A Writer rewrites*

I’ve always been shy.

I’ve always had a hard time fitting, especially as a child. As an adult, I’ve learned that I don’t need to fit in anymore. In most cases, I actually don’t want to. I am, overall, happy with who I am.

As a child, it was different. My shyness held me back. I couldn’t open up to other children, even the ones I liked. As a result, I had very few friends. The other kids didn’t know what to make of me. I was wierd, different. I was picked on, bullied. But mostly I was left alone. Very alone.

One year, Grade 5 if I can recall correctly, I made a friend. I was chosen to work with a classmate on a project. We bonded over the course of the project. To my regret, I can no longer remember my friend’s name. We did what young friends do: we hung out during lunch, played in the park after school, we talked and laughed. It was a shining moment in my young life.

One day, our teacher stepped out of the classroom for a washroom break. I seized the opportunity and turned around to ask my friend a question.

And just like that, the entire class (it seemed) turned on us and shouted

“FAG!”

“FAG!”

“FAG!”

The words chanted in unison, echoed throughout the room. I’d heard the phrase before but was not sure what it meant. It was only ever used as an insult.

My friend started to cry, then fled the room.

I sat there and endured it, Hiding behind a wall of anger and sadness.

The teacher finally returned and quieted the class. He located my friend and brought him back into class. Everything went back to normal, we continued our lesson.

After class, my friend left immediately, without saying a word.

I found him the next day before class. I wanted to see how he doing. He was my friend. I was worried.

He turned to me and said, “I’m sorry Ellis, but I can’t be your friend anymore. I don’t want to be called that ever again.” Then, he walked into class, and never said a word to me again.

I spent the rest of the year, and the year after that, without a friend. It was in the last year of elementary school, grade 7, that I was assigned to introduce the new kid around school. He was Irish, very loud, and brash. He loved to laugh. We became friends. He taught me to laugh freely, without looking over my shoulder. I discovered that I could make him laugh as well. I had a sense of humour, which suprised and delighted me.

We remained friends for the rest of the year and into the summer. Then my family and I moved away and I never saw him again.

Hi name was Clyde. He was a good friend.

 

*This was one of my first stories, written several years ago. I’ve written it here, with minor editing.

 

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