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“Hey, Bookworm! Watcha readin’?”

I barely had time to register those four words, when the book I held in my hands was violently snatched away. I heard a ripping sound, and I was terrified to look up. Lifting my head, I saw that cover of the paperback version of The Goblet of Fire was dangling precariously from where it had been ripped halfway from the binding. I felt a slight stinging behind my eyes. To me, books were sacred. I would rather have broken my cell phone, than let harm come to one of my precious books. Besides that, it didn't belong to me. It belonged to my oldest brother, who was as careful with books as I was. I knew he was going to yell at me when I brought that book home.

Swallowing my tears and the slight anger, I stood up from where I had been sitting on my book bag leaning against the hard, brick building of the school. I was waiting for my sister to pick me up. All the teachers were standing close to the carpool lane, helping kids get into their cars, and too far away to see what was going on. My brother, who is only a year older, was nowhere in sight. We may fight and pick on each other, but whenever I needed it, he would always come to help me. But at that moment, he was nowhere to be seen.

Keeping my voice from shaking, I said, “Can I please have my book back?” The boy holding the book held it up higher, inspecting it. Both he and the boy beside him had been in my class since kindergarten, and I had always had a book on me since I had learned to read. They had also called me names and had done different things since then. The boy holding the book paused, and then looked back up at me. “You’re such a nerd, Bookworm,” he stated, hurting me more than he realized, “Why are you always readin’?”

My eyes grew slightly wider, and I wanted to yell at him to be careful. He held the book in a way that if he moved his hand the wrong way, the cover would slip and rip off completely. “Because it’s fun,” was my short reply, as I kept my eyes on the damaged book in his hands. Both of the boys proceeded to laugh. “Because it’s fun,” the boy said, mocking me, “What kind of answer is that? Who reads for fun?” They both laughed again. “Please,” I whispered, my voice barely audible, “May I have my book back?”

Holding the book carelessly, the boy pondered my question. My eyes flitted from his face to the book and back again. He caught my glances, and gave a devilish smile. Slowly, he tossed the book into the air. A scream almost ripped from my throat. I could barely look as it came crashing back down to the earth. With ease, he caught the book by its creased spine. Releasing the breath I had been holding, I asked once again, “Can I please have my book back?”

“You want the book back, Big Nose, you gonna have to get it.”

His harsh comment caused me to place my hand on my nose. His rude comment had received laughter from his partner-in-crime, but I felt the sting of tears behind my eyes once again. Trying to keep from letting them see that they were getting to me, I said in a slightly shaky voice, “Can I please get my book back?” With a sly glance to his friend, he turned his gaze back on me.

“Here, catch.”

Another scream almost ripped through my throat, as he tossed the heavy book at me. Lunging for it, I barely grabbed it in time and hugged it close to my chest. I tried even harder to hold back the tears I knew were coming. I attempted to quietly go back to reading. I should have known they wouldn't have left me alone so easily. Before I could do anything, the second boy had grabbed my lunch box and had taken of running around the corner of the building. The one holding my book earlier raced after him. I set my book gently on my book bag, so it wouldn't slide off, and then ran after them.

I knew that once I rounded that corner, I would definitely be out of sight of everyone, especially the teachers. I stepped in front of the one who had taken my lunch box, and the other one went behind me. Glancing at me, he unzipped it and looked inside. “Hey, you sure cleaned this up well, Bookworm,” he said, glancing at me, “Looks like you finally got all the sand out.” Both of the boys laughed. They were referring to a few weeks ago, when while I hadn't been looking, they had stuffed handfuls of sand into it. It had taken me weeks to get it out.

“How ‘bout we play a little game, nerd?”

Before I could do anything, they started tossing it back and forth between themselves. I tried jumping, but I was too short. I knew the tears were close to falling. When I had just decided to give up, I heard footsteps behind me. Turning around, I saw who it was and I almost cried from happiness. It was my brother, coming to the rescue.

Because he was a year older, he was bigger than both of my tormentors, and the boy holding my lunch box dropped it. Looking at the ground, both of them went back around towards the front of the carpool lane. Quickly swiping under my eyes, and sniffing, I picked up the abandoned lunch box. “Are you okay,” my brother asked. I nodded. “Thanks,” I told him. “Anytime; whenever you need me, I’ll always help you out.” Smiling, I walked with him to grab my things and go home.

Their hurtful comments and actions hurt me. Like all kids, I was very self-conscious about myself. Any small comments made by anyone would put me down, and make me feel worse about myself. Now when I look back on moments like that one I realize they didn't put me down, they helped me keep myself up. Their nasty comments about me being a bookworm and nerd don’t bother me now, because of reading I've had several successes with my writings and I am now in the top three in my grade at my school. Now whenever I hear people call me names like Nerd or Bookworm, I turn around and say, “Yes, I am, and proud of it.” If it hadn't been for those people putting me down, I would never have made it to where I am today.

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