If I Could Tell My Childhood Bully One Thing, It Would Be This

Kindness is a superpower

Matt Lillywhite
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readNov 14, 2023

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Image licensed via IStockPhoto

I get home from school and run upstairs to my bedroom. I don’t want to face my mom after what happened at school today. When dinner is ready, however, there’s nowhere to hide, and I walk downstairs with a giant bruise on my arm.

“What happened darlin’?” my mom asks.

I want to say my bully acts like a shadow and follows me everywhere I go. He taunts me, calls me ugly, and makes me feel like I’m not good enough.

But I don’t want to break my mom’s heart. Not again. I can see worry etched on her face, the lines of pain deepening with each passing day. She’s already been through a lot with Nana in the hospital, and I don’t want to add to her stress. So, I keep my mouth shut and bury my emotions where no one can see them.

“I slipped,” I say unconvincingly. “I’ll be less clumsy next time.”

My mom raises her eyebrows and hands me another box of tissues. She doesn’t say anything, and neither do I, but we both know what happened.

“Brighter are days ahead,” my mom says as she places a slice of home-cooked lasagne on the dinner table.

“I hope so mom,” I reply.

The night before I got punched in the face, I had a bad dream.

I bolt upright in bed, heart pounding in my chest, gasping for air. The sheets are twisted around my legs, and sweaty hair clings to my forehead.

“Mom,” I yell. “Come here!”

She doesn’t respond. All I can hear is the eerie sound of creaking floorboards. The darkness in the room seems to grow deeper, and my mind conjures up vivid images of my bully’s shadows lurking in the corner, ready to pounce.

I grab a stuffed animal from the end of my bed and clutch him tightly to my chest. “I’m scared to go to school tomorrow,” I tell the enormous teddy bear. “So, so afraid.”

I want my teddy bear to reassure me that everything will be okay. But he doesn’t reply, and the one-sided conversation makes me feel even more lonely. So I grab a tissue, lean against his shoulder, and cry myself to sleep.

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Matt Lillywhite
Human Parts

Writing is a superpower. London based. But you can probably find me in all four corners of the world.