The English Teacher

Sample Short Story #2

Panic Attack by Hadley R

"Fatty!" the crowd of boys yelled at me as I struggled with my locker combination. I didn't need to look up, I knew exactly who it was. Jerry Bruce and the rest of his little herd had zeroed in on me the first day of school and ever since then they had teased me unmercifully. I was well aware that I had gained weight in the summer and I had already been humiliated to start my first day of middle school with my newly grown curves and awkward rolls growing around my belly. I had hoped that no one would notice, but leave it up to Jerry in his new found popularity to make sure that everyone noticed.

Jerry was your typical middle school boy. He was shorter than almost all the girls were and he had light brown hair fashioned in a low maintenance bowl cut. You could almost always find him wearing a shirt flashing the phrase "BLANK is life, the rest are just details." You can fill in that blank with any sport you can imagine because this kid had them all. Suddenly this year all the girls decided he was the new hot ticket, they all drooled over him, but he had absolutely no interest in them what so ever. This only made the girls chatter about him and doodle his name on their trappers with even more flourishes. Once all the boys saw the way the girls reacted to Jerry, they all couldn't wait to be just like him. Every move he made, they all would follow.

After the crowd of boys had passed, and I finally got my locker open, I drudged to math. I hated this class more than any other, not because of the subject, I was actually quite good at math, but because of our seating arrangement. You see the first day of school the teacher set out our places and it just so happened I was placed right next to Jerry. Each day in the class was torture. I quickly learned not to answer questions out loud and certainly not to ask them, because Jerry never failed to harass me about it.

On my way down the very crowded hall I began to feel very strange. Nothing looked right to me, I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Everyone was moving this way and that, I felt confused and very out of place. I was looking all over to my left and right whipping my head back and forth. People were yelling and pushing their way through the halls hurrying to class.

"Alley let's go you're going to be late!" someone said as they passed, but it didn't even register in my mind. I couldn't respond. I began to feel very dizzy and light headed. My stomach turned and I felt like I had no strength to hold myself up. I didn't even notice that the halls were almost empty now. My heart was pounding, everything looked blurry and I was seeing light twinkles around in my peripheral vision. I have never been so scared in my life. Everything was such a blur. Questions zipped through my head. Am I dying? What's wrong with me? I began to cry and dropped to the floor.

Mrs. Belding, a seventh grade teacher had been walking toward me to push me on to my next class, but seeing me now she began to run. "Alley what's wrong? What happened? Are you alright?" Her questions just seemed to blur together and echo in my head. She leaned over to help me up, but I cringed and arched my back pushing her away.

"Don't touch me!" I sobbed. "Something is wrong with me but I don't know what!"

At this point I was seated on the floor bawling uncontrollably, rocking back and forth. My whole body was trembling and I was compulsively running my hands through my hair and fidgeting without any notice. I have no idea how much time passed as I did this, but it felt like hours.

Finally I began to calm down enough for Mrs. Belding to help me to the school nurse's office. I was so weak and tired, my legs felt like rubber. I was still crying, but I was no longer in the state of extreme panic and shock. I was just in an exhausted daze.

I was sitting on the plastic covered sick bed in the office, leaning my back against the wall, when the nurse walked in. I had never seen her before at the school. She was a rather hefty woman with short tightly permed hair. As she walked toward me, her inner thighs rubbed together making a swishing sound from the texture of the white fabric her pants were made from.

"Are you sick Alley? Mrs. Belding told me you had an incident in the hall a little while ago. Are you alright? Can you tell me what happened?"

"I don't know what happened to me. I...I ...I was just walking to class like normal, and then I freaked out I guess."

"Can you explain to me what you mean by "freaked out"?"

I tried my hardest to explain to her what had happened, but it had all happened so fast, it was rather blurry. I felt like I was just rambling and stumbling over the words to describe the whole incident. I was so tired and frustrated I began to cry again as I fumbled and reached for words, but nothing seemed to fit what I was trying to say. I thought the nurse would get tired of this nonsense and send me back to class, but she just sat there and listened very intently as if I was making sense.

Finally I gave up, unsatisfied with my description, but I felt that I was getting nowhere.

"Well honey, you can stay in here and rest as long as you like, we already called your mom at work, but she can't come get you just yet so you gotta tough it out. If you feel better in a little while you can go back to class. Your math teacher has already been told, so if you start feeling like that again, you just let him know, and he will get you back down here to see me. Sound good?"

"Thank you." was all I could say. I knew there was no way I could bring myself to go back to my math class today. Not only because of how I now felt, but because I knew Jerry would just run wild with this news. Not only am I fat, but I'm a weirdo now too. Wow, all the new possible nick names rushed through my head. Nope, I definitely wasn't going back today.

I hid out the rest of the day in the nurse's office, sleeping most of the time. After school I hefted my backpack outside and waited in line for the bus with all the other kids, hoping no one would notice me. I saw my bus pulling up to the parking lot, "YES!" I thought to myself in a sigh of relief. But I had spoken too soon.

"Hey fatty! So what ya fake sick now to get outta class? I know you were faken it because I saw ya right before class, and you sure looked sick that's for sure, but being ugly isn't a fair enough reason for you to get to miss math! HAHAHAHA"

His evil laugh rang in my ears. I felt the tears well up in my eyes and I tried to swallow down the lump in my throat. I had never let him see me cry before, I had always been able to choke it back until I got home. Thank goodness the bus was there just in time and I climbed on as fast as I could to get away from that place.

That night when my mom came home I had to go back through my recount of the incident. It came a little easier this time because I was much more calm, but never the less I was scared out of my wits.

My mom was very scared of what my "freak out" could have been. Since there were some very serious physical symptoms she thought it could be anything from hypoglycemia to diabetes. She took me to a doctor and I had blood work done, but they found nothing.

Through out the next few months it seemed as if everything got worse. I cried and begged my mom every day not to make me go to school. Sometimes she would actually let me stay home, but most of the time she told me just to "tough it out." I started having my "freak outs" right before math at least once a week, and the doctors still didn't have any answers. To make it worse, the rumors began to spread around the school. Every corner I turned people were whispering and pointing at me. Jerry was crueler than ever. He went out of his way now to bark hurtful remarks at me when before he only did it when he was forced to be around me. My grades all slipped because I missed so much school, and when I was actually there, I couldn't concentrate.

Near the end of the year the school nurse met up with me again. I had visited her each and every time I freaked out there at school and she was always so caring and interested in how I was feeling.

"Dear, I have called your mom and gave her the name of a psychiatrist that I think might be able to help you. His name is Dr. Shamrock and he is very good. You would really like him and it would be good for you to have someone you can talk to about everything you are going through, and he is much more qualified than I am. He might be able to pinpoint what exactly your little spells are." She had grown accustom to calling them my "spells" because she thought it was a more gentle term than "freak out."

I struggled for quite a while with both her and my mom because I really did not want to see a shrink. I fought it and fought it but eventually they forced me to come here to talk to you, Dr. Shamrock..

But I am just so thankful that they did. I haven't had a panic attack in 4 years now, and I eventually learned how to handle Jerry's painful comments. I forgave him for the way he treated people like me, because I really don't know anything about Jerry, and he could have been struggling with something in his life that was painful for him that no one knew about. But I must admit, I was rather pleased in eighth grade when bowl cuts went out of style and Jerry went right along with it.

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