Sticks and Stones

Looking back on the days of my youth, I was hard pressed to find a single moment that I haven’t been teased or scoffed at. However one of these moments I have made one of my most cherished memories. We had just moved to Black Hawk, Colorado and our mother was the new short order cook for the Gilpin County Hotel. My mother tried to get us excited about the move by telling us it was a chance to start over again and begin new lives. But I knew that wasn’t the case, after all it never has been before.

I was in the forth grade, I was short and skinny with a tangled nest of thick light brown hair and huge taped up bifocals that seemed to swallow my face whole. But I had much more than the glasses, I had the wardrobe to match. Old flannel button up shirts, and bell bottom jeans that clinched my girlish hips so tight I thought I would be in the restroom every ten minutes. And I could never forget those seventies “V” neck shirts that would bare my blinding white naked chest for all the world to see, or that sky blue suit and bow tie I was forced to endure for the school photo.

Our mother never had much in the way of money, and I was the oldest of five children. I remember when she would take us to the Good Will to get school clothes. My younger brother Kyle would be sitting up front bouncing around in our ever so cool 1978 purple station wagon. It had red tape over the left tail light, smoke blowing out the rear end, and rusted hole big enough to put my arm through. Oh yeah we were most definitely styling. My sister Kim and I would be slumped down in our seats in the back hoping, praying that no one would catch a glimpse of us passing let alone know where we were going.

Needless to say our prayers fell upon deaf ears that day, and we were indeed spotted walking into the thrift store. Curtis Felton and a few of the other sixth graders were at the other end of the parking lot shouting out taunts behind a mist of cigarette smoke. “Look at the poor white trash!,” they cried out, “The nerd herd!”

I could feel my blood boiling to the tune of their antagonism. But kept my head forward, trying desperately to block them out. Kim was the truly spirited one of the five of us. She would put her feet together and her hands on her hip shaking her head, “You’re rubber and we’re glue.” I thought it was funny how she managed to get a rise out of them just before she bolted into the doors and to the safety of Moms arm. She must have felt invincible there.

The next day we found our selves at what must had been our third day of school. Kim and I gravitated to each other during lunch hour so we would have someone to talk to. Neither of us had managed to make any friends yet, and every kid in the county from first to twelfth grade went to the same school.

The day finally ended at four thirty and I was released from my anguish. I met Kim on the play ground at the south side of the building so that we could start our way home. And that’s when it hit me. It felt as if a truck had slammed into the back of my head as my glasses went flying threw the air and I fell to my knees. The back of my neck went numb from the icy shards of a shattered snow ball and my head echoed with the ringing of my ears.

“You’re gonna get it now freaks,” Curtis scoffed from some fifteen feet away making his way toward us with two of his friends. “Mommy isn’t here now retards.”

In shock I just sat there petrified with fear. Before I knew it Curtis was practically towering right over me. Looking up I could barely see the sun peaking out over his spike brown hair. His black winter coat seemed to exacerbate his size and his posture was filled with a confidence that I was helpless to compete with.

He stood there for a moment gloating over me and then began kicking snow in my face. “Leave him alone!” Kim demanded, “Leave him alone or else!”

Curtis laughed as her turned his attention toward her, “Or else what?” he asked pushing her down into the snow.

Her eyes weld up and her face flushed red. “That’s my brother!” She shouted forcing back her tears, “He isn’t afraid of you morons anyway!”

Slowly I rose to my feet careful not to make any sudden movements that could cause Curtis turn his attention on me and strike like some wild animal. “This dweeb,” he snickered, “he’s got to be the stupidest sissy I ever saw.”

“That’s it punk!” Kim roared pulling off her boot. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Tiny Kimberly was caught out in the school yard threatening to beat up a sixth grader, and without the safety of Mothers arm.

Curtis didn’t even get the chance to respond. Kim flew from her snow plot as if she had been fired from a cannon. Suddenly before any of us knew what had happened she plowed that boot right into Curtis’s groin and he doubled over in pain.

A second later on of the other boys had slapped Kim forcing her face down in the snow. My innocent little third grade sister was now being attacked by sixth grade boys. Time seemed to pass in slow motion as she tossed snow back at them across the battle field. The temperature rose as lost track of the cold and I cold hear Curtis’s moaning more clearly than I any other sound on Earth.

I couldn’t let this happen to my little sister. She is the only one that ever stood up for me against such unbeatable odds. She put herself in harms way for me and I couldn’t bring myself to abandon her. I felt a surge of energy rush through me as I leapt for the boy on the right, tackling him to the ground. “Don’t touch her!” I screamed out in a rage.

A moment later the other boy pulled me off and we began trading punches. I could feel the pressure of his fists against my chest and face, but I couldn’t feel the pain. I was supercharged, and nothing could stop me now.

The fight only lasted a minute or two, when Curtis and his goons finally decided they had punished us enough. Curtis wiped the blood from his lip, and the other two cleared their faces of Kimberly’s boot marks, leaving us laying there in the snow.

When we got home our Mother came rushing over to us both and asked us what happened. Kim and I simply stared at each other for a moment and smiled, “Nothing Mom.” She answered, “We had a little problem, but nothing we couldn’t handle ourselves.”

Mom shook her head over to me looking for an explanation. I paused for a moment with a smile on my face, “That’s right Mom, things are gonna be different here.”

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