It was Daphne’s 8th year of existence and 3rd move, when her mom ripped her from her home
and friends and this time, plopped her into the centre of a white-washed Victorian town in Southern
Ontario that was inhabited solely by wasps and hicks alike.
Daphne was enrolled in Port Perry Elementary School where she mostly kept to herself and quickly
became her teacher’s favourite. She was also the only non-white student, in a sea of monochrome
teachers, walls, floors, ceilings and children. Daphne 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 Daphne had already acquired a bully whose attention was fixated on
her every move. Bullying was made even easier for the beast of a child when they were sat side by side,
perhaps Mrs. Maneechis’ way of socialising this young sociopath-in-the-making. In a perfect world Daphne
would have spoken up and asked to move desks but she just kept quiet hoping Aiden would soon
learn to like her and calm his aggressive tendencies.
Yet he did not. Every day Aiden would growl and foam at the mouth at the sight of Daphne’s
paper or pencil creeping over the space between her desk into foreign territory. With claw-like hands and
possessed eyes his neck would turn sharply and with his glare fixed on Daphne, his hand would seek and
destroy whatever crossed the strictly guarded border.
Daphne, sometimes too gentle, tried time and time again to soothe him with kindness and
avoidance and lack of eye contact and shared treats and homework help and and and…To no
avail...Aiden was set on hating Daphne and making her days difficult.
It was in art class where Daphne felt at home, 3 months into her school year, when Aiden
attempted to bully her verbally (though he wasn't the brightest of students and lacked particularly
intelligible vocabulary) but he always managed to get stars for trying (AKA participation).
Daphne and Aiden, 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. Daphne came from a family of artist so felt quite
confident with such a project whereas Aiden was creatively challenged and frothed frustration at the
others by concentrating on crushing their designs.
“That's dumb...That's an ugly horse. He deserves to die.”
“Bam! Pow! Ahhhhhhh I'm dying”… as he crumpled the fuzzy figures and played out armageddon.
Daphne, seeing that Aiden hadn't made a thing but what looked like a contorted pig, realised
she could maybe use a little help. “Let me help you, Aiden. You just need to twist the pink one around
your pencil and it makes a pig's tail” “See it's easy”, as Daphne demonstrated herself.
Instead of a thank you, Daphne'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. Daphne thought to herself for a second, “Huh?
Was he trying to tease me?” Up until this point nobody had called out her differences so she really
hadn't noticed. She looked down at her hands. “Hmmm black?”
Aiden kept singing louder and louder cackling uncontrollably to himself while Daphne watched in
what seemed to be slow motion and this ravenous creature. She didn't feel much more than pity for this
dumb boy and his attempted insult. Daphne for while said nothing and wondered, “Was it even an insult?”
Finally, after some pause and contemplation, Daphne retorted,
“No Aiden, my skin is brown. I think you need to study your colours more.”
...and that was the first time Daphne ever noticed she was actually different, in the white-washed
Victorian town of Port Perry.