The Ketchup Plant – a bullying story

I have recently been thinking about bullying and the disgust that it creates in the world. I know, I should be studying, as my next two exams are tomorrow, and the following day. But, I feel like this is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

I have written a short story which (I think) highlights the consequences of bullying, and not seeing the person who they really are. It is quite a strange story, I have to admit, so I am sorry if it is a shock to your system.

I hope this brings a perspective to the issue.

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When I was younger, I used to think ketchup was good for you. I thought this because it’s made from tomatoes, which are vegetables; my mum let me eat it like a pasta sauce because she thought it was ‘cute’ and I loved the artificial taste of tomatoes. So she let me keep thinking it, as if it was normal.

One day, before I realised that the tomato was a fruit, I picked one from our plant at the end of our garden which grew like medusa’s hair, sprouting snakes on the tips of the tomatoes. But I pricked my finger on the branch, the hiss of cynicism demolished me.

I didn’t want to tell anyone about it, because I thought there was ketchup streaming from the cut on my hand. I was confused, I thought it was wrong, and there was no chance of another trip to the doctors; I had already been four times that past month, and my doctor thought I was borderline psychotic. So, I ended up taping it with a little Barbie plaster which I found in the medicine cabinet alongside pills for mental issues.

A couple of days later, my friend ripped off the plaster; saw my wound and started to cry. It was a deep, disgusting cut that would not stop producing ketchup despite the sheer desire for it stop. I got sent to the emergency room at school, and the lady in there started to ask me all these questions. “How did you cut this finger then?” Her patronising tone made my chest close up into a horrible indignation.

I said to her, “I cut it on the ketchup plant, miss”.

This led to episodes of laughter, the taunts, the verbal punches against my chin that made my brain disintegrate.  News that I had a ketchup plant spread quickly, as if I had dribbled petrol on the ground and set it alight.

That’s when I got the nickname: Ketchup girl.

From that moment onward, I have hated tomatoes.

Because of the mess I seemed to have made, we moved to a completely different place. Forgetting the past is easier than it looks, but the fear of touching anything with a point, like a pencil or a pen, restricted me from succeeding at my new school. Everyone thought my fear was strange, but I didn’t have the Barbie plaster on anymore, nor was the wound so visible to mock.

However, I met a boy with short brown hair; curls to be precise. We thought no one would ever love us, we discussed the loneliness that we felt surround our bodies so that no sun could see us. Our faces were just something God had built
for us so we could see the ketchup ooze out from under our skin. Kids play with our broken hearts like they were footballs kicked around in after school club hitting innocent kids in the head, like me and my friend. I thought he was my friend. But the ball hit me, and not him. And he became the mocker, the bully. And the ketchup came so much quicker at this moment more than ever. Being emotionally scarred hurts more than pricking yourself, one thousand times.

He just pretended to be the same.

My wrinkled hands only wrote with my wrinkled fingers on the day that I got called freak by five-year-olds for the first time. All I could write was freak. Immaturity was the word written on the door, as the children who bullied my bruised façade were inside the room chanting nicknames and slurs.

My teacher sat me next to this girl, who had plaits going down both sides of her
almost perfect face, and I thought that this might be fine, not perfect, but better. But the first thing that she said to me was that I was a disaster to look at.

I stayed inside at break time because outside was worse.  I stayed still on my spinning chair, waiting for time to slow to a stop. The other monsters would notice the clues of where to find me from my footprints engraved into the carpet in the hall, running away from the war-ground halls where I was beaten until I snapped.

Life was such a pitiful time. I became a fifteen-year-old girl; got called ‘hot’. What does that even mean?  I was not hot. I was not red and flushed, like ketchup, like blood. Every time people objectified me as ‘smoking‘ I looked at my arms to check that they were not on fire, or cut into shreds like my bones on the primary school playground. I don’t understand why people use these metaphors for words like BEAUTIFUL. Because my insides have been torn to pieces, by the ketchup kids way back when. So, even though someone may have said that girls are hotter than the sun, this allowed the torture to scream in my ears and say that I AM BURNING. THE RED DRIPPING DOWN MY BODY IS DEADLY.

