They're laughing at me. All my friends. It is lunchtime. My backpack is gone. The table is full. They sit, smirking and laughing.
I hold my lunch tray in my hands. My eyes are already burning, vision blurry. Don't cry, it will only make it worse. Whatever you do, don't cry. I try to say something, but I can't. I am too choked up.
Even Erin is grinning at my expense. She is supposed to be my best friend. I've known her since we were 3. I was the only one who came to visit her when she was sick. I wore a mask and felt like I couldn't breathe just so I could play with her. I was the only one who saw her without her wig. I went with her to the hospital for blood tests, and to the orthopedist when she needed casts because her leg muscles atrophied from being in bed. And now she is betraying me too.
I don't know how much time has passed. I am still standing next to the table. "I need a chair." I finally stammer.
"We don't want you here." Ellen says. She is the Queen. Everyone else will go along with her for fear of being treated like me. But I was your only friend when you moved! I want to scream. No one at this table would be talking to you if it weren't for me! The words don't come out.
I hang my head in shame and sit alone, picking my bag out of the garbage. I want to curl into a ball and disappear.
The bell rings. I trudge outside. I don't want to play. I don't even have anyone to play with. I sit alone, against the cool brick of the school. I try to avoid everyone's eyes.
"Alison!" Hearing my name snaps me out of a daze. I look up and see Michelle. She waves me over. I hesitate before slowly walking towards her.
She is surrounded now by Ellen and the gang. I am surrounded. I don't know whether to be happy or afraid. Dare I hope they'll take me back? Is my punishment over? Or will they just try to humiliate me some more?
"Play tag with us," Ellen says, smiling. I relax, and nod my head. Maybe it's all over. Maybe they are still my friends. I miss the malicious smile behind my back.
"You're it," says Michelle. They start to run, on the grass, the driveway, the sidewalk. I give chase, but everyone is faster than me. They know I'm the slowest because I'm chubbier than everyone else. I am mercilessly teased for this every day.
I'm on the grass, near the curb. Ellen is in my sights. I can catch her, I think.
I feel a hand on my back, a sharp nudge. CRACK! I'm on the ground. Standing up, I see Michelle behind me. Ellen is with her now. They're both laughing. My foot hurts. I'm limping. I can't put weight on it. They call me a baby, tell me I'm faking it, laugh at me.
I can take the pain, but not the laughter. The humiliation makes me want to die. The tears flow freely now, running hotly down my face. I can't stop it. The more I cry, the more they laugh. I now know for sure that I have lost all my friends, and I am not getting them back.
A note about this blog: I snapped 3 bones in my foot that day after Michelle shoved me off the curb. Not wanting to give them satisfaction, I walked around on a broken, blue foot for 3 days before I saw a doctor and got a cast. I still hung out with these girls for another month, being their punching bag, before I had the courage to walk away from them. The last straw for me was Halloween that year. I was still in my cast, and they made me try to run from house to house. When I couldn't keep up, they left me alone. I managed to hobble over a mile home, and when my mom called Ellen and Michelle's moms to complain, they both blamed me. How can someone's mother be so awful to a 12 year old? I still can't wrap my head around it, and I just pray that my daughter is never tortured by her friends like I was.
This post is from a Remembered prompt: We all have them. Memories that we wish we could forget…things that we wish we could banish from our minds. Imagine that writing down your worst memory will free you of it. What is it? Why does it haunt you? What could you have done differently?