Follow the Butterflies
3I bounced on my heels excitedly as Miss Taylor passed out our name tag necklaces. This wasn’t my first field trip- I’ve been on some before- but this was my first trip to the zoo. My teacher Miss Taylor had been teaching us for weeks about all the animals that we would get to see in the zoo; I knew they had monkeys and stuff, but they have elephants too! How would they fit an animal that big into a zoo?
Sadie held my hand tightly as Miss Taylor handed her a name tag. She was just excited as I was.
“Will they have butterflies there, like in the garden?” she asked.
“No,” Miss Taylor said, “But they have other things that fly, like birds.” She handed me my nametag. It had my first and last name printed on it, and also the letters PPH- Pennington Psychiatric Hospital.
The van pulled up and we all rushed on. There were only six people in our class, so we filled up the van perfectly. We were the oldest class in all of Pennington. Sadie sat beside me, Kayla and Gracie in front of us, and behind us Harris and Ken.
“What do you wanna see at the zoo?” Ken asked me.
“I like elephants. I want to see how big they are,” I said.
“Maybe we can see them together!” Ken said. I liked Ken.
We made up songs about animals and sang them all the way to the zoo. Miss Taylor, in front beside the driver, even sang along with us.
When we arrived, everyone hurried off the van. Miss Taylor made us wait while she checked to make sure we all had our tags and told us the rules.
“First, you must always stay with the group. If you get lost, ask a zoo worker to help you; if you show them your tag they will know where to take you. Second, don’t touch the animals, this isn’t a petting zoo. And, in general, behave.”
We walked through the crowds of people, hands linked, following Miss Taylor. She was studying the map of the zoo. “Who would like to see the Panda bears first?”
Everyone agreed excitedly. I had never seen a Panda not on T.V. before! I ran and stood beside Ken. “Do you like Pandas, Ken?”
“I guess they’re cool,” he said, “but I really want to see some tigers!” He let out a roar.
“That’s a really good roar, Ken! You sound just like a tiger!” Miss Taylor said.
Ken’s face was full of pride. “I try my best, Miss Taylor.”
Sadie came and walked beside me, and held my hand while we walked. “We are almost there!” Miss Taylor called back to us.
I walked faster, dragging Sadie along with me. Suddenly she stopped, and my arm jerked.
“What is it?” I asked. She was looking at a bush of flowers nearby beside the sidewalk. On one flower bush was a single, yellow butterfly.
“Come here, let’s go see the butterfly,” she said. I followed. I didn’t see what the big deal was about. Yeah the butterfly was pretty, but I really wanted to see the Pandas.
“Let’s go,” I said. “The Pandas are waiting!”
Reluctantly she agreed and we headed back on the sidewalk. We looked up the path, and didn’t see Miss Taylor. She wasn’t behind us either. We looked left, and we looked right.
“Oh no,” Sadie said. “I think we’re lost.”
“It’s okay. Let’s just head to wherever the Pandas are. That’s where the class is going.”
We walked down the path in the direction the class had been walking. Eventually though, the path broke off into three other paths. We stood there confused.
“Now which way are we going to go?” I asked.
“Let’s ask those kids over there. They look our age.”
Over to the side was a group of three girls and four guys. They were teenagers, like us. They stood there talking and drinking Cokes.
“Hey!” I said. Sadie and I walked over to them. They looked at us with weird expressions. “Do you know where the Pandas are? Cause Sadie wanted to look at the butterfly on the flower bush and our class and Miss Taylor walked away and weren’t there when we came back. We might be a little lost.”
They just stared at us for a while. I wondered what they were staring at. Finally, one of the boys said, “Are you retarded or something?” The rest of the kids started laughing.
Sadie and I just stood there and didn’t say anything. The boy spoke again. “I don’t think they even know what retarded means! Look at their faces!” They all burst out laughing again.
I knew what retarded meant, and so did Sadie. It was a mean word; it meant stupid and dumb. Miss Taylor said if you were ever teased to not say anything to the bullies and they will stop. So we stood there. But they didn’t stop.
“Aw you got lost while looking at the butterfly? Ha! What are you, three?”
“Look at that one, her eyes are twisted!”
“Haha oh my gosh they’re holding hands!”
I glanced at Sadie, and we agreed without words that we needed to leave. We turned and started walking away.
We walked a little faster. A tear rolled down Sadie’s cheek.
We began running. Tears were in my eyes, too.
Sadie and I ran as fast as we can, barely breathing through our sobs.