That word, directed at me in the middle of a crowded hall at my junior high, made my face hot while simultaneously turning the rest of my body to ice. I darted into class, my heart racing, fumbling to find my place in the latest Stephen King novel, a sanctuary from the pitfalls of social interaction within the public school system--until now.
Cora Lang. I remember her name to this day, just as I remember the fear she instilled within me, and my absolute bewilderment at just how this girl had gone from being a semi-friend--someone I had once had over to my house in the fourth grade--to my mortal enemy in the sixth.
Cora Lang had a port wine birthmark that spread across her chin. I remember this. I remember not thinking too much about it when she came to my house. But my father also has a birthmark on the left side of his face, and he took it upon himself to try to talk to Cora about their shared birthright while she was visiting.
At the time, even I didn't understand. In all honesty, I was jeaulous. What the hell did Cora have that made her so much more interesting to my father than me? In hindsight, I see what my father was trying to do; just as I see Cora's reaction, her dislike towards me, which kindled into a kind of hatred that simmered in the halls of our junior high and came to a boil every time I had the misfortune of crossing her path. My father had pointed something out to her. Something I was missing. Something she shared with him that I should have had. I understand the psychology behind it now.
I didn't then.
My parents took me out of school at the beginning of the sixth grade. I had developed an eating disorder, and would go into the hospital shortly thereafter.
Once, while walking to the store with my mother, we passed Cora on the other side of the street.
My face burned.
"Hey, Cora...Fuck you!"
Having my mother by my side made me bolder, but she scolded me for my language and went across the street to try to reason with my tormentor as I stood there--embarrassed, alone, and cold.