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It was a rather tiny plain looking house. Not unlike any other on the street, a product of 1950’s Cookie Cutter manufacturing. Melancholy, she thought…depressing. Maybe it was the overcast sky that afternoon, or the way she was still feeling.
The car stopped abruptly on the gravel driveway.
“Well Ruth, this is it, our home. It ain’t probably what you’re used to, but you’ll just have to make due.” Uncle Frank declared gruffly. “Now let’s get off and be sure to wave at the neighbors.” Image was everything to Uncle Frank. He was always making sure that people thought the best of him, even though he didn’t really like anyone. Uncle Frank was a tall grim man, with short black hair and a thick Kasier moustache, which made him look rather out of place in the small Texas town of Snyder.
Walking into the house, they moved into the kitchen where she met Aunt Gertrude.
“Well here she is. You sure she’s your brother’s kid Frank? She don’t look anything like him,” stated Gertrude.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Aunt Gertrude,” Ruth spoke meekly. Gertrude was a tall, thin woman with horn rimmed glasses, a sharp pointy nose and blonde hair she kept tightly rolled in a bun. Her cold blue eyes sat like ice cubes amplified by the think lenses. Dinner was quiet and short. Afterwards, Frank walked Ruth to her room. He placed the luggage on the bed and closed the door behind him, saying “good night”. The room was puny, but it had a pleasant breeze that blew through the southeast window. It was absolutely dark out. The crickets were chirping and of in the distance a train’s whistle blew. Thinking of her deceased parents, she cried herself to sleep.
The next morning, Aunt Gertrude traveled with her down the street to the junior high school for registration. Walking on the campus she could feel hundreds of eyes on her. Quickly she noticed that she was dressed unlike any of them. Ruth was small for her age, and had long braided brown hair. She was fond of flowered dresses and a pair of black boots, which she remembered her mother hated. As they neared the office, she felt the snickering grow like a cancer over her shoulder. Aunt Gertrude also seemed to be nervous, probably because she never got out much.
Soon she was at the door of her classroom and upon entering the whispering started immediately. Then one feeble girl, Lucia, made it to a point to embarrass Ruth by pulling the deckchair from under her seat as she went to sit down. The classroom erupted in unforgiving laughter. Ruth felt her face getting hot. After school she walked home alone feeling she had surely entered the worst place on Earth. Days soon turned to weeks and the teasing just got worse, until one night she dreamt of her father. He had told her that he and her mother were always near and would take care of her. He also said that is was ok to fight back. That sometimes you needed to in order to keep bullies away. Ruth woke up that morning feeling more cheerful than she had in a long time. She was going to have to make an example of one of her teasers. One or two bullies then the rest would stop she thought. She knew immediately whom she would start with.
Lucia was a prissy little hurtful snob. She was the only daughter of the mayor and of the car dealership in town. She always wore the latest clothes and felt she set the trends in school. She was a pro at faking sweetness to all the adults while crushing or embarrassing anyone she felt for amusement.
At noon, on Italian food day at the school cafeteria, Ruth came up behind Lucia as she approached the “popular table”. Then with a quick foot sweep, she tripped Lucia who fell flat on her plate. She quickly then proceeded to pretend to almost trip and spilled her tray of spaghetti and cranberry juice on her saying,
“Oh, Lucia, I’m so sorry! Are you ok? Can I help you up?” Lucia quickly turned around and glared at her saying,
“You clumsy cow, I’ll get you for this!” This however was easily drowned out by the laughter and clapping that soon followed throughout the cafeteria. Turning away, Ruth felt such a feeling of satisfaction and happiness that she needed to fight the urge to laugh. Later that day, she returned to her room to gloat and plan her next little prank. This continued with each prank becoming bolder and more elaborate. News of the pranks spread through the town. While many suspected who was a fault, no one could prove anything. Some had even gone as far as to knock on the house and complain to Uncle Frank who quickly covered for her feeling they would think the worst of him. Until one day Ruth decided to play a prank on the mayor. It was perfect, she thought, the boastful mayor eating crow. The mayor had created speed traps to increase revenue for the city. He had often spoken to the city that the need for speed traps was to increase safety, not to grow the city budget. All the while, he had a love for fast sports cars that he often took on a drive down the city highways on Sunday mornings. He would tell the chief of police that no police officers should stop him as he raced down the roads. Ruth one Sunday morning cut down two small trees and placed them in the middle of the road after an S-turn at the base of a hill. This was the road she knew the mayor would always take. Then she hid near the road-block and waited. Vroom! The mayor tiny convertible came zooming down the hill. He made the small turn then slammed on the brakes. As a result the little car began to swerve and then suddenly it started to tumble. Everything went quiet after the car stopped. The dust fell silently and showed the mangled car with the mayor strapped in. She walked closer to the car. Then the mayor groaned and then she turned and quickly ran away.
A month passed and Ruth now found herself in a courtroom with a series of charges filed against her for the prank she had committed. She heard about the pain she had caused, not just to the person of the prank, but also of their family’s. What have I done? She began to think. She realized soon that she had become the person she sat out to teach a lesson for their cruelty. When the judge asked her to speak she tells him of what she had realized she had done and explained the reason for her actions at the beginning. She hoped there was a way she could make it up to the people she had hurt.
Two months later Ruth woke up to the rooster’s morning call, to start her new weekend of community service. She had made many friends since those days long ago and realized that you should stick up for yourself, but be careful of taking your anger out on people.