From that moment on, I had changed. I was no longer the meek, abnormally tall Shannon who always did what she was told, always tried, yet was always alone. Now, I was the disobedient one.
My teacher wasn't happy, but she seemed to brush the result of the first task away as harmless fun. She persevered, and for our next task: draw Jesus or God. A choice, something that the rest of the class enjoyed. Either way, it was conventional Jesus, long hair, white robe, one girl even drew him with sunglasses ('cause Jesus is well cool.) Those that drew God didn't like showing His face, the most religious girl in our class, Hayley, she said it was blasphemous, and naturally influenced everybody.
But whilst they drew, I left my paper blank. The teacher wanted a representation of what we thought God was, and mine was right in front of her. Nothing. At that point, she'd had enough. The natural assumption was that I was in a bad mood, that if she knelt down beside me and asked for me to participate in a soft voice, it would all be better. Of course, I knew all about that, I'd watched her do it to all the other students except me. Now it was my turn, and I knew to be resilient.
After five minutes of her trying to coax me into working, complimenting me on how well I drew and bribing me that she'd put it up on the wall with all the others, she didn't make a dent. So the next step was to send me to her.
And there was no compliments from her. Instead, she demanded to know what was wrong and why I wouldn't participate. Then, she said that if I didn't straighten up my act, I wouldn't go outside at lunch. I would be forced to do my work. My answer to her was the truth, and I'd stopped being afraid of her a long time ago. Everybody used to fear her, but she always liked them, she hated me, she made it clear, and I knew it very well. So I made it very clear that I hated her. I told her the truth: I didn't believe in God. She asked why not. I said because if He did exist, He was evil and cruel. Only somebody evil and cruel could do what they did to me. She sent me away, and the next day, all of the teachers - and my dad - knew what I thought.
Little was I to know, that the act of rebelling had given me a thrill that I would desire more. It wasn't the act of rebelling that was the most exciting, it was getting away with it. Causing trouble, and not being punished for it. The last thing that anybody expected from me was to be the troublemaker.
So that made it easier.
I'm not ashamed to admit what I did, in my eyes it isn't a big deal now, but back then, stuffing the loos with toilet paper was a big problem. I was careful about when I did it, making sure that nobody was around, and every now and then, I'd be the one to report it. I used my love of drama to act surprised when it was first discovered, discounting myself from blame. I felt like a criminal, compared to bank robbery it was nothing, but I gained no more thrill than from concealing a secret smile when the teachers pondered what to do and who it could be. Especially when I was the last person under suspicion.
It became so big that the headmistress called a meeting of all the higher years, none of us had an idea what it would be about, so imagine my surprise when the "toilet problem" came up. I stayed at the back of the room, not making any eye contact with her, but putting on the guise that I was the innocent.
There was one time when I was almost caught, when there were only four of us in the class, the rest on a school trip, and the new teacher had her suspicions. But when I put on crocodile tears and swore that it wasn't me, she melted in my hand. Looking back, I'm almost disgusted that I played with people in that way. But I began to understand why my bullies had so much fun. It was nice to feel more powerful than somebody, it was nice to be in control.
But it wasn't for me. The novelty wore off and I stopped, the "toilet problem" became a thing of the past, and everything went back to normal. I was the loser again, the one that everybody pushed down because they always knew I wouldn't get back up. There was one difference, however.
I had secrets now. Secrets that I would keep close to my heart.