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Crushing Ant Hills
One would think that since I was born with a giant birthmark across my face that people would be used to seeing me by now, but every time they look at me, it is as if they are seeing my face for the first time. The birthmark is mud brown which contrasts against my pale ghost white skin and spans from my chin all the way to my left eyebrow. It is cut in a diagonal down my face leaving me looking like an optical illusion. The teasing and name calling started in first grade. I would be called “The Birth Defect” or “Zebra Face” because my face was two different colors. The one nickname that recently started up was “Christy the Chimp.”
That name started in the sixth grade out at recess. It was an extremely hot day and my mother made me put my hair up. I usually keep my hair down so I can cover my face and show less of my birth mark. Today my hair was in a pony tail which allowed the whole playground to see my cursed face. I was sitting behind the shady oak tree with Jamie crushing ant hills so the ants couldn’t escape. Jamie is my only friend at school because he also has something wrong with him. Jamie has big ears that stick out straight from his head and he is constantly called dumbo. Sometimes the kids would stand behind him on windy days and say that his ears were blocking the wind. Tommy recently started a new joke where Tommy and his friends would start whispering around him and then say that they weren’t sure if Jamie could hear their conversations with his big ears. Jamie and I became friends in fourth grade when Tommy’s friends stuck play-doh in my hair. Jamie saw everything that happened and helped me pick it out of my hair. Ever since then, we have been building each other back up when Tommy and his friends knock us down. When Tommy dumped paint on Jamie’s feet during art class, I stayed in the art room with him and cleaned his pants and shoes. We were both late to class and got in trouble, but I know Jamie would have done the same for me if I was been the one with red paint on my feet. Suddenly I felt Jamie’s hand over my arm.
“Christy, watch out.”
When I looked up at what Jamie was talking about, I saw Tommy and his friends coming towards us. Tommy is the leader of the popular kids in my class. My mind and heart stopped at the sight of them standing over me. I knew that more teasing was coming and just like the ants in the ant hills I was crushing, there was no escape. Tommy was the first to speak.
“Hey Christy, we just made up a joke and we want you to hear it and tell us if it is funny because some people said it is not funny. Can you do that for us?”
They didn’t even allow me to answer the question because Katelin jumped in right after Tommy finished speaking.
“What is brown, white and ugly?” said Katelin who was standing next to Tommy holding his hand.
I wanted a boy so badly to hold my hand.
“uhh...a monkey?” I stuttered hoping it was the right answer to their joke.
When they doubled over with laughter I knew I must have said that wrong thing. Then Jason yelled, “Christy compared herself to a monkey!” I was beyond confused until Mark yelled, “No Christy! You are such a dummy. It is you!” They walked away laughing and chanting “Christy is a chimp. Christy is a chimp.” Soon it felt like the whole playground was yelling it and pointing at my fully exposed face. The teachers tried to grab the kids and quiet them down but they were unable to so Mrs. Hanninen grabbed me and Tommy from my spot and brought us into the office to call my mom to come pick me up.
“Katelin is stupid. She is the one with the weird shaped birthmark on her leg. It looks like Africa, remember?” Tommy said.
I know he was trying to make me laugh, but all I wanted to do was cry. When I saw my mom rush through the school doors with deep lines running into her eyes, I knew she was mad. Her eyes were slanted and her fists clenched as she marched in the office and over towards where I was sitting.
“Christy what happened now?” My mom said with a hint of hesitation in her voice as she came over to wrap me in her arms.
“They called me ugly again,” I started to say into my mom’s shoulder, “but I promise I didn’t do anything to start it! We were just minding our own business when they came over.”
The last part became muffled because I started sobbing into my mom’s shoulder. All I wanted to do was to answer the joke right so they would think I was funny.
“Honey, I know you didn’t do anything.” My mom said. “Let me go talk to the principal about those kids and see what she will do about them.”
My mom walked away towards Mrs. Clarke’s office with her hands still clenched in tight balls. I was sitting right next to Mrs. Clarke’s door so I couldn’t help over hear everything they were talking about. I usually listened to their conversations, but after seeing how angry my mother looked this time, I knew this conversation would be different from the others my mom and Mrs. Clarke had.
“Hello Bianca.” Mrs. Clarke said. “How are you holding up? I spoke with Christy and as usual she does not want me to punish the other kids in fear that they will treat her even worse. However, this issue has been going on for quite a long time and I am afraid to say the kids punishments will have to be quite severe this time. I spoke to them on a number of...”
“ I don’t care what Christy says, I want those kid punished for what they are doing to my daughter.” My mom said roughly. “I’m Sorry Terri,” I heard my mom say a few seconds later but this time it was quieter. “but is getting to a point where I don’t know what to do anymore. I can’t keep running out of work to pick her up from school. My boss is almost ready to fire me because I left early four times in the last two weeks.”
“Well Bianca that isn’t completely fair. Christy does not ask for this to happen to her..”
“Oh god Terri I know!” My mom interrupted. “I never meant for it to come out like that. I meant to say that there has to be another solution for this issue.”
“Have you looked into private school or home school?” Mrs. Clarke offered.
“Yes, I have, but I can’t hire someone to work with her at home while I’m at work and private school is too far out of my price range at the moment.”
