Stand By Me: Part One

by Sammie Huff, age 12
Stand By Me: Part One Sammie loves to read, write, and play soccer and volleyball. Her love for writing is owed to her mom, who started teaching Sammie writing when she was young. Her favorite time to write is with her friends, Sophia, Izzy, and Anjalia, all who gave her so much. Much thanks is owed to Rachel Barclay, her first Writopia teacher.

“Vicki opened her vibrant dark brown eyes and saw black. It was as if she hadn’t opened her eyes at all. She checked with her smooth hands to make sure her eyes really were open. The sensation of nothing was thrilling yet horrifying when only seeing black with no ending.”

             

Vicki

Little Miss Misunderstood

 

Chapter One

Vicki opened her vibrant dark brown eyes and saw black. It was as if she hadn’t opened her eyes at all. She checked with her smooth hands to make sure her eyes really were open. The sensation of nothing was thrilling yet horrifying when only seeing black with no ending.

Suddenly, seeing no end to the darkness, she let out a high-pitched, teeth-curling screech as she spied a swift tunnel stirring in the night. As she stared and shifted around her unfamiliar bedroom, a faint gold outline read 1:27. But as she moved around her room, there was no light again. Just the swirling tunnel ahead of her. The fearsome tunnel shone dark purple, with a thousand fireflies lighting the way for Vicki. Truth is, the current of mystery could carry her down. The bright purple edged her on towards it as if whispering, Do it, or suffer the never ending darkness from now and forever! She got up onto her knees and dove in.

While staying airborne, thoughts crashed into each other one by one. She was running against the currents of sand on a desert peak, now climbing up a steep cliff. Soon, she was leaping through the jungle or swimming in the deepest ocean. All thrilling, making her imagination set sail. But while coming to her last stop of motions, she face-planted into a big sea monster and felt a huge bruise form on her head. She stared down, barely able to see her hands, and touched her forehead lightly. “Ouch!” she cried out. She slipped over to one of her drawers to find a flashlight.

As it turned out, Victoria had climbed up her bunk bed ladder, running through her piles of neatly stacked stuffed animals, swung on the boards of her bed, and slid on her stomach through the stuffed animals that she had just knocked over, and bumped her head into her beanbag.

Vicki squirmed repeatedly on her beanbag, scared of the thought of going to school in the morning. Victoria or “Vicki” was adopted by her parents. Vicki smiled, imagining the many times when her mom would tell her how they had chosen her. When your mom gives birth to you, they are stuck with you. But if you are adopted, they chose you. Vicki liked to think that the word “chose” had a better ring to it than being stuck with something. Victoria tried to remember the comfortable feeling when she sat down in her mother’s lap as the story rang with truth out of her mom’s mouth. This story was the one thought, the one inspiration, that she had once been wanted.

Vicki’s dad knew she was different. Everyone knew that she was different. Her dad was just the one to say it to her face. Finally, he was fed up and left. No one really knows what happened to him after he left the house. The car was left there. His phone was left there. And most sadly, so was his family.

Ever since preschool, Vicki was homeschooled. Ever since preschool, everywhere she went, people knew that Vicki Saunders was different.

***

Vicki went to her first day of preschool very happy. New friends, new teachers, and new experiences awaited. That is if the teacher hadn’t greeted her the way she had…

“Now, Vicki. Say pleases and thank-yous! Make a good first impression. I will pick you up at three,” Mrs. Saunders said, straightening Victoria’s collar.

Vicki stared at the hands on the clock for a moment. “In seven hours, you mean.”

“Yes… wait… where have you learned to read a clock?” Vicki smiled mischievously at her.

“At the library.” Victoria smiled innocently.

“Well, okay, you little mathematician! Go ahead, and have a fun day. Blend in, but stand out, okay?”

“But isn’t that physically impossible? Not mentally but physically?” Mrs. Saunders ignored her. Victoria skipped in. Vicki’s eyes went big when she saw what the class was doing. The girls were dressing curly-haired Barbies up in bright pink. The boys were crashing race cars into each other, chipping the cheap paint. She skipped over to the boys, on the path to the teacher’s desk where she sat.

“You know,” she piped, “it would be better to buy metal race cars with real paint, instead of plastic cars. Besides, the result is atrocious with what you are doing to those cars!” The boys complained, dumbfounded that a girl was talking to a boy, especially with such big words. “Maybe hold the car like this instead.” She took the car and found a thicker part of the car. “There!”

