I ran the gauntlet…

I remember days in elementary through high school where the game “Telephone” whispered into everybody’s eardrums about my skin-and-bone build. I was around eleven when the bullying started and progressed until I was seventeen. Being the recipient of the “skinny” gene in my family, I could not change my body size no matter how many times I prayed in my bed at night. My red eyes trickled salty tears every day. One after the other daggers were being thrown at my back with the names that they called me: freak, skeletor, and twig. The kids infected my mind with these words that I started to believe these poisons. One girl even had a petition called “I don’t want to be C***** P******’s friend”. She got other people to sign it just because I was skinny and different. I felt like that ugly duckling in the children’s story.

My inner voice and shadow that trailed behind me were my only friends. It turned out later my subconscious was telling me the wrong things and my shadow would guide me in the wrong direction. However, I listened and talked to both because I had no one else. The little hoodlums would call me anorexic. I never saw myself as that until people repeated it like a broken record. I look at my family and they are exactly like me so I could not make the connections. Hating this genetic trait that was given to me, I wish I could trade it for something else but who would want it. I quickly became self-conscious and tried to hide my skinny body so that no one would notice. It seemed the hoodlums had shot my self-esteem with a flame-thrower and buried the ashes in the ground.

The days when I had gym class were especially difficult. I would creep cautiously into the change rooms wondering what will be my punishment today. The blonde princesses were always waiting for me with their sneers and stares. I was too embarrassed to change in front of them because of the body they would make fun of. The princesses would point and laugh like hyenas at my clothes and then everyone else would laugh like an echo just because of how much my clothes were taken in. My Grandma had to take in all of my clothes so that they would not fall down my stick figure. They would stare in disgust because of my xylophone ribs and jagged backbone. Feelings of isolation and humiliation overwhelmed me. No one was eager to have me on their team.

I walked to school in a dark grey mist and shaking in my steps afraid that someone would jump and grab me. At every corner I felt like a juicy mouse that was being eyed by a hawk. I guess I reeked with fear. People could sense that and gravitated towards my trepidation. I could never get used to the constant stink-eyed stares, the mocking birds, and the anorexic labels. Everyone did not want to come in contact with my pale thin skin because of how they might catch my non-existent disease. Every step, every thought a shock a pain exploded as I ran the gauntlet until I entered the school. The purple, blue and black bruises erupted all over my bony body as the kids pummelled me like I was a punching bag. I tried to hold my binders close to my chest as a protective shield but that did not stop them.

I could not wait until three thirty when my hell was over and I could run away to my sanctuary. As I waited for my mother to pick me up, my shoulders were hunched and eyes looking at the ground until the sweet sound of my mother’s voice came to tell me it was time to go. The nightmares every night were what constantly had me waking up. Screaming like a banshee, hyperventilating, and heart thumping against my ribs was a routine every night. I did not want a new day to start because I knew what was coming. I was just a girl trying to fit into the puzzle somehow. No one wanted to be friends with the skin and bone reject of society.


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