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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

To Stand Alone


NOTE: The "Embrace the Wonder" series features excerpts from a collaborative book/music project in progress. John Droese is the main author. However, there are other contributors whose stories would also be featured in this category...

My mom kept telling me that it was an important part of my recovery process. It was my first day back at good old Killian High school since the diagnosis. Six weeks of chemotherapy...the doctors say remission and I was supposed to pick up right where I had left off. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t very happy before all this cancer stuff. I had never been asked out by a boy, or to sleep over at a girl friend’s house. Why would they?

I was a shy 16 year-old girl with terrible skin. To make matters worse, I was thirty pounds overweight (the treatment made me lose twenty of that and I didn’t complain). The way I saw it, you were either important and everyone noticed you, or you weren’t. I guess that explains why no one made fun of me or tried to befriend me. I was not important enough to be noticed. So, I became invisible.

Well, on that day, I became visible to the naked eye...

The minute I stepped into homeroom, everyone started staring at me. I took an empty seat near the door just in case I needed a quick get away.

The word for the day, was WIG! It seemed to circle the room in the hushed whispers of the beautiful. I used to have long and curly blonde hair. But the cancer had to disarm me of the one thing I didn’t hate about me. I had bought a wig to try and have some dignity. Little did I know that it would turn out to be a bad idea...

Mr. Clark tried to kick things off by asking everyone to welcome me back to class. I thought, Isn’t that sweet! Not one get well card. Not one single visitor while I was in the hospital. And now, I’m supposed to believe that they care? Mr. Clark was jotting down some Algebra problems on the board; I could feel my vanishing beginning, when John Turner quickly yanked off my wig. I couldn’t believe it!

"Hey look! It’s Kojak’s sister." He smirked. All eyes were on me. The room seemed to spin in slow motion as it filled with laughter. In the sea of faces, I could see it. I could see it clearly. They didn’t care about me. They were having a good old time at my expense. They were thumbing their noses at me because they didn’t have it and I did. At that moment in time, I wished the cancer had been stronger. I wished it had put up a better fight and won the war. I wished it had taken my life because, I wouldn’t be such a laughing stock!

As Mr. Clark tried to quiet the class, I saw Billy Cross (one of the popular kids) raise his hand. For a minute, I thought maybe he was going to stick up for me. But all he wanted was a bathroom break. I grabbed my wig, threw it back on and put on my best game face. I couldn’t let them know how much I was hurting inside. I couldn’t let them win. I closed my eyes as tightly as possible and tried to hold back the tears. Suddenly the room grew silent as if it were taking a deep breath. I opened my eyes and followed everyone’s’ stare. Standing in the doorway, was Billy. He had shaved his head.

That was it. I lost it! The tears started streaming down my face. The floodgates were open and I started crying uncontrollably.

On his way back to his seat, Billy leaned in and whispered. "Why don’t they know? Why don’t the strong, the healthy, the pretty, the rich know? Unless they use their gifts to protect the weak and not punish them, they are the ones who are alone." Reaching up to grab my wig, he said, "You don’t need this. You don’t need to stand-alone. I will stand with you."

Before heading to my next class, I glanced around the room and realized that each and every one of those kids is really no different from me. I realized that as individuals, we all have one thing in common. We all have one form of cancer or another. Fear! Self centered meanness! Hatred! Jealousy! I also realized that there are times when we must stand together in order to fight or beat our "cancer."

2 comments:

Amey said...

I guess this is the second story in the project I have read on your blog.

And I must repeat myself... wow! The story is really very good. Do tell us more.

Bennie said...

Hey amey,

It's always nice to see you. Not really sure if you celebrate thanksgiving or not...but if you do, have a great one. If not, have a great one too -:)

P.S Thanks for the compliment.

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