Genre: YA fiction
2,053 words: Here: first page
If my parents were around and we still lived on the Ridge they would never allow me to be friends with Wendy. It wasn’t that she was a bad person. She wasn’t. She was about the sweetest person around. Kind and unfortunately a little slow. Like her brain was a little slow. I think she was hit in the head too many times. I think this might be true. My parents would never have let me play with her because of her parents. They had a bad reputation and everyone knew it. I knew kids on the Ridge that got spanked and yelled at but my parents never spanked me or my brother, and my brother was a terror sometimes. Maybe if they spanked him everyone would still be together, but I don’t know. Even though my parents never spanked us spanking was normal. Marissa said, that her mom spanked her with a brush before and then put soap in her mouth for saying the word shit once, but I had never known that parents beat their kids till I met Wendy. Aside from seeing my brother drown and seeing my mom dead, hearing Wendy and her brothers get beat was the worst thing I had ever heard or seen in my life.
Everyone made fun of Wendy. Since second grade kids had been mean to her. Even I had been mean to her before. When we were in fourth grade we had to give a report in front of the class about something special about ourselves. Wendy talked about her real dad. Her real dad died on the same night that she was born. He had worked for PG&E and that night it was raining and he was trying to fix a fallen power line. Something went wrong and he was electrocuted. Wendy said the believes that she felt her dad die when she was born. She told the class that she believed that her father’s soul went inside her and that he was a part of her and always walking with her wherever she went. She said her dad was an Indian and that Indians had the special power to talk to the earth. When I think back on her story I think it was pretty special and pretty beautiful, but at the time I just joined in with the other kids who called her half-breed during lunch time. I feel real bad about that now. Maybe it was because I had did that to her that I chose to be friends with her or maybe it was because she lived down the street from me at the bottom of the Cul de sac or maybe it was because I knew the truth about how bad her home was or maybe it was because there was something really special about Wendy.
“It doesn’t matter what I do. They’ll always been mean to me.” Wendy said, pouting a little.
“Why do you care what they think?” I said, watching as Marissa kicked the ball and ran to first place. “I know Marissa and she eats boogers so I don’t think anything she says is important.”
Wendy smiled. “She really eats boogers?” The smile fell from her face. “I ate my boogers before.” She whispered.
“Last year? When you were eleven?” I asked.
“No. When I was little.”
“Well Marissa still eats them.”
It was two weeks away from Halloween, and the air was quickly becoming colder. I could already smell the candied apples, and baked cookies that parents in the neighborhood were going to make. They used to pass that kind of stuff out for trick or treating but ever since we heard the story of some kid that ate a razor blade in an apple and then died grownups stopped making stuff. That wasn’t even in our town or any of the nearby towns, but still they stopped giving that stuff out-even though we all knew each other. Well, I guess we didn’t know everyone. Ridgetown was small because of how many people lived there, but it was also spread out and there were mountain people and people who lived in the foothills and on the ridge or in the canyon. Some kids had to ride the bus for an hour to and from school. We didn’t have neighborhoods like the kids in the movies like in Poltergeist where all the houses looked the same and the kids all rode their bikes in the neighborhoods. There were some small places like that like on the north ridge where I used to live, but mostly we had to ride our bikes pretty far to see lots of kids. My neighbor was Wendy, and sometimes we’d play with this little boy named Michale who lived on the other side of the golf course that was next to our street, but that was all the kids we’d really see. Mainly because we didn’t bother to ride our bikes to the streets that looked like the Poltergeist movie. That was my all time favorite movie. I sometimes like to grab Wendy by her shirt and shake her yelling, “You moved the headstones but not the bodies! You moved the headstones but not the bodies. Why? WHY?” Wendy would always laugh.
We were in different classrooms so I couldn’t protect her from the kids, and Mrs. Crabtree was an old goat that didn’t do anything. She didn’t seem to see anything that any of the kids did. I was in her class at first until I yelled at this kid Jason that was trying to pants Wendy when she was standing up to give Mrs. Crabtree an answer to something. Wendy just wasn’t very bright and she couldn’t remember much so when she kept getting the answer wrong Mrs. Crabtree made her stand. That was Mrs. Crabtrees way. She taught at school when you could still hit a kid with a ruler so she had to make mean none hitting rules like embarrassing you. After you’d stand in class if you still got it wrong then you’d have to stand in front of the class for the whole class and just stare at everyone staring at you. When Mrs. Crabtree made Wendy stand Jason Sender who sat behind Wendy grabbed her pants and tried to pull them down, but I jumped up and gave him a hard sock on the arm. I was aiming for his face, but my aim was off since I had to jump up and run to his desk. Mrs. Crabtree of course wouldn’t listen to me telling her what he was trying to do, and Wendy had to stand in front of the class and get those stupid sneers while I was sent to the principle’s office. Since, I was a nuisance I had to switch classes and be put in with Mr. Thurman who had the reputation of being the meanest toughest teacher. He wasn’t a bad teacher though. All the kids liked him because he taught them things, and he was tough, he didn’t take no attitude from anyone, but you didn’t feel like having an attitude in his class, and he seemed kind of like a dad. My dad. How he used to be. I felt sorry for Wendy because maybe she would have been better off in Mr. Thurman’s class, maybe he could help her, but she got stuck with lousy Mrs. Crabtree. Some people have bad luck. Wendy was born under a bad star. That’s what my mom would’ve said, and I think it was as true a saying as any.
