An American Middle School Tale

Some mornings, while I’m in line waiting for the bell to ring, half-ass listening to my friends talk about who posted what on their Snapchat stories, I stare at him from afar, wondering what kind of sick shit he has running through his mind. Some days, when our classes are out for recess, I try to decipher who he’s looking at from the corner of his eye and wonder if he has a specific type or if anything goes. Some days, when I catch a glimpse of my 10 year old sister in the crowded hallway, I hope and pray that she’s not assigned to his homeroom class when the time comes.

Some days I just sit and wonder what his house looks like. Does he live alone? Does he have secret pictures of girls? Is there a code required to enter the basement?

And some days, with absolutely no warning, a thought pops into my head, and I can’t help but wonder if he knows how to point, aim, and shoot a gun. Anyone can have a gun nowadays, correct?

This is where my mind goes.

There was one time he thought it was okay to pull on her bra strap as she sat in front of him during a school assembly. I couldn’t get that image out of my head the entire day. I kept imagining how red her face must’ve been when she turned around and realized it was him. She would’ve been embarrassed either way had it been one of the boys in our class, but he was our teacher. The next time she confided in me was when he gently let her ponytail glide through his fingers as she walked passed him in the hallway. She explained in detail how she hurried back to class embarrassed and nauseous. “Please don’t tell anyone”, she pleaded. Another time, while she was sitting in her seat, he put his two hands on the back of her chair and “playfully” lifted himself upward. He was so close to her that she felt the front of his body on the back of her head. If she would’ve gotten up as he was putting all of his weight onto the back of her seat he would have fallen forward flat on his face, but she didn’t think of it in time. The missed opportunity forced her eyes to turn to glass while the words came out of her mouth. She was strong, so I never once did see a tear. I like to think that she didn’t want to waste any of her energy crying over a measly piece of shit.

That was last school year. She hasn’t spoken to me about it since we became 7th graders. But her everyday ponytail reminds me of how he made her feel and how she was always on the brink of tears while speaking to me about it. And if something as simple as a ponytail jog’s my memory, imagine what goes through her head every Monday through Friday morning as she gets ready for yet another day of hoping she doesn’t run into him in the hall.

So, if it’s not her anymore, who is it? Who does he have his sights set on this time around? Who does he have on the brink of tears this school year?

Maybe I can anonymously slip someone a note and get an investigation going. I can type it so nobody knows it’s me.

In class today we learned about another shooting that took place at a high school in America. Doesn’t matter what state it happens in anymore because I’m pretty sure all states have been covered at this point in time, but this one was a bad one. Bad meaning multiple causalities. The media doesn’t care too much when one or two innocent people die, but multiple causalities is the core foundation for around the clock headline opportunities and photo ops. White young male with access to guns and a mental illness. That’s usually the initial report. Later, investigators will determine that the shooter had a serious chip on his shoulder and sought revenge. Some poor girl declined his prom invite or he was being bullied by the jocks. This time it will be a scorned teacher with access to guns and a mental illness.

Pulling on the bra strap of a middle school girl has to be linked to some sort of mental illness. And if I anonymously slip someone a note, thoughts of revenge can only make him worse.

“Did you tell your mom?”
“Not about the bra strap thing.”
“Why not?”
“Because I don’t want to.”
“Don’t you think she might be able to do something about it?”
“Do what? Make him mad? Then what?”

The school opens up an investigation and the police are involved. Faculty, students, parents, everyone is questioned. He is put on administrative leave pending investigation findings. His name is plastered all over the news and more so on social media. He is ultimately fired from his teaching job after more girls come forward. He then falls deeper into a hole once his life is eventually ruined in every single aspect. He starts to realize that due to the selfishness of the girls that made up these malicious allegations must pay for what they have done to him. He packs up his guns from his secret hiding place and makes his way to our school one sunny afternoon. Then, as the last bell rings for the day, he aims, points and shoots.

Nobody in particular, because that would take up too much time, but if he sees her face, you better believe she’s a goner. As well as our Principal, that one teacher who knew something was off, a few of my friends, a couple of parents, and then, himself. Textbook.

“But what if he’s doing it to another girl?’
“I don’t want to say anything, okay?!”
“But what if my sister ends up in his homeroom?”
“Then let her tell YOUR mom!”
“Then what?”

So I wait.

And I wait.

As all the kids rush out on this last day of school I wonder what 8th grade will be like. I’m so excited. A field trip to Washington D.C., cap and gown orders, graduation pictures, the 8th grade dance, I can’t wait for all of it. It’s going to be so great.

I see my sister in the crowd of kids and I wave to get her attention. She has a smile on her face matching mine. Behind her, not too far off, I see him waving back at me. He must’ve thought I was waving goodbye at him. “Have a great summer you two!”, he yelled. “See you next year!”

She’ll be a 6th grader next year. Junior High.

“But what if my sister ends up in his homeroom?”
“Then let her tell YOUR mom!”
“Then what?”

I find myself on the brink of tears as we both walk away.

Thank you so much for reading.
Feel free to email me at or find me on Instagram @mandie.josephine

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