There was a girl at my school who never spoke a word. She had turquoise hair, a septum piercing, and she wore a green hoodie like a shell. We all called her Turtle Girl.
I don’t know why I called her that and laughed with the other kids. You see, I was unpopular like Turtle Girl. The only difference was that I talked, and she didn’t.
One day, some bullies hit me at recess. I wasn’t much of a fighter, so I took it for fear of worse. The other kids watched from a distance, some trying to defend me but most doing nothing. Turtle Girl sat on her own, away from me, the bullies, and the other kids. She chewed her sandwich and looked bored, until suddenly, she wasn’t. She stood up, walked over to the biggest bully hitting me, and she left her shell just like that. She rolled up the sleeves of her green hoodie and hit the bully.
When the bullies retreated, Turtle Girl left the scene. She didn’t say a word, just walked away. While the other kids talked, I followed her, spewing thanks and wonder. Turtle Girl remained silent.
Eventually, frustrated by her silence, I asked her, “Why did you help me?”
Turtle Girl blinked at me. “You looked like a turtle going into its shell,” she said, rolling back down her green sleeves. “I thought I’d help you, because you don’t have a shell.”
And just like that, she returned to her shell and resumed her lunch.
I never called her Turtle Girl again.
Patricia Jane Donato is the aspiring author of short stories, novels, poems, and maybe even graphic novels. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking in the woods, drawing manga, or chatting with her friends. Patricia’s work also appears in The WEIGHT Journal and Cathartic Literary Magazine.