I guess it’s a little prophetic—that something like that would happen the very last week of high school gym that I will ever have to endure. But that’s what happens when you put your guard down. When you begin to regard another with less fear and more respect—and you assume they’ve changed. Not that it’s their fault. It shouldn’t have been enough to make me cry. But, these days, I smile so easily because I’m desperate not to be depressed, and yet tears come so easily because—well, you know.

I used to get bullied in 8th grade gym. Maybe, over the years, it’s gotten blown out of proportion in my memory. But I doubt it. No one ever stuck up for me when she started her tear down in front of all of them. I was always holding my breath—wishing she might actually physically harm me. Then I’d have proof—some way of knowing that I didn’t have to be afraid of her anymore. But there is no evidence in a damaged self esteem, no defensive value in a few shed tears, no valid reasoning in a number of journal entries. So I was afraid of the bully, her henchmen, and those who didn’t oppose her—therefore, they were against me.

I got away with not being attacked by sharks for almost two years—then it happened again—like bookends. Gym started out as hell, it might as well end that way.

I have bad and good days. Just like my mom. Days when I’m happy, when I feel the support of those around me, when I’m pretty sure that I can get through it without collapsing. Then there are days when I’m tired, when my eyes sting all day, when I think about it too much. When I feel like an iceberg—floating all alone, separated from everyone else… and cold. I’d been thinking about my Momma too much. About my little sisters. My dad. The future. I couldn’t talk to many people. All I could do was pretend to be happy and make it through the period.

Kick ball. I kicked and made it to base. They were waiting for me. He yelled that bunting wasn’t aloud. His girlfriend agreed—gave me a nasty look. It wasn’t a bunt. I kicked with my whole leg. They were being sore losers. Coach, They told me, was being unfair. Strict with their team, lenient with mine. It’s just a game of high school gym kickball, I replied, who cares?

I’ll try not to make this sound like more than it was. They were scornful, hurtful. I should’ve kept my mouth shut. Then He said: “Go write about it in your journal.” It shouldn’t have hurt so much, I tell myself even now. But I felt disarmed, belittled, mocked, labeled. My journal is a form of self therapy, not some burn book. And I felt as though the spotlight had just blinded me on stage and everyone who saw started gossiping about how stuck up I am, how dishonest, mean, conceited—I am. “Go write about it in your journal.” About how cruel you are? How insensitive? How, by saying that, you deprive me of my feeling of freedom to express myself in a few pages.

So, yes, you’re a jerk. Yes, for that reason, I shouldn’t care what you think or say. Yes, I cried, no, sobbed in the dark corners of the girl’s shower room, anyways. And, yes, I did “go write about it” in my journal.

I cried back there because I’m defenseless. Powerless against such petty insults, the comebacks never come to me. And I’m helpless against the disease that’s killing my mom, slowly. And I’m vulnerable to the future and whatever it brings me.

I wasn’t sobbing solely because of the shark attack. I was sitting there, alone, biting my own wrists to stifle the sobs so the indifferent girls outside wouldn’t hear my pitiable snivels, because it was just too much. Everyone had left, I thought. Even the girls who had befriended me all semester were too scared, or didn’t care to come comfort me. In a way, I didn’t want them to. What does this look like to them? An overreaction. A drama queen stunt. A ridiculous display of caged emotion they didn’t want to have to deal with. But how? How could I ever stop the tears or the shaking or the utter feeling of being overwhelmed? I needed help. Because even though I am helpless to the shark attacks, the cancer, and the future…..God isn’t. And he sent me someone.

“Hey. You okay?” a concern-soaked voice, and a familiar face kneeling down by me in the dark. We weren’t close friends. But we knew each other on friendly terms. She knew about my mom. One of the only ones in there who did. She didn’t know about Them. She knows how I feel. She knew I needed help to get off that floor. She told me she was praying for me. Lots of people have said those words, but hers meant more. Right then, she felt like an angel.

My makeup was smeared. And I was still afraid. But I wasn’t alone. And I got up off the cold pavement, I walked out the door. It felt like a rerun of an earlier episode. It was worse this time. But I still had the strength to succeed. Well, not exactly. God helped me.

So there’s my bookend. Three days before gym was over forever. I hate that class. Maybe I even hate Them. But, the important thing is, after 7th hour, December 18th 2009, 3:00 PM, I’ll never have to deal with kick ball games, high school locker rooms, or Them…Again.

Praise God.

~ by lgraceespiritu on December 24, 2009.

2 Responses to “Bookends”

  1. Hi Grace!What a moving short story, a very real one though! You don’t know me personally. You only know me as Auntie Wilma. But I would like to be that friend who helped you! We all need a lot of angels! God bless you and Merry Christmas! Rest assured we have been prayibg for your Mom and you guys are not alone.


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