Her dad always wanted a boy. Just seven years old and she knew it. She overheard him say
it one night to mom before she passed away. “Wish she would have been a
boy.” She was only five at the time, but she knew what that meant. There were other signs too but she was so young she couldn’t recognize them. Little league instead of dance, Tonka trucks and GI Joes replaced dress-up and dolls. And they ate. Dad would feed her like
a truck driver. He wanted a big strong…..girl. “Clean your plate; it will put hair on your chest.” So, she played hard and grew large. At seven she weighed just under a hundred pounds.
She wanted so badly to gain her father’s approval. Being big had its advantages.
“Dad, I made this boy at school cry
today. He was such a baby.”
“That’s my girl.”
“Dad, I made a homerun at recess
“That’s my girl.”
“Dad, I love you…….”
But, as with most everything, there was
a down side. Kids can grow to be so cruel.
No one is sure when it happens but at some point they begin to notice differences in others. At some subconscious level a norm, a standard, is set as to what is and is not acceptable. How tall can you be before you become the “Keeky Giant”? How thin to become “The Stick”? What slight differences in details of the face, eyes too close, too far apart, ears
too big, or misshapen, nose too pointy, too snubbed, lips too thick, too narrow….or an unknown combination make you
ugly enough to be ridiculed? Whatever that physical standard was, she had crossed
it. “Lard Butt” was her nickname.
Kids relished in chanting it. It had double the pleasure for them. First, they could feel the power created in the mob mentality of hurting someone different,
to affirm that they were normal. And second, it afforded them to use the
word “butt”. At that age, a forbidden word that made them feel like
grownups. Boys in her class, who were nearly as large as her, were never made
fun of. They were feared and respected.
The day of the accident, she was trying
to change her world. The night before she had watched as Christopher Reeves flew
around as Superman on late night T.V. It came on following the football game
as she remained still, tucked beneath covers on the couch, head resting on her dad’s chest listening to the steady snore
that tickled her ear. Superman took flight and circled backwards around the world;
faster and faster he went until time moved backwards and his girlfriend, Lois, who had died, came back to life. He changed the past and rewrote the future. At seven, not
quite ready to distinguish between what was real and make-believe, she had a thought.
Maybe, just maybe she could do the same thing. This time though, she would
do it right.
When she woke the next morning she was
in her own room. She rolled off the driver’s side of her NASCAR bed, and
went to the closet. Shoved in the far end she could see three dresses, now sizes
too small, hanging beneath plastic. Her favorite, a yellow one with small printed
roses, was bought by her mother for Easter, their last one together as a family. She
reached under the plastic and ran her hands over the lace at the hem. It was
the last time she had remembered being called pretty. Quickly, she squashed the
memory. Pretty is for sissies. She
went to the other end and pulled on a pair of grey sweats and a blue hooded sweatshirt dad had brought home from the lost
and found from work. Dressed, she crept to her dad’s room. He was still asleep; the same steady snore from the night before. He
would be so surprised when he woke up and mom was lying next to him and she was the little boy he always wanted.
She snuck to the linen closet and opening the door, pulled down the biggest towel she could
find. Wrapping it in her arms she melted down the stairs, so quiet, and opened
the front door, so quiet, that no one could ever know she was gone. Outside,
the sun was not yet over the horizon and there was a bit of a chill in the October air.
What a perfect morning to change the world.