Potato harvest bullies (from The Book) work in progress

September had arrived, bringing with it the crisp air and the anticipation of the potato harvest. Sarah, now eleven years old, was finally considered old enough to join the adults and older children in the fields. It was a rite of passage she had been eagerly waiting for, but little did she know that this experience would bring both joy and heartache.

On the first day of the harvest break, Sarah found herself amidst a group of kids her age. They were rowdy and boisterous, making her feel like an outsider. Their laughter echoed through the fields as they playfully teased one another. Unfortunately, Sarah became the target of their mockery. They called her names, made fun of her worn-out clothes, and even pushed her around.

One afternoon, while digging through the soil in search of potatoes, Sarah uncovered a wriggling worm. The other children seized the opportunity to further humiliate her, demanding that she eat the squirming creature. Sarah’s eyes welled up with tears as she gagged and swallowed half the worm, she begged the group to let her be at that but her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Just when Sarah thought her world couldn’t get any darker, a familiar voice cut through the laughter and jeers. It was Allison, a girl her age who had always seemed distant. Allison stepped forward, her eyes filled with determination and compassion. She confronted the bullies, defending Sarah with a courage that she had not shown before.

The children fell silent as Allison’s words rang out, scolding them for their cruelty and urging them to treat others with kindness. Her unexpected act of bravery touched Sarah’s heart, filling it with gratitude and hope. She knew she had to find a way to express her appreciation to Allison for her support.

That evening, Sarah, a pen in her hand, poured her heart out onto paper. She wrote a poem, carefully crafting each word with love and admiration:

“Allison is an angel with wings of gold,

she is so lovely and tender to behold.

She has a diamond halo, so lovely is she,

my heart is filled with tenderness every time she looks at me.”

Sarah practiced reciting the poem over and over, determined to share her heartfelt tribute with Allison. The following day, she gathered the courage to stand before the children and recite her poem. However, instead of the applause and admiration she had envisioned, laughter erupted from the crowd.

Feeling a wave of humiliation wash over her, Sarah looked into Allison’s eyes, hoping for support. But to her dismay, Allison’s face was contorted with disdain. She told Sarah not to bother her and walked away, leaving Sarah standing alone, tears streaming down her face.

Devastated and hurt by Allison’s rejection, Sarah retreated into herself. She questioned the sincerity of their previous encounter, wondering if it had all been an act. In her heartache, Sarah found solace in writing another poem, one she vowed to keep to herself:

“Once so very kind to me, now so very cruel,

your wings of gold have turned to dust.

You’ve taken me as a fool.

When I look into your eyes,

you frighten me so.

You’re no longer the angel

that I used to know.

Times have changed,

and we have changed.

There’s nothing I can do,

except only as you once were

will I remember you.”

Sarah wiped away her tears and took a deep breath. She realized that Allison wasn’t the kind and gentle girl she thought she was, but that didn’t mean she had to let her words or actions hurt her. Sarah continued to work hard in the potato fields and tried to ignore the bullying from the other children.

Sarah thought the poems were good, despite the circumstances around them. She decided to share the two poems with her new pen pal, Mr. Salie.

Mr. Salie was an older gentleman who lived in her neighborhood. He was a poet like her. Sarah had started corresponding with him after they met at the little library book box a few months ago. They would put letters to each other in the book box that he had built outside his house. She found comfort in their letters, where she could express her thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment.

In her next letter to Mr. Salie, Sarah poured her heart out about her experience with Allison and the disappointment she felt. She enclosed both poems, hoping he would understand her pain and offer some guidance.

Days passed, and Sarah eagerly awaited Mr. Salie’s response. When his letter finally appeared in the book box, she carefully opened it and began to read. Mr. Salie expressed his admiration for Sarah’s courage in sharing her poems, acknowledging the vulnerability it took to reveal her emotions.

He empathized with her and shared a story from his own childhood about a friend who had let him down. Mr. Salie’s words reminded Sarah that disappointments and betrayals were part of life, but they didn’t define who she was. He encouraged her to stay true to herself and not let the actions of others diminish her spirit.

Mr. Salie also offered a piece of advice that struck a chord within Sarah’s young heart. He told her that even in the face of cruelty, she should strive to hold onto the goodness she saw in Allison, even if it had been obscured by hurtful actions. He suggested that sometimes people lash out because they are battling their own demons, and it’s important to approach them with empathy.

Sarah reflected on Mr. Salie’s words, finding strength in his wisdom. She realized that holding onto anger and resentment would only weigh her down. Instead, she decided to embrace forgiveness and understanding.

With renewed determination, Sarah took a deep breath and confronted Allison the next day. She approached her with kindness and expressed her hurt and confusion. To Sarah’s surprise, Allison’s demeanor softened, and tears welled up in her eyes.

Allison admitted that she had been struggling with her own insecurities and had felt pressured to fit in with the other children. She apologized for her hurtful behavior and acknowledged the courage it took for Sarah to stand up for herself.

The two girls began to talk and share their experiences, discovering that they both carried wounds from the harsh realities of growing up. As their conversation progressed, a bond formed between them—a bond built on understanding, forgiveness, and the hope for a fresh start.

As the September harvest break came to an end, Sarah looked back on the entire experience, realizing that the journey had transformed her. She had learned not only the power of forgiveness but also the resilience of her own spirit. Sarah knew that life would present her with more hurdles, but armed with the lessons learned, she was ready to face whatever came her way, confident in her ability to rise above cruelty and find compassion in unexpected places.

The poem Mr. Salie shared

In childhood innocence, friendships were true,

A bond that blossomed, vibrant and new.

But now, my friend, how can it be,

That you’ve turned into someone I can’t see?

It’s sad when people change and become someone new,

Leaving behind the good times and making you feel blue.

I wonder where the laughter went,

Replaced by silence, a heart heavy with lament.

I struggle to understand why you act this way,

What happened to the words we used to say?

But sometimes people change, they don’t know what to say,

Lost in a maze of emotions, trying to find their way.

Mr. Salie also wrote a poem for Sarah,

It’s okay to feel hurt and let yourself be sad,

To mourn the loss of what we once had.

For friendships, like seasons, may come and go,

Leaving fragments of memories, bittersweet and slow.

Yet, hold onto the hope that resides deep within,

Those things will get better, and healing will begin.

And as for that person who changed, my dear,

Remember them as they were, the angel you held near.

Though now they’re a blur, a stranger in disguise,

Recall the love and joy that once lit up the skies.

In your heart, keep the image of the friend who was true,

For their essence remains, even if obscured from view.

Life’s journey will bring both joy and strife,

And friendships may shift like the tides of life.

But cherish the moments, the laughter, and the fun,

And know that in your heart, memories will not be undone.

So let the sadness fade, like shadows in the light,

Embrace the future, where new friendships ignite.

For in the tapestry of life, threads may come undone,

But love’s enduring spirit will always be won.


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