I was tempting fate by calling my mom. My parents had forbidden me to talk about Josh. But it was either call my mom, or run out in Riverside traffic and try to end it all.
Using the phone inside the miniature golf attendant’s booth, I called my mom and begged her to come pick me up. She was really surprised I had called her – panicked, rambling, and pretty much incoherent – at work.
After she talked me into calming down, I told her I needed her to come pick me up. When she asked why, I started to tell her about Josh, shortly before she cut me off. She said she didn’t want to hear anymore about Josh. Desperate, I told her about everything, but she only stopped me when I recounted how D has said ****.
“He said that?! He’s a teacher’s kid!” She was shocked. All I could think was “THIS is what works?” I thought about all the times I could have told her how D and B always swore at me.
Mom said she would be right over. I told Mrs. V. that I wasn’t feeling well, and that Mom was going to pick me up. I watched the school van drive away and leaned against the cool brick building.
Mom showed up shortly after and was in full war mode. She drove me back to school and stormed into the principal’s office. She told me to tell the principal everything.
I reported the events of the day and tried to ignore the eye rolls from both my mom and my principal when I talked about Josh. But when I told about D's swearing and Josh’s forbidden radio, my principal seemed to sit up a little straighter.
He told my mom he would “look into it.” I knew he meant D’s swearing, not my “fictitious stories” about Josh.
Mom drove me home, and I prepared for three months of freedom. I was already dreading 8th grade, but I’d learned to enjoy every Josh-free moment.
It was halfway through July when my friend DC called.
“Did you hear about Josh? He got expelled for bringing a radio to school? Can you believe it?”
I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe one of Josh’s lemmings had finally developed a backbone and collaborated my story.
Later, I learned that D, faced with possible expulsion for swearing, had finally broken down and admitted Josh had brought a radio on the field trip.
D didn’t have the power Josh did, so several of my classmates told our principal that he had sworn at me during the trip. When faced with loyalty or survival, D decided to save his own neck.
I felt like I had just won the lottery! It was over. Even though I was frustrated that Josh had been done in by a radio, and not three years of relentless abuse, I was still elated!
After that joyful summer, I entered my 8th grade classroom with trepidation. I was still afraid our principal would relent, and I’d see Josh sitting there, waiting for me. But there was no Josh. And, as I searched my classmates’ faces, even Josh’s friends, girlfriends, and henchmen, I saw nothing.
The girls were smiling, waving me over, and none of the boys even gave me a passing glance. I was free!
I was finally free.