeling of fear.
I got up, wiping the water from my eyes. Hands shaking and breath coming in short, ragged gasps. Running toward the open door, I threw my head out into the hallway, hoping to catch a glimpse of the culprit. The action was futile. The hallway was silent and empty. I clutched at the doorframe, fingers digging into the wood as I tried to catch the breath that was caught by the pure adrenaline in my throat.
"I know who you are!" I yelled. As usual, I received no answer.
Did I know who had thrown the bag of ice water on me? At the Winterberg Agricultural High School, the suspects were fairly obvious. My classmates, sixteen-year-old boys, had chosen me to be the butt of all their jokes, the receiver of all their frustrations.
I climbed back into bed, trying to dispel the rest of the water on my face with trembling hands and curling up in a small ball on the corner of the furniture. I winced as a bruise on my arm smacked against the metal frame. The green and purple mass sat noticeably on my bicep, about the size of the stone someone had thrown at me during work hours a few days before. It wasn't the first bruise I had gotten at school, and I was sure it wouldn't be the last.
Three years ago, when I had first arrived at the school, it had only taken a couple of days for me to realize that time worked differently here. Authority, too, took on an identity of its own in this foreign place, and almost immediately my world turned upside down. I had encountered nightmares in my dreams before, but nothing compared to the current nightmare of reality.
Why did these foreigners-even though I had known them for years, what else could I consider them but foreigners?-these strangers, hate me so much? Why did my pain make them so happy? I had come to them an innocent young boy, a homebody, but having endured endless, violent bullying, I had reached my breaking point.
At every opportunity, they created ways to torment me and to make my life miserable. In classes, I knew that it was likely I would have physical harm done to me; maybe a classmate would throw a small object at the back of my head or a sharp pencil. Even when classes were over, the abuse continued. If only I could hide, I thought. But there was no place to hide.
I rolled over, trying to avoid the wet spot staining my sheets from the ice water. Even though I was getting close to ending grade 10, I still had two more years to go. Two more years of being tormented, day and night-mocked, hit, hurt, hated, abused, and kicked down just for the fun of it-and I was still alone.
When I could sleep, I slept deeply. In these instances, I would occasionally dream. The good dreams were nearly always the same. Fresh air, open land, sweat, and hard work. My par