The gang, of boys and girls storm from the cafeteria double doors and run straight to the picnic table just a few feet from Pansy
“Something smells around here.” Says Billy holding is nose up and sniffing the air.
“You’re right Billy. I smell something funky too,” says Sam.
“Look its’ stink weed,”
They laugh and run to the other end of the field.
Pansy washes every morning even when the hot water is off. If you don’t have deodorant and you have to wear the same dirty clothes every day there’s really not much she could do about her odor.
Billy grabs his neck and starts gagging. Someone throws sweet sticky liquid on her. Another person throws potato chips. They all laugh and point at her. Pansy is use to the abused its been going on since she started school. Yet tears fill the well of her eyes and a lump grows in her throat.
Pansy once told a teacher what was going on. It was no use the teacher told her she should wash and wear clean clothes. That’s easier said than done, so she suffers the ridicule and abuse quietly.
Pansy sits alone every day, with her back against the old maple tree far from everyone else. A gentle breeze blows through the yellow and brown leaves. A renegade leaf floats down into Pansy’s coarse linty dreadlocks. She plucks it from her hair and twirls it between her thumb and fore finger. Pansy looks up and sees the sparrows fussing at a squirrel racing along the branches. In her note-book she scribbles her daily mantra, ‘I hope today will be the day I become normal.
Pansy closes her note-book, gets up and heads to the bench by the pond. She blends into her environment so as usual, she is unnoticed. No one talks to her, not even her teachers. She sits in the back of her classes away from everyone. The teachers don’t want to smell her any more than her classmates. They send note after note home to her mother but nothing changes.
Pansy’s mother is either in, about to go in or just getting out of rehab. When her mom is in rehab Pansy gets to use the welfare money and food stamps to buy food and do the laundry. When mom is about to go into rehab there is no food, no soap and definitely no laundry done. While her mom is away she stays home alone. Miss Mary checks in on her and makes sure she has something to eat but not much else. Pansy hand washes out her panties and she tries to wash her clothes but it’s hard to get them clean without soap. When her mother comes home after an extended stay in rehab everything is good, the clothes are washed and there’s food in the refrigerator. They even act like a family, well what Pansy thinks a normal family is. After a while her mother starts drinking and drugging and the cycle starts over.
Pansy reaches the pond and watches the ducks swimming in the center. They dip in and out of the water and flap their wings. She sees fish swimming near the edge of the pond. She hears frogs croaking in the bushes along the banks. She sees a grey rabbit dart across the grass toward a bush further away. Bees and flies are buzzing around her. She never swats them away. She knows what it feels like to be unwanted.
Across the pond a big regal stag is staring at her. A monarch butterfly appears from behind him. It flutters around the stag’s nose then flaps its wings and takes flight across the pond. On the other side pond and the butterfly lands on the tip of Pansy’s nose and asks, “Do you want to go where you will be normal?”
“Yes, more than anything!” Pansy exclaimed.
“Close your eyes and when you open them you will be normal.” The butterfly promises.
Pansy closes her eyes and hears someone yell, “Pansy you’re going to get in trouble.”
Pansy ignores the voices calling her. She wants to believe that the butterfly will really make her normal. Her hair will be clean and shiny, her clothes new and washed every week. The gang will include her in their games. Finally she will fit in.
“Okay, open your eyes.” The butterfly says.
Pansy opens her eyes, she doesn’t feel like herself. She looks behind her and the gang is running toward her. She gets excite and thinks they’re coming over to ask her to join them. Behind the kids the lunch teacher is calling, “Come back here don’t go near that deer!”
“A deer? Where?” Pansy asks the butterfly.
“You silly, you’re a deer now.”
“What? I don’t want to be a deer.”
“You said you want to be normal, to fit in. Well you’re normal for the woods.”
Pansy peeks back at the kids that tease her. She feels more alone now than ever.
This isn’t what pansy had in mind when she wished to be normal. She likes being a girl. Even though her life is rough and harder than most twelve year olds lives should be, yet she still likes being a girl.
She dreams of one day being a beautiful model, like the ones on the magazine covers in the drug store. To one day she’ll wear pretty clothes and sweet smelling perfume. She even dreams of having a boyfriend as handsome as Mr. Booker, her math teacher. Her boyfriend will be rich. He will take her out to fancy restaurants and drive a shiny new car. One day this boyfriend will prepare as romantic surprise. He will bend down on one knee and give her the biggest diamond ring anyone has ever seen. If she’s a deer her dreams will never come true.
“Oh butterfly no! I don’t want to be a deer. I want to be a girl.” Pansy whined.
“You want to be normal, you said.”
“Yes I do.”
“Well in the woods we don’t care how you smell or what you look like. We will accept you as you are. You will be normal with us.”
Pansy let that thought to sink in. If she stays a deer the hunters will chase her and try to shoot her for sport. If the hunters don’t get her, the bobcats or wolves will attack her at night hunt. The butterfly does have a point, she will surely fit in. But . . . “No butterfly I don’t want to be a deer. I want to be a girl I don’t care if I’m ugly and smelly. Please butterfly, make me a girl again. Please.”
The butterfly flapped her wings and fluttered across the pond.
“Come back! Make me a girl again!” Pansy is screaming and begging
Pansy hears laughter and then fells cold liquid pouring down her face.
“Wake up stupid, you are a girl!” Said the ring master Bobby.
“Yes an ugly girl.” Ola said. All the kids in the clique taunt and laugh at her.
Pansy opens her eyes just in time to see the butterfly land on some wild flowers across the pond and the stag turns and disappears in the woods. Pansy smiles and thinks it’s hard now but she believes it won’t always be this way. She really believes things will one day get better and she will be normal like everyone else. Though being original is also okay too. A smile stretched across her face.
“Why is she smiling? Come on guys she’s crazy.” Bobby said before running away from her.
The lunch bell rings signaling the end of recess. Pansy gets up and follows the other kids through the cafeteria doors. The butterfly whirls close to her ear and asks, “Do you really want to be normal?”
Pansy whispers back, “I am normal.” From this day forward Pansy has a new mantra to scribble in her notebook. Today isn’t forever. Tomorrow is full of possibilities. It’s okay to be different.
©Kimberly Wilhelmina Floria 11/2013
I don’t write too many children stories. I really want to know how I can improve it. Suggestions and critiques are wanted and needed. If you don’t have time will at least answer the poll questions below.
Thank you much.