You had ended up staying home from school the next day, and even though it didn't help your overall mood improve, it gave you time to relax and sleep for a little longer. If there was one thing you were absolutely fond of, it was sleeping, and there were times when even on a weekday you would wake up just an hour or less before school started, forcing you to make haste on your way to school. It was almost noon when you woke up that morning, and even though you wanted nothing more than to just roll over and fall asleep once again, you didn't want to waste the whole day doing so. You had gone to sleep somewhat early the previous night, drifting off at around 11 p.m., but even though most of the time you found it hard to fall asleep, part of the reason why it had been so easy for you was because of all your crying. By the time you felt more stable at around 10 p.m., your eyes almost felt like they were on fire and your entire body was exhausted, both from your large amount of tears and all the pain Gilbert had caused you that day.
When you woke up the following morning after your day off, you were already dreading going to school and facing what you already knew awaited you. It had been a struggle for you to get out of bed, get dressed, and prepare what little breakfast you had eaten. You were still feeling kind of weak from what happened two days ago and from relaxing for the majority of the day yesterday. Since you knew that you were most likely going to face Gilbert again today, you already prepared yourself for what was going to happen when you arrived at the school.
By the time you got off the bus that took you a few blocks away from the school and walked the rest of the distance there, you were only a few minutes close to being late. Even though this happened to you a couple of times, you knew that there were going to be consequences involved if you didn't get to school on time. As you ran across the front campus of the school and were about to hastily dash up the steps and enter the building, your eyes slightly wide in anxiety and your breath coming out quick and nervous, you immediately skidded to a halt a few feet away from the foot of the steps and looked up just in time to see Gilbert standing with his back pressed against one of the doors to the building and his arms crossed over his chest, a smirk prominent on his face as he stared down at you.
"Gonna be late for school, _____?" he taunted.
You clenched your hands into fists and looked at him from your place at the base of the steps, trying hard to hide the fear that was creeping up in your face. Oh, great, you thought. If I have to deal with him, I'm definitely going to be late! You took a deep breath and looked up at him determinedly. "No," you said as you began to head up the steps. "I still have a couple of minutes left."
"I don't think so," Gilbert said as you reached the top of the steps and were about to enter the door he wasn't leaning on before he quickly blocked it with his arm.
"Hey," you said, turning your gaze to look at him a bit uncertainly. "What are you..." But you never got the chance to finish your sentence as soon as you caught the menacing expression on Gilbert's face as his gaze continued to burn into yours, and that was when all the confidence and determination drained out of your body and was replaced by fear.
“You're not going anywhere,” he murmured in a voice so quiet and calm that it made your entire body tense and your heartbeat rapidly increase.
You felt a single squeak escape you as a terrifying moment of silence passed between the both of you. Then, in a movement so fast you were barely able to make sense of what was going on at that second, Gilbert pushed you back with such a force that it caused you to instantly lose your balance and fall down the steps, landing square on your back on the bottom of the ground with a thump.
The other thing you were aware of at that moment besides the aching pain you felt throughout your body was the sound of Gilbert’s arrogant laugh. “Not gonna be on time now, are you, _____?” he sneered before he opened the door to the school and walked inside, leaving you lying out there by yourself.
You let out a moan as you kept your eyes closed, your head aching and your world spinning. Every time you tried to get up or even move the slightest bit, you felt a sharp stabbing sensation come from several parts of your body, forcing you to lie still again. A few minutes passed as you still continued to lay there, and during that time you were able to hear the ringing of the bell coming from the school, signaling that the day already started and if you were to come in then or later, you would've been declared late.
Letting out a moan, you propped yourself up on your elbows, wincing and gritting your teeth at the pain you felt throughout your body, especially your legs and back. Getting up into a sitting position, you massaged one part of your leg that stung in particular. Rolling up the bottom of your pant leg to as much as you felt was necessary, you were able to see a pretty nasty scrape on your shin which had already begun to bleed. Letting out a grunt, you covered it once again with your pant leg, hoping the fabric wouldn’t have gotten a stain from the blood slowly seeping out of it. Judging from the sharp pains you felt in other parts of your body, you figured you had gotten scrapes elsewhere, but you were already late for school and didn’t want to waste any more time checking.
Adjusting your backpack so that it was in a more or less comfortable position on your shoulders, you walked up the steps to the doors of the school on trembling, weak legs. You had to hold on to the railing with both hands in order to keep yourself falling from fatigue and pain.
Once you reached the top of the steps, you sucked in a deep, shaky breath before you pushed open the door to the school with feeble hands, stepping inside the building and preparing for a lecture from your homeroom teacher and your principal about how important it was for you to come to school on time, no matter what.
You knew you were going to be in for yet another rough day not only when Gilbert pushed you down the front steps of the school and you ended up being late, but when you found out that you had P.E. as your first period. You hated this class more than any other, not only because you were horrible at sports and it always made you sweaty, but that you always had to share it with Gilbert and you figured he was probably going to pull off some “accidental” stunt on you to get you injured. This was no surprise to you, since he did things like that during the class quite often, especially when no one was looking, so you made sure to prepare yourself once again.
