Friday, January 6, 2017

Monday, May 19th, 1980

"Time to get up, girls," my dad said. I woke up just a couple of feet from the ceiling in the top bunk bed. I was ten years old and in the fifth grade. I was immediately afraid. I was afraid and then I was elated and then I was afraid again. Sarah, my sister, got in the bathroom first while I ate cereal for breakfast, Raisin Bran. This alerted my dad that something wasn't right because I didn't like Raisin Bran then but he didn't make too much of it. I don't want to recount the whole day even though every minute was interesting to me. The bus ride and seeing what everything looked like in town. So much has changed, so many stores that I don't even remember. The big news was Mt. St. Helens, it had erupted the day before. It was hard to talk to ten-year-olds and appear excited about the news. Pete N. started talking about how stupid I was, like I didn't understand what had happened. I ended up walking away at lunch, going outside even though we weren't supposed to. It was hard to take the fifth grade rules seriously. When I got outside, I didn't know what to do; I had no phone. I had a book but it was in my locker. Pete came outside with some of his friends, and started hassling me about my dumbness. They surrounded me and started acting like they were going to beat me up. Was I in danger of rape? That seems hard to imagine with ten-year-olds but because I was at their level it didn't seem impossible either. I tried to back up but the kid behind me shoved me. I am not used to this level of violence. Pete started shoving me and I felt hands grabbing my arms so I started screaming. The boys moved back and I ran inside. They came after me but didn't touch me once we were inside, just followed me, muttering insults and threats. They shoved me the rest of the day whenever I was in the hallway. I had to pee but was afraid to go to the bathroom. After Science I asked Cynthia Welland to go to the bathroom with me, even though we hadn't been friends since second grade. She went with me and we passed Pete and another kid that I don't even remember on the way. "They wouldn't give you such a hard time if you acted normal," Cynthia said. "I am acting normal," I said, trying to remember how I acted in the fifth grade. "You never act normal," Cynthia said. "That's why I stopped hanging out with you." Oh. I had forgotten how I had always seemed a beat or two off of everyone else at that age. I never discovered the normal rhythm but as an adult you have more freedom and there are more paths to chose from. Middle school, everyone has to do the same thing.We came out of the bathroom and there was Pete. "You'll die before you graduate," I told him. Cynthia walked off; even for me, this was a weird thing to say. "Asthma," I said as I walked back to my class. Later on the bus, Brian Lester was telling racist jokes. I didn't laugh and that just added fuel to the weirdo fire. Even if I take all the knowledge from my 46 years and become valedictorian and then go to Harvard and become fabulously wealthy, it won't be worth going through middle school again. I don't know how to get back! We have meat and over-cooked veggies for supper. I'm quite most of the evening, trying to figure out how to do middle school. I'm more book-and street-smart than the kids plus the school year is almost over. I can get through this.

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