They saw me as a wrong answer, who they tried to erase, when they saw my face. If my body was on fire then that was OK to everyone, and they quite liked the pile of ash that I would become every day as soon as I was objectified and sexualised. I just left a smudge stain on the path, so that they would remember their wrong-doings.

Is there anyone who would see my face before they see my sihouette? Before they see the cuts from the ketchup plant which I tried to scrub away years ago?
Does anyone realise that girls are attracted to men that respect them more than they respect themselves? And respect that even if we were as big as buildings, or as small as snails, we would be the same beauty that we are when they call us ‘smoking’. 

I was a broken bone; a wound that couldn’t be bound to heal. I still am. Not because my parents split like a broken branch off of the ketchup plant; not because my anxiety levels reached higher than the sun and the moon and the stars. The counselling was just another way to make the others call me Ketchup Girl one more time.

I didn’t know what to live for. The cruelty or the pain? My parents were never understanding, and they didn’t understand that my mind was an unpredictable sea with bullying and belittling and banishing over and over again. I had nothing to do to get someone to make a sound. No one ever made a sound. No one ever helped me. I needed a lift to take me upwards, and a slide to go down the cliffs of solitude. But no one else ever saw the solitude as they were either too busy objectifying me, or thinking that my way of life was an opportunity to taunt.

Nobody cared to see my face through the smudges of darkness. But there was years of pain in it, etched from all of the tears that God has given me. From all the hitting and abusing and being treated with so much disrespect that I couldn’t help but scream. When I ever needed someone to stop the ketchup from floating from my body, no one understood what I was asking. The only thing left to do was to quit the game.

But sanity held me back. Just to get over it.

Despite everyone who told me to quit, I have battled through the bullies like a warrior. But everyone knows that I could’ve died along the way, and every time I broke a bone or burnt to the ground like an unstoppable flame, I signed the cast that helped me to heal by saying I won

They must’ve been wrong, the bullies. Why else would I have won? The only way I could’ve lost  is if I told myself that this was all a dream, or a nightmare. The day that I won never happened, then I would just have to wrap the ribbon around my broken body and sign it I almost won.

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Thank you for reading, and I hope this was an eye opener, either that or I have left you feel befuddled and confused.

-ALWright

 

Social Media : what I really sort of think. . .

So, I am a complete hypocrite with what I am about to share with you, since I post my blog on Facebook, Instagram and this blog is on the internet. For a Creative Writing mock, we had to do a column on ‘our opinion’ on social media, intertwined with the facts which they gave you. So, I am sorry for my hypocrisy, but it was just easier to write against social media than for it!

Again, the apologises are endless.

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Social media torments us; the desire to interact with people via technology turns humans into robots as soon as we sign in. Send the message, the reply doesn’t come, become a figment of technology’s mind.

Facebook: created on the Fourth of February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, who could be the most senseless yet successful person on the planet, for producing the world renowned communication method which shattered our brains before we were old enough to drive, or old enough to be considered ‘old’.

Despite having to be thirteen, Facebook is full of six-year-olds circulating the social media hemisphere sharing expletives and slang, as there is no identification checker to stop foetuses in becoming Facebook-famous before their birth.

One billion active users in 2012 on Facebook, but one-hundred-and-fifty million tweets arose on Twitter for the London Olympics over sixteen days; the competition heats up between the two similar social media disasters. The thirty-eighth tweet of all time read, “Oh, this is going to be addictive.”

The restricted character number in tweets unfortunately forces people to abbreviate words: ‘ikr’, ‘omg’, the common ‘lol’ travel through Twitter like a train falling off its tracks. The issue that I have with shortenings is that it becomes how people speak, if people actually use their mouths to communicate since technological debacles.

Every person on Earth claims almost an hour of YouTube videos due to over six billion hours of film being watched each month. YouTube is an international stream for laughing at people’s failures, and seeing which celebrities are utterly ridiculous. Chad Hurley? Steve Chen? Jawed Karim? You should be ashamed of founding the laughing supply for the population of the world to watch.

One in five couples meet online. Probably through the use of a smartphone, the apps, the music adjoined in the phone sewn to your hand. Watching videos, conversing with non-responsive monsters, tweeting nonsense no one cares about.

The modern world could live without social media. But, would it really be the modern world?

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-ALWright

Exams or Writing?

