(What If? Exercise: Read the description here.)

She thought she was so special, that gringa. Everyone liked her. Everyone wanted to talk to her. Just because she came from America. So what? The girl couldn’t even speak a word of Portuguese! What was she doing in a seventh-grade classroom in Brazil? The whole first week she was here, she didn’t open her mouth once. Who wants to be friends with a girl like that?

She was useful for English class; I’ll give her that. She even kept a Portuguese-English dictionary in her desk at all times. I borrowed it more than once. She never offered it, though. She liked the popular girls better, I could tell. They were the ones who always talked to her and tried to teach her Portuguese. I went to school with these girls for years and they wouldn’t give me the time of day. This stranger was around for five minutes and somehow she deserved all their attention? Please. She wasn’t even as pretty as them. I bet they were just using her for help with English too.

One day, the Geography teacher made us work in groups of three. My friend and I got stuck with the American girl. I could see up close that she wasn’t so special as all that. I pointed out her flaws to my friend: that stupid ponytail, those dorky glasses, the silly way she’d tilt sideways when she wrote. I didn’t think she’d understand what I was saying anyway. Not until I saw the pitiful look in her eyes. She went home in tears. Crybaby.

My friend and I got in trouble the next day. Turns out the gringa had told her mom what happened, and her mom had talked to the principal. On top of everything else, the girl was a tattletale.

She thought she was so special, that gringa. But I knew what she really was: no better than me.


This story is based on What If? Exercise 66: “Bully”. The exercise is to write about a factual incident from the first-person perspective of someone who bullied you as a child. The objective is to practice writing a “villain” by taking over the persona of someone capable of brutality and making that character three-dimensional. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written. Thanks for reading!

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