Twelve-year-old Bonnie was walking down the streets of Middleton, heading to a nearby park. She was thin as a rail with ochre brown hair that flowed down her back like a cutting river. Her turquoise eyes bore none of the fire that she would later be known for, but more of a burden chained to her soul. Her eyes looked tired, much too tired for a twelve-year-old. The cause of the look was what had her strolling around outside with no real purpose to her trip.
She just had to get out of the house or her family was going to drive her out of her mind, she knew that well. They had made her very angry and she really could not do anything about it at the moment. Well, she never really could do anything about it. It was not like she could beat them up or something like that and they never listened to her if she said something back to them. So, she decided to just get out of the house until her fury ran its course or until she had to be back in, which usually was when it got dark outside. If she stayed out past then, her father would never let her hear the end of it and her fierce mood would be back as strong as ever until she buried it down in a pit that she was totally unaware of.
Her sisters had been berating her all day for no reason that she could see; they were mostly bored and she was easy entertainment to them. Connie was getting on her nerves by pointing out that she was going to be in a regular class when she got into junior high in a few days when she lamented how summer was going to be over soon. Connie had been in gifted classes her whole school career and relentlessly teased her baby sister, dubbing her an idiot because she had never been in a gifted class. Bonnie did try her best in school and she always had, but she seemed to be rather average when it came to education’s measure of intellect, namely the basic school subjects. She had to put up with being called several versions of stupid, including some rather harsh, blunt terms like “retarded,” by Connie until she just could not take it anymore that day.
And then there was her sister Lonnie, who had been telling her for the better part of her life that she looked “awkward.” Bonnie was not sure what appeared “awkward” about her, but she tended to take her older sister’s word on it because she had trusted her sisters for her whole life as far as she knew. She believed Lonnie when the blonde told her that she was never going to have a boyfriend because she was weird-looking, which actually did not bother her as much as Lonnie would have liked since Bonnie was only twelve and the blonde had been saying such things for years now, even when Bonnie assumed that boys had cooties. She supposed that weird-looking was a nice, sisterly way of saying that she was ugly.
Bonnie probably would not mind being ugly if Lonnie did not bring it up all the time and contrast it to her looks. She noticed that being ugly, or “awkward-looking,” did not keep her from having friends, although she did wish that she had more of those. She had a bit of a problem keeping friends because she often lost her temper with them, even when her anger was not directed at something they did. And if being “awkward-looking” kept her from having a boyfriend, she probably would have shrugged it off because she had never had one before and she kept on living, but Lonnie made it seem like something so important and as it was said, she trusted her sisters.
Her sisters had combined forces for most of the day to be amused, which was why Bonnie just had to leave the house. They made her feel like she was unnecessary around their home a great deal of the time. She could not do things as well as they did, so there was no point to her being there. Well, she simply tried her best to do things as well as they did with the hope she would have as much worth as they did at some point in time, but it did not seem to be working because they still did not treat her like they treated each other. They got along with each other, hung out together, and all sorts of things while she was always excluded. She wanted them to include her; it would make her feel like she was part of the family and that she was loved by her sisters. She did not know it exactly on a conscious, but she was aware that she wanted some respect from them. One day, she vowed a long time ago, she was going to make them proud of her and they were going to see her as an equal.
Bonnie figured that it was possible for her to achieve such a thing because her sisters did seem to love and respect each other. As it was stated, they hung out and did things together. They acted like friends. She gathered that they got that way by doing something that impressed the other. She could be impressive, she was sure of it. She just had to try harder and one day, she would be able to be a part of their little group.
She entered the large, green park and looked around. There were a few thick trees shattered about that were prime for climbing. There was a picnic area off to the left. A small pond with deep blue water was located in front of her; people came there to race boats on certain days. A baseball diamond was set up to the far right, barely visible from where she was, but she could tell that there were people on it.
There were not as many people around as she thought there would be. It was a nice summer day and everything, so she had expected the park to be packed, but there were only a few folks around. She did not care about for the most part because it was not like she planned to talk to anyone or anything like that. She just needed some time to clear her head.
She went and sat down on a park bench. She looked around, seeing some squirrels in a nearby tree. There were ducks in the pond, which was not too far away. There was a little girl down there with a man that was probably her father and they were feeding the ducks bits of bread. Bonnie sighed while quashing a ping of jealousy that flashed through her. She always wanted to feed ducks in the park when she was little, but her parents or sisters never took her to do such a thing for various reasons. Sometimes they would get her hopes up and tell her things like “later” or “tomorrow” or “when the weather’s better,” but later and tomorrow never came and the weather never seemed to be quite right.
She turned her aqua eyes away from the scene and focused on her sandal-covered feet while allowing her mind to wander to the future. She was pretty sure that she could turn things around for herself in junior high. It was a fresh start with new people. Even if she was going to be in a regular class, maybe the work would be easier and she could get moved into a gifted classes. Maybe there would be boys there that did not think that she was “awkward” looking and she could find a boyfriend. She could then prove to her sisters that she was just like them, they would accept her, and then most things in her little world would be right.
Bonnie perked up when she heard the sound of an ice cream truck. What was it about ice cream that could just make a crappy day a little bit better? She did not know or care, but she was thankful for that small favor in life. She went into her pocket to make sure she had run out with some money and found that she had. She smiled to herself; at least something was going her way that day. She trotted over to the truck and brought a strawberry short cake ice cream bar. Yes, the day certainly was shaping up, she thought as she bit into her ice cream while walking off.
Before Bonnie could fathom what was going on, as she was thoroughly enjoying her ice cream, she was surrounded by a group of five teenage boys and they did not look very friendly. Bonnie gulped, but showed no other outward sign of fear. There was always a chance that they were not looking to do her any kind of harm, she told herself. Besides, she rarely made it a point to show fear or weakness; she learned it subconsciously because those emotions got her sisters to pick on her earlier in life and she liked minimizing her abuse.
“We noticed you pulled out a nice little wad of cash over there at the ice cream truck,” one of the boys commented in an almost friendly tone, looking down at Bonnie since he was much taller than she was. He was eyeing the few dollar bills that she had rolled up in her hand. His friends were watching the same thing with greed in their eyes.
“So?” Bonnie asked with a bit of an attitude. It was her money, so she did not see what she did with it as any of his business.
“We think you need to hand it over,” another boy answered with a growl. He was larger than the first boy that spoke and she was a bit scared thanks to his tone. A guy his size could break little-old-her in half. She was not even five feet tall and did not weigh close to a hundred pounds while he was close to six feet tall and clearly weighed over a hundred and thirty pounds of pure muscle if the biceps he was sporting was an indication of what the rest of his body looked like. Still, she would not be intimidated; it just was not in her nature anymore because her mind had blocked that out to deal with her sisters long ago.
“It’s mine,” she declared in a surprisingly strong voice. She had eight dollars and some change in her pocket now after breaking her ten on her ice cream. It was hard work to save up ten dollars for her because she did not get a regular allowance and she often loaned her sisters money, secretly hoping that such a thing would get them to like her more. She was not going to give up her money without a fight since it was so hard for her to keep money for herself.
Twelve-year-old Kim was messing with a new addition to her face, a new, unwanted addition. She had just gotten her braces and she kept using her tongue to trace the annoying devices attached to her teeth. She could only imagine the reaction that she was going to get on her first day of junior high.
She sighed; every time she wanted to make a good impression somewhere, something managed to go wrong. She was going to be known as “the girl with the braces” for her whole junior high school career. She was thankful that would not be too long, but she supposed that it would still follow her around because she was pretty certain that some of the people she was going to meet in junior high would also end up going to high school with her.
She entered the park just in time to see that she had missed the ice cream truck, which was fine anyway. She had not gotten used to her braces enough to try eating a lot of things. She continued on her way through the park. She was going to meet up with Ron by the playground; he still liked playing on the seesaw, even though she insisted that they were getting too old for that. Ron Stoppable was never too old to do something and he often proclaimed that, rather loudly in her opinion and way more times than necessary.
On her way, she noticed a group of boys, which she would not have thought too much of if only she did not see what they were doing. They were circled around a girl like a clan of hungry hyenas and pushing her around. Well, Kim could not just stand by idly while something like that was going on. It just was not right and she liked helping out whenever she could. She could see that her assistance would probably be greatly appreciated by the girl. Besides, it would be no problem for her to help, so she really should lend a hand. It was a good thing that she took martial arts classes, along with some gymnastics. So, she literally sprang into action.
Kim leaped into the fray just as soon as Bonnie was pushed into the dirt, dropping her barely eaten ice cream. Just as one of the boys was about to run through Bonnie’s pockets, Kim was backing him up with a rapid series of hand strikes. She then gracefully turned into a roundhouse kick, which landed on two of the boys. The fellows backed up, shocked by the sudden appearance of the fiery little redhead.
“Who the hell is this?” one of the teens wondered aloud with a bewildered expression on his face. His friends had matching looks on their faces.
“The person that’s gonna kick your butts,” Kim answered, spitting a little thanks to her braces. She was not totally used to talking with them yet and some of her words came out slurred.
