Act Three  

I peered into the scratched up blue and white metal Holly Hobbie lunch box.

Please, God, can I have something good? Just this once?

“Hey, can you move down two seats?” It was a freckled classmate with braids who spoke with a lisp due to a cluster of missing front teeth. It was not a question, really. It was a command.

She was mean.

So I moved.

I opened the lunch box again. There were three thin slices of something resembling turkey sandwiched between two slices of soggy whole wheat bread. There was a single leaf of semi-wilted iceberg lettuce to give it some color. I sighed as I pushed it away.

Not even edible.

I would have to figure out a way to sneak it into the garbage to avoid trouble at home for uneaten food.

“Hey, why don’t you move down another seat?” It was a dark haired girl from my class. She glared at me. “I want to sit with my friends.”

I moved down two seats instead of one just to be safe.

My stomach grumbled. The thermos. There was always milk but it was probably room temperature by now. I sniffed at it, then tried a sip just to see.


I screwed the top back on.

“We need some more room. Can you move over again?” There was a group of three girls standing over me with their hands on their hips, laughing. Were they laughing at me? One feigned concern. “You don’t mind do you?” She flipped her hair.

I shook my head no, then sighed again quietly as I scooted once more.

Maybe there was something under the napkin? A cookie? I lifted the paper. Nope. Celery. Yippee. The worst vegetable in existence right here in my lunchbox.

Cookies never happen to me anyway.

There was a tap at my shoulder. I turned to find the freckled toothless girl with braids standing there again. “Move.” She pointed to an empty table behind us.

I nodded and closed my lunchbox. The lump in my throat was going to keep me from eating anyway. I moved to the other table, closed my eyes, and put my head down on the cool surface to wait until the bell rang.

“Is there a problem?” Someone touched my shoulder.

I looked up to see a teacher. She looked angry.

“I’m fine,” I lied.

“You should be sitting over there with your class.” She indicated the table I had just vacated. There was still an empty seat.

“They don’t want me there,” I replied quietly. I didn’t want those girls to overhear and give them any satisfaction in my misery.


I cleared my throat a bit and tried again. “I said, they don’t want me there.”

“Then sit up straight,” the woman barked before walking away. 

I sat up straight.

If I could talk to that little girl, I would tell her it will all be OK, that the story works out just fine in the end. She will find her shoe, that one shoe that will change her life forever, and with it she will see the world.


99 thoughts on “Act Three  

  1. I was tormented by a red-headed boy in 2nd Grade named Butch. He was an awful person. He made my life miserable. I wish I had known back then, that he probably came from a completely dysfunctional family where there was no love, and most likely violence behind closed doors. Maybe I could have seen through all that bluster and bullying. I think about him often and wonder where he is in his life. Did he find happiness, or has he been surrounded by misery.
    Great post!!!!!! Made me think back to Butch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ach. This breaks my heart, in part for what it is and in part for what it reminds me … a tale my mom told me of her own childhood, summed up in one heartbreakingly simple tale.

    Sending big hugs to that girl, and thanks to the universe that the woman she became is–if only tangentially, some might say–part of the world as I experience it today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant…just brilliant! I’ve been the male counterpart of that story more times than not while growing up–although from fourth grade on I had to make my own lunches, so most of the time I just didn’t eat until I got home.

    Hmmm. It’s not so pleasant to remember that my friends got cookies in their lunches. But sometimes they shared, so it was all good.


    With Love,

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember having that moment in sixth grade when I was sitting at my desk and it hit me that doing well in school made them all jealous, that good grades could be my way of hurting them. So I poured my energy into it. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My mom used to pack icky lunches. I was super picky at that age, so when my parents decided to ban peanut butter and jelly, I was out of luck. So sad about the mean girls…I always wondered what made them behave like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peanut butter and jelly was once a month and it was delicious!!!!! Everything else was awful. I used to walk the long way around the school to the car where my mother waited and would drop the food behind the school. If I used the garbage cans in the lunchroom the teachers would rat on me. 😉


  5. I remember that little girl. Never having quite the right clothes, or shoes, or haircut, wearing whatever was on sale at the Dollar General and my haircuts by Mom Cuts. Little girls can be so mean. I’d come home crying because they were teasing me about my freckles or my ‘blue light special’ shoes. My mom always consoled me with things like, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones’, ‘a girl without freckles is like a night without stars’, ‘pretty is as pretty as pretty does’, and ‘beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone’.

    I’ve often wondered whether, if I ever get any kids, I’ll give them the brand-name stuff so they can fit in or supply only the necessities as it were. On the one hand I don’t want them to be the outsider and on the other I don’t want them to be the mean girl or boy, either.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thankfully I held my own during primary school, but I still carry scars … some real, some not.

    … but I still have trouble eating sandwiches. Ugh.
    … and milk? Refused to drink it as child. Still can’t.

