I am 36 years old and this story happened during the summer between 5th and 6th grades for me.
I was an active kid and always a bit scrawny. I played a lot of sports...I wasn't great, but i could usually hold my own. Except in basketball. I only played one season and still think back on it with anything but fond memories. I knew I wasn't very good---my playing time told me that. I would have been fine having tried it and not liking it, except for a teammate who lived down the street. Grant was a year older than me and already in middle school. He'd ride his bike down a half mile or so every couple days with his friends to let me know that I was the reason we didn't do well, or lost games, or didn't win the championship.
I think his disdain for me started growing more and more. Soon he started talking about how he and his friends were going to give me a swirly on the first day of school. A swirly is when you hold someone's head in the toilet and flush it. It might sound silly now, but it was harrowing at the time. My parents would go on walks downtown every night and I would have to go with them. One time I saw them riding their bikes towards us all the way down the street and I wanted nothing more than to disappear and be anywhere else. It wasn't until they rode by that all screamed "SWIRLY!!!!!" at the top of their lungs. My parents were confused but I was too embarrassed to say anything and speak up. I loathed the first day of school.
Then, a couple weeks before classes started, he stopped showing up. Word from a friend was that his family moved. I couldn't believe it. I snuck down towards his house to try to confirm this, terrified of it not being true and him spotting me. I saw the "Sold" sign on his house and felt such great relief. The first day of school came and I still was wary that this was an elaborate hoax..that he would pop up and surprise me just when I thought I was safe. But he never did. That's the effect a bully can have on you. I wish I could say I stood up to him...or that I told someone...but I never have until now.
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