Everyone has their breaking point.
I spent so much time trying to prove to myself otherwise. I tried to tell myself that I was a strong individual who would not under any circumstances give in to the continuous stream of rude remarks directed at me on a day to day basis. I mean, they were just words, right? People often said and did things that were completely unlike them, simply for the attention it won them from their peers. After all, this is high school we're talking about. This is the time when everyone is still trying to figure out who they are, who they want to be, and who they will become. It is a confusing time for many people.
Personally, I've always known who I am, who I want to be, and who I will become.
I know what people say behind my back when they think that I can't hear them. I'm full of myself, I'm destined to fail. I was born a nobody, and a nobody I shall stay. But they're wrong, I can tell you that much. I have worked incredibly hard for everything that I have achieved. Every medal, every trophy, every plaque. I will let nothing stand in the way of my dreams.
Let them use their cruel words when they know I'm in earshot. I'll do what I have always done; I'll endure. I'll pretend to have heard nothing. When they intentionally bump into me and knock my books out of my hands, I'll pick them up with a smile on my face, telling myself that it was clearly an accident on their part. When they make fun of my clothing, I'll tell myself it's simply because they're jealous that they didn't think of it first. When they tell me that no one will ever love me because of who I am, I'll smile politely and walk down the hallway, trying to hide the tears that make their way down my face.
Enduring is what I do best. I endure their cruelties five days out of the week; I've definitely mastered the art. Each day I pretend that I'm not torn apart by the things they say; they're just words. But what they don't seem to understand is that their 'just words' have consequences. It hurts me more than I could ever voice, and I don't know how much more I can take. Seconds turn in to minutes, minutes in to hours. Hours turn into days, days in to weeks. All this time, I've endured. But everyone has their breaking point, and I recall the exact moment in time that I reached mine.
“Shove it, man-hands. We aren't singing that shitty song, and that's that. I think I speak for everybody when I say sit the eff down.”
We were all gathered in the glee choir room, usual spots in order. Quinn Fabray and Santana Lopez were sitting in the back. Finn Hudson, Noah Puckerman and Sam Evans in the middle. Mercedes Jones, Mike Chang, Tina Chang and Artie Abrams up front. I, Rachel Berry, was currently standing in the front of said choir room, trying to impose upon my fellow glee clubbers the importance of song selection. As per usual, they refused to listen, and told me directly what they thought of me and my song choice. This time the argument was lead by Santana Lopez, the latina Cheerio with a bad attitude, and an entire collection of cruel quips.
“Santana, song selection is of the utmost importance, and I really believe that none of you realize the severity of the situation, and furthermore-”
“That's enough, Rachel. I think everyone understands what you're trying to say. Go ahead and take a seat.”
Before I had finished, I was interrupted by Mr. Schuester's voice that was clearly laced with annoyance.
I begrudgingly made my way back to my seat, attempting to avoid eye contact with everyone. I looked up briefly and met Quinn's eyes, surprised to see a look akin to compassion. As quickly as it had appeared, it was gone in a flash, replaced with her usual stony glare that was reserved especially for me.
I sat down with a huff and crossed my arms over my chest. I was annoyed with all of them, and I wanted it to show. Call it childish if you will, but at that moment I didn't care. Finn glanced over briefly, and sad smile on his face. He may not be most intelligent person on the face of the planet, but there were times when I was sure that he understood how I felt. I sighed once more and attempted to pay attention to what was being said at the front of the room.
“Okay guys, come on. I want song ideas! I know you all have something to contribute, so let me hear it.”
I turned to our teacher, an incredulous look on my face.
“Mr. Schuester, I have been trying to share my ideas with all of you for a good part of an hour, and none of you seem to be listening. I'm a natural born star. I think that it's a wise choice for all of you-”
“Just shut up Ru Paul, no one wants to hear you right now. Or ever, really.”
Ah, and there she was. The Quinn Fabray that I was familiar with. That person with the compassionate smile had cleared out pretty quickly. Maybe it was just my imagination, and she never really existed at all.
“Quinn, if you would just listen-”
“We all know you're a star Rachel, you make it clear to us everyday that you know way more than we do, and we should all pretty much just keep our mouths shut and let you make all the decisions. To be honest, I'm sick of it.”
I was shocked to see Mercedes speaking up. Granted, she wasn't known for being shy, but this outburst was definitely unexpected, and I, for once, was left speechless.
“You're like totally my hot Jew, but sometimes you just don't know when to be quiet.”
One by one the glee club members voiced their opinions of me, and I once again felt defeated. Although it wasn't much of a shock, I was disappointed that not even our teacher stood up for me.
