Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’: Chapter 13

In the thirteenth chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, everything is absolutely miserable. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


“Sit down, Mr. Oshiro.”

I walked into his neatly organized office, my face still red from the moments before this, my heart still beating frantically behind my sternum, my throat tight in anticipation of crying. Fear had replaced the rage I felt and as I sat down in the leather armchair situated in front of his desk, I sucked in too much air and held it in, wishing this feeling would go away.

“Why were you sent here?”

I fidgeted in the chair, the leather squeaking against my jeans. I yelled at another student in Ms. Hall’s class, sir.

He looked down at a manila folder he had set upon the desk and I wondered if it was about me. He opened it and started aimlessly shuffling through papers with lots of words on them, seemingly refusing to look up. When he spoke, his caterpillar mustache quivered on his top lip. “And why did you yell at another student and interrupt the entire class?”

The words came spilling out of my mouth. Because Curtis was picking on me and throwing staples on the back of my head and he kept calling me a fag and telling people in the class that I suck dick for lunch money and he wouldn’t stop and he just kept throwing staples harder and harder and stuff. Sir.

He closed the folder briskly, grabbed it, and spun around on his chair to a large metal filing cabinet behind him. As he yanked opened a drawer, which groaned in protest, he continued to question me, not looking in my direction at all.

“Are you gay, Mark?”


“I asked you: are you gay?”

Fuck. He knows. I hesitate.

No, sir.

“Then why do you act like a homosexual?”

Aghast. I stare at the back of his head as he shuffles through files. I look at the walls around me. Motivational posters, messages of positivity and acceptance, certificate or diploma of some sort from a school I’ve never heard of. I turn my gaze back to him.

Excuse me?

This appears to set him in action. He slams the drawer shut and spins around swiftly. He stares at my face, which must have been slack-jawed in shock, and tents his fingers, tapping them together slowly.

“You are a male, are you not?”

I don’t say anything to him.

“We live in a society that makes it very clear what is and is not acceptable behavior. Let me ask you, Mr. Oshiro. Do you think it’s acceptable to wear such tight jeans, much like the ones you are wearing, that show off your genitals to other students, as if you’re advertising them for the whole world to see?”

What??? I didn’t choose to wear these. I have to wear these, sir. My mom can’t afford new clothes. We’re very poor! My dad doesn’t have a job right now because—

He waves his hand in dismissal, glancing off to the side, as if disgusted with what I’m saying. “Surely you can afford at least a visit to a local thrift store to buy something…school appropriate. That’s certainly reasonable, is it not?” No. No it’s not. We are poor. What does this have to do with Curtis bullying me?

“Ah,” he says, his eyebrows arching in understanding. “Bullying. You think this Curtis fellow is bullying you?”

Huh? Yes! Yes, he is.

He chuckles, to himself, arching his fingers again. “Playful teasing is hardly what I would call bullying, Mr. Oshiro. Besides, it’s not like his attacks on you, however mean, are unwarranted.”

But he does this all the time! He yells at me and shoves me down and he’s punched me in the face a couple times and one time he—

“Have you ever reported these incidents before?”

Well….sure. A few times. To a few of my teachers, and once to Mr. Bauer, my P.E. teacher, because that’s where he picks on me the mo—

“Not one of these reports have ever made it to my files on you, young man. How do you expect me to believe you if you aren’t being vigilant about reporting violation of school conduct rules?”

But I am!

The hand waves at me again. “Mr. Oshiro, I need not elaborate on what a waste of time this is for me. We have other students in this school with real problems, with real needs, and I don’t need some nancy here in my office rattling on and on about boys being boys on the playground.”

He leaned forward over his desk and, for the first time, looked me straight in the eye. “I would advise you this: stop making yourself a target. If you didn’t act so gay all the time, you wouldn’t get picked on. We here at Loma Vista expect a strict adherence to decency rules and your wanton and flagrant homosexual tendencies are an affront to our community here.” He stood up and walked around the desk and put a hand on my shoulder, standing behind me with authority. “There are few things that irk more than people who waste my time.” He squeezed. “I would suggest you take your whining, which is not very becoming of a young man, and keep it to yourself.”

I could fear the hot, angry tears streaming down my face as I stood up. I tried to avoid his face, but he caught my left arm as I was leaving and spun me around.

“Are you crying, boy?”

I sniffled and wiped them away. No, I said.

“It is also not becoming for a young man to express his feelings like a woman would,” he scolded, his eyes alight with a fire and fury. “I had better not see you back in this office again or I’ll have to call your parents.”

He pushed me out of the door, into the lobby, where a couple students sat, now staring at me. They had heard every word. Two of them leaned in and whispered something to each other and I knew it was about me.

I shuffled out of the main office after getting a pass back to class. I returned to Ms. Hall’s seventh grade science class and I heard a few people snicker as I sat back into my seat. A few seconds later, I felt the familiar prick of a staple hitting my neck.

I said nothing.


