Papa always says, "You'll never succeed if you don't try."
I don't know. It seems I've tried a hundred times, and I'm tired of trying. My heart is pounding and my hands are sweating. I rub them on my skirt.
I can't do this!
What if they laugh at me?
What if they ask me too many questions?
What if they ignore me?
That's worst of all. It has happened before. That's the life of being the new kid. I feel like I am a puny ant on the ground - that isn't heard and isn't seen, and I might even get stepped on as they whisper and giggle with their friends they've known ever since kindergarten.
"Why shouldn't they like you? You're smart and interesting." I can hear Papa's voice in my head. "Just walk up and ask them a question - any question."
It's not that easy.
I get the nerve to step closer, "Hello, what is your opinion of -, " but that's as far as I get. I stop as I feel an icy wall drop. They stop giggling. They stop talking. They scan me with their narrowed eyes, down at my knee-length homemade dress and back up to my braids tied with pink bows. They stare at me as if I were an alien. I guess, to them, I am from another world.
We face each other in silence for perhaps a minute, although it feels like hours. I think I see a flicker of sympathy in the eye of one girl, but she glances at the others and crosses her arms.
"Buzz off, Weirdo!" spits the one with the denim jacket. The rest laugh and follow her across the cafeteria and perch around a table, like a flock of chirping sparrows.
Go on! I don't care. Why do I even try? Who wants friends like that anyway?
I slide into a chair at the empty table near me and open my paper lunch bag; as usual, it's a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich on homemade bread with an apple for dessert. Flipping to my bookmark in The Stonewycke Chronicles, I soon become lost in my favorite world - the world where they don't care how I dress or talk. The characters in my books don't laugh at me or turn away. They are always there when I need them.
A tray drops on the table and startles me back to reality. "Hi, are you saving this for anyone?"
I look up to see a red-headed boy, wearing glasses so thick that his blue eyes seem to be bigger than his freckled face.
Maybe I could try one more time.
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