A Courageous Battle (Chapter 1, page 1 of 2)

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Chapter 1

LACEY WILSON had given up trying to make friends. No one liked her, so she kept to herself. In the warm spring sunshine, in 1958, she was reading her book in a far corner of the schoolyard.

She had to pee; couldn't hold it much longer. But to get to the washroom she would have to walk near a group of the popular girls who were skipping near there. In the end, urgency overcame her fear.

She almost got by, but then the chants began.

"Ewe, there's the worm!"

"Get away, wormy worm!"

"Stinky stringbean! Stinky stringbean!"

They giggled, covering their mouths, and turned their backs on her, and other kids nearby joined in with more derisive catcalls.

Bob 'Big' Boscoe blocked her way, "Whatcha got, worm, dirty pants? Ya gotta go, worm?"

Tears forming, she tried to push past him as she felt the hot liquid trickle in her pants. She hung her head and forced her way into the toilet, where she stayed, sucking air, hiding in a stall, until the bell rang for the afternoon classes.

AFTER SCHOOL Lacey walked home, shoulders slumped, head hanging, dejected. She navigated the crooked pathway with broken tiles that led to her house and opened the door, listening.

The silence echoed in her ears. She must be sleeping already. It gets earlier and earlier. "Your mother's not well," her Daddy had said many times.

"She has asthma and migraine headaches. You must be a good girl, and let her rest."

So Lacey slumped on the couch. The threadbare, grimy furniture joined forces with the silence to mock her as she relived the stinging taunts that hurt so much. She sobbed, clutching a worn satin pillow to her chest, wishing she didn't have to go to school anymore, paralyzed by sorrow and despair.

Eventually the tears stopped, as they always did. The sound of laughter drifted through the open window and penetrated her reverie. Lacey looked out. There they were: the big boy next door and his friends - laughing, having fun!

Blowing her nose, she went outside and sat on the grass to watch them play basketball. It must be so nice to be a boy, zipping around on a bike, throwing hoops, joking around. The love bug had bitten Lacey when she was four and had first seen Roger Brock popping wheelies in their mutual driveway. She had been watching him now for four years. She knew it bugged him but she couldn't stop. His energetic body flipping his bike, or arcing the basketball high in the air, or rolling around on the lawn, wrestling with his friends, represented both a fantasy figure akin to the heroes in the books she read, and the embodiment of a social life she herself could not have, but at least could witness.

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