Just a Game

One of them was being raped by her step father.  One lived in a home where fighting and screaming happened too regularly.  One lived with drunks.  One lived in a home where she was almost entirely invisible.  These aren’t excuses.  These are facts. The circumstances of their lives made them angry.  Although you couldn’t always see it in them, it was there, just below the surface and easily tapped into.  Mostly they were eleven year old girls doing eleven year old girl things.  They played jacks and skipped and chased each other around the playground at school.

She was different.  She was bigger than the rest of them and her hair was never clean or brushed out properly.  Her clothes hung on her awkwardly and her shoulders slumped with some unseen weight on them.  She was the same age as the rest of them but somehow she seemed to be worn out by life already. This day she looked particularly…ugly.

They were all playing a game with a basket ball. Rules were made up as they went along but there was a tension in the air that seemed to grow with each throw of the ball.  Arguments kept erupting and the game had to be stopped while the rules were tweaked again and again.  The game was serious now.  It was important that they finish it right. Anger energized every toss of the ball.  They were fighting for power.  Power that none of them had at home.

But she wasn’t playing it right.  She kept missing the ball.  She moved too slowly to retrieve it when it whipped past her.  Her lazy movements and lack of enthusiasm irked the rest of them. Somebody swore at her.  Her face went red but she didn’t move any faster to get the ball the next time it came towards her.  This angered them even more.  She’s not even trying!

The ball was flung into the air again.  It was coming straight at her.  If she had been more into the game she would have seen it coming.  She should have been paying more attention.  It hit her hard just above her left ear.  Everyone stopped moving.  She did nothing.  She just stood there with her hands at her side.  It must have hurt but her expression didn’t change.

Then the girl, whose step father raped her regularly, picked up the ball and threw it hard at her again.  Nothing.  No reaction.  Someone else picked up the ball and aimed it for the back of her head.  Whack! The expression on her face still didn’t change and she wouldn’t cry.  Someone else grabbed the ball and aimed it at her.  She just looked down and waited.  She refused to fight back and it made them angrier. Whack! One more blow to her head.  Another throw and the ball thumped into her chest. This time she looked up at them and they saw the change in her.  She may not have lifted her arms or cried out but she was affected by them.  It showed in her eyes.  Their cruelty had blown out the last flicker of hope she’d held. Her eyes were empty.  Her soul had retreated.

The ball slowly rolled away from her but nobody wanted it anymore.  No one said a word. One by one they walked away.  Sick to their stomach by what they’d done; sick to their stomach with the world they lived in.


  • Tracy Westerholm

    Thought provoking Bonnie! Wow!

    I have tried to teach my kids not to judge when someone is mean or unhappy or impatient with others. We don’t know if 15 minutes before we crossed their path they found out their son or daughter was diagnosed with cancer or that they just lost their livelihood.

    I have explained that their words could be someones last straw before they chose to take their own life. We don’t always know what goes on behind closed doors. Most of us don’t want to know because we would be forced to take action or ignore.

    Not everyone is able to share their story out of fear of being judged or found out because of a mistake they have made. We all make mistakes, what is important in the end is that you try to right it and fix what you may have broken.

    Think before you act…and know that everything you do affects those around you. For every action there is a reaction.

    Loved this Bon, really made me think.

  • Rick

    There is more than bullying here. Each one of these children has been devastated from a very young age. If you listen to how Bonnie describes them they have all been tortured for lack of more appropriate wording. Or inappropriate words that come to mind.
    We first think that the others are being nasty to the one child, and indeed they are. But, what about the others …. is all they know from their pain is to act out in anger ? When really they are all hurt beyond believe. Beyond anything that the child in a ( normal ) home could ever imagine ?
    I will share with you the short version of a story. There was a young boy long ago. Who was subject to growing up in an alcoholic extremely abusive family. He recalled horrific memories all the way back to four or five years old. He remembered bracing himself against his sister’s bed while she slept to protect her when the door came off the hinges in the middle of the night so the perpetrator would grab him first and not think of his sister being in the room. It always worked and he was able to keep her safe as he was dragged out and beaten.
    This child had a loaded gun put to his head at age twelve and many times after that. And was hospitalize many times but, never gave up the persons identity. Seeing someone shot or stabbed in his home growing up was nothing out of the ordinary after awhile. Years of abuse will confuse the mind of a child so they don’t understand anymore how bad it really is.
    As these children grow up a little they put on a mask that creates others to be afraid of them, because they are terrified of being hurt. Their action’s may cause you to think they are big trouble and if you look deeper and spend a little time with then you may see the ( Real ) them …. Soft , Scared, Loving , Kind, thoughtful. They don’t know how to show that side of themselves, they need to be helped.
    This is why we give it back, Pay it forward, Make a difference.
    But by the Grace Of God Go I.
    Next time you encounter a “Bully” …. I challenge us All to stop and take a closer look.

    Just My Opinion !

    Your Awesome Bonnie ! Nice Work !

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