The Circle

18 04 2014

When I was in seventh grade I was on the cross country team. Competition was awful, but running was therapeutic. Our practice was after school just like the football teams. There were four seventh grade football teams, and three eighth grade teams, so something close to a 100 adolescent boys in unstoppable gear. They were armored compared to my wind shorts and running tank.

One time a circle of them came up, surrounded me, closed in on me. They started grabbing me. I kept spinning and trying to hit them, scratch them, anything. Their suits and gear made it impossible for me to cause pain- they just laugh at me. I try to join in the laughter, pretending that I wasn’t terrified, but I could feel my mask slipping.

Other students stood outside the circle, some encouraging their behavior yelling, “get her”, some watching silently. I could see other girls engaged their own cruel flirting games.

Finally Ben Collins* came up and broke up the circle. He was big for his age and in my math class. He told them to leave me alone. I thanked him, he looked disappointed and asked, “Why do you let them do that?”

A shift happened inside of me that day.

* I changed the name to protect the person who did this.