“Well, Christy does have extremely good grades and with your financial situation, I truly believe that you would be eligible to receive financial aid.” Mrs. Clarke told my mom.
“You think I would be able to? I will definitely have to look into that. Hopefully, Christy will feel more comfortable at a different school in at a different school.”
Mrs. Clarke and my mom continued talking for a little while about the punishments that Tommy and his friends would receive, but I couldn’t really focus. I thought about how amazing it would be to go to a school where I was not picked on. I would be able to walk down the hall way and not feel like everyone was staring at me. I wouldn’t cry everyday and I would have friends.
“Christy? Are you okay?” Jamie said interrupting my day dream.
“Oh yeah, sorry Jamie. I was just thinking about how cool it will be to go to a school where I’m not being picked on everyday. Wouldn’t that be so cool?”
Jamie looked at me with his green slanted eyes and chewed on the side of his lip. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking and I was about to ask what was wrong, but my mom walked out of Mrs. Clarke’s office before I got the chance.
“Come on Christy, let’s go home honey. Jamie, your mom is coming soon to pick you up.” My mom said.
My mom held my hand as she lead me out of the office. I turned around to see Jamie sitting in the chair looking at his hands. He looked so lonely and scared and I couldn’t figure out why.
My mom took me to look at Cheshine Academy two days later. I hadn’t talked to Jamie since I left him in the office staring at his hands. When my mom and I walked into the school, I felt like I was in a fairy tale. The school was in an old mansion with tons of trees out front to hide the entrance and each class room was small. The classes only had 10 kids and the teachers were so friendly. The kids actually talked to me and no one made fun of me the whole day I was there. I made new friends out at recess and they all asked me to play with them, but I noticed a little girl sitting alone by one of the tall trees. I didn’t think anything of it until the next day at school.
Jamie and I were sitting by the shady oak tree again and I was telling him all about Cheshine Academy. He did not really seem interested what I was saying and only interested in the ant hill he was crushing. When the bell rang, I got up and started walking away from Jamie as quickly as possible because I was mad at him. He did not even care about how my day went yesterday or the fact no one picked on me. I turned around to give him a mean stare when I saw him sitting by the tree alone. The girl sitting by the tree at Cheshine Academy instantly popped in my head and I realized why I was so interested in watching that girl play with a stick. That girl reminded me of me and Jamie. Jamie and I sit by that tree everyday and when I was not there yesterday, Jamie must have been sitting at the shady oak tree alone too. I instantly felt a ball of regret growing in my stomach. How could I be happy about leaving my best friend? Jamie has always been there for me and I thought about leaving him for Cheshine Academy. Although at Cheshine Academy no one was mean to me. The bell broke up my thoughts and I slowly walked back into school thinking about what I should do.
I told my mom about Jamie, Cheshine Academy and the girl sitting by the tree. I did not understand what I should do.
“Christy, I can’t keep sending you to a school where you are going to be picked on. It is unacceptable. I know Jamie is your best friend, but sometimes in life you have to do what is best for yourself first.”
“But mom! I can’t just leave Jamie alone at school! Who is going to sit with him at lunch or who is going to help him out after Tommy is mean to him?”
“Well luckily Tommy and his friends are suspended from school for a couple days so Jamie will be okay till then. Maybe if no one is picking on him for a little while he will be able to make new friends.”
I couldn’t believe what my mom was saying to me.
“Mom at Cheshine Academy, there was a girl sitting alone by a tree too. That is what Jamie and I do everyday. They don’t treat anyone differently there than they do here!”
“Christy, stop being ridiculous. You had a lovely day at Cheshine and no one was mean to you.”
“Yeah but what happens if I do something the kids don’t like or I talk to the wrong person. Then I will become an outcast again and it will be the same thing but at a different school!”
“Christy, when you are through making up nonsense about the school, then I will talk to you.” My mom said leaving the kitchen.
What if I am right? What if the girl did something wrong to make people mad at her? She was just like me and Jamie and my mom couldn’t see it. I did not want to leave Jamie and go to Cheshine anymore because I couldn’t leave him alone to be picked on, but I didn’t know how to get my mom to let me stay with Jamie.
A week later, god answered my prayers when my mom received her financial aid letter from Cheshine. Since I was coming in the middle of the year, they did not have any new scholarships to give me. My mom sat at the kitchen table alone crying until her makeup was completely off. I pretended to be sad by laying on the couch and staring at the ceiling. Occasionally I would let out and little sniffle to let my mom think I was crying, but deep down, I was beyond ecstatic. I knew that I would still be picked on at school and I was not looking forward to that, but I knew that I would have Jamie right by my side to help me get through it. When I showed up to school the next day, Jamie was so surprised to see me. His slanted green eyes opened all the way and a huge smile spread from one big ear to the other. I ran up to Jamie and gave him a huge hug.
“You’re not going to Cheshine anymore?” Jamie asked surprisingly.
“Nope, We did not get any money so my mom can’t afford it! Isn’t that great? Now I get to stay here with you.”
Jamie blushed a red so deep bright that it almost matched the ketchup bottle he was using at lunch. Jamie finished putting ketchup on his burger then turned to me and said, “Thank you for staying.” His sweaty and cut up hand found his way into mine and we sat like that for a little while at the lunch table. Eating our burgers and holding hands, not caring that Tommy was coming back to school next week.