“Touch it.” she demanded. It was 2nd grade and I was with my friend in the bathroom and there was a dead hornet hanging from an abandoned spider web. I was shaking, scared out of my wits, stomach churning. It didn’t matter whether it was dead or alive, I hated bees, wasps, hornets, whatever.
“Come on, I dare you.” she hissed.
Dare. A word that carries significant weight when you’re under 10.
I walked towards it. I tried reaching out for it, but my mind forced my arm to retract quickly. I tried it again. But I couldn’t.
So I was punished by the swift, needle-like pinch of her fingernails, yanking the skin on my arm.
Years later she asked me why I was still her friend, why I stayed, even after how awful she had treated me. I don’t know if even now I know the answer. I know I can be a pushover, sometimes too kind for my own good, reserved, compliant.
They say the meek shall inherit the earth. With that said, the only thing I can think that kept me going was curling up into a ball, still as stone, waiting for my inheritance.