“What’s the view like from up there?”
“I bet you’re already taller than your parents, huh?” He laughed, and the others echoed him. They reminded me of hyenas.
I was taller than my parents. At least, I was taller than my mom, and had been for the last year-and-a-half. I was taller than the teacher. I was the tallest girl in the whole school. The only person taller than me was Andy*, but he was weird. He wore tucked in t-shirts to school and was kind of a know-it-all in class. No one teased him for being tall.
I didn’t know why they teased me so much, just because I was different. My friendship with Kaylen, who was cute and well-liked at school, spared me from daily torment, but days like these when she was absent would end with me running away behind the main building in tears.
“Do you know what you look like?” Dean, always the ringleader, asked. “You look like a daddy-longlegs!”
I don’t know who first picked up the nickname in the crowd, but pretty soon everyone shouted along, “Yeah, she’s a daddy-longlegs! Daddy-longlegs!”
Dean of course was the loudest. A scrap of a little boy, he was popular because he was good at sports, wore No Fear t-shirts and all the girls agreed he was “cute.” I knew he couldn’t read very well and he always got C’s in math. He wasn’t cute to me.
In fact, as the laughing continued, my vision centered on him until he was all I could see. He looked like a weasel, with a narrow face and squinty eyes. The red inside me boiled like a kettle. Who did he think he was, picking on me? I was at least a foot and a half taller than him!
I guess the crowd saw the anger in my face, because by degrees the shouting stopped. Except for Dean, he still howled at his own joke, high-fiving his buddies and not really paying attention to me anymore.
That’s how I was able to grab him by his shirt collar and lift him clear off the ground.
Letting out what felt to me like a battle cry, I swung him around in a circle twice, then let go. He flew through the air in slow motion, his puny arms and legs flailing. He landed on the ground with a satisfying thud.
Everyone went silent. Dean scrambled to his feet, his eyes wide and his face bright red.
Then, everyone hummed with excitement.
“Did you see her lift him off the ground?”
“Oh my gosh, she actually threw him! He went flying!”
A few people chuckled, but this time their laughter was not directed at me. The crowd thinned out, and I guess he was too embarrassed to tell on me, because I never got in trouble.
No one at Fern Elementary ever teased me again after that day, either.
– – –
*Some names have been changed. I’ll let you guess which ones.