She was taller than the rest of us. I can’t remember her name, but I can see her face, always frightened, with her eyes looking around a little lost, as looking for help. She had trouble with words. I had trouble too. This is why I understood her so much.
I remember one day the teacher was asking us for the meaning of the word “maybe” and we had to tell her sentences with that word properly used. She did wrong and everybody laugh. I didn’t. I thought it was cruel. I experienced so many times the laughing of the other kids at my way of speaking, so strange for them because Spanish was my second language, than I could figure out what she was going through. The uncertainty, the distress, the shame, the willing to disappear, to go home with mom and dad, and don’t come back to school ever.
I knew the situation. The most you try to do it right, the most you think to find the right word, the most probabilities you have to say something wrong and provoke more laughs. No mistake. There is no way to avoid jokes and shame. You have to live with it. And is not easy until you stop worrying about it. But you stop worrying when you grow up, and she didn’t have the chance.
She had trouble with more things. I didn’t know, we didn’t know, but she was sick. She was older than us, this is why she was taller. She had some brain disease and she died too young as a child. Then nobody at our class laugh any more. All the kids cried for her. And everybody had to have help to understand why somebody have to go to heaven so soon. School and life are sometimes very cruel.