The Color of Happiness
by K.P Gazelle
Release Date: 04/01/15
Summary from Goodreads:
Faith Lane is the girl who has everything. At least, that’s what everyone thinks when they see her rocking a killer dress while laughing with her best friend, Tiffany. But Faith’s life is far from flawless. Her peers torment her relentlessly, and her parents expect her to be the epitome of perfection. Criticized and pressured at school and home, Faith retreats into silent acceptance and finds an escape in her passion of dancing.
Then she meets Alex – quirky, forever with a pass, and concealing a mysterious secret of his own. And through his encouragement, Faith starts believing in her gift for dance and gains courage to stand up for herself. But will she be able to keep her footing when the events of one night consume her with the need to jump off the rocky cliffs near her coastal home? And what has pushed her to the edge of reason?
Even under his full length T-shirt, I could tell this kid was muscular. He probably played on the basketball team with Dale. Dale. I’d almost forgotten Dale. If this kid was a friend of Dale’s then I didn’t want anything to do with him. The sooner I got my stuff together and left, the better. I didn’t want to be anymore indebted to him than I already was.
The nurse came back with some papers, along with orders to see a doctor promptly. I knew I wasn’t going to the doctor. I hated doctors. She looked my eye over again and said I didn’t need the ice pack anymore. “You’re all set for class. Sixth period is just about to begin.”
My stomach fell to my toes. The big chemistry test. I wasn’t ready for it. Dancing in the rain, forgetting about the test had been easy, but now that it was only minutes away, I felt like I was headed to the gallows.
“Mrs. Friedman, did you notice that Faith still looks quite pale? And the swelling around the corner of her eye still looks pretty bad. Maybe . . . she should stay through sixth?” my rescuer kid chimed in with a smile that had probably broken many girls’ hearts and slickly pushed back his chestnut brown hair that was falling on his eyes. I watched Mrs. Spencer melt right in front of me.
I wanted to roll my eyes, but I was desperate, so I put on my best puppy face and played along. She rechecked my swollen eye and nodded in agreement.
“You’re right, Alex. Faith, you can stay here for a while. As for you, Mr. Alex, you’re in perfect shape to go back to class now. Thank you for helping Faith here.”
“It was the least I could do. I’ll be on my way, Mrs. Friedman. Thanks for all your help.”
Mrs. Friedman smiled and left the room.
“All right, freshman, it was nice colliding with you. I’ll see you around.” He got to his feet and took out his hand, “By the way, I don’t think we’ve ever been introduced before. I’m Alex.”
I looked at his hand and hesitated. He had gotten Dale off my back the other day, saved me from catching pneumonia and dying, and now again by getting me out of my sixth period. I took a deep sigh, feeling my resolve break, before taking his hand and shaking it, “Faith.”
His grip was firm and for some unknown reasons, an electric shock ran through me. I unclasped his hand at once and turned to hide my face, which I’m sure was red by now with all the heat simmering behind it.
He smiled as he grabbed his bag and started heading out. Just as he was around the corner, I yelled out, “Wait. Why do you think I’m a freshman?”
“That’s easy. Dale only picks on all the pretty freshman girls.” He gave me that mischievous grin and wink again, and was gone.
Feeling more confused than ever, I lay back down on the cot. I’d think about all this later when my head wasn’t pounding. I looked over to check the time on the big black and white clock hanging on the wall on my left. Thirty minutes to go. As I lowered my eyes I noticed a pile of papers neatly stacked on a small table next to me. Beside it was my ribbon. Picking them up, I began sifting through them. My chemistry notes. In the top right corner of the first page I had written down the test’s date, today’s date.
So that’s how he knew I wanted to skip sixth period. Right below the date was a sketch of a girl twirling in the rain.
The Decision to Leave
Her puffy eyes and wrinkles stood out even more under the fluorescent lighting. She had to be older than my mom. How could I yell back? And what was she doing in the middle of my classroom shouting at me in front of my students, anyway?
At this workplace, not too long ago, life crept into an unbearable state of unhealthiness. Moments like these were not too uncommon, and I soon found it increasingly harder to get out of bed each morning. I would try motivating myself with pep talks and reminders of how I was touching the lives of young children. But even that can only take me so far.
Adult bullies are trained in their strategies and tactics because they most often have been bullies their entire lives. It’s a lot harder to pin point what an adult is saying or doing to qualify them as a bully, but they’re bullies just the same. And being targeted hurts.
The thing about being bullied, whether as a child or an adult, is that it makes you doubt your self-worth, plummets your self-esteem, and makes you question the reason for your existence. Sometimes, it breaks your soul.
But what’s important to remember is that the bully is the one with the problem, not you. And that your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.
I suffered for two long years, during which I exhausted every resource I had to improve matters. My complaints fell on the deaf ears of our human resource department; my director turned a blind eye.
I was alone.
I knew I had to leave, but how could I just walk away? How could I leave after giving so much of myself to the students and school over the years? How would I continue to support my family? And my identity as a teacher—what would I do with my life?
It took months and months of intense contemplation, consultation, and prayer until I finally found the strength and courage to send in my resignation letter at the end of the school year. A decision for which I can never thank myself enough.
Sometimes, removing yourself from a toxic situation is the greatest service you can do. Because, let’s face it, you are worth much more than any paycheck and above anyone’s abuse.
About the Author
K.P Gazelle is a true bookworm at heart - she can spend hours with a good book and a hot cup of coffee. When she's not reading or writing you can find her playing with her many nephews and nieces, photographing landscapes, or eating a delicious meal.