The night only worsened.
In the past, I've wondered whether I brought it on myself. If being desensitised to pain over years of torment cast a false illusion around me, one that told my "friends" that there were no limits, they could do what they pleased because I would never say anything against it. But then, I realise that nothing, no excuses, no compensation could justify what they did.
Once I had surfaced from the bathroom, my head killing me, they went about playing the Game of Life (I'd never played it, maybe it was a sign I would never win...) It ended dramatically, with Jodie throwing all of the cards in the air, proclaiming halfway through "I've won!" then moving onto another activity. I wouldn't say that it was my job to clean it up, I just did, because I didn't want to be around them knowing that they'd done.
Then, they played a game that I was sure they'd made up on the spot, one of malice and spite. They called it "Who is?" and was designed to "anonymously" weed out who was the certain type of person amongst the group. Being young girls, it was never going to be "the most intelligent" or "the kindest." No, it was "the prettiest" and, to my misfortune, "the ugliest."
The concept of anonymous was lost on them, because being told that I was unanimously the ugliest out of the five girls was a blow that I would never forget. I said before, I never thought about appearance very much, but my self-conscious habits were worsening, and after hearing that, those insecurities sky-rocketed. Had I ever considered myself attractive? No, not really, I didn't care very much, but suddenly I did. I had sat in a circle with five other girls who had judged me, who had looked at me at face-value, and determined it wasn't very profitable. Being imaginative, being smart, all of that seemed worthless now. You had to get to know a smart girl, you had to talk to her to realise how imaginative she was, but how could anybody ever do that if she was ugly?
"Sorry," Ella said automatically, but it meant nothing, not to her and not to me. Just like that, the activity shifted again, leaving me in a situation where I told myself I had to forget about it, I had to act like it didn't bother me. I wasn't going to ruin this sleepover by being upset, the girls would get angry at me for that.
I couldn't make them angry.
The evening continued, and as it faded into nighttime, it turned into a nightmare. I was the object of their torment. They stuffed crisps in my sleeping bag, poured juice over my head when I was trying to sleep, and when I separated myself from the group in the middle of the living room, hiding myself beneath the table like I thought a bomb was upon me, they just dragged me back, never once stopping to realise that what they were doing hurt.
Eventually, they left me alone beneath the table. Earlier that evening, they'd put make-up on me, a new concept, something that I never wore, therefore something they were desperate to make me try. They smudged by eyelashes with mascara, and with eyeliner, they purposely made me look like a panda, chastising me not to open my eyes. When I eventually did, they burst out laughing as I looked at myself. I had blackened bags under my eyes, lipstick smudged onto my cheek, and mascara droplets framing my lids. I was exactly what they had called me, I now personified everything that they truly saw in me, the fact that had eluded me, that my family had been too selfish not to tell me.
Now, the mascara was on my pillow, the panda eyes had been rubbed off, as had the lipstick. I cried, silently, if they heard me they would have remembered me, the torment would have begun. They watched a film together, the light on their darkened faces was ghostly and terrifying, and when they were distracted...well, I ran.
The door had not yet been locked, and I took the opportunity to run down the streets I hadn't known, the girls chasing behind me. It felt dramatic, I felt like I was going out of my mind, but I was terrified. I calculated that I would find a bus stop, that I would tell the driver what had happened and he would take me home, that a total stranger would save me. It had been raining, so the ground was slick and sodden, my feet slowly freezing over. I'd never been fast though, and they caught up to me.
Ella grabbed me, yanked me by the arm, yelling at how much trouble I was going to get them in. Jasmine joining in, telling me how mad her dad would be if he found out they'd left the house, and Charlotte telling me that I could have been hit by a car.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
That was all I could say. I was causing everybody so much pain, I was ugly, I was weak, I was a trouble-maker. Why did everybody tolerate me?
They ushered me back into the house, but even though I was not running outside, I still ran. I hurried into the kitchen away from them, slipping on the floor and smacking my hip against the tiles, but before they could gather around me and comfort me, I hurried through the hallway into the downstairs bathroom, locking the door quick enough so that they couldn't come in after me.
They tried for ten minutes to get me to open the door, complaining that they needed the toilet when I knew they didn't. I kept the door closed, sitting on the floor and praying that they would go away. Eventually, they did, and whatever happened to distract them, they never came back, and I spent the night curled up on the sanatised floor, wishing that I could go home to my Daddy.