She leaned up against her wall locker. Tears as hot as her humiliation streamed down her face to drip onto the floor where all her books lay scattered. The bullies had pulled everything out of her locker, smiling wickedly as they threw them with hurt filled meaning onto the floor. They knew she couldn’t bend over without great effort, and even her cane wouldn’t help her get back up. They flowed down the hallway like sewer sludge having tainted everything left in their wake.
She felt a soft gentle touch on her shoulder. She flinched. Did they leave one of their ilk behind to add to the pain and humiliation? She looked up through tears that blurred most of her vision. It was a boy she had seen before. He had a kind look in his eyes and was holding a tiny vest…like you would put on a two foot tall doll. He dangled the vest in front of her eyes:
“You look like you need this.”
She couldn’t help it, she reached for the tiny vest. It had words on it: Love, Trust, Believe in yourself. Be kind. Take the high road. Ignore the ignorant. Stay strong.
All the letters glittered like they had been sewn by an Angel using gold thread. It was beautiful.
“This? What is it?”
“It is a bully proof vest. Just put it in your purse or pocket, and it will protect you from their insanity.”
She was curious, but dumbfounded.
“What? How do you know it works?”
He smiled that shy kind smile at her.
“Because it is mine. I am giving it to you. I don’t need it anymore. You do.”
She took it from him, studied it a bit more. She also studied him a bit more.
“You…you…you were bullied? How? Why? I mean you are beautiful!”
He blushed. She hadn’t meant to blurt out that last part…even though it was true.
He took one hand and pulled his long hair back from the side of his head. His ears were enormous. Almost cartoonish. He let the hair drop back down.
She gasped when she saw his ears. No wonder the Bullies had a field day with him. But she thought his ears fit him- so she said so.
He smiled that shy warm smile at her. He had heard her gasp. He had also seen how quickly she decided his ears fit him. That made him all warm and squiggly inside.
“Thank you. But my ears got the attention of Bullies the day I started School. It went on for years. In sixth grade my Grandma made me that vest. She said all the things on it were qualities I had, or could learn. She told me that once I understood that Bullies are just scared, frightened, weak people- that I would feel sorry for them.
“Just let them go. They may, or may not, grow up to be good people. You are already a good person. That defeats any bully. Here, take this Bully Proof Vest, carry it in your pocket. When Bullies approach dismiss them from your mind by rubbing the vest. You’ll see. It will work.”
It did. Bullies don’t scare me anymore. They stopped bothering me because they couldn’t get a response anymore. I would just rub the Bully Proof Vest in my pocket and think about how scared they are about life. I felt bad for them- because I looked forward to life. I was a good kid, I would grow, learn, love, without fear. Those poor kids…well, they mistook fear for respect. It isn’t.“
With that, the kid with the shy smile bent down and gathered all her books and things to put back in her locker. She watched as he carefully put things back where they belonged. She rubbed the Bully Proof Vest between her fingers.
Tomorrow she would walk up to the bullies and say:
“Thanks for cleaning out my locker. I found the most precious friend in the stuff you threw away. I hope one day you stop being afraid.“
The Bullies looked at each other in surprise. What the heck did she mean? They could see in her eyes that she wasn’t afraid of them at all. Like most bullies, they went to find another victim. She was nuts.
She smiled as they walked away. She rubbed the Bully Proof Vest in her pocket. It worked. She hurried to lunch…she couldn’t wait to sit with the kid with the shy smile and the big ears. She wanted to tell him that the Bully Proof Vest worked, but mostly she just wanted to be near him.
He heard her coming long before she got to the table.