I have been working on a short story recently, which, I know is probably not the best idea with all these exams coming up in two days. What am I thinking.

But, I find that it is a good stress relief and the actual act of typing or writing with gorgeous erasable pens, (which, unfortunately I cannot use in exams because they aren’t ‘actually black’) is an amazing way too release all of the energies buzzing around inside of me telling me that life is over and U grades are upon me  in the upcoming days.

However, here is the opening of my new short story which I have been developing. I hope you enjoy.

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In the months which curve in spherical motions, she was just over three-quarters of the way round. Autumn was nearing in, with the cold air making her cheeks blush when she comes out of her warm house each morning. The lack summery weather which was apparent this day upset her; the sun was behind the clouds, just trying to be visible on this autumn day.

She was wearing a tie, which choked her, just like the way a golf ball would if you tried to swallow it. Her shirt was a light blue colour, mostly covered by a navy blue blazer with a logo which was so utterly ugly she was embarrassed to be representing her school. At her school, the policy was so strict against the length of skirts; like any school in Britain that isn’t a TV drama, they make girls wear them like maxi skirts just grazing the ankles, despite being disgustingly uncomfortable and incredibly unflattering. Therefore, she decided not to wear a skirt, but skinny trousers which clung to her legs, just a little bit, so that the teachers wouldn’t screech at her like a car screeches when the brakes are put on unexpectedly.

She was late for school, as per usual, with her rucksack only half on her back and her fringe of brunette hair perfect as it didn’t get flustered from her walking too fast. There was a man standing at the school gate with brazen authority, with his arms crossed in front of his red tie and grey suit. There is no way to play the fifty metres before you come close enough to speak to each other, do you look at each other? Or do you look away? The awkwardness increases with every metre that goes by, but the man just continues to look at her with disgust until she reaches his superior body.

“Why are you late?” asks he, not addressing her with a name or a hello or an inch of kindness. He knows her name, she has been in his office far too many times to be unknown to him. And, quite honestly, he should know that the reason why she is late is because she just left late, and lazily walked to school without any care about how late she would be arriving to endure in the boredom of the day.
“I just slept in,” said she, smirking with a glisten in the corner of her mouth as if expecting him to be thrilled with her honesty.
“Well that’s not good enough,” said he, and she was surprised at his attitude, despite this being his typical behaviour. “break time detention, here is your slip,” he passes her a slip of paper, with her name on it, authorising her detention as if she pleaded and pleaded and pleaded with him to give her it.

She walked through the iron gates with a strut which made her seem as if she owned the school. But, in reality the only reason her manner is so unforgivable in the teachers’ eyes, is because she has no one to arrive on time for. She barely knows where too turn, or how to turn. Everywhere she goes she sees people who just despise her, for something she did to them before. Despite her being desirable, in her eyes, no one else wanted her. She was full of sadness which filled her up like a melancholy swimming pool.

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-ALWright

Beautiful Falmouth Town

It’s been too long. I have been procrastinating with studying, and somehow it wormed its way into my writing, too. I have become a girl who sits and stares at her TV screen until her eyes are bloodshot from the glare. Or I sit at my computer screen internet shopping for things I adore but could never afford. This is the life of a college student, and the desire for photographic memory and superhuman knowledge is powerful.

However, this weekend I took a small detour from my ultra unexciting life to visit my sister, who lives in Falmouth. She was either a seven hour train journey away, or an hour plane journey away + a taxi which cost £38 away. Last time I went by train, this time, the plane beckoned me.

I missed one day off of college. Whoops, you can tell who the rebel is around here. And my body sloped off in a car all the way to London Gatwick with my Dad who drove me, where I would hop on a plane to see my sister at around half past one in the afternoon. It was tiresome, waiting for the plane. And all I did was get stressed because nothing would fit in my bag and I didn’t have the means to have a carrier bag; they would not let me have a plastic bag, as well as my rucksack. I thought this was utterly ridiculous.

When I arrived at Truro train station, my sister wasn’t there. The taxi journey took a lot less time than I had thought. So, I sat shivering until the I could see her train pull into the one-track platform.

