Waking up in with a mouthful of mulch and blood wasn’t the way Lois had thought her girl scout picnic would end. She glanced up at the slide, remembering giggling and playing for the first time as if she weren’t the weirdo in her neighborhood. It had been to much to believe that the other girls had finally accepted her after three years.
The blood slipped out of her chin, down her neck and soiled the uniform blouse that she had been taught would make her part of a group of friends. No, dirty hands moving up to hold her chin, which suddenly and painfully had made her aware of what had happened. No, she should have known better. She should have sat on the sidelines and watched the other girls play.
“Push her, push her!” The laughter of the girls when she had fallen the eight feet to the ground. She remembered that now, just as she remembered them calling her a baby and telling her she was faking when she hadn’t gotten up. She didn’t remember anything else until the taste of blood and mulch had woken her.
If she could find someone…Lois staggered away toward the picnic shelter where dinner was supposed to happen. It was empty except for her mother and father. “Where have you been? Mrs. Johnson called us, she said you had disappeared.” Lois took her hands away from her chin and passed out.
“Grandma, wake up, wake up. You’re dreaming again.”
Her eyes closed heavily again. Sleep returned but so did the dreams. Four months after her chin had been broken and she had been accused of lying about being pushed, even her parents had not believed her, applying a bandage and ignoring her pain. She’d kept her mouth shut, and didn’t argue. There was no sense to it.
Her birthday, she remembered. It had been her birthday. All of the girl scouts had been invited. She had worn a pretty dress, handmade by her mother. She loathed it. The other girls had heckled her since second grade. “You’re poor. Haha, your parents can’t even afford to buy you decent clothes. You’re poor.” The party went better than she had expected. No one came.
Her parents were furious, starting to believe that the scouts weren’t as scoutlike as they should have been.
“Grandma, wake up. You’re crying.”
She didn’t open her eyes. There was high school. The winter king and queen were to be crowned and her name had appeared on the ballot. She had even made it to the final round, not realizing that it was a huge joke. Another put down from a crowd of hateful girls and their all to compliant boyfriends. She should have known better.
She rolled onto her side. Another spook of the past appearing before her. Then another and another. She was a fool. How did she manage to keep believing that she would some day find a place to fit in and be welcome? It would be better if she died. The memories were too much for her. She was aware of tears, and voices.
“Come on, Grammy dear, keep breathing. The ambulance is on the way.”
“Grandma, don’t leave us. We need you.”
Her last thought was, “No, you don’t.”