“Well, if that's how you all feel. I hope you all have fun choosing your terrible songs without the aid of my professional opinion. If you'll all excuse me, I'll be taking my leave now.” I jumped up and out of chair in a dramatic fashion, and stormed out of the glee club choir room, trying to keep my emotions bottled up. The day: Monday. Only four more days to endure.
Though this wasn't the first time that I had thrown a so called 'diva-fit', it is in fact the first time that I have left school grounds following said storm out. I wasn't one to pull acts of delinquency; when things weren't exactly going my way, I would leave the glee choir room and head immediately for the library.
The library itself and its calming atmosphere helped to clear my head, and go through step by step what lead to me rushing out of the choir room in the first place. This time, however. This time was different. Upon my exit, I headed for home immediately. After everything that had been said by the glee club members, I couldn't bare the embarrassment of running into one of them in the hallway. The fact that they could say all of these things to me was just something that I could not comprehend. Had they been thinking all of these things the whole time I was in the club? Were they all just waiting for the day that they could tell me what they really thought of me? Not one bit of it was fair. How dare they gang up on me like that. Why couldn't they just see that I was the glue that was holding them together?
All of it was just too much. I wasn't going to let them deter me from my path to stardom, not for a second. It was at that moment that I decided to put the events of the day behind me, and focus entirely on my future on Broadway. Taking a deep breath, I entered my house, praying that Dad and Daddy would be at work. Though both of them frowned deeply at absenteeism I knew that given the current situation I would be allowed a free pass. I shut the door quietly and crept towards the stairs, almost home free until-
“Rachel, sweetie, what are you doing home? School doesn't end for another two hours.”
I sighed softly to myself and straightened my posture, preparing myself to face my fathers. I knew I couldn't possibly lie to them, but telling the truth would hurt too much.
“Hello Dad, hello Daddy. Wonderful weather we're having, isn't it?”
Dad leaned forward in his recliner and clasped his hands in front of him. Daddy raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Honey, would you like to explain to us why you aren't in school?” Well, no, I really didn't, but they weren't giving me much of a choice.
“I just...wasn't feeling well, that's all. I figured that it would be best to simply walk home, as opposed to having the school nurse call both of you and interrupt whatever it is you were doing at the time.”
Dad leaned back in his chair and smiled softly. “I'm sorry you aren't feeling well, Rachel. But I want you to know that anything that concerns the health of our baby girl will never, ever be an inconvenience. Head up to your room and lie down now, alright?”
Daddy and Dad smiled knowingly at each other as I headed upstairs, thoughts of burying myself in my comforter swarming through my mind.
“I'll handle it this time.”
Not even a minute after I jumped beneath my covers, I heard a soft knock on my door.
“Come in.” My voice was barely audible through my sniffles.
Daddy walked through the door, shut it gently, and sat beside me.
“You want to tell me what really happened? I know that you weren't sick; with the amount of vitamins that you take daily, coupled with your strict diet regimen and vigorous work out schedule, any sickness would be a fool to try and come knocking at your door.”
I laughed softly and sniffled once more.
“It was just...school. Glee club, more specifically. Today's practice didn't exactly go the way that I thought it would.”
Daddy took my hand in his and nodded for me to continue on.
“They hate me, Daddy. Every single one of them has nothing but contempt for me. All I wanted to do was share my song ideas, because I know that I chose only winning song selections, but none of them would listen to me, even Mr. Schuester, our teacher, for crying out loud, would not listen to me, and then Finn smiled at me, but didn't stand up for me, and then I saw something in Quinn's eyes that wasn't her normal show of disgust, and don't even get me started on Santana-”
“Breathe, baby girl, breathe. Just take it easy.”
“It's just...they're the closest things that I have to friends, Daddy. And to find out that they all secretly hate me...it was just too much.”
Daddy smiled softly and brushed a fallen piece of hair out of my eyes.
“Rachel, I know that you think this might be the end of the world, but I don't really think that it's as bad as you make it out to be.”
Upon seeing that I was prepared to argue heatedly, he put his hands up in mock surrender.
“Just hear me out, alright? You, my darling daughter, are a natural born performer. You know what songs sound good, you know exactly which emotions to put into which song, and you know how to please a crowd. Glee club really is perfect for you. But you see, that's just the thing. It's a club, with numerous people trying to act on their dreams of performing. Each person in that club wants their voice to be heard. Though I have no doubt that the songs that you chose are perfect, sometimes you have to let others have their turn as well. I don't for a second believe that any one of them hates you, Rachel. I believe that in itself is an impossibility. I just think that you need to stop and listen, and allow them their time to shine.”
