Scout's Honor | Teen Ink

Scout's Honor

January 2, 2016
By ValerieW SILVER, Saratoga, California
ValerieW SILVER, Saratoga, California
6 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Scout Corelli wasn’t very good at playing tag.

Her mother would laugh--but in a bitter kind of way. She always laughed in a bitter kind of way. She’d say that it wasn’t a surprise, because Scout wasn’t good at anything. She was mediocre in every possible way. Scout wasn’t particularly gifted in anything, and her grades in school were proof of that. When grades were issued, it was always obvious that Scout was majorly behind the rest of the class. When it came time for Phys. Ed, Scout was always the last picked for any team. On top of all that, Scout wasn’t a very good daughter. After all, if she was a good daughter, her mother would actually like her, wouldn’t she? Maybe if her mother liked her, she would have more self-esteem. Maybe if she had more self-esteem, she would be good at playing tag. Scout’s entire life was a cause and effect problem.

The main reason Scout Corelli wasn’t very good at playing tag was because of Aimee Sharkovsky, who was very mean, very large, and very intimidating. Every time the Phys. Ed coach made them play a game, Aimee Sharkovsky would look at Scout with her slitted eyes, make eye contact for a brief moment, then turn away abruptly, like she couldn’t bear to look at her. “Scout’s IT!” she would yell, and then everyone would start running as fast as they could, away from the weird girl with the freckles. Aimee Sharkovsky was a mean kid, but she never got caught, and that was the thing that irritated Scout most. People who don’t get caught never get punished. However, it wasn’t like Scout could be the one to punish her. She hated running--there were so many things you could do with your limbs. Scout could never quite tell what she should do with them, other than leaving her arms dangling like limp rabbits. She seemed pale and sickly, her entire face dotted with freckles; it almost looked like she had the measles. That was why she was called Smallpox, which was a nickname Aimee had given her back when they were in first grade. It originated from her outrageous pimples that resembled a pop-up book more than anything else. They jutted out of her skin like boulders. Scout cupped her face in her hands, just to check, and felt rigid bumps under the soft pads of her fingers. God, they really were like boulders. She had tried to cover her wrists though; she’d plastered them with armbands she’d gotten as prizes from carnivals, each armband embossed with a smiley face that signified anything but what she was feeling.

Scout could speak, but it was as if she were mute. Whenever she tried to talk, the teacher would just tell her that no one could hear her. It wasn’t like Scout didn’t want to talk, it was just that no one would listen. And so, Scout would drift off into her own little world--just like she was doing now, during this game of tag. Scout was huddling behind one of the large redwood trees that were at the very borderline of the field. Her arms were speckled with gritty dirt from the countless number of times she’d tripped trying to tag her classmates. Everyone had obviously grown bored of Scout’s lousy attempts at tagging them, since all of them had left. Everyone except--

“Hey, Smallpox!” Aimee Sharkovsky called out to her, her lumbering figure coming closer and closer as Scout watched, immobile, “What are you doing, just sitting there?”

Scout remained silent, not wanting to speak. Maybe if I don’t talk, she’ll get bored and go away.

Scout’s mother once had a joke about Scout, because apparently she couldn’t be taken seriously. Whenever anyone asked Scout’s mother to promise something, her mother would laugh--the kind of laugh that resembled Aimee Sharkrovsky’s--and swear, Scout’s honor. This was a source of bitter amusement for her. What honor does Scout have? she would say out loud to all her friends. None. Scout’s a joke. I made a joke. Get it?

Scout closed her eyes, feeling a presence above her. She knew exactly who it was.

“You afraid, Smallpox?” Aimee leered.

Scout’s a joke. Scout’s honor. I made a joke. Scout’s a joke.
Tag had been played a number of times at her school, and for as long as the game had been played, Scout had been IT since kindergarten. Nine years, Scout decided, was far too long.

I’m not a joke, Scout told herself firmly.

“Are you deaf or something?” Aimee snapped.

I am not a joke.

Slowly, Scout stood up. Aimee looked at her with those slitted eyes, uncomprehending as Scout reached a hand out towards her. She followed the movement with her eyes warily. “What are you doing?”

Very lightly, Scout brushed the palm of her hand across Aimee’s shoulder. Aimee stood there in silence, uneasy and unsure until Scout spoke up:


“You’re it.”

There was a moment of unwavering silence between the two girls. Scout met Aimee’s eyes with a steadiness that resonated between the two of them. It was a steadiness that was strong and sure, a steadiness that indicated: I will not let you push me around anymore.

And as Aimee stared at Scout, Scout came to the realization that if she could stand up to one person, then she could to others. Scout could stand up to her mother, tell her that she didn’t deserve to be disliked nearly as much as her mother disliked her. No more of those bitter laughs, those humorless jokes, the ways she’d belittle Scout in the most obvious ways--why can’t you do anything right?
Scout hadn’t been born perfect. Maybe that’s what her mother had wanted all along; a perfect daughter who would always be the one getting chased, not the other way around. She remembered the elementary school days, her mother sighing as she drove down to school, pursing her lips. “I don’t want to have to come to school again, okay?” Her mother would say sharply, and Scout would nod. But then Scout would be picked IT, and something would happen that required her mother having to pick her up. She still remembered the disappointment on her face, the same kind she’d been seeing since she was born.

You’re IT, she would scream gleefully at all of the people who had tormented her in years past, you’re IT, but you can’t catch me. No one can catch me now.

Her hand was still hovering over Aimee’s shoulder; Aimee took one look at it and ran. Large, lumbering Aimee, who ran with jerky, awkward steps. But this time, Scout wasn’t going to chase after her. She closed her eyes and tried to picture what tomorrow would bring. Maybe Aimee would go back to being a relentless bully tomorrow, all scowls and no smiles, but Scout was different now. She wouldn’t be the joke anymore.

No one could catch her now.

The author's comments:

For this piece, I took a situation of bullying (a modern issue today) and condensed it to a simple resolution--by standing up to the bully. I think most stories nowadays are too focused on the process of bullying and the problem of it rather than the solution, so I attempted to contradict that by providing a solution. The game of tag played its part perfectly, and I hope what others take from this is that the solution is simpler than they think, and always right in front of them. 

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