I sat alone at lunch that day, not wanting to talk to anyone about anything. I prodded my food with the plastic spork they always gave you for your food that never proved useful in any eating situation. I wasn’t surprised that I’d lost my appetite.

Pilar, a tall girl in the same grade as me and in all the same classes as I was, shuffled over to where I was sitting, the furthest corner on the furthest table in the lunch room. She sat down without any sort of announcement or inquiry and started eating. After a couple minutes, she spoke.

“You look pretty down, Mark. Is everything ok?”

Yeah, I’m fine. Just stressed out about school. We have a lot of homework this week.

She poked around at whatever monstrosity of food the cafeteria had given us. “Is something else bothering you?”

For a second, it seemed like an invitation and I wanted to spill forth everything that had happened to me and tell someone, anyone, that everything inside me seemed to hurt and that even getting up in the morning was a painful exercise in suffering and self-hate, that every time I looked in the mirror, I wished I would combust into flames and my body would melt away and I would stop being such a burden on everyone, that every time Curtis Tiegler threw staples at me, I wished one of them would magically cut me open and I’d bleed to death in Ms. Hall’s seventh grade science class and no one would try to help me or stop this and instead they’d all just laugh at me for having the nerve of spilling my blood all over the desk and this would be a perfect way to go, with the world staring and gaping at me, their bellies full of laughter and joy, because every moment of every day, everyone and everything made me feel worthless and disposable and this was a constant thing, an all-encompassing thing, that nothing made me feel better or wanted or loved or appreciated and even when good things happened to me, I couldn’t seem to escape this pervasive vacancy that filled the space where my heart beat, this heavy, bloated monster that ate my happy thoughts and made me believe this resolute madness of the world and that most days, I wished I was dead, because I could not imagine a better universe than one without me in it.

I looked up at Pilar, the only person who ever seemed to care how I was feeling, but the desire to talk floated away, in an instant, replaced but what had just been reinforced that morning: there are worse things in the world and I do not matter.

I’m ok, I said. I’m just tired.

Something in my face must have convinced her, because she smiled and her soothing voice continued to tell me about her day. And even though I wanted to be the one talking, there was a brief respite from the pain in knowing that someone just wanted to be my friend.


I’m becoming less surprised that this series has become so uniquely triggering to me, that simple words on a page can take me back years to memories I have purposely shoved into the back of my mind or just plain forgotten.

Chapter 13 is absolute proof that Dolores Umbridge is pure fucking evil. There are no good qualities she could possibly have that could ever make up for forcing Harry to write lines WITH A QUILL THAT SIMULTANEOUSLY ETCHES THEM INTO THE BACK OF HIS HAND AND THEN WRITES ON PARCHMENT IN HIS BLOOD.

What this chapter also does, besides break my heart a million times over, is prove Rowling’s amazing ability for empathy. I wonder if she’s been the victim of abuse because this entire section chronicles (at least for me) a prime symptom of being abused and bullied: the reduction of one’s sense of self-worth. And it’s so accurate to my experience that it triggered this specific memory, one I would much rather forget.

Abuse and bullying makes you feel like less of a person. So much so that you end up internalizing every single one of your problems. You are not important. There are more pressing needs in the world and your single experience does not matter. You keep these things to yourself, which only compound how terrible you feel about yourself and the world around you; and even if you are wrong in your interpretation of the world, it’s impossible to see otherwise because you have no catharsis available to clear your mind. It’s a cycle that continues to repeat until some of us, myself included, believe in the absolute idea that the only choice left to you is take your life into your own hands.

Twice when I was in junior high, about a year apart from each other, I tried to commit suicide. The bullying at school was too much, the bullying and abuse at home was too much, and even though I was one of the lucky ones who had the courage to seek help or had the privilege of seeing a school counselor, those people all told me the same message: You are not a victim and this is your fault.

I hear it a lot when people talk about suicide and it’s generally from those who have never experienced suicidal thoughts, but someone always says, “But there’s always someone to talk to.”

In my case, my friend Pilar (who I am still friends with today because she is one of the most amazing people on the planet) might have been that outlet for me, but both moments where I gave up, I did not feel I had an outlet where someone could help me. The school counselor (whose name I forget) had the audacity to do what he did in the story above, my teachers were either distant or participated in bullying (!!!!!), my family was deeply homophobic, and, because of my lack of self-worth that this cycle created, I didn’t feel I was worthy enough to talk to Pilar about these thoughts I had in my head.

Read through this chapter again. Look how many times Harry internalizes his pain and his anger, and how many times he resists telling Ron or Hermione the absolutely horrible things Dolores Umbridge does to him. He knows it is inappropriate, he knows it is wrong, but he can’t bring himself to say anything. Even worse, it continues to bother him so much that it starts affecting his school work and causing him to be even snappier than ever with his friends.

Even when he finally decides it’s ok to tell Ron what’s going on and Ron suggests he immediately tell McGonagall or Dumbledore, he refuses:

  • ”No,” Harry said flatly.

    “Why not?”

    “He’s got enough on his mind,” said Harry…


So yeah. Dolores Umbridge, please die in all the fires.