With that being said, Daddy leaned down and kissed my forehead softly, and left the room. Everything that he had said to me made sense. I just didn't know that everyone would take my taking charge so personally. All I wanted to do was help, and I thought that they knew it. Well, it was comforting to think that they didn't really hate me, and that they just wanted their voices to be heard. With these thoughts swimming around in my head, I was suddenly very excited for tomorrow's glee club meeting.
Tuesday morning arrived quickly, and I hopped out of bed at my normal hour of 6:00am, and headed straight towards the elliptical machine. In my head, I rehearsed over and over again the speech that I had prepared for the glee club. I would explain to them that though I was in fact the best performer in the club, I had no issue with occasionally sharing the stage with them. After all, it was most of them who needed the practice; my vocals were near flawless. Yes, I was sure that after I had explained to them that it was a simple misunderstanding, we would all be on the same page once more, on our way to victory.
Upon arriving at school, I was all smiles as I made my way happily down the hallways. I smiled brightly and nodded hello to everyone that passed by me. Yes, this was going to be a good day. A day of change.
My smile dropped immediately as I approached a wall comprised of the school's football team, blocking the entrance to the glee choir room. Each one of them had a predatory smile on their face, and a large cup in their hands. It didn't take a genius to figure out what the cups contained. That icy liquid and I had many intimate moments together, moments that I was hoping to avoid today.
“Listen, none of you have to do this. I understand the pressures that come with your popularity; I understand your need to flaunt your bravado any chance that you get. I also know that making others feel badly about themselves isn't going to make you better about you. Just let me through that door, and we can pretend this never happened, and you will all leave this situation more enlightened.”
One by one they turned to each other, looks of confusion etched upon their faces. Then, they turned to me, with all the timing of a professional synchronized swimming team, and showed me exactly what they thought about my speech.
When it was all over, they spread apart and went their separate ways, smiles still on their faces. Lifting my hands slowly, I let the sticky liquid make its way down my arms, my mouth open to form a small 'o' of surprise. Before I really had a chance to react, I was pulled harshly into the girls locker room, and slammed against a nearby wall.
“Why the hell do you do this to yourself everyday? I just don't understand it. Just take a separate route and avoid them altogether! And what was with all that garbage you were spewing? Did you really think that you were going to miraculously change their ways with your over dramatic words?”
For a moment I thought that I had fallen and hit my head just a little too hard. Surely Quinn Fabray, the intelligent, athletic, and beautiful head cheerleader was not standing in front of me, both of her hands on my shoulders, her hazel eyes staring deeply into mine. Alright, maybe I did hit my head, but what was happening at this moment was most definitely not the product of a concussion.
“Quinn, hello. What brings you to the girls' bathroom this bright afternoon?”
Quinn stared at me, her mouth opening and closing slowly (doing a flawless impression of a goldfish, might I add), as if she were grasping for the right words.
“You're a moron, you know that? You're a glutton for this crap. Why don't you try standing up for yourself for once, instead of letting the whole student body walk all over you? Jesus, Berry, I thought you were smarter than that. Now...just...stay out of my way!”
With those words hanging in the air, Quinn gave once last final shove which caused me to gasp, and threw a bundle of paper towels at me before making her exit. Something...something very important had just happened, I could feel it. Though I was still very dazed from making contact with the wall, I could tell that something monumental has just occurred here in the girl's bathroom.
Quinn Fabray actually spoke to me, and, dare I say it (Oh, I think I dare!), showed a sliver of kindness to me in my moment of distress. Though her words were laced with sarcasm and bitterness, I could tell that underneath that hard steel exterior a part of her really did care about what happened to me that particular Tuesday morning. My mind running a mile a minute, I quickly cleaned myself off and made my way to the choir room.
When I entered the room, the loud buzz of many conversations going at once assaulted my ears. I looked around and noticed that my usual seat was taken, so I sat in the front row, the seat right in front of Quinn's. As I made my way to the chair, I tried to meet Quinn's eyes to convey my thanks, but she was looking in nearly every direction but my own. Sighing softly, I gave up trying to telepathically get her attention and took my seat. A moment after, Mr. Schuester came in, waving his hands about to get our attention. Every word that was coming out of his mouth was foreign to me, all of my thoughts focusing around a certain blonde cheerleader. I was so engrossed in the question of why Quinn would do such a thing in the girl's bathroom, a public place, where people could see that she was engaging in conversation with a person like me, that I completely forgot about the speech that I had prepared for everyone. Pushing it to the back of my mind, I made a mental note to speak about it tomorrow.
