Stalked, harassed, victimised, but eventually everything gets set right again.
Maybe if I stare at this wall for long enough I’ll become part of it.
A commonly seen phrase in the English Language: ‘I could feel their eyes on me’. You vowed to never use it in any decent composition, thanks very much. Besides, you didn’t need that kind of superhuman power to hear the whispers that started when you boarded the train.
He on the right, a middle-aged man clutching his iPhone, hurriedly engrosses himself in his screen once more when you catch his eye. Of all the surrounding people, some are trained well in subtlety, whereas others gawk openly without shame. The third kind is the worst: they flood social media with attention-grabbing headlines without a trace of truth in them, judging if you so much as tie your shoelaces in public. Everyone wants to know, right?
All because of the stupid uniform. Who the hell cares, anyway? A pretty badge, an iconic name-tag, even the curve of your collar, these are the labels they stamp on you in their gossip columns and juicy blog posts.
You don’t want to be noticed anymore just because of the school name written across your P.E. shirt.
He’s staring down his phone, thumb going up down up down left right left right in an endless series of motions.
Someone shoves you aside on their way out, the need for haste occupying their mind, barrelling through the ocean of commuters and getting mad when they don’t part for him. You topple backwards into a bunch of annoyed men and women, and a collective hiss goes up all around the cabin.
Instinctively, you put your back against the wall and pull your jacket closer around yourself, hoping to hope that they cannot recognise you from the cut of your skirt alone. Surely there must be phones going off even now, recording evidence of the rude secondary school student with her face hidden but her uniform not.
They resume their previous activities without so much as a camera flashlight going off. Staring off into space, listening to classical music on their mp3s, there’s just so much to do on a train that can’t possibly warrant their pausing to scrutinise a random teenage schoolgirl.
Everything fades to grey and suddenly it’s like nobody cares about you anymore.
The man playing Candy Crush on his iPhone glances around and his eyes pass right over you. The doors slide open and another swarm of tired passengers moves out, right past you, almost parting around you. Someone snags your jacket by accident, and nobody turns to glare when you fumble it back into place.
You can take it off now, you know. There is not a single soul who will take videos of you leaning against the train wall for 20 mins just because of the name printed on your school shirt. No, not even a shred of awed (or irritated) surprise when they put two and two together upon seeing those green letters and then treat you differently for it.
Train doors closing. Beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep
‘Oh my god!’ you cry out, not having noticed your upcoming stop. Not a single person drops what they’re doing to chastise you with their eyes for having sworn upon a holy name in public. * And, after you dash out of the train, when you turn around, nobody is staring after you or laughing at your panic.
When you leave the train station, walking slowly, you realise that their attention isn’t focused on you anymore. You walk the quieter road now, and maybe you’ll never ever have to be afraid again.
Maybe you’ll be able to find peace at long last ever since you joined this school.
Doesn’t it feel great to be free?
*No offence is intended here. I do not look down upon 1) swearing 2) using a holy name to swear 3) swearing in public 4) religion. I apologise if this has offended anyone
This story was partially based off life experience, using an IRL example that is very much exaggerated. My school suffers the same fate a lot… There’s a whole website devoted to taking pictures of indecent/shocking acts in public and we get featured a lot for the most innocent of things.