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I came into deep waters; the floods overflowed me.

“You never felt jealousy, did you, Miss Eyre?  Of course not: I need not ask you; because you never felt love.  You have both sentiments yet to experience: your soul sleeps; the shock is yet to be given which shall waken it.  You think all existence lapses in as quiet a flow as that in which your youth has hitherto slid away.  Floating on with closed eyes and muffled ears, you neither see the rocks bristling not far off in the bed of the flood, nor hear the breakers boil at their base.  But I tell you—and you may mark my words—you will come some day to a craggy pass in the channel, where the whole of life’s stream will be broken up into whirl and tumult, foam and noise: either you will be dashed to atoms on crag points, or lifted up and borne on by some master-wave into a calmer current...

"Hey, look, it's the Soggy Soggy Dew!" one of the girls in the clique shrieked, shattering Pacifica's concentration. Their voices were all alike, so it was anyone's guess as to which one it was. Their expensively-shod feet pattered across the asphalt.

Pacifica, seated on the cement top of a low brick wall, refused to look up from the paperback she was reading. She gritted her teeth, stared determinedly at the text, and resolved not to cry.

“I like this day; I like that sky of steel; I like the sternness and stillness of the world under this frost..."

The feet came into her peripheral vision, not shut out by her unruly sweep of unbound hair. There was a pause as the girls selected a route of attack.

"I like Thornfield, its antiquity, its retirement, its old crow-trees and thorn-trees, its grey façade, and lines of dark windows reflecting that metal welkin: and yet how long have I abhorred the very thought of it, shunned it like a great plague-house?  How I do still abhor—”

"How's California, Pacific Ocean?" Bitsy Fields assayed sweetly.

"When it falls off the coast, you're gonna have a lap full of fruits and nuts!" Elaine Wilhelm said, and all the other girls giggled madly.

"Will they call you Tidal Wave then?" Bitsy said.

"What're you reading, Drip?" Mitzi Harker said, snatching the book out from under Pacifica's nose.

"Be careful, Mitz!" warned Kim Terranova. "She might cry, and then we'd all drown!"

Elaine leaned in close enough that Pacifica could feel her breath. "Are you gonna cry, Soggy? Or are you gonna call your mother? So your big terrifying mom can come wait on me? Tell her I want a burger and fries, if you call her."

"Jane Eyre," said Mitzi. "That isn't for a class. Are you reading it for fun, Drip?"

The giggling made Pacifica's head spin; possibly she was hyperventilating with the effort of not looking at her tormenters. She reflected bitterly that if she lived in Jane Eyre's time, she could swoon and maybe everyone would go away, or take care of her, or something. Except, of course, she probably wasn't rich enough to swoon. She'd just pass out and some carriage would run over her in the street.

She clenched her fists in her lap and refused to look at the girls. She fought the burning in her eyes. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will. not. cry...

There was the half-expected ripping sound. The two halves of Jane Eyre, torn along the spine, hit the asphalt at her feet. She couldn't even hear what the girls were saying over the roaring in her ears. Roaring like the ocean. Like the tide at the springs. Or the riptide that would drag them under, that would fill their lungs, that would crush their bones...

The feet moved away. She bent and picked up the two pieces of book. She turned them over in her hands blankly.

It would be so easy. But Mom would be disappointed. Really disappointed. And Dad would get that hangdog look.

Or maybe no power would happen at all. That had happened to her before. And then they'd have one more arrow in their quivers.

There was a shrill scream from the other side of the courtyard. She looked up despite her misgivings. Jasmine and Ivy Canis were standing over the shrieking Mitzi, identical bland expressions on their faces. Mitzi was on her face on the asphalt, and no one picked her up until a teacher got there and did so. Blood was streaming from Mitzi's perfect nose and ivory chin. It took three teachers to lead her away, still wailing and sobbing.

Ivy and Jasmine blinked innocently at a teacher. Bitsy was pointing at them and saying something. Elaine and Kim were cowering behind Bitsy. Jasmine said something to the teacher that was probably entirely reasonable.

When the teacher turned away to look after Mitzi and her rescuers, Ivy flashed a toothy, unpleasant smile at the trio. Bitsy, Elaine, and Kim leaned back from her as one.

Eventually, the ruckus died down.

Jasmine handed something to Ivy and went into the building.

Ivy came over to Pacifica and produced a roll of masking tape from her pocket. Pacifica looked up at Ivy, meeting that terrifying yellow-amber gaze, and smiled, just a little. Wordlessly, they meticulously taped the parts of the book back together.

Pacifica hugged the book against her chest. Ivy squeezed her shoulder. Then the bell rang, and they went back to class.

---
For Moira.


From the Author: And in other news, bullying sucks. Stop bullying when you see it happening, because the victims can't, for any of a number of reasons (contrary to the victim-blaming assholes who often claim that victims are doing "something" to encourage the bullying).

ETA: I want to particularly bring to attention the fact that this story doesn't follow up with a view of what may have happened to Jasmine and Ivy, given that they were girls of color being accused, presumably, of bullying by a group of wealthy white girls. I think it's safe to assume that they were both penalized -- probably suspended with records of physical assault, because of course the teachers will be more likely to believe the white girls over the black girls. Of course the "normal" versus "para" dynamic is also an issue, but certainly takes a back seat to the racial dynamic. And I think we can also assume that Prof. Canis went to bat for them.

I have set the precedent of trying to keep the narrative to the perception of the point-of-view character, and Nereid is, alas, a notoriously clueless white girl/woman. But I think that the aftermath that she may or may not have perceived and/or thought about is worth discussing as well. I will work at addressing this in a future interlude or episode.

Thank you, everyone who donated last week! We love donations! And it's still a good time for them, for me and my household.

We have another interlude coming up soon, too, that will give everyone a look at the life of another minor character. I hope to post that one next week, just in time for Hallowe'en!



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Date: 2010-10-22 04:41 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
AWWW you just seriously made my day. Jane Eyre! Pacifica! Ivy and Jasmine!

O_O

Date: 2010-10-23 06:59 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
You certainly nailed the flavor of bullying. Thank you.

I don't think that allowing children to torment each other is likely to result in sane, responsible adults.

Re: O_O

Date: 2012-01-28 01:41 am (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Agreed. Total agreement.

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