Right now my thoughts were completely and utterly focused on one Quinn Fabray, who clearly wasn't the person that she pretended to be. For a brief moment in time, she allowed her walls to drop, and gave me a glimpse of the person that she truly was. For a lack of better words, I found it to be...magnificent.
I was so engrossed in my own thoughts that I barely registered the obnoxious snort that I head from behind me.
“Jesus Berry, why don't you eye fuck Quinn some more, I don't think they felt in China.” My eyes widened in shock as I realized the gravity of the situation; I had been so focused on figuring out my Quinn situation, that I hadn't realized I had been turned around this entire time, apparently staring her down. I immediately straightened up, grasping for words.
“I don't know what you're talking about, Santana. I was merely admiring the paint job that just happens to be stationed behind Quinn. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have places to be.” Before I was able to get up, I was shoved roughly back down into my seat. I let out a small yelp and met the furious hazel eyes before me.
“Keep it in your goddamn pants, Treasure Trail.”
With that said, both Cheerios shoved past me and exited the room. What...just happened?
Day: Tuesday. Only three more days to endure.
Tuesday came and went, and I had once again accomplished nothing. I was more confused than ever, but didn't feel like dwelling anymore. I smiled at my fathers and engaged in the appropriate conversation, and then went to my room and fell into a restless sleep, praying that tomorrow would bring with it some better luck.
Wednesday morning came, and I once again met the day with bright eyes and hope for a pleasant school day. I walked my normal route through the hallway, Quinn's harsh words echoing in my head. Fortunately for me, the foot ball team was nowhere to be found, but something still felt off. Not a day went by that I wasn't faced with some act of bullying, no matter large or small.
My eyes shifted back and forth rapidly as I searched for something amiss. Everyone seemed to be focused on their own comings and goings, but I couldn't shake the feeling that something awful had happened. Shaking my head, I assured myself that I was just being silly, and letting the paranoia get to me. Moments later as I was approaching my locker, I knew that my earlier suspicions had been accurate.
My locker door was wide open, and the inside looked like a bomb had gone off. Papers were falling out of it, a result of someone tearing apart the books that I had stored inside. Pictures I had posted of myself and my idols were ripped in half, and painted on the inside were words concerning the sexuality of my fathers that are far too painful to repeat. I quickly pushed the tears aside and made my way towards Principal Figgins' office. This had to stop, all of it.
I knocked loudly on his door, and entered before he had a chance to speak.
“This has got to stop, right this minute. The continual slushies, the horrible things they say behind my back, and now this.”
Principal Figgins sat at his desk, a deer caught in headlights expression on his face.
“What exactly are you talking about, Miss Berry?”
I reeled on him quickly, anger and resentment marring my normal facade of happiness.
“My locker. They tore apart my locker. They destroyed private property, and painted cruel words about my fathers, who are kind men, and did absolutely nothing to deserve this blatant show of ignorance!”
Principal Figgins sat for a moment, a look of quiet contemplation on his face.
“I would suggest perhaps investing in a stronger lock?”
It was at that precise moment that I realized that none of the authority figures in the school would be able to help me. They went about their day in a happy unknowing state, ignoring the pain emanating from the students around them.
I swallowed a few times, my throat suddenly feeling as though it were full of cotton. I didn't remember it being this dry before.
“Unbelievable..just...unbelievable.” With that said, I rushed out his office, a feeling of absolute dread settling upon my shoulders. How was I to survive if I had no one there to help me?
Day: Wednesday. Only two more days to endure.
Thursday came much too quickly for my liking, and I thought seriously on feigning sick. As much as I would have liked to hide in my room all day, I knew that I would have to face the world sooner or later. Rachel Berry was no coward. Although I had decided to go to school that morning, I skipped my normal routine, my body too drained for anything more than a quick shower. I avoided my fathers for fear that they would see something in my eyes that would tip them off. The last thing I wanted to do was worry them. I snuck down the stairs and out the door, and made my way towards school.
This day seemed like a mirror image of all the others, only this time there were no slushies to greet me, and my locker was still intact. There were no football players standing guard, nor were there any students huddled together, sneaking glances and giggles at my expense. My classes flew by, and I was rather pleased with the lack of drama this day was providing.
I stood before the door of the choir room, and took a deep breath before entering. Here goes...well, everything.
I entered and sat down, taking a chair in the front row. I even threw a cautious glance towards Quinn, one that was met with a shy smile, and a barely noticeable nod of the head. I smiled back and focused on Mr. Schuester, realizing that the clouds that were hanging over my head seemed to be clearing up quite nicely.
