Kids can be assholes.
Chloe was 8 years old and had just moved a year earlier from the big city of Toronto to rural Ontario, to no, not a small town but rather a forest 20 km away from the nearest shitty town and an hour walk from any children her age. It had taken her a year to get used to the isolation. Chloe was an only child with a Mom whose nose was, without pause, squeezed so tightly between a never ending train of books that there was little space for her to see between the chugging words, a child who wanted to be entertained let alone paid attention to. This invisibility and lack of siblings had bestowed her with the ability to play solo and fend off boredom’s mesmerizing spell. She was quite the curious little nymph and so had grown fond of the countryside where she discovered her deep and lasting love of toads and all things slimey. Just as she found her place in the dirt amongst the worms and the salamanders, her mother fell in lust, with a man 10 years her junior and ripped Chloe from her new amphibian friends and plopped her in the centre of a white - washed victorian town inhabited by Wasps and hicks alike. The three of them, chloe, her mother and her mother's boyfriend settled in a small apartment on the main floor of what had been a single family home now sectioned off into apartments. Standing across from a row of stone mansions, it was a constant reminder of what Chloe didn’t have - money.
It was Chloe’s 8th year of existence and 3rd move, when her Mom ripped her from her home and this time, plopped her into the centre of a white-washed Victorian town in Southern Ontario that was inhabited by wasps and hicks alike.
Chloe was enrolled in Port Perry Elementary School where she mostly kept to herself and quickly became her teacher’s favourite. She never acted out, barely spoke a word and always did her homework. Her classroom was painted a yellowish eggshell colour which was only enhanced by the fluorescent lights beaming down and bouncing off the desks, surely colours chosen there to inspire young minds to foster their creative thinking.
Within the first few weeks Chloe had already acquired a bully whose attention was fixated on her every move. Bullying was made even easier for the beast of a girl when they were sat side by side, perhaps Mrs. Maneechis’ way of socializing this young sociopath-in-the-making. In a perfect world Chloe would have spoken up and asked to move desks but she just kept quiet hoping Rebecca would soon learn to like her and calm her aggressive tendencies.
Yet she did not. Every day Rebecca would growl and foam at the mouth at the sight of Chloe’s paper or pencil creeping over the space between her desk into foreign territory. With clawlike hands and possessed eyes her neck would turn sharply and with her glare fixed on chloe, her hand would seek and destroy whatever crossed the strictly guarded border.
Chloe, sometimes too gentle, tried time and time again to soothe her with kindness and avoidance and lack of eye contact and shared treats and homework help and and and…
To no avail, Rebecca was set on hating Chloe and making her days difficult.
It was in art class where chloe felt at home, 3 months into her school year, when Rebecca attempted to bully her verbally (though she wasn't the brightest of students and lacked any intelligible vocabulary). Still she should be given points for trying?
Chloe and Rebecca, as usual were placed together, this time in a group of 5, where they were supposed to together as a group demonstrate their ability to be team players and collaborate by making pipe cleaner and Pom Pom farm animals. Chloe came from a family of artist so felt quite confident with such a project whereas Rebecca was creatively challenged and frothed frustration at the others by concentrating on crushing their designs.
“That's an ugly horse. He deserves to die.”
“Bam! Pow! Ahhhhhhh I'm dying”… as she crumpled the fuzzy figures and played out armageddon.
Chloe, seeing that Rebecca hadn't made a thing but what looked like a contorted pig, realized she could maybe use a little help.
“Let me help you, Rebecca. You just need to twist the pink one around your pencil and it makes a pig's tail”
“See it's easy”, as she demonstrated herself.
Instead of a thank you, Chloe's aid was acknowledged with an evil glance and a song.
“You're black and I'm white” to the tune of Nana Nana Boo Boo.
Chloe thought to herself for a second, “Huh? Was she trying to tease me?”
Up until this point nobody had called out her differences so she really hadn't noticed.
Rebecca kept singing louder and louder cackling uncontrollably to herself while chloe watched in what seemed to be slow motion and this ravenous creature. She didn't feel much more than pity for this dumb girl and her attempted insult.
Chloe said nothing and wondered, “Was it even an insult?”
...and that was the first time Chloe ever noticed she was actually different, in the white-washed Victorian town of Port Perry.