your Dad’s an RCMP Sergeant and you barely fit in at your new school.
first day of Grade 6. “your Dad’s a pig,” says a big boy with a failed haircut that his mom inflicted on him, and briskly shoves you against the stucco wall during recess. your elbows shred, pink patches with little pinpricks of blood. a stinging rash of a scrape.
“are you gonna tell?” challenges his shorter sidekick. you can tell by the way his eyes abruptly turn the corner of his face that’s he’s a mean asshole, because he lives in a little old house on the road out to the dump with more brothers and sisters than you can keep track of, and he’s always fighting for something to eat.
and there’s no point in telling your Dad about this tonight, after he comes home from a long day, his polyester pants creased behind his knees, baggy-assed from sitting in a police cruiser all day, patrolling The TransCanada, because he’ll say what he always says: “don’t let them get a rise out of you. just ignore them.”
you smile tightly at the boys, one big, one small. your nipples harden. the boys stare at your breasts, smirk like they know something you don’t. their faces darken into masks. one day in the future, your disheveled art teacher, the one you call Mr. Creeps, pulls you aside after class and talks suggestively about a picture you’ve drawn, says you’re special, then asks you if you’d like private lessons after school, just the two of you. you back out of the room.
and another day in the future, a boy you’ve gone to high school with, someone you call a friend, forces you down on the living room floor of a doublewide trailer and threatens rape. you stare up at him and say, “you wouldn’t dare. i’m the sergeant’s daughter.” this works. you don’t know why.
but right now you run across the schoolyard, until a stitch grabs at your side. and when you’re able to breath, you join a knot of kids, spending enough time to be accepted but not enough time to be known. because even though you just moved to this small lake town in the middle of August, when the heat squashes your chest like the training bra your Mom mail-orders from the Sears catalogue, insists on you wearing, says, “you’re a young lady and young ladies wear bras”, you know your Dad will be transferred in a couple of years, and saying goodbye at a school where you don’t belong is just too fucking hard.