Once homeroom ended and you made your way inside the girls’ locker room to change into your P.E. uniform, you instantly headed towards the bathroom stalls. You were never really fond of changing in front of others, even if they were also girls. Besides, you didn’t want anybody to question all the scrapes and bruises covering the majority of your body because of the harm caused to you by Gilbert.
Once you entered an empty stall on the far end of the room and closed the door behind you, you sat down on the toilet and opened your bag, revealing your clothes. They were a pair of light sneakers, white socks, gray sweatpants, and a white long-sleeved shirt. The regular uniform for the girls was a short-sleeved shirt and light shorts, but wearing those would've made your cuts and bruises visible to everyone in your class. You had told your P.E. teacher a few years ago that you had an abnormal skin condition, and that convinced him enough to give you a change in your uniform that would've better covered your body.
Once you changed into your gym clothes, you put your regular ones in your bag, which you then propped against the wall in the back corner of the stall to ensure no one would take it. Letting out a sigh, you stood there in silence for a few moments, your heart beating rapidly, before you finally summoned the courage to open the stall door and walk outside. A part of you wanted to stay in there until the period was over to avoid any interactions with Gilbert, but you knew that that only would've gotten you into trouble.
As soon as you entered the gym, you felt your heart drop when you saw the game that was already being set up for the class—volleyball. It was one of the sports that you despised the most. The only thing you ever focused on in that game was to avoid getting hit in the face with the ball, and most of the time, you were successful.
As you continued slowly walking across the large room, keeping your gaze fixed on your feet, you were able to hear a loud whistle fill the room, causing you to pause and lift your head towards the source. Instantly, on one side of the gym, you were able to spot a group of boys who you shared the class with staring directly at you, and among them was Gilbert.
“Hey, _____!” he yelled with a smirk on his face. “Good luck trying not to get hit in the face with the ball!”
This caused a loud laugh to escape the boys, and you only let out a sigh and dropped your gaze down to the ground, resuming your slow walk and trying hard not to let tears fall from your eyes. At this rate, pretty much every boy in the school would be picking on you eventually, not only Gilbert.
After the class was split into two teams, with Gilbert being on the opposite one to your disadvantage, the game began. Like almost every other previous class, your participation was very minimal, and instead you just stood there in the front with your arms crossed and your gaze fixed on the ground. At times you would've been able to hit the ball and simply chose not to, causing exclamations of anger, frustration, and disappointment to come from some of the people on your team.
At one point while you were staring down at the ground, waiting for the class to be over, the ball came directly towards you but ended up missing you by only a few feet. You would've been able to hit it if you had tried, but instead took no action and let it bounce against the floor, earning a point for the other team.
Some of the boys from that side burst into a fit of laughter, and Gilbert, who was standing among the group of people closest to the net, decided to speak up. “What's the matter, _____?” he taunted. “Are you too chicken to try and hit the ball?”
You tried your best to ignore them, although you were able to feel your breathing turn deep and ragged. It took all your power not to let your throat tighten.
When the game resumed, you continued to stand there, motionless, trying hard to block out the sounds of the people and the ball around you. Things seemed to be going good for you so far, since you still had not sustained a single injury and surely the class must’ve been more than halfway over by this point.
But what knocked you out of your thoughts was a loud whistle that caused you to lift your head up. You barely had time to analyze the situation in front of you before you felt something hard hit you fiercely in the face, causing you to instantly lose your balance and fall backwards, hitting your head against the hard floor.
All you were aware of at that moment was severe pain throughout your whole face and the back of your head. You let out a low moan as you closed your eyes, your arms and legs sprawled out against the floor. You were able to feel the pounding of your head and the presence of some of the other kids as they crowded around you, murmuring things that you were barely able to detect.
“Is she okay...?”
“She deserves it. Maybe now she’ll be more focused in the game.”
“But she looks hurt...”
“It was an accident, I'm serious!” You were able to recognize that as the voice of Gilbert, and when you opened your eyes and somehow managed to prop yourself up into a sitting position, your blurry vision noticed him staring at the coach with a shocked, innocent expression on his face. That was when you realized that the volleyball he hit ended up colliding with your face, and you knew that that was definitely no accident. He meant to hurt you on purpose.
You let out a moan and lifted your hand to rub your nose, which was especially hurting, as you felt tears on the brink from falling from your eyes at the impact. When you removed your hand, however, you saw that the tips of your fingers were covered in a deep red.
“Oh my god, her nose is bleeding!” one of the girls shrieked hysterically.
You looked down at your fingers in confusion before you looked down at your shirt, finding that blood was slowly dripping down onto it and creating a prominent red stain. Your eyes widening and tears beginning to fall from your eyes, you drew in a ragged breath before you shakily got to your feet, covered your nose with your hand, and dashed out of the room, not caring about the kids or the coach who called after you to no avail.
You continued running until you made your way to the bathroom stalls in the girls’ locker room, where you opened the one that contained your bag, sat down on the toilet seat, took a wad of tissues, covered your bloody nose with it, and cried once more.