In eighth grade, I was a short gay Asian kid with pimples and a mullet. I was awkward, just like everyone is at that age. My weirdness mostly blended in with everyone else’s; I had good friends and people liked me.
Except Maria. She sat behind me in English class. Every day, we’d shuffle into Mr. Anderson’s room for the last class of the day, I quickly learned to begrudge the seating arrangement. Maria hated me for some reason. I may have known why at the time, but I don’t think I did. She’d say horrible things to me, whispering them in my ear. When I didn’t pass papers back quickly enough, she’d shove me in the back of the head: “Come on. Pass ’em back. What’s wrong with you?” I was known in middle school for being a smart ass jerk to teachers, using my witty repartee to put…
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