“Whose that girl?” Wendy asked pointing to the bleachers in front of the baseball field where the kids were playing kick ball.
I looked at the girl. She had just started our school this year. I had seen her before on the field. She was hard not to see. She was a black girl and the only black girl in our whole school. Ridgetown didn’t have hardly any one that wasn’t white. There were some mexican families but not many and I was pretty sure they were all related, and there were some Indians like Wendy, but I didn’t think they were related. There was one family that had Japanese kids. The dad was white and the mom Japanese, but that was it. She was the first black girl I had ever seen that wasn’t on T.V.
“I don’t know who she is.” I said, “I think she just moved here. Maybe she’s from the city.”
“Can we go talk to her?”
“Cause, maybe she’s nice. And she isn’t talkin’ to anyone and maybe she wants some friends. I think she’s pretty. Don’t you think she’s pretty?”
“Yeah. Sure.” I said, “but I don’t feel like making friends. If you want to talk to her go talk to her.”
Wendy screwed up her face like she was in pain. “But what if she don’t like me?”
“Then I’ll beat her up.” I said picking at the chipped black paint on my finger nails.
I could tell that Wendy smiled at me even though I didn’t look at her. I watched her walk towards the girl who was eating a sandwich and sitting on the very top bleacher. Wendy stopped at the bottom and said something. As she spoke she dropped her face a little and kicked at a clump of grass by her feet. I couldn’t hear anything, but it didn’t look like the girl said anything back. If she was going to she didn’t have a chance before Jason Sender yelled across the field and made a run toward the bleachers.
“Hey look the half-breed is talking to the nigger girl.” The other kids stopped playing their game and turned to look toward the bleachers. The new girl tensed up her shoulders and bristled while Wendy dropped her head to look at the ground. I knew that tears were already forming in her eyes. Before Jason got a chance to touch her I was up on my feet and running toward him. I jumped between them.
“What’s your problem douche face?” He spat at me.
“You’re my problem rat face shit eater.” The kids all gasped and chuckled.
“Yeah? Whattya gone do.”
“I’m gonna beat you up just like I did last year because your nothing but a weak little baby. You’ll have to stay home and hide behind your dad again because you’re too embarrassed to be seen with two black eyes given to you by a girl.”
Jason sneered at me, but stepped back into the crowed of kids. “Yeah, well at least I have a dad that doesn’t throw me away because I’m so weird.”
The kids all made an ewwwing sound. I made like I didn’t care because I didn’t. He turned to the kids. “Let’s finish our game, these weirdos are too stupid anyway and that one,” he said, pointing to me, “is the weirdest she’s so bad her mom had to kill herself to get away from her.”
That one hurt. That was a low blow and all the kids knew it. I could have tackled him right then and there, but I was too shocked and trying too hard to act like I didn’t care what he said to do anything. It’s hard to pretend that words don’t hurt, but I wasn’t gonna show that jerk any weakness.
“I don’t need you protection.” I heard from behind me. I turned to look up at the girl sitting on the bench.
“I’m not protecting you.” I said, giving her my dirtiest toughest look. “I’m here for my friend.” I looked at Wendy who was still trying to fight off tears.
The girl looked at us both. She had a hard expression on her face. “I can fight.”
“Good for you.” I said.
She looked at Wendy. “Why’d he call you a half-breed?”
Wendy was nearly shaking trying to fight her tears. “Cause, cause, my daddy was Indian.” She wouldn’t look at the girl or me as she talked. “He’s, he’s dead.”
“Oh.” Said the girl. She didn’t change the look on her face she just kept staring at us.
“What does that word mean that he called you?” Wendy asked to the ground.
The girl raised her eyebrows. I looked at Wendy surprised. Out of all the terrible things that her mother and step father says she had never once heard that word?
“It means he’s gonna be a looser for his whole life and one day he’s gonna get a nasty beating and nobodies gonna care cause no one’s ever gonna love him.”
“Wow.” Wendy said looking at me.
The girl smiled.
“My name’s Roseland,” she said.