Why? by Michelle Clemson

The last time I saw you was in the reception to the school. You handed me my GCSE results, congratulating me on surpassing expectations, then turned to greet another ex pupil.

Yes, I was rather pleased with my five C grades too. It was an achievement, seeing as I was never present as you’d allowed the building and its grounds to become a war zone for me.

You can pretend not to hear the pleas of a thirteen, fourteen, fifteen-year-old and still collect a salary and sleep-filled nights, but now that lost, hopeless teen is an adult with a memory and questions.

I want to know what it was about me that made you think that I could handle it? Did my subdued walk project lion instead of half-hunted hog? Did my wailing sound like a song bird in early spring mornings instead of the death rattle it was?

As my appearance became more dishevieled, did you blame my parents? Or did you realise that all drowning souls start to look that way after long days of fighting currents and keeping head above water?

When you had to pull them off me as they pummelled me down, why did you say “That’s enough now?” Enough? That was enough? So moments before it was… just?

Why did you taunt me too? Is that what your salary covers?

When I was sexually assaulted under your care, you told me and my parents: the boy who did it was more popular than I and if I took it any further I’d receive backlash. Why?
Because you and I as adults both know how wrong that is–how corrupt.

But that was nothing compared to you then pulling said boy into your office thus causing me to be chased out of the school gates by the girls he respected too much to assault with his penis in a school’s career library.

Your school was my war zone.
Why?
I learned nothing
But
Survival.

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