Breaking Out of the Cage
Breaking Out of the Cage
Dolls? Check. Camera and tripod? Check. Phone? Check. Blanket? Check.
In my head, I made a checklist of everything I needed for the perfect filming day. I mentally checked everything off and was ready. My hand was on the doorknob right as I heard a high, Ding Dong! followed by a low, Ding Dong.
I turned the cold, glossy know and opened the door. I was happily surprised to see that the person was my brothers girlfriend, Elli Hollows.
“Emma!” she exclaims with a big smile, “is Jason here?” she asks, peering in. I nod.
“In his room,” I reply, “Probably waiting for you. You know he loves your weekly Glee watching sessions!” I exclaim.
Elli has been Jason’s friend since I was a baby, and girlfriend of three years, so I’m not shy with her. Elli thanked me, came inside, and bounded up the stairs. I heard the couple greeting each other as I went out the door.
I decided to film the scene next to a beautiful oak tree in my front yard. I set my dolls and props down carefully in the soft grass. After I layed down the blanket I fiddled with the tripod angle and the camera exposure until they were perfect. Then I set up the picnic blanket and “food,” sat Micah and Jupiter down, turned on some music, and began to film. Stop motioning is a really slow process, but a calming one.
The weather was perfect; not too cold, not too hot, and the wind was strong enough for a cool breeze, but light enough to not topple my dolls over. I filmed for about an hour when suddenly the peaceful noise of my music was interrupted by the laugh of hyenas. I knew exactly who it was the moment I heard it.
CBK. Chloe, Brianna, and Kendall, the girls who torture me every day. Ever since the beginning of fifth grade, they had me trapped in their cage of torment. It seems that no matter who fell into their clutches, I never broke out. I’d talked to the school before, but I’m pretty sure that Chloe’s dad had paid her way out of trouble. Makes sense; our school is pretty broke. Despite my attempts to stay quiet and out of the way, they noticed me. I could feel my heart rapidly thumping in my chest, almost exploding into pieces. I tried to be invisible and and mind my own business, hoping they would do the same. But no, of course not. They never did the same.
“Hey loser! Your hair looks especially like a trash bag today!” Chloe taunted. She flipped her elbow-length blonde hair, looking like a shampoo commercial.
I ignored her. I knew what was happening. They were simple, routine bullies. They started with the lame insult. It gradually got worse. I mean, trash bag? I saw Brianna with her hair just like mine, on Wednesday.
I felt a yearning, tug on my chest, wanting to burst out and say something. But I didn’t. My mouth opened, but nothing came out.
Kendall stepped up to my painstakingly detailed set and said, “Aw! Little baby Emma is playing with her dollies!” She said this with a fake tone, and a fake laugh, just like the rest of her.
Then she took her Nike clad foot and lifted it towards Micah. As if in slow motion, the tip of the bright pink shoe made contact with Micah’s face. She fell over onto the grass, left with her feet sticking up in the air like a cockroach.
“Will her face get a grass stain?” Is the first thought to come into my head. I scramble on my hands and knees while CBK laughed their egotistical heads off. I was happy that my dirty blonde hair hung over my face, because it meant that they wouldn’t see the tears beginning to run down my face. I tried to rid myself of the tears and put on a semi intimidating, or at least brave, face.
Apparently that didn’t work. While I tried to put my camera away so that they wouldn’t smash it, Brianna, who had been uncharacteristically quiet the whole time, sassily crossed her arms and said,
“Now loser, we can do this the easy way or the hard way! Easy, you give us that nice camera, you don’t tell anyone, and don’t get hurt! Or, you can refuse and something will happen,” she smirked, “you’ll go easy if you know what’s good for ya.”
A threat. My cheeks felt red, my hands ice cold and clammy at the same time. On the one hand, I didn’t want to get beat up. No one did. On the other hand, this camera is my everything. I got it for my 10th birthday, and with the exception of school, it barely left my side. While I may be shy, my camera isn’t. It lets me see life from different angles and perspectives. My logic and my irrationality were arguing fiercely as I fingered the smooth buttons on my camera. If my camera was broken, I would be broken. Plus, all the day’s work would be lost. I can take a few hits.
