Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

American Knapsacks

I used to cry on the first day of school. I did this every year until the fourth grade. I willed myself all day on the first day of fourth grade to be strong and not act like a baby. The only worse thing I could think of than crying on the first day was not being at school on your first day of fourth grade. Even though I was at the same school as third grade I didn’t have any friends. All my friends from the year before have moved schools. I just wanted to make a friend.

I made it through the first day of fourth grade successfully without crying. Even though I had accomplished that, I was still insecure. What if I didn’t make any friends the whole school year? What if nobody liked me? What if the other kids made fun of me? I was determined to at least try to make friends. On the second day a girl came late to class who wasn’t there the day before. The teacher gave her the seat next to me. I felt sorry for her because she had missed the first day of school. I was excited to talk to her because I thought we might become friends, but I was very shy and had many doubts in my head. I finally muster up enough courage to talk to her right as we were packing up to go home for the day.

“I like your backpack,” I said barely above a whisper.

“Oh thanks,” She mumbled, not even bothering to look up as she zipped up her pink and grey floral backpack.

“Did you go to Glen Arden Elementary School, because I used to know a girl with that same knapsack.” The words came out rushed.

She finally looked at me with a sideways glance.
“Knapsack?” She cruelly mocked. “What’s a knapsack?”

I froze. Was that supposed to be mean, or was I paranoid?

“Yeah, knapsack, you know like a backpack.” I tried to act all cool, but miserably failed.

“You’re so weird. Nobody says Knapsack. Where are you from? Mars?”

This couldn’t be happening. I could feel the tears welling up inside me.

“No,” I choked, “I u-u-used to live in Mexico and that’s w-w-what everyone said.” She just rolled her eyes as she strutted out the classroom door. I knew she didn’t believe that I lived in Mexico.

I left on the second day of school dreading the next because I knew I would have to sit next to the mean girl all day. My palms were sweaty and I had an itch in my hair that wouldn’t go away.

For a long time we just didn’t talk to each other. I always felt threatened when sitting next to her. She scared me. I tried to stay out of her way as much as possible. Over the next month or so we each made different friends in our class. For the most part she mostly ignored me and gave me dirty looks when she was gossiping on the playground with her friends.
I was wearing a new shirt to school, well it was new to me. My family didn’t have much money, so I got hand-me-downs a lot. It was a white long sleeved shirt with light blue letters saying ‘Abercrombie & Fitch” scrawled across the chest. While we were standing in line in the hallway waiting for our classmates to finish using the restroom, she made a loud comment about my shirt.

“If you changed the ‘F’ to ‘B’ it would spell b****.” She sneered a little too loudly to her giggling friends. I felt like disappearing into the floor.

I wasn’t going to tattle to the teacher on them because then they would make fun of me even more. I was scared of her. The teacher heard about the mean remark from another student without my knowing on the way back to the classroom. She called me into the hallway. I didn’t know why. All I knew was the only kids who got called into the hallway by the teacher were in big trouble. I started to panic. As I walked across the room I felt twenty sets of eyes following my every dragging footstep across the room. I could feel the mean girl’s evil stare burning into the back of my skull. Finally I reached the door way and followed my teacher into the hallway. My head was slumped and my eyes were down cast.

“Did Hadley say a bad word about your shirt?” inquired the teacher.

I glanced up. Did I hear her right? My anxiety was momentarily relieved, until I realized she was expecting an answer to her question. If I told the truth the mean girl would get in trouble. She would be furious with me. But if I said she didn’t say it, I would be lying. I never lie. I quickly decided and told my teacher that she did say it.

I slunk back into to the classroom regretting my decision. Again every set of eyes were on me until the teacher called the mean girl into to the hallway. I passed her as I walked to my seat. She gave me a very nasty look and whispered “B****” under her breath. I tripped over my feet, and she quietly snickered in satisfaction as the rest of the class laughed at me.

I sunk into my seat. I sat there for what felt like an eternity waiting for her to return. She strutted back into the room like the queen of the world. Everyone started whispering wanting to know what had happen.

After that she picked on me more often. She did and said things that only I saw and heard. One day for book groups I noticed she sat at my desk. I couldn’t do anything about it because I was in a different group across the room. It made me really nervous that she was sitting in my desk. When I got back to my seat I saw that my big pink eraser had holes stabbed in it and “Die b****,” was messily scrawled on it.

The mean girl and I were standing in the hallway bathroom line and she looked over at me and sickly sweet said:

“Do you want to be cool like me?”

I froze. Was she trying to be nice to be or was this just a joke? I didn’t know what to say.

“S-sure,” I sputtered.

“Well,” she grinned evilly “First you have to take off your socks.”

I was caught off guard. I didn’t have time to response because she continued on.

“Then you have to take out your hair clips.”
What was she talking about? She was trying to control me by making me into a mini version of her. This crossed a line. I gathered all my bravery and said:

“No.”


Now she didn’t take to kindly to that.

“I was just trying to help you,” She oozed sweetly.

At that moment your teacher hurried us back to the room. We never talked about it again, but I could always feel her anger anytime I was near her.

Her sarcastic remarks and nasty looks continued all the way until high school. It was less in middle school because I only had gym with her, but I always felt self conscious and afraid anytime she was near me. When she would bump into me in the hallway, pretending like I wasn’t even there. At this point I was use to feeling invisible.

She would speak down at me like we are still in fourth grade standing in the hallway with her sickening sweet voice. She will compliment my earrings with an undertone of sarcasm only I heard. I never knew how to response. I was still afraid of her.

Now I am older. I still see her everyday at school. She sometimes makes remarks to me and gives me nasty looks. Still to this day she tries to bump into me in the hallway. Even though she hasn’t changed I have. I don’t let her bother me anymore. I have decided that I don’t care what she and her little group of friends thinks of me. I know that I was never mean to her and didn’t deserve to be bullied and that’s all that matters, even though I have never utter the word “knapsack” since the first day of fourth grade.



Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback