I wrote this 10 years ago about a little girl I knew at a pretty awful school. I recently read an essay written by this child, now an adult. I was so inspired to see how the genuineness of the human spirit endures and transcends.
Caroline MacCreedy. Not even ten years old, four months shy.
The things she likes: Bugs, any variety. She likes to tell people that horseflies find sugar with their feet and that ticks can grow from the size of a grain of rice to the size of a marble. One of her favorite facts: wasps that feed on fermented juice have been known to get drunk and pass out.
"oh shut your pie hole!" her mother sometimes says. "Holy Crap. I am sick of bugs."
Caroline. 4'5" straight dark hair bangs that just touch the top of her eyebrows. At school, for two years -since second grade-- the mean girl Marla makes all the other girls ignore her.
Finally, this year, Caroline says "I don't care about you" She pretends to bite them. When she does, Marla rolls her eyes and laughs right in the Caroline's face. "You dress like a baby."
Caroline's mother tells Marla's mother, "your daughter is bullying my daughter." Marla's mother says "Everyone knows Caroline has problems with her attitude. She's a hard kid....It isn't easy for the other girls to like her. Marla tries to be nice."
Caroline finds if she walks around the playground imagining species of bugs and their characteristics, the other kids can't hurt her. About one-third of all insect species are carnivorous, and most hunt for their food rather than eating decaying meat or dung-Nobody else in this classroom knows that, Caroline thinks. Its late spring, the sun is finally outside when she is out at recess. Walking. Thinking. She imagines a dung beetle on a steaming pile of cow poop. People aren't what they seem, she thinks. The Mexican jumping bean is really a caterpillar.
"Asbergers" the teacher posits, "low achiever. Maybe an IEP?"
" A diagnosis" her mother says, "If I just had a diagnosis."
School is harder now. There are insects in Caroline's brain. They fly around and make her frightened. They aren't really bugs, but Caroline imagines them that way. When it is her turn to talk in class, she looks at the other girls. She feels the slugs in her throat and she can't speak.
"I'm never talking to anyone in that class again." She announces at dinner.
"Why?" her father asks.
"Because I hate it there. People are mean and the work is hard"
At school Caroline watches Marla every day and one day walks up to her at lunch and says "Marla you are a knuckle head."
Marla says back "you are weird, Caroline. A weirdo." Marla tells all the other girls the new rule is no one can talk to Caroline Mac "Wierdy." When Caroline looks for someone to sit with for reading group, all the girls turn their backs. Marla glares at Caroline, then smiles when the teacher looks over.
Caroline starts to cry at night and her mother asks, "What is wrong?"
"Marla is my arch enemy" Caroline says. "I'd like to sever her main artery with my teeth."
"We don't talk like that in our family."
"I need a diagnosis," her mother says on the phone in the morning. At night. In the evening "I don't know maybe Autism? Something has always been wrong. She isn't an easy kid to be around."
Caroline sits out in her back yard on the cement step. It is misty and cold and she doesn't care about anything. She has a secret. She is one of the insects. She is an anthropod and the colder it gets the harder the beetle shell around her body gets. Insects have been present for about 350 million years, and humans for only 130,000 years, she thinks to herself. So who cares about Marla? Who cares about people? Caroline will be around a lot longer than them anyway. She picks up a leaf and inspects it. Runs her fingers along its veins. If she were an ant, she could climb its ridges. If she were a fairy fly -the world's smallest insect, so small they are seldom noticed by humans-- she could follow the little lines of the leaf, she could understand that tiny specimen of life. It's translucent green skin; she could suck the nectar from its tender veins.
She looks more closely at the back of a leaf. The patterns that she sees are all repeating. It looks like a leaf inside of a leaf inside of a leaf. Caroline imagines that it goes on forever that way. And, she thinks for a minute that maybe that is some kind of portal, a portal into the insect world. If she could keep following it, she could get in. If she were a fairy fly, she'd be small enough to escape.
Things are quiet outside, but she can hear the vacuum cleaner running inside of the house. It is the low hum of a cloud of phantom midges over a lake in the summer time. If she closes her eyes she can be there.
She thinks of a poem in her mind:
This is what you see: a back yard
with a broken wheelbarrow in the corner.
Trees that provide shade in the rising heat of summer
You see the path that leads to the drive way
You see the car parked just beyond
You see what people see.
This is what I see:
I see the faint breeze as it barely rustles the trees
The waking larvae hiding under a pinecone
decomposing and making fresh earth
I see the trails that black ants make
as they carry fifty times their weight
I see the bark and smell its pine scent.
I see life all around me.
I see what nature sees.
Enjoy my random posts. These are pieces of writing that don't "fit" in any of the other categories or posts updating what's new in my world.