“It is just that we are young teenagers on the verge of transcending into adulthood in the sense that what the rest of our lives can potentially be, will be decided on the basis of what we do right now. And that is really scary.”, said Martha, a high school senior. Almost the whole class clapped when she ended her speech, including Ms. Elliot, her English teacher.
Martha was the most intelligent girl in her class and a truly poised individual. She had her own way of going about things, filled with effervescence to the brim. Anyone could forget their sufferings once they saw her smile on a bright sunny day. She had no family — she was an orphan. Maybe that was her biggest strength and her biggest weakness. Weakness because she always felt insecure, vulnerable and susceptible to the perils outside her high school and defenseless in the face of kids with powerful parents. But that is exactly why she was incentivized to work a little harder than necessary and do a little more than expected, always. Because she wanted to be truly egalitarian in every sense, she was unrealistically ambitious as she thought it was necessary to break the boundaries of reality. But she was overwhelmingly afraid of uncertainties and failures as well, which no one ever noticed, which was buried underneath layers of enthusiasm and gaiety.
A bright autumn day and there was Martha walking through the hallway. Someone suddenly called her from the back shouting, “Martha! Doing well in class, I heard. Some days I just wonder how you do it?” She had a sarcastic smile on her face, something that frightened Martha every time. Zoe was the girl who used to bully Martha, physically, emotionally and psychologically. But for some reason, Martha always tolerated her. Not that it was just fear. She genuinely thought that Zoe had a lot of potential but she was wasting it trying to fit into popular stereotypes and being dumb enough for her to get good looking boys who were insecure about their masculinity. How connivingly has superficiality colonized us! Every time a drink was splashed at Martha’s face, or she was publicly humiliated or locked in a dark room, she just thought to herself, “This is how they justify the emptiness in their lives. It has more to do with them than with me.” And deep breaths used to follow.
One day, Ms. Elliot asked Martha to wait up after class and interrogated her about Zoe and her friends bullying her. “You know such mistreatment by another student will not be tolerated in this school. Is there anything you wish to tell me?” Martha replied, “Nothing unbearable ma’am. We should seriously stop taking everything to such account. We have such a tendency of victimizing ourselves, as if suffering more was somewhat of a triumph. We should preach more tolerance. I am fine.” She forced a smile. And the teacher was left with a blank look on her face. There was nothing she could do.
In reality, Martha was definitely a deeply conscientious and painstaking person, but there was another reason behind her enduring all the injustice and maltreatment by Zoe. It was because her parents were extremely powerful and influential whereas Martha had none. It made her feel armless and weak, as if no matter what she did, she could never fill this void in her life. But as any rational person would, she tried to be as inconsiderate of and indifferent to these situations as possible. Life had a weird way of crawling back into her soul and fill her with vivacity, just like spring comes by and fills the nature with greenery. But a bully needs a victim. And maybe that’s why, Zoe never failed to find new ways of torturing Martha.
That day there was a new boy in school named Lucien. He was tall and handsome in his own way and had a magnificent smile that could melt the hearts of the sternest of people. Anyone would immediately feel comfortable with him. Martha instantly noticed him, but she didn’t expect him to be interested in her. No boy usually is, she is too smart for all of them.
Eventually, most girls in school had taken a liking to Lucien’s charms and dynamic personality. Zoe literally threw herself all over him all the time. But there was only girl that Lucien had an interest in and it was Martha. “She is just so unique and different, man,” he said to one of his friends. Martha also had quite a fascination towards him, but she would never express herself.
So, that day, he took the initiative himself to talk to her. It was easy because she always sat alone in the cafeteria during lunch.
“So, what does your face tell me?”
“Aah! You are smart, discreet, forgiving and not so hard on the eyes either”
“I bet that is how you get all the girls. Through shameless flirting”, Martha was predictably blushing.
“And you jump to conclusions too fast too”, he chuckled.
Zoe noticed everything from a faraway distance. She was getting enraged and infuriated by the second.
That day was the beginning of a month long friendship which manifested itself into romanticism eventually. Meanwhile, Zoe kept bullying Martha even more, but she either didn’t care or Lucien saved her time and time again. But that only made the tormenter madder and crazier than she was before. Until one day, when Zoe actually took a knife and cut Martha’s ripe flesh and gave her a real death threat. It was psychopathic and Martha never imagined that Zoe was this mentally deranged. “Stay away from my boy!” she shouted.
Martha broke down. She was almost crying.
She couldn’t succumb to this anymore and decided to tell Lucien everything. He said, “We should get closer in front of people. She should in no way have an ounce of influence over the way you live and you love.”
She took a deep breath and gazed at the infinite garden behind the school. “You see that sunflower in there amidst all the peonies? I bet it feels exactly the way I feel among those people in there.”
He took her by the shoulder and looked right into her hazel brown eyes and said, “You are not a lioness, Martha. But you are the lion’s pride. You may not be Houdini, but you are the queen of my heart. And most importantly, you are the King of your life.”
“Yeah, but Zoe is more resilient.”
“Zoe is a pathological liar, a crackhead and a sociopath. Don’t you dare give her the luxury of being called anything more.” And he hugged her. For that time being, she forgot about all the fear mingling inside the depth of her being.
She thought to herself, “ I need more of this relief.”
That night Martha had a nightmare. “ Just kill her! I am telling you!” That was Zoe’s voice. She was being beaten to death in a dark photography room. Zoe, Luna, Illiana and their entire squad was there. She could feel her breath coming to an excruciatingly painful halt. And Lucien magically came out of nowhere and saved her. Martha screamed and got up from her bed. She was sweating heavily. The whole experience was devastating.
We literally dream about the things that we want or we are outright scared to confront. Will Martha wait for someone else to save her or will she finally stand up to her bullies? Will life creep it’s way into her soul one more time in the form of courage and bravery? There was only one thought humming in her mind, “I am the King of my life.”