Bumblebee

July 25, 2009
By
“Do you know which one you want?” Of course I knew which one I wanted. As I stood in front of the
glass display case, the gold and silver Gucci watches glittering in one corner, it was totally
obvious as to which one would be my first watch. It was a shiny blue watch with a bumblebee in the
center with thick antennae that pointed to the time. The numbers surrounding the bee were big and
bold, so it would be easy for my first-grade self to read the time. It had a wide blue strap and it
felt cool against my skin as the salesperson strapped it around my little wrist. “I love it!” I
screeched, unable to keep the wide grin off my face. “It’s perfect, just perfect.” As we strolled
through the mall, even Build-a-Bear Workshop, Sees Candies, and the movie theater were unable to
capture my attention. I couldn’t take my eyes off the fat blue watch, which looked silly on my bony
wrist. I watched as the second hand glided across the surface and how the minute hand inched along.
“Mom! Guess what time it is!” “I don’t know honey,” she replied patiently, guiding me through the
crowds of people as I stared blindly at my timepiece. “Why don’t you tell me.” “It’s six twenty-one
and thirteen seconds! Now fourteen, fifteen, sixteen…” “Oh, good. Come on now, let’s get in the
car.”

I couldn’t wait to show everyone at school my new watch. In the morning, I ran down the hall to my
parent’s room, bumblebee watch in hand. “Mom! Mom! I need your help. Mom! My watch!” I smiled as I
held out the watch for her. “Okay, okay,” she said groggily, rubbing her eyes and rolling over in
her bed. She attached the ends of the watch together and secured it around my wrist. “Be careful at
school today, honey. When you’re on the playground don’t knock it against anything. You don’t want
it to crack.” She kissed my forehead. “Have fun and be good. I’ll see you tonight.”

As Ms. Marazzo guided the class through our arithmetic and spelling, I just couldn’t pay attention.
I showed Andy, the boy who sat next to me, my new watch and we just stared at it under our desks,
watching its little hands. “Isn’t it awesome?” I gushed. “My mom got it for me.” “Yeah! Can you
actually tell time?” “Of course I can,” I bragged, flipping my hair. I was the only kid in our class
who understood telling time after the class had learned it the week before. When Ms. Marazzo told my
parents at Back-to-School Night, they agreed to buy me my own watch. “How much did it cost?” Andy
asked. “Well it says Made in China on the back. So it had to get flown in and stuff, you know. So I
think like nine-hundred dollars.” I was lying. But I loved seeing Andy get more and more captivated
by what I was saying.

School seemed to go by faster that day with my new companion to provide me with entertainment. After
school at Clubhouse, Andy and I did our usual race across the campus to see who could get to the
playground first. Andy always won. But today, Sarah L..., the biggest and meanest second grader,
was already there. “Why are you here?” Andy smirked. “Hey, shut up Andy. Second graders have first
priority on the playgrounds anyway.” Sarah glared back, her hands on her hips. “Whatever. Ellen,
race across the monkey bars?” Andy asked. I remembered what my mom told me. “Yeah, just a second.” I
unhooked my watch and laid it down gently at the corner of the playground on the curb. Then I
sprinted across and hopped on the bars.

At dusk, Dad came to pick me up as usual. I grabbed my backpack from the cubbies and headed towards
the door, holding Dad’s hand. He guided me out to the car, when my heart stopped. “Daddy! My watch!”
I gasped, staring at my bare wrist. “I forgot it at the playground!” Without another word, I
sprinted across the campus, faster than I had ever gone when I raced Andy. I saw a figure sitting at
the playground. It was Sarah. She was sitting at the corner, straddling the curb, rock in hand.
Smashing my bumblebee watch. I stood staring at her, tears fighting to come out from behind my eyes.
She said nothing, only stood up and backed away. I said nothing to her, but picked up the corpse of
my little timepiece and carried it across the basketball and tetherball courts to my dad, sobbing.
It was easily the worst day of my young life.

I got a new watch. It was yellow and had a big gray mouse on it that held a hunk of cheese. But it
was never quite the same and I only wore it religiously for about a week. The bumblebee was more
special somehow, although the mouse watch was the same brand and came from the same place. I wanted
my parents to fix my bumblebee watch, but it really didn’t make sense, since it basically required
reconstructing the entire thing to make it work again. I never understood why Sarah L... smashed my
watch in the first place. My parents tried to explain it to me: “Some kids are just mean, honey,”
but I didn’t believe them. She must have had an explanation for why she smashed it. Was I ever mean
to her? Did the watch try to attack her or something? It must have been self-defense. Sometimes you
have to grow up to realize the lessons you learned as a little kid are true. Some people are just
mean. Things are beyond one’s control sometimes. The watch incident taught me this. I saw Sarah
L... from time to time after that, and she remained the intimidating older person she had been all
the way through middle school. It seemed everyone had a personal grudge against Sarah L...: “She
stole my chocolate shake once!” “She pushed me off the bar and I broke my wrist!” When I was in
eighth grade, my friend Tracey told me the latest news about Sarah L.... “She got sent away!”
Tracey said excitedly. “What? What happened?” “Well you know she used to be on my softball team?
This girl on my team told me what happened. She was at this place called Nova, which is like a place
for crazy kids instead of the high-school. And she got in a fight and is at juvie now!”

I couldn’t deny that I was happy because of the news of Sarah L...’s misfortunes. Even though I was
an eighth grader now, I still didn’t forget the first-grade incident with my bumblebee watch. A few
months later, in the car with my mom, the subject of Sarah L... came up somehow. She had been on my
softball team once too, so my parents knew of her. “Whatever happened to that girl?” “She was at
this crazy asylum place called Nova,” I said happily. “And she got in a fight with some kid and got
sent to juvenile hall! Tracey told me.” My mom didn’t say anything at first, but took her eyes off
the road for a second and looked at me. “First of all, Ellen, Nova isn’t an asylum. When kids aren’t
doing well at the high-school, for whatever reason, then they go there. And did you know Sarah was
bipolar?” “What?” “She was. She had a rough time at home, you know. I just want you to know that,
before you go celebrating her hard luck.”

I had only thought of Sarah L... as an evil and malicious girl. She had no reason to smash my
watch. Which was true, she didn’t. But even if people are just mean sometimes, there is more than
what’s just at the surface. And even when an event seems earth shattering, time goes by and you
realize it really wasn’t. I never forgot about my judging of Sarah L.... She’s back at the high
school now, and when I pass by her, I give her a smile.





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