Name Calling by Tonya Adams

My mom stood on the front porch with one hand holding the door open and one hand on her hip. “But Mom, Ellie Mae is the prettiest girl in the sixth grade. Now everybody wants to be her friend,” I said.

“Why does someone being pretty and funny make you not want to go to school,” Mom said.

“Because Ellie Mae decided the only way to be popular was to make fun of me.”

“You can ignore little Ellie Mae, or I can come up to the school and take care of things, but you might not like the consequences.”

“Fine! I’ll be the only kid in six grade ignoring Ellie Mae.” I walked out the house to continue what was turning out to be my worst year of school so far and I ignored Ellie Mae. I ignored her until she started making fun of my mom.

For no reason, she walked up to Lisa and Kate, the only friends I had left, and me and said, “Candice, your mom is an old witch.” An old witch? Who says that? My friends and other kids close enough to hear laughed like it was the funniest joke in the world.

Everyday Ellie Mae told me my mom was an old witch. Before I knew it, everybody, even Lisa and Kate, called my mom an Old Witch. “You have to admit she does look like an old witch,” Kate said to Lisa when she didn’t notice me standing behind them.

But Ellie Mae saved her best until the last day of the sixth grade. As I sat alone under my favorite tree, Ellie Mae walked towards me in what seemed like slow motion. With every step she took, another kid fell in step behind her. It looked as if everybody in six grade recess was behind her by the time she stopped in front of me. She put both hands on her hips and hurled “Yo momma” jokes at me. She found them on and upgraded them to “Yo momma, the Old Witch”, jokes.

“Yo momma, the Old Witch is so old I told her to act her age, and she died.”

I jumped up and stood in front of her. She didn’t move. I put my hands on my hips, but no words come out of my mouth.

She said, “Yo momma, the Old Witch is so old her birth certificate is in Roman numerals.”

“Oh yeah, ….”

She said, “Yo momma, the Old Witch is so old she took her driver’s test on a dinosaur.”

“oh yeah, oh yeah. She’s younger than your mother.”

After that exchange, I spent the summer alone – sitting around watching my mother gathering plants from her wild garden, or stirring her brew in a giant pot on the outdoor fire pit, or chanting from her old books. But by the end of the summer, I had a plan for the new school year to shut up Ellie Mae for good.

My new middle school held a meet and greet for the incoming 7th grade class every year on the eve of the first day of school. I told my mom that the start time was 30 minutes earlier than the actual time. I didn’t come out of the bathroom until she was standing on the front porch holding the door.

“Candy Baby, let’s go. I want to meet all the parents and teachers before we see the class rooms,” she said.

I walked to the door, froze and said, “Is that what you’re wearing? Never mind.” I took her by her arm. “I had the time wrong and we have plenty of time to fix you up. It will be practice for when I become a stylist.” Then I went to work.

I got out the green face mask the clerk at the store told me was sure to make any woman look young and smeared it all over her face and neck. And since we didn’t have much time, I sat her under the drier to make sure it had time to dry. I got out her floor length black cloak to cover her outdated clothes. Next I search for a hat that would cover her long, wild, and gray hair.

It took a while, but I was able to find a tall hat that would hold all Mom’s hair. Now we were running late. I grabbed her from under the dryer and attempted to rinse the mask, but it was too dry and hard. I wrapped her in the cloak and shoved all her hair in the hat. I didn’t have time to take out the chop sticks she used to hold her bun in place, so her hat had an odd point at the very top. But I couldn’t stop now. We were late, and I knew we would have to run. I gave Mom a stick from the garden to use as a staff to help her run faster and keep up with me.

Mom was doing great until she tripped outside the gym where the teachers, parents, and all the kids were gathered. She didn’t hurt herself, but she broke the staff and held only an 18 inch pointy stick. I was sure we arrived before everyone disbursed to see the new class rooms. Just to make sure, I shoved Mom through the double doors. We made enough noise to attract everyone’s attention. All conversation ceased. Then Ellie Mae screamed, “Witch!”

I let out a sigh of relief. No one called my Mom old. Not that day or any day since.


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