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School Bus

I was fifteen. A girl, about age six, held between pink mittens her art project:
cardboard laden with glued-on macaroni in a heart shape, red yarn spelling
M-O-M-M-Y. When the bus took off, a boy began to rip off macaroni and throw
them at the crying girl. The bus driver’s eyes in the mirror suggested I should
handle this. My ​stop it! only made him run up and down the aisle mock-screaming
help, help.​ While I remained fifteen, I became the girl whose world had been
crushed. (How the boys put rocks inside snowballs they threw at me when I was her
age.) I shoved this boy into a seat and told him the story of the boy who cried wolf,
describing blood and teeth. I should have stopped, but I said no one cared the boy
was dead, the village was happier without him, and I kept ranting, telling the boy no
one would love him, ever, not even his own mother, until we turned into each
other—he the crying girl and me the tormentor. And I was caught off guard by a
surge of something that felt, for a moment, like . . . winning? When the bus braked,
macaroni rattled under our seats.