Mallory Anthony wanted to cry. She wanted to cry and cry until she ran out of tears, and then, some more after that. She thought she deserved to be able to cry after what was happening in her life. But she couldn't. Her pride wouldn't allow it. To cry in front of the person in front of her would admit it was hurting her. No matter what, she would not cry.
It had seemed like a perfectly innocent invitation. Boy was she wrong.
On the Saturday after school ended for summer vacation, she had gotten an invitation from him to meet at school. It really wasn't too surprising, people met up at school all the time. Hayes Middle School was the best landmark in their large town. A gigantic three-story building made of stone with some occasional plaster here and there. It was impressive, and nobody but nobody didn't know where it was. Mallory had unfortunately misinterpreted the invite.
"H-hi, Janus," she nervously greeted when he arrived. Janus Cooper had invited her, Mallory Anthony, the plain girl that no one notices, to meet with him! She was excited and nervous, hoping for the best that she wouldn't embarrass herself. When their eyes met, the condescending look he gave her instead of his usual smile surprised her.
"I-is something wr-wrong?" she inquired worriedly. He snorted and the next thing she knew she was pushed up against the outside wall of the school. Now, she was a regular eighth-grade girl, so the next thoughts that ran through her head were completely normal. "WH-what?! Is he going to k-kiss me? Is that why he asked to meet at the back of the school? OHMYGOD IS HE GONNA KISS ME?!" She squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for the pressure of his lips to be applied to hers. Oh, she got her pressure alright, just not where she expected.
"OWWW!" she yelled. Janus had just punched her! In the stomach! The punch had made her fall on her butt comically, and she rubbed her tush before looking up at Janus.
"Did you have a spasm?" Mallory gently asked. When she'd felt the punch, she'd immediately labeled it as either a spasm or an accident. After all, Janus wouldn't actually punch her on purpose, right?
"No, I did it because I don't like you." Mallory was confused about her situation. Surely he hadn't just said he didn't like her, right? And the punch was also an accident, right? Unconsciously, tears began to form in her eyes. Janus Cooper had just said he didn't like her. And he meant it.
"Wh-why? What did I do to you?" she asked with a confused look on her face.
"I have my reasons," Janus smirked and he started explaining his "reasons" to her.
"You never talk to anyone, ever. Do you think you're better than the rest of us or something? And you can't talk to us because we're lower than you? I know how people like you think. When people talk to you, you just smile and nod without really caring about what they're saying, right? I got a couple glimpses of that when I tried to talk to you. I said good morning every day to be nice because you don't seem to have many friends. You never replied. You always ignored me. You know how that feels? Unwanted and pathetic. I don't like feeling pathetic, like people like you are. Like the girls that always follow me that stupid stubbornness of yours! When someone asks if you want help, you refuse it no matter what. do you think it makes you look cute? You make me sick."
Mallory was shocked. She'd had no idea that he felt that way about her, or that he thought that way about her. But before she could say he was mistaken, and that the reason she didn't reply was because she thought she didn't deserve to talk to him, he punched her in the gut again. Didn't he punch anywhere else? After that thought, he did a roundhouse kick to her face. Trembling, she stood up with her hand on her cheek where he'd kicked her and slapped him.
"Punching is fine. I'll take it and endure. Kicking's fine as well. I'll pretend it doesn't hurt. But once you touch my face, you better prepare for what's coming!" she yelled. Her hand rose up, about to slap him, when he grabbed it and put it behind her back.
"What were you about to do?" he whispered. She didn't answer as she struggled against his restraint. Unfavorably, that was the wrong thing to do. A hand met with her right cheek as her eardrums rung.
"ANSWER ME, YOU B****!" He yelled right next to her ear. Still struggling, she narrowly missed kicking him in the nuts.
"You're a horrible person. Arrogant, at that. What would your mother think if she saw what you really are?" He blocked a kick that came at him.
"You know, you shouldn't go walking around alone when people could kidnap you. Actually, that's giving you too much credit. You're so ugly no one would even think about kidnapping you. Are you ashamed of yourself? You should be." All of this he whispered in her ear while he restrained Mallory. Every word stung more than the worst punch or kick.
Because the truth was, occasionally she did have similar thoughts to those. But they were reassurances, not arrogance. Things like, "The only reason they aren't talking to you is because they're shy, not because they hate you," or "You're a great person and you're better than them, that's why they're just jealous and ignore you." But doesn't everyone have thoughts like those sometimes? While Mallory contemplated his words, he punched her again and then kicked her in the backs of her knees so she fell to a kneeling position.
He beat her into submission, punching and kicking her until she was lying on her side on the soft dirt floor.
"I'm surprised you're not crying yet. Thought you'd be a wuss, but I guess it'll take some more to crack that head of yours." A cruel laugh came from above her head.
"You're a horrible, selfish person. You won't even listen to other people because of that stupid stubbornness," she looked up at his face before he grabbed her chin and brought her face up to his. "I think it's disgusting."
His fist came flying towards her face, knocking her off-balance and she fell to the floor. Mallory didn't really care. It was only of the many he had already inflicted on to her body. The ones that really stung were the insults. He had said them so many times now that she almost believed him. Almost being the key word. Like he had said, she had a stubborn streak that wouldn't let her give up. It was almost annoying, really.
His fist came at her again, this time to the stomach and it knocked the windpipes out of her. "OOF!"
"YOU'RE PATHETIC!" If he was expecting a reply from her, he didn't show it. Looking at his watch, he realized that it was almost time for him to go home.
"You got lucky, girl." He kicked her in the back and then walked away. Mallory was glad that she was facing away from him so he wouldn't see the tears rolling down her face. Her shoulders shook as she finally allowed herself to cry. She didn't deserve this! She should fight back! But Mallory knew herself well. She wouldn't fight back, no matter how hard it got. He was the one with all the ammo. Physically, verbally, and socially. Who would believe that the "nicest guy in school" would bully someone? No one, that's who.
After the salty tears dried up, Mallory walked home in silence, thinking about what she should do. But she couldn't do was Janus Cooper, the nicest guy in school, and she was Mallory Anthony, the girl no one cared or even knew about. If she told someone Janus was bullying her, his friends would defend him in an instant. He was nice to the teachers too, so they wouldn't dare think he'd do something like bully someone. It was just the way the world worked and there wasn't anything she could do about it.
Popularity comes with freedom to do whatever you want, even if it's bullying someone whose views you misunderstood.