“Ewww!! A girl touched something of a boy’s! Awww!” the girls moaned. “The new girl now has boy cooties!” Vicki rolled her eyes at the immaturity of the other children.

“You know,” she said to the closest girl before reaching the desk, “this building really needs some earthquake resistant tools. Like that bookshelf really needs that heaviest stuff on it. I would recommend talking to the boss! And look, please just hear me out.” The girl gave her a bored look. “I haven’t seen any cross braces or a mass damper here. Now, mass dampers and cross braces are expensive, but you need to start somewhere!” The girl gave her another rude look. “I am done with my advice, okay! Geesh!” She continued past the impudent girl and to the teacher’s desk.

Her desk had a huge, blue sheet of paper wrapped around it reading, “Mrs. Morton.” She had a tight brown bun wrapped around the top of her head. Her desk had different apples scattered everywhere and friendly notes scribbled down on colors. Black was Vicki’s favorite color. She liked the darkness. It was the stars, actually, that made her feel like she had friends. When every one of them sparkled and winked down at her, she felt at home with the darkness and light scattered here and there.

She thought of herself as a star. The darkness was the majority of the world. The normal people. But the stars were special. The stars were unique with different interests and hobbies. It wasn’t bad to be a star…

She continued to the teacher’s desk and cleared her throat. The teacher was apparently hard of hearing or needed new glasses, neither good, because she didn’t hear or see the little preschooler. Victoria cleared her threat again, holding the paper out to her new teacher.

“Hi, my name is Victoria Saunders. I love to write, read, engineer, garden, and research new biography and history matters found from ancient or biblical times. I also love to research the most recent illnesses so that I can stay healthy! I live at 1253, Morton Drive, 90773. I am four years old and know my mom’s, dad’s, brother’s, and the police’s phone numbers. Would you like me to recite them?” Victoria asked. Instead, she received another dumbfounded look of the smarts. “You know, Mrs. Morton, you are the third person to give me that look today… what’s it mean?”

Mrs. Morton said nothing and took hold of Vicki’s neatly written biography of herself. Vicki sat down by a cubby of cold, crinkly, old mats and dug her nose into her most recent book series, Disaster.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Saunders, Vicki’s mom, peeked her nose into the brightly decorated room. She had just witnessessed her daughter pointing out how to improve the quality of toy cars. So much for fitting in… she thought. Vicki’s mom hesitantly spied her daughter reading her book in the corner. She felt envious of the other girls and boys getting along and playing with each other. “Normal” was not a word known by Mrs. Saunders.

Mrs. Saunders sighed and decided to let Vicki travel through her day on her own. Right as she left the door, Mrs. Morton gave Vicki back her paper. It had a 100% on it. “Have you ever tried fifth grade?” she asked.

Vicki smiled gleefully. My first test! A 100%! What a way to start the — But she wasn’t able to finish her thought because she didn’t see any other girls or boys get a good grade or even a grade at all, now that she thought of it.

She leaned over to the closest girl and asked, “What did you get?” Vicki held her paper up proudly to the girl.

“The normal kids didn’t do it, ya dodo. Normal kids play Barbies!” She held her pink dressed Barbie with bright blonde hair up proudly. Then, she added, “Just like normal kids don’t read.” Vicki looked at her quizzically. “Now, can you please help me put Barbie’s skirt on her? She looks bad without it.” She pointed to the book. Vicki was on the verge of tears. The girl tried so hard to get the Barbie into the skirt that it ripped, like Vicki’s heart.

Soon enough, recess or “outside time” occurred, and Vicki grabbed her book. Mrs. Morton eyed her warily. As the class lined up into a mob, Vicki stood quietly waiting for the teacher to lead the class outside. The fact that a preschooler would rather read a book than go run around was hard to imagine.

As the class headed out the doorway, Vicki trailed behind, admiring the author that wrote her thick book. She longed to have friends like the girls in her book. She longed to be normal and to be wanted.

Outside, the girls played a game called, “Girls chase the boys,” and Vicki again rolled her eyes at their immaturity. She read her book. She loved to read because when she read, it was as if she was a character, diving into the disasters and bravely fighting crime.

