The Backpack

Once there was girl who always wore a backpack.

The girl was quiet. She had very few friends, but she didn’t seem to mind. She didn’t seem to mind anything.

She paid little attention when the other children called her names. She ignored the kids who told her she was ugly or stupid or unwanted.

She just walked quietly through the halls, carrying her backpack.

Until one day, she collapsed.

The other children gathered the girl lying motionless on the floor.

Someone tried to pull the backpack off her.

It was unbelievably heavy. It was crushing her.

Someone opened it.

The backpack was full of words.

Flippant words. Cruel words. Every one of them heavy as a rock.

Some words had been sitting there so long they had begun to grow new words like mold.

As the children studied them, they began to feel enormously uncomfortable.

For they began to recognize the words.

They were words they had given her.

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