I drove past a girl today, while doing the school run. She was intermediate aged, probably about 11-12. She had her nose in a book, while she was walking home. She wore glasses. She was dumpy and short. She wasn’t pretty.
For the next 10 mins, the kids chatted in the back, and I was almost in tears, thinking back to me at the same age.
Was she as lonely as I had been? Did she wander around school, watching groups of girls giggling, sharing jokes that she’d never be part of, or worse, the joke was about her?
Did she try time and time again to find someone to like her? Did she reach out trying to make one connection, just one friend, just someone to talk too? Did she not find anyone?
Did she have people who used her, doing things for others that she wished would make her popular, or at least, let her have one friend?
Did she hide out in the library, day after day, so no one knew how desperately lonely she was?
Did she join the choir, simply so that it was something to do, so that she could be around others, and sometimes they had to talk to her?
Did she jump at the chance to talk to anyone, even the lady at the dairy, because she hadn’t spoken to anyone all day long?
Did she get pushed against the locker doors, bruises all up and down her back? Did she get tripped up in the hallways, huge angry red welts on her shins, from the hard shoes kicking at her, so she’d fall? Did she get rubber bands flicked at her, across the classroom? Did she get pelted with spit balls as she walked from class to class? Did she get her bra strap snapped repeatedly, so that she had to cover her back with plasters to stop it from bleeding? Did she get money demanded from her?
Did she get her things taken off her? Did she get her books ripped out of her hands, and torn into shreds while the kids stood around her in a circle and laughed? Did she stand there with tears streaming down her face, feeling so embarrassed that she just wished the ground would swallow her?
Did she spend hours after school, trying to get bubble gum out of her hair, that the girls had put in there at school, as they laughed and giggled in their groups of friends? Did she weep as she cut it out, time and time again?
Did she go home and pretend everything was fine? Did she want to protect her family, her mother, from the awful things that were going on? Did she chat away about things that happened to other people, to cover the fact that nothing ever happened to her, that was good?
Did she cry herself to sleep every night?