We journeyed back to Falmouth Town. She was not prepared for my visit, despite expecting me ever since she had gone back after Easter. She insisted that I send her a letter explaining which foods/drinks I would like and she would go to get them; this is something that she just could not succeed in. I didn’t have enough time, she claimed. Her bones were just as lazy as mine when it came to preparing for exams or deadlines, so she couldn’t use it as an excuse. Not really. So we went out to buy the supplies, and then that evening we went out to a restaurant called Wildebeest.

It’s a vegan restaurant. It is also the smallest restaurant I have ever been into in my life.  My sister and I were sitting at the bar, which only had four stools and there was no ‘bar’; we were facing a chalk board where customers could write something. I thought this was quite unique, though.

The food was divine. I didn’t think I could ever enjoy vegan food, but it was surprisingly delicious. I had pasta, with spinach and almond ricotta embedded inside of the parcels of pasta. My sister had the same, which shocked me as there were other things on the menu that I know she would’ve liked.

The following day we went to the local health shop to buy tea; tea is my life. I don’t think I could live without Clipper Decaf Tea, and Yogi Relax Tea. They are the inventions of angels. After this we went to have brunch / lunch as this lovely place called Espressini which does the most amazing eggs on toast I have ever had in my life. The yolk is the perfect consistency, and the ciabatta bread is just phenomenal. (I can’t believe I actually spelt phenomenal right)

Later that day we went to the beach called Castle Beach, which is right by a place called Pendennis. It was beautiful. The sun was shining brightly, with the clouds only a thin layer of white over the blue sea in the sky. There was sand, and stones, and my sister and I sat down on these huge rocks and I got out my poetry book and we read poetry while my sister drew gorgeous pictures of the scenery. It was the perfect setting, and it felt so serene.

We had dinner in that night. We did this with the intention to go out to the beach called Swanpool and then onwards to the Gyllynvase Beach to have hot chocolate in the cafe there. We did this, and my sister’s flatmate came with us and the three of us had a lovely walk, and the sun was setting as we made our way into the warm exterior of the cafe, as we drunk possibly the best hot chocolate I have ever had.

My nights sleep that night, unfortunately, was not great. It took me several hours to become unconscious, and even then it was interrupted and the orange of the blind in my sister’s room was very prominent at about four o’clock in the morning.

On Sunday, we had a very relaxed day. I went out once as it was driving me absolutely mental that in the flat, they had no washing up liquid so the piles of kitchenware in the kitchen and in the bedroom were getting huge, and I was despising reusing and reusing cups. So, I went out to get some. It was a journey that was very worthwhile, as the mess was banished.

We had decided to get some studying done, as our deadlines / exams were very soon and we had lots to do. However, I was procrastinating so much. I found myself watching multiple episodes of Bad Education, and Jack Whitehall was speaking to me as if I was actually there. Over the entirety of the weekend, I watched all of series one and two; I had zero motivation to write essays about any literature or watch snippets of media.

On Monday I was going to go home, but not until the evening. So, my sister and I went to this lovely place called Beerwolf, which is a bookshop, a cafe and a bar, and I had a decaf tea and my sister had a black coffee. I bought The Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemingway, which I have desired to purchase for such a long time! And, it only cost me £3 here. I think it was worth my wait to get it for such a good price!

We then went to a cafe called Good Vibes for lunch, however it was a bit stressful. Firstly, my sister accidentally ordered the wrong meal for me, but by the time she’d remembered the one she did order was ready, so we had to change it which took some time. Then, my sister wanted a Chai Latte, but they didn’t have any syrup so she ordered a hot chocolate instead; she then got upset because she realised she wanted Chai Tea, and not a hot chocolate. Then, to top it all off, we ACCIDENTALLY left without paying… we were walking up the stairs to the flat and my sister suddenly gasped and had the epiphany that we dined and dashed. It was kind of funny, but at the same time it was awful.

When I left, I was very emotional, but I didn’t quite cry. This may have been because I was alone in a taxi with the taxi driver and if I started to cry, the mortification would be endless. When I got to the airport, it was dead. There was no one there, and no flights but mine. And it was delayed. This did mean that I got that literature essay done that I was supposed to do the previous day. I was very tired by this point, as my day had been eventful. But, I cherished every moment.

This was my weekend, and I hope this inspires you to visit Falmouth as it is so beautiful. I hope you enjoyed reading!

-ALWright