After another weekend feeling depressed and hating school even more than I did already, I drag myself to assembly. People still stare and snigger. You would think they had better things to do. After listening to Mr Kani do his weekly lecture on respect and all that, we troop into English. Lerato’s not at school today, so I feel even more depressed than normal. The only person who greets me is Figo.
At break Andile storms up to me brandishing his phone. “What part of ‘leave me alone’ don’t you understand?!”
“Andile, no, I swear, it’s not me.”
He holds out his phone and I can barely look at the message, but I know I have to:
CUM 2 END OF FIELD AFTR SKOOL 4 DRTY FUN
What can I say? It’s from my number. I turn and walk off really quickly before he can see me crying. His buddy shouts after me: “He’s just not that into you, douche-bag!”
I duck into the library. Miss McKinley is the librarian. She’s really old. I sit and stare at the computer. It’s the only one in the library and takes about ten years to crank up on to the internet. I click on the first site I come across:
… and wait.
The typical way a cyber-bullying by proxy attack occurs is when the cyber-bully gets control of the victim’s phone account. The bully sends out hateful or rude messages to everyone on the buddy list, pretending to be the victim. They may also change the victim’s password so they can’t get into their own account. The victim’s friends get angry with the victim, not knowing they have been used by the cyber-bully.
Knowing what the word is – cyber-bullying – for what I’m going through doesn’t make it any better. I’ve never felt more alone in my entire life. Miss McKinley susses that I’m crying and kindly asks, “Anything I can do to help?” I shake my head. I try and close the cyber-bully window on the computer, but she sees it just before it drops.
“There’s always a way, my dear. Christopher Columbus sailed to the end of the world and discovered a whole new continent.”
Like I care? “I’m fine, thanks Miss.” She pats me on the shoulder and walks off.
How did that message get to Andile? I changed my password. There’s only one other person who knows what it is: Lerato. No, no ways. It cannot be. I send her a message:
C U LTR?
She sends me back a thumbs-up. After school, I catch a taxi to Alex. She’s got flu and can’t stop coughing. I watch her carefully as I tell her about the latest message Andile showed me. “That’s so random, chommie!” She looks shocked.
“Here’s the weird thing. How did this … hacker … get past my new password?”
Lerato shrugs. “It’s not like it’s a hectically cryptic code.”
“No, but how many people know when my mother’s birthday is?”
“Anyone who’s read your file. Your parents ID numbers are on that file. All it takes is someone to read that …”
“Did you do it?” I interrupt.
“Seriously? You think I could do something like that to you?”
“I don’t know. Could you?”
She stares me straight in the eyes: “No.”
I begin to feel sick, because I think she’s lying.
Tell us: Has a close friend ever betrayed you, and what did you do about it?