Soon, recess was over, and Vicki got up to leave, but a big group of girls surrounded her in a chant. “Vicki the fifth grader! Vicki the fifth grader! The new girl is an overachiever — what a weirdo.” Then, they started again until it was too hard to bear. Then, Vicki did the one thing that she knew she could and would do best. She ran, book tight against her chest. Mrs. Morton ran after her. Now, Mrs. Morton, not being the most fit, more like stumbled quickly after her.

Vicki was very small for the age of four. Mrs. Morton chased after her, and right when Vicki was about to leave campus, she saw her teacher, sweat dripping down her forehead and hands out in ambush. Young Vicki instead rounded a corner so that she wouldn’t be running right in the open. She squeezed past a garbage bin and hid there. Mrs Morton, seeing no Vicki, counted to five. “If you don’t come out right now, you get a time-out.” Now, normally that would have worked, but Vicki, being no ordinary child and knowing that adults just said that and didn’t mean it if they couldn’t see you, stayed hidden, giggling like mad.

Mrs. Morton left, assuming that Vicki had found a way back to the classroom. Vicki stayed there for a while until she got hungry. She then got up and hurried to the lunch tables where her class was. “I won! No one could find me!”

All the little girls went up in a mad chorus: “Well you never said to,” “I secretly knew where you were!” “You can’t trick me,” “Ya, me definitely know!” “You are just sayin’ that!”

On and on and on it went until Mrs. Morton yelled, “Enough!” and everyone sat down angrily. Vicki, by herself, sat at a lonely table farthest from any insults able to be thrown at her.

It was clear that the other children had their groups. There was one fivesome braiding hair. The others with knotted hair picked at their nails, and the boys all just kind of blobbed together playing “ruff” or “tackle.” Then, there was Vicki. Poor Vicki! She wasn’t a girly girl. She didn’t like to get all rough and play sports. She didn’t like to play tackle. She was just different. Just different… she liked to write, study, and she even learned to read the newspaper at a very young age. She even explained some topics, including science and biology, to her brother a month ago when deciding on which middle school he should attend.

She enjoyed being as smart as the teacher. She didn’t know it at this young age, but she shouldn’t know things that would get you into a private middle school on an academic scholarship. It worried her neighbors. It worried her mother. But most of all, it worried her father.

After they finished lunch and the mumble of Vicki’s unusual attraction to reading and medicine were discussed by all, Mrs. Morton led the children back to the door and into the classroom. Vicki trailed behind, not wanting to draw too much attention to herself.

Now, this entire day that Vicki has been in preschool has been a fragment of Vicki’s recap of what happened many years ago. And yet, it felt like yesterday. This was another unusual fact about her: her memory. It is one thing to remember only the treacherous times of childhood, but to remember anything and everything…

After lunch, the class laid down on the moldy, flat mats. Vicki stood there stuttering, “Do we have to lay down?” Mrs. Morton nodded impatiently. “Really?!”

Yes, you must, Miss Victoria,” the teacher drawled.

“Victoria or Vicki is fine. I don’t like being called “Miss.” It sounds too proper. Besides I am not a teacher.”

Mrs. Morton cleared her throat angrily. “Vicki, enough of being a smart aleck! I have had enough of you being an overachiever!”

“But… but… ” Vicki looked on the verge of tears. “I read about an illness!” She whined, “I don’t want to get it. You get it by sharing breathing areas! We could also get influenza!” Then, she piped in a high-pitched, squeaky voice, “More commonly known as the flu!”

“Fine,” said the teacher, grudgingly. “But you must at least sit on it. You don’t have to lie down. Okay?” Vicki stumbled over to the mat and scrunched her nose of the putrid smell and germs that the mat carried. She sat with her back straight and nothing but her shorts and legs touching the mat. “I will now read you a story. A little girl — ”

“Why not boys? Why do the stories always have to be girls?” a boy named Leo piped,  annoyingly.

“I wasn’t the one to write this book!” the teacher said. “Anyway… a girl hopped down the road and found a place to build her house. She got her hammer out and went to work. Cluck cluck cluck went the hammer against the wood.”

She flipped the first page. “What sound did the hammer make?” Blank faces stared up at her. Vicki knew the answer but thought the book so stupid it wasn’t worth her voice. The teacher skipped the question and went on to the next page. “She got some paint. Swoosh swoosh swoosh went the brush against the fresh wood. What sound did the paint brush make?” She waited a couple moments. “Anyone?”

