If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s bullies.
If there’s one word I don’t like, it’s ugly.
If there’s one thing I don’t like doing, it’s crying.
And if there’s one person I don’t like, it’s Olivia. She’s a bully. She calls me “ugly,” and that makes me cry. Plus, she picks on my friends. She makes fun of my clothes. And her name even sounds like olives—the one thing I don’t like on pizza.
I had to do something about Olivia. So I made a plan. I would tell her what I really thought. I would hurt her back.
All morning I practiced my speech in my head. I could imagine the scene exactly. She’d walk past me at recess and say something rude. Then I’d step in front of her and put my hands on my hips. She would suddenly look very small.
“Olivia,” I’d say, “you think you’re so much better than me, but you’re not. I’m four months older than you. I get better grades in reading than you. And I’m nicer to people than you.” Everyone on the playground would stare at us. They would see how cool I was. They would see how awful Olivia was. Olivia would beg me to forgive her, or maybe she’d just run away and cry.
I liked both ideas.
At morning recess I was ready. Olivia walked past me just like I knew she would. “Don’t you know half the people at school think you’re ugly?” Olivia said to me.
I wanted to give my speech, but now it just sounded silly. “Well, you’re uglier,” I finally said.
Olivia just laughed. “Whatever.”
I couldn’t say anything else, so I just walked to the bathroom with my head held high. But once no one could see me, I cried and cried and cried.
When I looked at my face in the mirror, it was splotchy and red. Maybe Olivia was right. Maybe I was ugly.
I felt ugly on the inside too. What had happened to my plan? This was no good! I had tried being mean, and it only made me feel worse.
When the bell rang, I washed my face so no one would see how much I cried. The splotches went away. The bad feeling didn’t.
I sat in class and tried to think of a new plan. But I was stumped. If being mean didn’t work, what would?
At lunch I ate as fast as I could and then hurried outside to hide from Olivia. I sat by the wall and tried to squeeze all of me, even my shoes, inside its shadow.
When Olivia came outside, she didn’t notice me. She just strutted to the corner of the playground. I watched her play with a small rubber ball. She bounced and caught, bounced and caught, bounced and … didn’t catch. A boy on the playground caught it first.
“Give it back,” I heard Olivia tell the boy.
“No way, Ugly Face. I caught it,” the boy said.
“But it’s mine,” she said.
I felt like I should help her. Help Olivia? I thought. Help the bully who calls me “ugly” and makes me cry?
But Olivia was being bullied now. I knew how bad that felt. So I stepped out of the shadow and marched over to the boy.
“It’s hers,” I said. “Give it back.”
“No.” He laughed and waved it in front of Olivia’s face. Then he threw it as hard as he could and ran away. “See ya, losers!” he called over his shoulder.
He didn’t see where the ball went. He didn’t care. But I did. I saw it hit the basketball hoop. I saw it bounce twice and land in the grass. So I found it and took it to Olivia.
When I got close, I could see there were tears on her face. If there’s one thing I didn’t know Olivia could do, it’s cry.
I pretended I didn’t notice, though, so she wouldn’t feel embarrassed. “Here you go.”
Olivia took the ball. “Thank you,” she said. If there’s one thing I didn’t know Olivia could say, it’s “thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” If there’s one thing I didn’t know I could do, it’s feel good for being kind to Olivia.