Before I could change my mind, I slowly turned around and slipped the precious machinery into its protected bag. I closed my eyes and prepared for the worst. It was fine for a few seconds, as I heard them whispering. Could they be reconsidering? No.
My eyes briefly open, but I was quickly shoved into the ground. My vision blurred as one of them pummeled me in the face, then they collectively flipped me into my stomach. I think it was Kendall who kicked my upper, lower, and middle back. There was a crack that I felt on my nose. My glasses. Of course. Now I wouldn’t be able to hide all this from mom and dad, or Jason.
The contemplation of cover stories was interrupted by a few more punches and… was that someone yelling “STOP!”It couldn’t be me, my painful sobs were preventing me from breathing steadily, let alone talk. But those distant cries seemed to work on the bullies, because they stopped hurting me and shut up. I hastily used this time to roll over. Not wanting to damage my corneas by getting broken glass in them, I carefully took off my glasses. After wiping my tears on my sweatshirt sleeve and squinting, I made out two figures running out of my house and towards the tree. Must be Jason and Elli, unless my house was broken into. But I’m guessing not. Thank goodness. My back ached and I figured that CBK would stop due to witnesses. I laid back, closed my eyes, and drifted off to sleep.
My eyes fluttered open as I awoke in my bright yellow painted room. I could make out Elli and Jason on my teal three seater couch, heads together, whispering.
“Where are my glasses?” I croaked.
At almost lightning speed, my brother jumped up and went over to my dresser. He picked up an old pair of my glasses and handed them to me. Once I had put them on, I sat up.
“Are you ok, Em?” Elli asked in a big sister manner.
“I have a headache, my back hurts, and I’m really confused! How did you guys see me getting hurt?” I ask. Jason sits on the edge of my bed.
“Elli and I were in my room, watching Glee, as you know,” he starts, “Then we heard some… yelling, insults, and someone screaming “Take that you loser!” is We looked out the window and saw those girls.”
Then Elli starts talking.“I started filming on my phone so that we would have proof,” Smart, I think, “then we came running over. We brought you inside and then went over to those girls houses. We had a good talk with their parents. They are all going to call Kathryn and Ash later,” she says, referring to my parents.
“I doubt that will stop them,” I murmur.
“What do you mean?” Jason asks, placing a warm hand on my shoulder.
“This won’t stop them. And I don’t know how to make them stop.”
“You need to stand up for yourself,” Elli and Jason say in unison.
“I try. Every time I do, I freeze. You know it. I can barely order for myself at a restaurant! Standing up for myself? No way.”
Jason ponders my statement for a moment then queried, “Would you rather be beat up for the rest of your life?”
I shake my head no, as I ponder ways to get back at them. The silence is tense for a moment but in a moment I quickly break it.
“Unless…” I start, “I do it in the way… I know best!” this idea, is what changed my life.
It’s two months later. I uploaded a stop motion to my channel titled: “Breaking Out of the Cage- A True Bullying Story.” It was my way of bouncing back to the bullies. If you can believe it, a local news station did a story on it. I, Emma Arizia Adams, was on the news
A week after the story aired, I confronted CBK. I marched right up to them in the cafeteria. I told them that they wouldn’t be able to mess with me any more. When they tried to retaliate, I asked them whether they wanted to bring bad things into the world, or be known for bringing beauty into it. After that, they left me alone. I finally broke out of their cage, for good.
Through that story, I found some amazing friends. I had bumped into Nellie in the hall, and after a few conversations we realized we had tons in common. Nellie introduced me to her friend Audrey, and now we are super close. They didn’t want to be friends with me out of pity, or because I was now semi famous in our little town. We were friends because of what got me into this mess: dolls and film.
I’m happy now. After persevering and standing up for myself, my life is a lot better. Standing up is the right thing to do. I’m very happy that I did it.
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