The Playground Copycat

Here is a true story about an experience I had during my childhood. I received an unexpected and unwanted friend. 

I sat in the shade. My envious eyes stared at the kids who had friends. Girls skipped rope together and boys played tether ball. A few kids ran past me, the teacher yelled, “No running on the asphalt!”

I hated P.E. On cold days we ran and on hot days we had “free play”. Since we lived in a desert we had “free play” often. I once asked if I could read my book and the teacher said, “It’s not time for reading”. Sigh.

Today was a rainy day so the teacher kept us indoors.

“Chat amongst yourselves,” she said.

I unzipped my backpack, pulled out my book, and leaned against the wall of the gymnasium. This was when I met her.

“Hi” she said.

Her hair was a long wiry mess and her t-shirt had an orange stain on it. I buried my head into my book. I knew who she was, she was that girl. The one with the smelly greasy hair, the dirty clothes, and the sneakers which were ripped at the bottom. She was the weird one that other kids made fun of, but that wasn’t me. I was the quiet one that nobody noticed and I preferred it that way. The next day she found me again.

“Hello,” she smiled showing her tiny teeth.

I ignored her, but she started following me. When I swung on the swings, she swung on the swings. When I walked around the playground aimlessly, she wandered aimlessly. She was my second shadow, my very own copycat.

I hated her. She brought too much attention to me. For the whole year I was invisible, but now, others took notice. The girls pointed and giggled. The boys glanced at us with disgusted expressions. During lunchtime, it was easy to escape her because the school was massive, but here, in class, I was trapped.

For months, we played this shadow game. On rainy days, she sat beside me and pulled out her book. When we had to pair up, she stood next to me so I’d have no choice but to pick her.

I hated her. But, then one day she was gone and the next day she was still gone. She never returned and soon the girls and boys went back to ignoring me. I was invisible again.

I sat on the bench watching the kids with friends, then stared down at my shadow and cried. I missed her.


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