"Cripple. You’re a cripple. You don’t belong here!” Seconds after I heard the jeers, I felt the sting of gravel hitting my back. It scattered along the path, and I heard a group of boys laughing. I looked up to see who they were, but they were hidden from view.
As the pelting continued, a short, heavy-set boy stepped out of the shadows. He laughed as he imitated my pronounced limp and lightly pushed me in contempt. I tried to maintain my balance, but, within seconds, I collapsed on the pavement.
Immediately, the boys dispersed and it was silent. The area was deserted. I was alone.
I sat there for a minute, fighting back the tears and trying to collect my thoughts. I didn’t know who had done this, and I didn’t know why, but I was ashamed. Something was wrong with me.
Since I couldn’t get up without help, I waited to see if anyone would come by. Eventually, I dragged myself to a nearby rock and painstakingly pulled myself up. Relieved that no one saw me, I picked up my books, collected my composure, and began the short walk to my house.
I wasn’t going to cry. I wasn’t even going to look upset. I was going to be cheerful.
Determined to block out what happened, I ignored my aching body as I trudged home. When I neared the front door, my mother ran outside, beaming. “Wow! You walked home without your sister for the first time. I’m so proud of you!”1