Sam is a fifteen-year-old drug orphan living with her custodial grandmother who is stricken with late-stage Alzheimer's. She struggles to fill the role of caregiver to her grandmother while keeping her little family a secret from the authorities who would send Gamma to a state facility and Sam to foster care. Just because her life isn't hard enough, there are still boys to have crushes on, essays to write for horrible English teachers, and a squad full of bullies to torment her on a daily basis.
The blaring laughter that followed the processed lunchmeat outburst could only mean that my usual tormentors were wide-awake and on the prowl. I turned up the volume to my headphones and dropped my purse and backpack on the nearest cafeteria table, far from the center table where they were still sitting together snickering over the name they had baptized me with way back in third grade. The males in the crowd literally high-fived each other when they saw me drop my head and turn away from their table, while the females did that giggle-snort-behind-their-hands thing that girls usually did when they didn’t want to be caught laughing too loudly.
How original. Spam. Because it rhymes with Sam. The young poet laureates of Benton, Florida, had put their heads together in this think tank of a public school wasteland and come up with a real zinger. And it’s been with me ever since.
I’m sure the fine people at the Discovery Channel could do an entire documentary on the high school food chain, the survival of the fittest, the evolution of the various packs that make up the society, the workers, drones, and queen bee of the hive. All that stuff. Because maybe then their researchers could explain to the rest of us what exactly sets some students apart as carnivores and the rest of us as their prey.
I mean, I’m a completely ordinary girl. I wake up, come to this war zone of a school, and go home. I’m absolutely the most typical looking person, with plain brown hair, hazelish eyes, a little on the skinny side. I don’t stand out, I don’t call attention to myself, I don’t try to overthrow anyone’s Homecoming Queen throne, so how come I’m the total victim? I guess it still wouldn’t change how some of these mental midgets treat me, but I don’t bother anybody. So why me?
The “Spam! Spam! Spam!” Spam-chant began at one table towards the middle of the room, whispered at first, but getting louder, punctuated with some good rhythmic table-pounding until finally a teacher looks up from her lunchtime coma and tells them to quiet down.
A few of the tables scattered around the oversized room are filled with kids who typically ignore the brutal and out-loud teasing, probably because they’ve been Professional Victims at some point or another in this inferno. I’m sure they’re feeling super embarrassed for me, so they look out the windows or at their lunch trays or anywhere else but at me. If they see me looking at them, they’ll have to acknowledge that they sat silently on the sidelines and watched the gladiator match of me versus the cool kids without throwing me a lifeline. Or at least putting me out of my misery.
About the Author:
Lorca Damon is a young adult writer and teacher. Her fiction focuses on the very real issues that teenagersactually face today, scenarios she learned from her students in the juvenile correctional facility where she teaches. She is the author of an Amazon bestselling title on autism, Autism By Hand, as well as a book of bizarre humor essays entitled It Was Like That When I Found It. Her two previous titles, Autism By Hand and It Was Like That When I Found It, are available on Amazon in print and for Kindle.
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