“Ew, say it, don’t spray it, kid,” another of the boys said while shielding his face from Kim’s words.
Kim sucked her teeth. Great, not only were the braces ugly, but they also made her talk weird and spit on people. Life with braces was just getting better and better, she thought sarcastically. She wished that her parents just let her have messed up teeth.
“Look, just leave her alone,” Kim commanded while pointing down at Bonnie, who was still on the ground and in pure shock. She could not believe that someone was coming to her rescue. She guessed that there was a first time for everything.
“Like hell we’re going to let a pipsqueak like you tell us what to do!”
The boys charged Kim with the intent to beat her up, disregarding the fact that she was the same size as Bonnie. It seemed that size was not what counted in the brawl anyway because Kim certainly wailed on them with style and grace. They could not believe that they were being beaten up by a little girl and just kept coming in for more. Kim was happy to oblige if it would teach them to pick on someone their own size next time. After a few minutes, it dawned on the boys that they would not be able to conquer Kim and they were just prolonging their own suffering, so they ran off in the other direction, swearing that things were not over by a long shot. Kim only laughed while watching them go.
Bonnie was amazed and awestruck by what she just witnessed. The redhead before her was like some kind of superhero/angel of vengeance. She did not know what she should do or say while standing before such a wonderful person. She felt the urge to throw herself into the olive-eyed girl’s arms and just thank her forever and always for saving her pain and eight dollars. But, before she did that, Kim turned to her.
“You all right?” Kim asked, once again spitting slightly as she spoke, but she put her hand over her mouth to prevent hitting Bonnie.
“I’m fine. Thanks for that,” Bonnie managed to answer, even though she was still in awe of the girl in front of her.
“That’s good. I’m Kim,” the redhead introduced herself in a very friendly tone.
“If you’re not doing anything, you wanna hang out with me? I’m going to meet my friend at the playground,” Kim explained. She still had her hand over her mouth, now totally mortified with her braces because she could feel that she was spitting a lot while she spoke.
“The playground?” Bonnie echoed. Kim looked like they were about the same age, so she should be too old for the playground.
“Yeah, my friend’s still a kid at heart,” Kim remarked. She was smiling behind her hand. She thought it was sweet that Ron was still a little childish, although it was embarrassing when other people were around.
Bonnie shrugged and agreed to go. It was not like she had anything better to do and she really would like to get to know her savior a little bit better. Maybe they could be friends, Bonnie considered. That would be nice; she could always use more friends in her opinion, especially friends that were nice to her.
The first thing that Bonnie did when she got home was tell her sisters about Kim. She liked Kim a lot so far and had seen the girl do some amazing things while they were at the park. She had also been happy to find out that Kim was into gymnastics, which was something that she was interested in, along with ballet. Her sisters were not as supportive and astonished by the whole story as Bonnie had been when it unfolded. In fact, they just used it like they used everything else that Bonnie ever told them; they used it as a means to make fun of her.
“You know what that girl sounds like,” Lonnie said to Connie.
“A dyke,” Connie replied with a smug sort of bluntness. She knew that was what her sister was getting to.
“A dyke?” Bonnie echoed in a puzzled tone. “What’s that?” she asked her sisters curiously. She had never heard such a word before. She made a mental note to go look it up if her sisters did not give her a sound explanation, which was likely to happen as they rarely explained words to her that she did not understand.
“It’s what you are,” Lonnie taunted the youngest of them.
“I’m a dyke?” Bonnie’s face was confused and when her sisters laughed, it did not help change her expression. She was getting the idea that she should not be a “dyke,” though. It seemed to just be something else that her sisters could hang over her head, like the fact that she was the dumb, ugly one out of them all.
“She admitted it,” Lonnie commented while snickering.
“What is it?” Bonnie asked in a panic now, disliking that they seemed to have labeled her something bad without telling her what it was.
“A dyke, little sister, is a girl that likes to have sex with girls,” Connie explained. There was a cunning look on her face that she got whenever she could make fun of her baby sister while enlightening her at the same time. It was an expression that probably mirrored a fox’s when it sneaked into a hen house.
“Wait, what? I don’t like to have sex with girls!” Bonnie denied that. She never looked at girls that way. Well, to be fair, she had only started noticing boys in the past year and she actually did not think that there was much to them. But, she knew that she should not even think about having sex with girls.
“No, you already said you do and you just told us about your little girlfriend,” Lonnie remarked, still laughing from Bonnie’s earlier words.
“She’s not my girlfriend!” the youngest objected. Kim was just her friend. Well, not even really a friend, she told herself. After all, she had just met Kim today and if being friends with Kim meant that she was going to be teased by her sisters, well, she was not going to be friends with the redhead, even though she really liked Kim.
