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I'M A TAG ALONG




          The noon hour was moderately warm for late March.  Voices intermingled with the sound of singing robins, as the group of ninth grade girls, left the school ground for lunch on Main Street.  I tagged along, even though I hadn’t been invited.  Anything was better than being alone.
          “That was a rough test in English this morning,” I ventured.
          Agnes and Jennifer glanced at me but didn’t answer.  The rest of the girls never acknowledged that I had spoken.  My words hung in mid-air and then nose-dived.  If there had been a hole available I would have crawled in.       As we continued walking, I thought of Chuck.  He had been accepted right away because the boys weren’t as territorial as the girls. There were times when I felt deserted by Chuck.  When I passed him and his friends in the hallway at school, he ignored me.  He had a couple of friends who flirted with me, and when they came to the house, they gave me a lot of attention.  I had a feeling Chuck felt threatened by that somehow.
            Hotchkiss High School was a providence of nonacceptance as far as I was concerned. It seemed to me that the girls ran in a tightly knit pack.  How could I belong to this group of girls who had known each other all of their lives?  How could I squeeze through the walls that held me out? Would it ever be possible to break into this click that was so tightly bonded against outsiders?  And why should I care?  I wished I didn’t care...but unfortunately I did care...I wanted to belong.
          Late in the afternoon the school bus pulled into the driveway.  Chuck, Bronco and I walked toward the house.  Emotionally my chin was hanging to the ground.
          “You got some mail,” Mom announced as we entered the kitchen. “I put it on your bed.”
          My spirits lifted as I bounded the flight of stairs.  There on the lavender bedspread was the welcoming sight...three white envelopes, two from Dave and one from Barb.  The cares and rejection of the day melted as I stretched across the bed and caught up with news from Albuquerque.  There were  friends who actually acknowledged that I existed.  Friends who cared about me.




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