In a flat windswept town small enough to be called sleepy, a little girl lived in the countryside within a big fenced yard that encircled the property.

There was a tall heavy gate that had to be opened to get outside the yard. And beyond that a two lane highway with cars whizzing past.

Three dogs and numerous cats kept her company. And she spun stories and made the pets characters during play.

Then she turned six and had to go outside the gates to an elementary school a few miles away. It was hard to imagine life beyond the big gate. A place she had to go five days a week.

That’s when everything changed.

It was there among all those children that she realized how different she was.

The children were loud and this made the little girl cringe. She didn’t like unexpected noises.

These children played on the outdoor equipment and raced one another. They played hopscotch and marbles and jacks. Their voices outside were unrestrained and loud.

Mostly she stood in a place backed up to shadows where she could watch them.

She wished that she’d never had to walk through the doors to the little brick school.

Going to school spoiled everything. It took away what she knew and relied on. Laid bare a truth she’d rather not have questioned.

It made her realize that really old ladies like her “mama” weren’t really parents. They were grandmas or great-grandmas.

This was apparent when she watched the children being picked up by much younger women with belted dresses and pretty shoes. And sometimes men dressed up for work.

Relatives sometimes came to visit and brought their children. They had two parents, but she had thought maybe that was an anomaly.

Once she went to school it all began to unravel. She realized that she was the anomaly. The one who stood out from the others.

Like hornets gathering in a nest, questions began to fill her head and she wondered if she dared to ask them.

Her “mama” didn’t like her asking questions. It made her angry and she would gaze up above the little girl’s head to some other place and time.

And so she was a quiet child, never causing trouble because that meant being noticed. She didn’t like people looking at her. It made her face feel too warm.

From an early age she yearned to be invisible. Then she could walk through town like a ghostly presence. She could see them but they couldn’t see her.

And then no one would have questioned who the small child was walking between the two old women.

Instead of looking at her she wished they could look straight through her to the other side.

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  1. I am not an avid book reader..but seems that you have a “gift” with your writing. Our childhoods surely make us who we are alot seems ..and sometimes define us as adults…as… memories are always with us, usually for life..! I was a shy child and when I had to go to first grade and leave my Mom..I was terrified…but, thank goodness I surely outgrew that for the most part..but, those who know me now know that I am not at all shy …but I do still prefer quiet times over peopley times….. I bet your story would be a great book. !!

  2. You write so beautifully ~ yes, you should write a book… And start it with this post ~

    I can imagine how awesome, and fearsome that may sound to you ~ but look at how many folk you have helped through your blog ~ you could reach so many more with a book!
    There is SO much strength and resilience in you, even if you don’t recognize it yourself ~

    Remember how many times I’ve told you you have healed yourself ~ your strength in that could help so many others…

    And you know we would all be standing right beside you, supporting you all the way ~

    Please consider it ~


  3. Brenda,
    Thank you for giving us glimpses into your childhood. So beautifully written. I appreciate you!❤️
    I agree that you should write a book.

  4. It is never easy to be different…especially as a child. My mom was young so my different-ness was not the same. I did not like standing out either. Still do not really. At least now that my hair is now no longer red, it has helped me to blend in some better. Even though I wish my hair now was as it was when younger, it was a cross to bear in elementary school especially, as was the name I was called by then (not Elizabeth).

  5. So beautifully expressed, I felt it deeply. Although I too was the child in the shady corner of the playground, I had both parents and a brother. Still, I felt – and was – different. It’s hard to be that child, and I think childhood is a difficult realm for many.
    Thanks, Brenda, for your fine writing. I write also. Using words to create something of beauty and empathy is a great gift. I have published in several journals, and if you’re interested, would send you links to your email.
    Hugs to you and the babies,

  6. It gives me pause to think that I was one of the relatives who sometimes (albeit rarely) came with my two parents to visit, and I never thought you different.

  7. You are such a gifted writer with words and images in my mind of what you are so eloquently saying. What a talent you share with us. So proud to read you and share your quiet life of your children, grandchildren, pets, books, gardening and decorating that we enjoy hearing about.

  8. Reflections of the past explain who we have become. I swear Brenda, you and I have lived such similar lives! The difference is that you are able to put your experiences into eloquent words. You help me straighten out the jumbled thoughts of my mind! Thank you!

  9. You showed your shopping cart with all the details but for some reason I cannot find where. Would you mind sharing again? I really would really appreciate it. I am moving and my garage is not connected to my home. I really do not want to make 5 trips to my car!! Anyway not in the winter in Nebraska! Thank you.

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