I never know what to put here, so here's a story:
A classroom of adolescents are asked to print their name at the top
of a blank sheet of paper, place it on their desk, and leave their
seats. The object of the game is to mill about the room and write
one word on each sheet a paper. One word that you would use to
describe the person named at the top of that paper.
Nervously, a rotund girl in the back bites her lip, looks at the
male occupant of the desk beside her own, and attempts to dredge up
the courage to not barf. Her stomach always roils during group
projects and these, "icebreaker," exercises. While the teacher is
still trying to encourage students to break their usual cliques,
the girl indicates wordlessly to her best friend/huge crush/nearest
neighbor that she will write a word on his paper, now, before the
Trading papers she tries to imagine a whole person in one word.
Part of her mind wanders off down a road that considers if it's
even possible, while another part is listing known adjectives, and
the final more embarrassing and compelling part is simply thinking
of him. "Handsome..." She would die before ever letting
him know how she felt. "Kind..." Actually, she thinks she may be
dying just thinking about it too hard while he's in the room.
"Smart..." It could never go anywhere anyway.
Deciding that, "smart," is the least likely to offend or give away
her true feelings, she writes it carefully at the top of the page.
Looking over at his progress, while the teacher drones on in the
front of the room, she notices he has yet to write anything on her
paper. As he looks up and notices her attention he scribbles
something down quickly and hands it over.
Her mouth hangs open in pure terror. She reads the word again, and
detachedly contemplates how terror is probably not the way a person
usually responds to this sort of thing. Correctly reading her
reaction, though not her reasoning, he quickly reaches over and
erases the word replacing it with, "Nice." Blushing, he leaves his
seat and works his way around the room while avoiding eye
After the exercise she is left with a list of words, the first
entry being an eraser smudged, "nice," while the rest are typical
and amuse her in a wry sort of way.
The list goes on, but it's more of the same. She's both happy and
sad as she realizes no one really knows. No one knows she doesn't
bruise easily, and the ones that do appear are covered by her
secondhand over-sized clothing. Because, even at his worst, Daddy
knows better than to hit where people can see. No one knows she
loves school so much, because she's afraid to go home. No one
knows, and she's proud of it in a way. No one knows that she
believes if she could just be smarter, nicer, or prettier, he
wouldn't hit her anymore. If she could just love him harder, he'd