The rest of the practice went on without a hitch. I spoke up only to give my input, and kept the complaining to a minimum. There were no rude glaces thrown my way that day, only looks of shock. To this reaction I merely smiled, and went back to engaging in conversation, without taking over.
The meeting finally ended, everyone going off in different directions. I stepped out of the choir room and stopped when I noticed Quinn bent over at the water fountain. I guess I let my gaze linger for too long, because someone behind me cleared their throat. Standing behind me was a beast of a boy, a football player by the name of Karofsky. I glanced at him warily, and looked back over to where Quinn was originally standing, now seeing nothing but her absence.
“What can I do for you, David? Would you like me to stand here while you douse me in ice cold slushies? Or perhaps you'd like me to stand here at attention, while you throw your nasty remarks at me to make yourself feel better. Is that what you want, David? Is that what you-”
I was interrupted when he let out a snarl that more animal than man.
“You think people don't see what you're doing? They way you stare at her? You're disgusting. We don't want your kind here.”
I blinked rapidly at him, my show of courage taking a hit. Caught off guard? Absolutely.
“I don't have time for this, David. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have other matters to attend to, matters that do not include the likes of you.”
I turned on my heels and prepared to rush away, but his laughter kept me firmly planted. It wasn't a laugh of good old fashioned humor; it was a laugh that was laced in malice.
“You're just as bad as that fag in your club. Is that what glee club is about? Bringing out your inner gay? Everyone sees the way you stare at her, and it's disgusting. She'll never want you. You're just trash beneath her feet. I guess your dads rubbed off on you, didn't they?”
With an ugly sneer, he turned and walked away, leaving me standing there, a million and one emotions rushing through me.
Day: Thursday. Only one more day left in hell.
After my encounter with David Karofsky, I realized that I couldn't take it anymore. It was just too much, and clearly I wasn't as strong as I had once thought I was. I had finally reached my breaking point. I went to my fathers and told them everything that had happened over the last few days, and they looked at me knowingly, the love pouring off of them almost overwhelming. I told them that I couldn't possibly go back to school, that it was wearing on me physically, mentally, and emotionally. They pulled me in to a tight hug, and told me not to worry, because they had it all figured out.
Exhaustion taking over, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, dreaming of new beginnings.
It was early the next day that my fathers told me of their plan. At first, I didn't quite know what to say; it all seemed surreal, and completely life altering. I felt myself about to protest, and then realized...what exactly was the point? Why should I fight this Why should I fight to stay in a school that had only beat me down, day after day? These thoughts swarming in my head, my decision was made.
I glanced down at the pamphlet that they had given me, realizing that this was the start of my brand new life.
“Dalton Academy for Girls”
New life, meet Rachel Berry. Rachel Berry, meet new life. I'm sure you'll get along fabulously.
The next day, the usual chatter went on interrupted in the choir room, and only one member of the club realized that something was missing. She kept this to herself, hoping that she was wrong, and that said missing thing would come waltzing into the room any second now. That second never came. She met her teacher's eyes and knew that he was about to say something, something that she wasn't going to like.
“Okay guys, listen up! I'm afraid I have some bad news for all of you. It seems that we're going to be losing a member of our little family here. It saddens me to tell you all that Rachel has decided to transfer schools.”
The reactions from the club members varied, most of them hadn't seen it coming. One particular blonde in the back of the room had seen this in the works, and hid her reaction well. She had shared with the small brunette glimpses of her anger, glimpses of her compassion; if she was in the room right now, she would seem glimpses of her pain as well.
I read through the pamphlet at least a dozen or more times, so much that Daddy had taken it away with a slight chuckle.
“You'll be fiiiine. Stop worrying so much.”
I rolled my eyes in response to this, and settled back into my seat. As the car started up, I could feel the excitement growing within me. This was it. This was my chance to start over, and jump back on track to my future as a star. I would leave McKinley High in the past, and move forward towards a bright future.
The car ride was long, and ended just before Daddy gave way to some kind of stroke. It really wasn't my fault that I was so excited, and just couldn't stop talking the entire way there. I felt the car come to a stop, and ceased speaking at once. I stared up at the building before us in awe. It was beautiful. I hadn't stepped inside, and yet I could feel that this was already my home. Before I was able to speak another word, I noticed a person rushing towards the car. All three of us stepped outside, and were met by a tall blonde girl who was smiling widely, though she was very much out of breath. I smiled at her, and prepared to introduce myself, but she spoke before I was able to inhale.
“Hi! My name is Brittany S. Pierce! Welcome to Dalton Academy for Girls!”