The Red Sweater: Part 2

It was December.

Odd how quickly and slowly it always arrived and departed.

It was French toast day in the fourth grade.

That boy at the shop on Main Street, he’d transferred to my school. His name was Troy and he bothered me a lot.

“Hey, move over, Chicken Legs,” he shoved me on the bridge during a game of Hot Lava Tag.

A hand slapped my toe and I cried out in dismay. “It’s your fault!” I exclaimed. For being a quiet girl, he brought out a side of me I’d never experienced.

“You’re wearing that ugly red sweater; you already look like you’re made of lava.”

My mom’s sweater peeked out the top of my jacket—she’d let me wear it for the first time that day and it made me proud. My face matched its color as other students pointed at me.

“It’s way too big for you, why are you wearing it?” a third-grader asked.

“It looks like a dress,” Troy agreed, giving the younger kid a high-five. The kid stared up at him like an idol.

How had Troy infiltrated my school and became so popular?

I left recess early and hid in the bathroom until lunch, sneaking into the line when my classmates were called back in—I’d been tired of staring at the gross green tiles and eagerly awaited French toast.

Troy budded me in line, I kicked the backs of his shoes. Ugly ones that glowed when he walked. Made him look more special than he was.

He turned. “What is it, Chicken Legs?”

“You have snot in your hair.”

Troy watched me a long time. Considered something. “You’re really ugly, did you know that?”

Distracted and hurt throughout lunch, I barely noticed when my milk slipped past my jaw and landed underneath my sweater. The wetness seeped through and I panicked, smearing maple syrup all over my sleeve in my hurry to escape the lunchroom.

Back to my gross green tiles I ran, stretching the huge sweater to fit under the sink while I ran water on it.

I needed my mom.

Defeated, exhausted, I called her from the school office. The best thing about her was that if she heard me crying, she’d forget about anything else, including herself, and come to me like a roadrunner.

That day, I realized that the world was small. There was no grand plan or scheme by people even larger than ourselves. The snow globe shattered.

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