Bully by S. Babikovs
The first time, there were just three of them, my used-to-be-friends, with their wild hands latched onto my arms like vines imbued with dark magic, pulling me down to the earth; their fists turned into impossibly hard knots of bone, like so many dead stars crashing down from the sky against my head, shoulders, chest, gut; their feet stomping breath from my lungs, as if they were boys suddenly reduced to nothing more than steel toe, steel toe, steel toe.
It was the darkest three-foot section of the school, just outside the gym doors, where the hallway zig-zagged back into the locker room. . . .
That’s how my memoir would begin. If, you know, I started at fifth grade. Actually, I’m in the process of writing a fictionalized account of that very story.
I’m not sure if all writers have been through a “bad childhood or a good childhood interrupted by several years of badness” as Piers Anthony suggests, but there’s a good chance they write, to some degree at least, to better understand things they’ve either lived through or witnessed.
I know that’s true for me. I write to make sense of things that, at least when they occur, just don’t deem to make any sense sometimes, like bullying, but I also write to have a voice, as I’ve mentioned before, as a way of expressing myself in the hopes of being understood.
In looking back on my life, I’m pretty sure my need for understanding and, especially, for being understood started during those dark days of fifth grade or became magnified then.