Deer Girl

September 1, 2010
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I see her at lunch. As I’m sitting and eating my horribly constructed mashed potatoes, she trips over some carelessly ignorant freshman’s backpack. She goes sprawling to the other side of the table, clearing a few innocent bystanders’ backpacks on the way, forcing me to admire her skill and precision. The poor frightened girl lifts herself up off of the gross cafeteria tile, willing the whir of prepubescent voices to carry through the room until she can get up off of the floor and regain some sense of dignity.
But the voices do not stir for once in the school day. It is completely silent and everyone has turned themselves to see her fall onto her face. A ripple of laughter and astonishment resounds throughout the cafeteria and I look at the teacher’s table, hoping that they will try to restore some justice in the lunchroom.
But, to my surprise, the entire teacher’s lunch table is the loudest of all tables, the faculty of a respected high school forgetting their polite, helpful roles in society for thirty minutes of a school day. I feel as if my heart is being ripped out of me when I see her stalk off into the crowd by the blinking exit sign. I want to help but know it’s beyond my control, and try to refrain from standing on my lunch table and shouting at the boy who had so knowingly laid his backpack in the path for someone, anyone to trip over in their hungry rush to find a table.
Now I see her every day at lunch. I thought that her eyes had that crazy look the other day just because she had lost all of her dignity on the greasy linoleum. But now I realize that that look, the crazed way her eyes dart back and forth, as if watching for immediate danger or a single threat to her safety, is natural for her. She’s used to people making fun of her, or pushing her down the stairs on the way to class. Like a beaten dog she hides under tables and chairs, constantly searching for a safe place to rest; but knowing there is no such thing in her life. The Deer Girl, the girl with eyes as wide and frightened as a deer. It makes me so sad I start to cry, slowly and tenderly, feeling every single tear dripping down onto the art wing’s bathroom floor. And I think I just found another missing piece of my life, another puzzle piece I’m supposed to fit into my heart.
I wish someone would speak to her kindly and gently, and if I have to be the one to reach out a hand; I have no problem being that one person. Because if I can ease that pained look in those frantic eyes, just by a little bit, I think I’d be doing the world much more good than if I threw my bag down in front of her for a cheap thrill.

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