A Dancing Bug
“Who are you?” they say.
“Bee.” I reply.
“Like the bug?” they ask.
“Well, yes. The insect.” I correct.
“What do you like to do?” they pry.
“I like to dance.” I say.
“A dancing bug!” they laugh.
They walk away, swinging their hair behind them, never understanding the hurt of their words.
Fake. All fake. All these words. All these phrases, coated in sugar, but filled with salt. They are just words, but they cut deep into my skin, scaring the weak cells, building up over time, to create this barrier, this wall of hurt and pain. A glaze of saltiness covers the dark pupils of my eyes, dripping down the inward curve of my nose, stinging the edge of my cracked lips. I fight it. I fight the tears, just like I fight the words. I try and push them away, to forget that anyone ever said them. But no. My scars stay. I see them cover me, and I can’t forget. I only remember their words ringing in my head: Not good enough. Not smart enough. A dancing bug!
Every day, I step into this lonely world, wondering what I am meant to do, who I am meant to be. I try to find the girl I want to be, but every time I try, the wall of hurt blocks me from passing. How can I be who I was made to be when others don’t accept me for it? How can I live freely when every corner is a trap? A twister of taunts, whisking around me, daring me to fall down. How can I find this girl when am I so familiar with the last stall in the girl’s bathroom, scrawled with graffiti, and filled with the drip drip drip of my tears, hiding from the world before me. Ashamed of who they say I am, who I am supposed to be.
I sit in a plump seat, the steady bump of the road beneath me pounding like a heartbeat. I look out the window, covered in the grime of sticky fingers and sugary breath, past memories of students waiting eagerly to get home. I see the world outside, passing fast, forgotten in a mere second. The scenery, the passersbys, all gone in the blink of an eye, like none of it matters. I realize how small I seem, compared to this giant world around me. I, a mere speck in a room full of dust. A simple star in the vast galaxy, teeming with burning planets and web-like constellations, all more interesting than me: just a simple star.
The radio blasts, full of cursing and profanity. I would never dream of ever dancing to music like this. Even if I could. The adrenaline of children rushes around me like a dammed river, spewing everywhere, over everything: my ears, my nose, my head. I close my eyes and try to slow the pounding of my brain. So many people, so many words. So many scars.
Bug girl. Boogie bug! Booger bug!
I see their taunting faces, their laughing cheeks. I fight it. I fight the words, the scars. I fight it all.
They’re just words. Words can’t hurt.
But they do.
Finally, finally, the rubber burn against the gravel road signals my heavenly stop. I practically leap off the steps, with calls of “booger bug” swirling behind me.
I watch my feet take step after step up the stony walk, each stride a reassuring sign I have made it through another day. The crackle of the the pebbles send pinches up into my soles. I see the familiar chipped paint of the old wooden door, the hand painted birdhouse, speckled with tiny fingerprints from long ago, when the tips of my young, petite hands were nearly as small as the birdseed itself.
I remember the past with a melancholy smile. How could life have been so simple? So uncomplicated? So nice and inviting? It now seems nearly impossible that once, my naive six-year-old mind didn’t understand that there was meanness out in the world, and that I was right in the middle of it all. Oblivious, but happy.
I creek open the rusted hinges of the door, slowly creating an opening of sunlight onto the hardwood floor.
Music fills my ears as I enter my house, the calming sound easing my scarred soul.
“Staring at a stop sign, watching people drive by, T mac on the radio, got so much on your mind, nothing's really going right, looking for a ray of hope.”
I follow the beat of the song, down the narrow hallway, up the winding stairs.
And there I see her.
Long hair flowing, smile wide, shoulders tall and proud.
Her graceful arms waving through the air fluently, but with emotion. Strong legs twist and turn, jete to a pirouette. She dances without a care in the world, without scars breaking her step. The music breaks into a humming refrain, and her eyes flutter open peacefully to notice me standing in the door.
“Bee!” she calls. “How is my favorite little sister today?” The way she wraps her arm around me, calls me by my name, and cares for my answer. I look up into her passionate eyes and the dazzling smile across her face. Flashes of phrases run through my head, swirling and whirling in and out, through my ears. I see their smirking faces and their narrow gaze. But then I see the pearly gleam of my sister’s grin, and the kindness in her eyes.
“You're an overcomer, stay in the fight 'til the final round, you're not going under.”
I make my decision.
“Now that you’re here, everything's okay.” I reply, and I return her grin with one of my own, unable to fight off my sister’s positive vibe. The song begins to play again, and my sister grabs my hand.
“C’mon!” she calls, and she swings our hands over our heads and we turn around back to back. Our eyes sparkle and dance across from each other. For the first time today, I feel my scars begin to heal. I feel them stitch back together, and my mind calm like an ocean after a storm. I hear the words of the song radiate in my head. They push me forward, to twirl my legs and spin my arms. They spiral and circle, and I leap and flip.
“You're an overcomer, you're an overcomer.”
* * * * *
“Who are you?” they say.
I can feel scars forming, already anticipating the hurtful sting. I open my mouth to answer, ready to give in to their icy words.
But I stop. I close my lips and blink my eyes.
Who am I? I ask myself. Who am I really? I am not bug girl, or booger bug, or a boogie bugger. I am not a turtle, afraid of the world, curled up in my shell. I think of my sister, joyful and free, oblivious to the world, not caring about what other people think. “You're an overcomer, stay in the fight 'til the final round, you're not going under.” It’s my decision. I can choose to stay trapped in this scarred cage, or learn to spread my wings and fly. I am bigger than my scars, bigger than these words that once took me over. Scars may leave a mark, but the pain won’t last. It will only last if I make it. If I let it take control. I can overcome all of these bullies and words. I can take my stand. I can say who I am, and be proud of it.
“My name is Bee.” I say. “I really like to dance.”
“Really?” they ask.
“Yes, I guess you could say I’m a dancing bug.”