“But you like her, don’t you?” Connie asked, looking like a cat that had cornered an injured mouse.
“As a friend. Wait, maybe not even that much,” Bonnie answered. There was a chance that her sisters could take that the wrong way, after all. She did not want them to think that she was what they said she was, especially since she could tell that they did not think it was a good thing.
“I bet you like her a lot,” Connie commented, smiling cruelly at the baby of the bunch.
“You probably want to kiss her when you see her again,” Lonnie chimed in, sounding just as wicked as Connie.
“No, I don’t!” Bonnie hollered. Luckily for her, their father was not home or she would have been barked on by him for raising her voice through the house. Her hands were now balled into tight, angry fists, even though she did not plan to hit anyone. Her nails bit into her palms, but she was so upset that she failed to notice the pain in her hands.
“I bet you do,” Lonnie practically cooed while bending down to get into Bonnie’s face and really rub it in.
“No, I don’t! I’m not a dyke!” Bonnie insisted heatedly, but on the inside, she was begging with her sisters to believe her and to stop making fun of her. She just wanted them to treat her like they treated each other.
“Sure you’re not,” Connie said sarcastically, which only Bonnie picked up on. Lonnie was still a little shaky on understanding sarcasm when it was used.
“I’m not!” Bonnie screamed at the top of her lungs, as if the louder that she said it, the more believable it would be.
The older sisters continued teasing Bonnie until the twelve-year-old just ran off to escape the verbal torment, seeking sanctuary in her bedroom. She mentally insisted that she was not a dyke, as her sisters called her, and she did not like Kim in that way. In fact, she did not like Kim at all, she told herself. Sure, if she hated Kim then her sisters would not be able to make fun of her. That made perfect sense and to her that was all right because she probably would never see Kim again. After all, she had only just met her and they had not made any plans to get together again after they parted ways in the park.
Imagine Bonnie’s surprise when she saw Kim a few days later in the schoolyard on the first day of school. It would seem that they were both going to be going to the same junior high school. She gulped as Kim noticed her and waved. She did not wave back, but that did not stop Kim and Ron from trotting over to her.
“Hi,” Kim greeted Bonnie with a friendly smile. She was glad that Bonnie was at school with her and Ron. They had all had a lot of fun the other day, so she thought that they all had the chance of being great friends.
Bonnie rolled her eyes and did not bother acknowledging Kim. She even turned her back to the redhead, which took a lot of willpower to do because she really did like Kim. She wished that they could be friends. But, she just reminded herself of everything that her sisters said. She did not want them to make fun of her anymore and she did not want them to call her any more names, so she was not going to spend any more time with Kim, especially if her sisters were actually right about Kim.
She supposed that there was a chance that Kim was a girl that liked girls. She did not want Kim to like her like that. It would be weird and people would make fun of her. She definitely did not want more people making fun of her, especially when she went out of her way at school to get other people to think that she was cool. It was just nice for people to look at her with some respect.
“Hey, Bonnie, what’s the matter?” Kim asked curiously since Bonnie seemed to be ignoring her. She doubted that Bonnie forgot who she was already.
“Why don’t you go away, brace-face?” Bonnie huffed, finding a talent that she did not know she had, but would exploit through out her time knowing Kim. She had the ability to spot the very thing that would hurt Kim as much as possible and use it with vicious accuracy. Deep down, it was not a talent that she really wanted, but it came in handy.
Kim looked absolutely crushed, not just by the name, but by the fact that it drew attention to the one thing that she hated about herself at the moment. Bonnie felt a sting in her heart when she saw Kim’s expression, but she chose to ignore that. She turned and walked away, leaving Kim to be consoled by Ron.
A small voice in Bonnie’s head told that she should apologize, but she ignored that voice too. She could not apologize, would not apologize because she thought that apologizing was a sign of weakness; she knew that her sisters always used to laugh at her when she apologized and they were around. So, there would be no apologizing and there would be no friendship with Kim and Ron. She would only work at making her sisters acknowledge that she was just as good as they were, but she soon found herself with a rival. She discovered quickly that Kim could do everything that she could do, but better.
Kim was smarter than she was, much to her dismay. Kim did not look “awkward” as far as she could tell. In fact, Kim got attention from quite a few boys. It was annoying and she did the only thing that she could, she started getting on Kim verbally, downing her to make other people think that she was not so great. She was not going to let Kim get in her way. She had to prove to her sisters that she was their equal and to her that meant that she had to be the best at something. She had to be better than Kim.
Next time: In high school, Bonnie thinks conflicting thoughts about Kim.