Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ENVY (jealousy of another’s advantage) (02/12/15)
- TITLE: Just Another Bird
By Francy Judge
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Just as I finished Ronald Bird’s wing, a group of five girls in my grade passed by. The five most popular girls at school. I tossed my journal in my backpack. Most of them ignored me like I was bird do on the bench. At least Mary—with the perfect long wavy blond highlighted hair who sat next to me last year in French class—acknowledged my presence.
“Hi, Becky. See you at school tomorrow.”
“Okay.” With an answer like that, no wonder I was sitting alone sketching birds.
They weren’t far enough away when Christine said, “You’re friends with her?”
Mary glanced my way. “Kind of. She was in my class. That’s all.”
I swallowed the golf ball size lump in my throat. Why can’t I be part of their group? I made a promise at that moment. “This year is going to be different. I am going to be popular. I will do everything the cool girls do: go where they go, wear what they wear, eat what they eat.”
On the first day of ninth grade, I sat in homeroom. And watched. Christine and Jenna strolled in five minutes late, wearing bright lipstick and dark jeans with iPhone tucked in their back pockets. As if in a movie, a slow motion scene, their silky long hair danced in a breeze; their wide smiles telling the class they missed out on something. Their confidence and beauty excused them from any scolding. They were the princesses.
I wrote a note in the back of my calendar.
* Grow hair long. Wear dark jeans and orange lipstick. Convince Mom to buy me an iPhone.
This could take a while since my hair was above my shoulders, and I needed money to buy clothes and a phone. I’d have to spend all the babysitting money I saved.
Mom thought I was kidding. “I thought you hated the mall. You really want to spend your Saturday shopping?”
“I like it now. I want a new style.”
In a few weeks, I showed up in my tight dark jeans, bright lipstick and a phone in my pocket (that cost me $50 payments each month to mom.) I felt like a new person—even said hello to Christine, the ultimate of popularity.
She looked at me with a question mark in her face. “Uh, hi.” Then she whispered to Lisa, “What a copycat! Too bad she doesn’t realize she’s wearing last month’s trends.” They giggled.
Okay, now they look like hippies in flowing patterns, headbands and pale lips. After school, I kicked a pebble three blocks to my house. I wiped off the stupid lipstick and stared at my phone like it would ring, like one of the girls would want to call me.
I didn’t smile after that. Until a new girl from the Philippines sat next to me in Chemistry. She didn’t dress like anyone else. Her clothes looked hand-knit. She didn’t wear make-up, yet was even prettier than Christine. Mila said hello to everyone. Even me.
The school year ended. I wasn’t any more popular than a peapod. I opened my sketchbook and drew my favorite maple tree with a nest in its highest branches. Mila sat next to me. “Do you mind is I sit here? I brought some bread to feed the pigeons. I believe God wants us to take care of His creatures.”
I moved my stuff over for her to sit down. As I sketched the leaves, she hummed a song I didn’t know. The birds cooed around our feet. Mila glowed like no one I ever met. Right then, I realized, I wanted to be like her. An individual, the person God made me to be.
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