She sighed and continued, “Then the little girl found more wood and built the roof. Clunk clunk clunk the hammer went. What sound did the hammer make?” She looked directly at Vicki. “Not even you, Victoria?

Vicki sighed. “First of all, this is a waste of my time. This book is so babyish! I miss my mystery novels. I have a question. When do we start our literature and book reports? Probably never at this rate… ” She took a deep breath and continued, “And besides! A hammer doesn’t even make that sound! It makes more like a boom, boom, boom!”

“Are you done yet?” Tamara, the leader of the sassy girls, said impatiently. Out of all of the girls, she was the most mature, which was saying something, because none of them were mature. She wore her hair in long braids that went to her lower back. She also had a bright pink headband. Her shirt said, “Not sassy just have some sass.” “Besides, Vicki,” she teased when she said Vicki’s name, “no one wants you here. You are too smart for your own good.”

The teacher continued, “Then they lived happily ever after!” Ugh! What about the hardships?

But one of the girls thought of hardships… “Wait,” Lily said, a girl not much better than Tamara. “What about the prince. A prince must take her to the castle!” All of the girls started to giggle.

“Ummm… ” the teacher groped. “Nevermind. Let me just get this over with.” The teacher quickly read the rest of the story, “Then, a deer came and kissed the girl on the cheek.”

“No deer!” Vicki shrieked. “Deers carry ticks. Ticks carry Lyme disease. If you have Lyme disease too long… ” Eyes glared at Vicki, signaling her enough.

That was Vicki’s breaking point. She was tired of little stories filled with nonsense and questions that no one knew the answers to. She wanted to be rid of the teasing and the putrid smelling mats. She was done with all the old Barbie dolls overflowing in the bin. She was done. She wanted to go home to where she was loved by her whole family well, at least she thought she was.

Vicki hid behind the trash can for a couple hours until the sun started to set. She knew it was just moments till her mom would pick her up, so she crouched behind a bush. Her long jeans got muddy. Her hands poked with seeds and whatever else fell from the sky. Her cheeks were streaked with tears, and her eyes were puffy from crying. She had no idea how long she was there and got the idea that her teacher, Mrs. Morton, and the sassy girl, Tamara, wouldn’t be looking for her. They were probably glad she was missing. Seconds passed, then minutes, until she heard her mom call for her. “Vicki, are you there? I heard about what happened today. I won’t make you go to school ever again until college if you want… ”

“Ever?” A tiny voice that belonged to Vicki asked, behind the bushes.

“Ever. Until you want to, of course.”

Vicki got out from the bushes and took her hand. Her mom had a worried expression on her face. When they got home, Vicki realized that she had let her mom down. I didn’t fit in! she thought. I failed my mom! What is wrong with me? She ripped different facts about medicine and biology out of her journal She cursed how foolish she was to have written a big biography about herself. “All I wanted was for people to like me!” she moaned and growled at her bedroom.

She didn’t talk during dinner about her improvements she made on her hypothesis about volcanoes and the magma plume. She also didn’t share how her horrible day at school went. Her father looked scared of her the entire time. She cried before going to bed. She moaned in her restless sleep. She heard her mom go to bed late that night, probably trying to figure out what to do with their overachieving daughter. Vicki hated herself for who she was.

While sleeping, she felt a cool breeze brush on her. She woke up with her window open. My mom probably wanted me to have some fresh air, she thought. That morning, she woke up, still in her bad mood. She got out of bed and poured her Lucky Charms. Every bag, Vicki wished for the prize inside. This prize just isn’t made for abnormal people. She wept even more for the strange girl she was becoming. “I can’t stop my brain!” she murmured repeatedly to herself. None of it made a difference.

She knew that she would never, ever, ever want to go back to preschool. Or what she called, the lazy game. Vicki deserved better. A place where talent can be seen. A place where she isn’t blowing the other kids’ minds with her speech and smarts. She realized this as she awoke, staring at the white ceiling. That was when she noticed the empiness beside her…

After finishing her unsuccessful hunt for a prize in her cereal, her mom walked to the doorway, tears streaked repeatedly down her cheeks.

“What is it, Mother?”

Her mom shook her head, long, dark hair with blonde tips swaying.

Her dad was gone.

 

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