Tom furiously swung his arms infront of him, fists balled. Even reaching as far as he could, they swung empty, not reaching Ricky’s the fat pulsing stomach as he laughed even harder. The ringing in Tom’s ears preserved some of his dignity by blurring the laughter all around him, but his eyes stung wildly. The giant hand on his forehead that was holding him in place and stopping him from hitting the bully back felt like it was squeezing his brain shut.
‘Get off me…’ shouted Tom, letting his arms flop by his sides but still leaning his head into the hand at Ricky’s arm’s length. He tried to focus on Ricky’s tattered black school shoes to block everyone out and try to figure out what to do next.
‘Get off me’ mocked Ricky, in a whiny voice, ‘Christmas is coming Pipsqueak, better get your elf suit ready!’. Ricky, Jonno and Dylan laughed like hyenas. Suddenly, Ricky pulled his hand away and Tom, who was still leaning into it, fell forward. He landed on the grass face first and lay there defeated, while they laughed above him.
‘You’re so small your mum dresses you in doll’s clothes’ he heard, from above the grass. Reluctant at having to face reality, Tom pushed himself up to standing, his ribs acheing from the pummelling he got from being squashed in rugby earlier. He hated playing rugby, it was like torture. It was an opportunity for the bullies to crash into him in plain sight in front of the teachers and not get told off. They would do it as hard as they could as if seeing how much they could squash him until he broke. Dylan had Tom’s schoolbag and had emptied the contents onto the ground. A sinister smile took over his spotty face as he took out Tom’s phone from the front pocket.
‘Ha!’ he stuttered with excitement at the look of dread on Tom’s face.
‘No!’ begged Tom, hurtling towards Dylan and trying to grab the phone ‘Give it back!’. Dylan held the phone high above his head at arm’s length and started scrolling through the messages. Tom’s leaping outstretched arms couldn’t even reach Dylan’s shoulders. He jumped up at it regardless, desperately trying to get it back. Ricky and Jonno laughed and copied him mockingly.
‘OMG! OMG!’ Dylan shouted at the other two, ‘Listen to this: Have a fabulous day at school Tommy Wommy, love and kisses from your Mummy xXx’. Ricky and Jonno laughed so hard tears streamed down their faces.
‘Oooooo Tommy Wommy’ they mocked, ‘Tommy Wommy loves his mummy’.
‘Stop it! Stop being horrible. I don’t care what you say. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’ said Tom through blurry eyes, aware of the burning in his cheeks that defied his words. Tom stopped jumping for his phone and started putting his things back in his bag, trying very hard not to cry.
‘Text her back!’ said Jonno to Dylan.
Tom spun around. The breath fell out of his chest.
‘Yeah, yeah, text her back!’ agreed Ricky, ‘Say Dear Mummy Wummy, Tommy Wommy love you so much he wants to kiss your boobs’
They fell about laughing.
‘Yeah, tell her to take him to the early learning centre to get some toys!’ added Jonno.
‘No!’ shouted Tom, ‘Give it back’.
Dylan started typing.
‘Boys! What’s going on here?’ boomed a deep voice ‘Dylan, is that your phone? You know phones aren’t allowed until after school. Hand that over to me, you can collect it at the end of the day’
‘Yes sir, I’ll come and collect it later’ said Dylan with a smirk.
‘No, it’s mine Sir.’ Said Tom to Mr Helps
‘Well, you shouldn’t have it out in the playground.’ He looked at each of the boys in turn, ‘Maybe then it wouldn’t get lost. You can collect it after detention’
Tom’s cheeks throbbed. Jonno snorted.
‘That includes you three!’ snapped Mr Helps ‘4pm. Main hall. 100 lines!’. The three bullies groaned, grunted and kicked the grass.
‘Inside, the lot of you! Didn’t you hear the bell? Chop Chop!’ Mr Helps spun on his heels and marched towards the double doors ‘If you want to be productive, you have to be a master of your minutes!’ he blared at their indignant faces as they passed. Mr Helps was anything but helpful. He seemed to think that spurting motivational phrases was helpful, but he always said them so aggressively that they sounded like threats. His complete mistiming of unsolicited advice made everyone groan inwardly as soon as he started speaking in that special tone of voice reserved for quotes. Tom had even seen other teachers roll their eyes when he said them during assembly.
The boys frogmarched through the double doors. Tom shuffled through last, grateful for Mr Helps’ interruption, but not for the detention that he didn’t deserve.