By Sandra Shaw-McDow
Jena stands stiff, rigid like a Christmas nutcracker, encircled by large, loud, mean-faced girls. Her arms are pressed tight against her sides, palms down and fingers outstretched as if pushing against some unseen gravitational force. Sharp, hateful words pummel her. She flinches. Her face is white, stark in contrast to the red sweatshirt and pants that accentuate her pudgy pre-pubescence. Jena’s eyes brim and dart down and up and around like the movements of a trapped sparrow with no avenue of escape. Her only defense is a hopeful smile—and that isn’t working.
“Retard!” The chorus of ugly voices flays her.
“You are so stupid,” solos Hanna, the tallest and best-looking tormentor. Jena knows her rep…knows everyone wants to be close to her. No one wants to be on her shit list.