I went back to school today. It wasn’t anything big. Some people realized who I was, even without hair. Some asked if I was a new kid. Freshman stared. Sophomores balked. Juniors ignored. Seniors welcomed me back.
Elliot and Brad were the biggest help of all. Neither of them had all their classes with me, but they’d managed to keep a close eye on me anyway. Elliot even skipped his lunch hour to stay in class with me to make sure I was doing okay. And Brad skipped his gym period to sit through
lunch with me.
I thought that was pretty cool. It meant the most, though, when Elliot fended me off against a couple of Juniors. This is how it went.
There were two Juniors sitting at the next table in Art and I could tell right away they were
slackers. The stereotypical “cool guys”, someone might say. And they decided that I was their target of ridicule for the day.
They were goofing around while they were supposed to be working on their projects and one ended up flicking paint at my head. Since I hadn’t had the guts to ask the principle if I was allowed to wear a cap, I had gone bald-headed. (Or however that’s said.) So now I was bald and had gray paint running down the side of my face.
At first, they didn’t do anything else and I swiped the paint away before Elliot could see what had happened. Then the other guy decided that he wanted to join in the fun too.
By the time Elliot found out what they were doing, and since I wasn’t about to say anything about it (hey, who wants to start an unneeded fight?), there were faint streaks of all colors down the side of my face. He was furious when he caught sight of my face.
“Where’d that come from,” he asked through gritted teeth.
I bit my lip and nodded towards the slackers. “Them. But don’t—“
Before I could finish he had stalked over to the first guy and pulled him up from his chair by the collar of his shirt. He was seething by now.
“You did that to Jove?” Elliot stabbed the boy in the chest with his index finger, then pointed to me.
The boy pushed Elliot away from him and was about to slug him when Mr. Nelson, the art teacher, stepped between them.
“Office,” he said. “Now.”
They left. So did the second paint-flinger. Then Mr. Nelson told me to wash my face in the restroom.
Okay, so I’m half-ashamed that I didn’t take those guys on myself. But what was I supposed to do? Punch the living daylights out of them? I’m still weak from the chemo treatments and not much exercise.
I hate that I wasn’t able to save my own face from the paint-streaks. But they washed off okay, so I can say that I don’t regret not trying to do anything to the guys.
But I do regret getting Elliot In-School-Suspension for a day for “fighting”. He’s tried to convince me that it isn’t my fault . . . but, really, I’d be the one in suspension, if I’d actually stood up for myself.
Has having cancer reduced my self-esteem? I was never like this before . . . what happened to me at that hospital?