    I don’t know about the girls at the lunch table, but that teacher definitely deserves a slap for her lack of sensitivity.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This story hits home, I fought endlessly with boys in primary school just to get bullies off my back, they pick fight for no good reason, well my uniform wasn’t quite right at that time. I don’t remember ever talked about it with my mother, perhaps I thought she’d just say it’ll get better.
    Now with my girls, once I told my daughter the best way to fight back a bully is to study hard and get good grades then I remember a friend said her daughter was repeatedly bullied because she won the regional math quiz for the school – hard to get the balance but one thing I try to reiterate was never to let a bully get to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One day I threw rocks back at the boys and then chased them down. They left me alone after that. I had to demonstrate physical superiority. Girls? They just never stopped bullying. Not until I moved. Some of it might have been because of good grades. Tearing something down that you perceive is better than you makes you feel better to some degree, after all.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you. Bullying the bullies is certainly not the answer and I am not sure getting rid of all bullying is the answer but I also did not live through this era of social media bullying. All I know is the it DID teach me a lot about pain and suffering and survival and I would not have done medical school if I had not been singled out.


  8. Terrible.
    In contrast, I never had a packed lunch, and spent many years of grade school trading my school lunch for sack lunches other children brought. Even I did it in high school for a while.
    I didn’t allow my kids to choose school lunch until they were 10. Even still, sometimes they pack(ed.) I can’t blame them, some of the meals don’t even resemble food.
    As for the teacher who told you to sit up straight, well, they’re a dime a dozen, aren’t they? Mean, out-of-touch, not even the slightest bit concerned about emotional states.
    I feel bad for that little girl. I’m sorry she even remembers times like these. I’m sorry she felt so alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You can talk to that little girl. She is part of you. You can tell her everything she needs to hear. This is a meditation technique I have found helpful in dealing with my own past. It’s also done in age regression with hypnosis, including self hypnosis, which they say all hypnosis is. You can imagine (or use a photo) going back in time and telling her what she needs to hear/what you needed to hear. You could also send angels to tell her and wrap their wings around her/you. Or you could write her a letter. Lots of possibilities. These actions can be therapeutic even if we don’t understand how they work.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Went through that phase as a little boy.

    Then I learnt the hard way to stop being afraid and stay calm. When you have to fight you look them straight in the eyes, show no fear and then proceed to attack. I was perceived as weak until I did that.

    I was a nerd, a weirdo and I was not afraid to attack. Insecure yes but fuck it I fought back. The scars are my watch towers on the walls around my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I would so hug that young you and have lunch with her. We would have quiet conversation if wanted, and I would listen. Or we’d just eat together in silent companionship, something more appetizing than your lunch box.

    I’m glad I never had to sit in classes, though often, I would be sitting and eating alone too.

    I remember harsh teachers and other children bullying me, if they weren’t shunning me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. When I was in first grade, every class got two tables of the eating area and you had to sit here. So I came over with my lunch bag (fortunately more appetizing) and sat at one. Everyone there told me to go sit at the other table. So I switched tables, but before I could sit down, the half of my classmates at that table told me not to sit there. So I went back to the other table, but they shooed me away. And I kept bouncing back and forth like that a few more times before I finally just sat on the ground. A teacher aide came by and asked me why I was sitting there. I said no one at the tables wanted me. She assured me that they would let me sit with them. I didn’t believe her, but it was better than getting in trouble for sitting on the ground. So I got up and, with her standing behind me, went to one of the tables. She told them to let me sit there. And they did. But she never told them to like me. They glared at me the whole time. I didn’t feel welcome. I wanted to sit on the ground.

    Come middle school, it just went downhill from there. At least first graders are somewhat mature.

    Liked by 1 person

      • No, that’s using an adult standard of bravery. You were a child and had no standard but what you knew.
        So, you WERE brave: you maintained your sense of self as best you could.
        My nephew was placed in a children’s psych ward at a Harvard teaching hospital when he was 7 years old because he had been so traumatized by exposure to his mother’s crack cocaine use (He’s 20 now, and pretty great!) Anyway, there was a big sign as you entered the unit:
        “Children do the Best They Can”

        So did you, Champ!

        Liked by 1 person

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  14. Damn. I can relate to that exact scenario too. See, that’s why I said I’d love to be your real friend… You understand as do I. 🙂
    Now, because you are far more evolved than I, I won’t even suggest that your dream job may not be doctor, but rather bus driver… driving the Karma Bus as you run those bitches over when they come into your office and have to undress and stick to the table in their paper gown while they wait to be diagnosed with chronic flatulence or some other horrid fate. Nope. I’ll just tell you what a good woman you are.

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. I remember when I was a small boy, sometimes my sister would give me my dinner at a separate table from the other company if we had guests. She wasn’t mean or cruel about it but when I think about that, I wonder if the lack of maliciousness makes the act even more cold and calculating, if that all makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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