Opening Night This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Fourth grade was a fun time. We had been working on our class play for months. It was “Snow White and the Six Dwarfs” (The seventh dwarf, Smiley, had gone to Hollywood to be in toothpaste commercials). I played Evil Queen Vanessa.

Backstage on opening night was frantic. There was so much excitement you could drown in it; many were reviewing lines and songs, I was caught up in the moment, dancing on cloud nine, as if in a dream.

I don’t remember how the fight started. I just remember it was loud, everyone was screaming, and my eardrums were humming from the excessive noise. I lost my head, it’s true. It went rolling off a table, out the door, down the street, up, up, and away. I got into a shouting match with one of the boys.

That’s when I said it. I didn’t know what it meant. Everyone was shocked, upset. Their eyes piercing me like a million daggers thrust into my heart. Then instead of yelling at each other, they were yelling at me. Insults. Curses. Anger.

Why? I didn’t know what I’d done. I was like a deer in headlights, not moving for fear of being crushed. Lost in the sounds. Lost and confused. Alone.

I cried. I had done something wrong. No one explained. I just sat there crying into my hands and wondering why everyone hated me. What had I done? I was a child, being told, “No, no, NO!” But not knowing why. Receiving punishment, but not knowing the cause. The death penalty among friends. Truly Evil Queen Vanessa. They said I had become my character. I had become heinous, loathsome, vile.

Then the curtain went up. I wiped my tears and performed, all the while not fully understanding.

I had called the boy a n-----. I had heard it on television. There, it had been a joke. In life it wasn’t. I had insulted his culture, his heritage, his heart.

In one instant it became easy to see how words could hurt. How they could burn and mangle a person.

Queen Vanessa they called me - Evil Queen Vanessa. Hurting others for her own gain. Was I evil? Maybe.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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