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          I was standing outside my second hour class, busily engaged in conversation with another girl, when someone bumped hard against my shoulder.  I turned and found two dark eyes penetrating mine.  The eyes belonged to a girl twice my size (both up and out).  She gave me a sneer with her upper lip and turned her back.  Following close behind, as her shadow, was a small wiry girl.  She scowled as she passed by me.

          “Whatever you do, stay away from those two!” my friend whispered, “They are trouble!”

          The following day, I met “trouble” coming down the hall.  There was no way to avoid them. They were heading straight in my direction.

          The small one gave me a “death stare” while the large one proceeded to be the mouthpiece for the two.

          “You meet us after school this afternoon in front of the building, Hot Shot!  We’re going to beat you to a pulp!”

          I walked around them, trying hard to act nonchalant, but my knees were shaking.

          When the dismissal bell rang that afternoon, I left by the side door and ran to the bus.

          For two days I lived in fear of those girls!

          It was the fourth hour and we were assembling for the PE class.

My enemies threw dagger stares in my direction.  I did my best to ignore their hissing, “Chicken!”

          The large girl came over to my pile of belongings, picked up one of my notebooks and began flipping through the pages.  All at once I had had enough!  I could feel the anger welling up inside of me, and the fear that had been binding me...evaporated!  At that moment, I didn’t care if she was three times my size.  I walked over to her and grabbed the notebook from her hand.

          “You leave my things alone!” I demanded, as I stared her in the face. (I was shocked at the forcefulness of my own voice.)

          Her face registered shock and then her features transformed into a smile!  Her “shadow” stared at me in unbelief.

          From that day on, the two that were known as “trouble” never troubled me again.



          Activity was the only way to describe the hustle and bustle of the hallways in  Albuquerque’s Andrew Jackson Junior High.

          I felt excitement over the hundreds of faces scurrying to the first hour class.  In my homeroom, I was one of five new students.  It wasn’t long before I was joining in the laughter and chatter between classes.  Through our many moves I had learned to push myself forward, with an air of confidence that I did not always possess.  It was kind of like, “Fake it until you make it.”

          Two weeks into school, Amy, a fellow ninth grader, walked up to me after dismissal.

          “Gloria, didn’t you say you were from Socorro?”


          “Do you know Janet Bailey?”

          “Sure,” I replied.

          “She’s my cousin,” Amy said.  I smiled, and was ready to discuss our mutual acquaintance when Amy continued.

          “Gloria, is Fess Parker your uncle?”

          The question caught me off guard.  I remembered the day in the elementary school yard, where I had watched the fifth grade girls’ jump rope.  Feeling left out, I had called Janet apart from the others and told her my lie, “Janet, my uncle is Fess Parker.”  The words rang in my memory.

          ‘No, he isn’t my uncle.  Why would you ask that?” I asked as if I didn’t know where she could have come up with the idea.

          “Well...huh,” she stammered, “Janet wrote me and said to ask you.  She said you told some whoppers.”

          I didn’t say anything to incriminate myself and Amy walked away, perplexed.

          I watched as she crossed the schoolyard toward the city bus.  No one, since the fifth grade, had ever mentioned the lie.  Now, four years later, I was confronted with it.

          “Whew!  I will never tell another lie as long as I live!  Even as I thought it, I knew that was probably not true.