When she was in middle school, she had the worst luck
a girl could have in her formative years. For one
thing, her parents were complete freaks and had not
participated in socially amalgamating her to any
degree at all. In fact they had just gone on with
their lives as if she didnít exist at all, and she was
forced to take it upon herself to figure out how to
take care of little things like what clothes to wear,
daily hygiene, social interaction. And it seemed to
Angela that absolutely everything she did was
It did not help that at the age of twelve, she was
almost spherical in shape. When the other girls of
her class were shooting up like weeds, she shot out
sideways to the point where she could literally turn
on her side and roll to class. This special talent
that she had did not go unnoticed, however, and was
soon known as The Torso, mainly because it did not
look like she had any arms or legs, only hands and
feet barely poking out of her oversized middle.
As she went from class to class, large crowds of students
would laugh and point, amazed to see a living three
hundred pound pre-teen. Angela would only close her
eyes and fight back the tears, propelling herself
along in a blind fury and inevitably running over
smaller children that could not get out of her way.
From time to time, she did notice a few girls turning
their eyes away from the spectacle that was herself,
and she considered them her secret friends, grateful
that there at least existed in the world some
seemingly kind souls who would not join in their
classmates' cruel revelry.
One day, as she was squeezing her way out the door of
her Social Studies class, she heard a small voice from
behind. With a grunt she ejected herself into the
corridor and turned around. It was Kathy, the girl
who sat behind her in class. Actually, everyone in
the class sat behind her; Angela was forced to sit on
the floor in the front of the class because she was
too big to fit in any of the desks.
Kathy got as close as she could without bumping
Angelaís middle and whispered, "Hey, I really want to
talk to you. Can we meet by the gym after school?"
Angela was astonished by Kathyís kind voice and tried
to remember if Kathy had been one of the ones who had
taunted her in the past. Thinking of all those faces
in the hallways and in the schoolyard, mouths open
wide and faces bright red from laughing so hard at her
expense, Angelaís eyes started to tear up even then.
"Su-sure," she said. "Did I do something wrong?"
"No, silly," said Kathy. "I want us to be friends.
I hate it when people are so mean to you. I know you
canít help it that youíre so round. See you later."
Kathy waved goodbye and headed down the hall to her
Angela didnít know what to think. Out of nowhere she
had been given a magical, miraculous gift. A tiny
spark of joy that -- in just those few moments -- had
somehow lit her whole heart and head with hope.
Just then Bob, one of the biggest of the school
bullies, came along. "What you crying for, Torse?
Aintícha used up all your tears yet?" He continued on
past, but just before he was out of armsí length, he
put out his hand and shoved her as hard as he could.
As Angela fell backwards into a helpless
cockroach-type state, she could see Bob and his
tag-alongs running down the hall, laughing.
She was stuck. Normally when travelling from place
to place she had enough momentum to right herself and
get back on her feet, but just lying on her back all
she could hope to do was flail her stubby airborne
arms and legs around to no effect. After a few
minutes of useless wriggling (all the while enduring
the shouts and giggles of students walking past her)
she became still and just started to cry. Soon she
could hear the tardy bell ring for the next class and she
wondered why someone didnít rescue her. It became
very quiet in the hallway, the only sound being her
sniffles and, as if off in the distance, her own beating heart.
She had calmed down a bit, and after a bit of
inspiration, tried flexing first one buttock and then
the other. In this fashion she was able to get a
slight rocking movement going that slowly gained
momentum as the seconds passed. Finally she was able
to shift the weight of her body so that she could
touch the floor with her right foot. When she was
able to also reach the floor with her right hand she
pushed off with all her might and, with great effort,
was able to wobble herself upright.
In front of her stood Mrs. Campton, the Science
teacher. Everyone in school knew from the look of her
that Mrs. Campton was secretly a real witch, and there
was no doubt that if this had been 16th century Salem
she would surely have been burned at the stake long
ago. Unfortunately, this was twentieth century Texas,
so Mrs. Campton was alive and well and at this moment
making a face that surely had the power to kill
"Enjoying yourself, young lady? What are you doing
out of class?"
"I-Iím sorry, Mrs. Campton, it was just that I fell
The teacher was not amused. "Iíve had just about
enough of your disturbances, Angela Walsh. I think
itís time you had a talk with Principal Richardson.
And I fully expect to see you in study hall today
after school. Donít be late if you know whatís good
for you." She suddenly smacked her lips, as if she
had just ingested a tasty small rodent. Then she
turned and clopped back to her classroom, Angela
noticing that Mrs. Camptonís clumsy land legs
definitely gave away the womanís need for her primary
form of transportation: a broom.
Later, from the window of Mrs. Camptonís Detention
Center, Angela could see her would-be friend across
the school grounds, patiently sitting next to the
entrance of the gym. After a few minutes, Kathy
started to look around, and then a few minutes after
that she stood up. Once on her feet, she remained in
the same spot a while, sometimes getting up on her
toes to try to see if Angela was on her way from some
far corner of the school. Then the tiny figure
shifted around a bit more, seemed to make a shrugging
motion and started walking home.
Chapter 11 was first written November 20, 2001
It was last edited December 10, 2001