Serena and The UFO

Once upon a time a long, long time ago, there was a little girl whose name was Serena.

Serena had dark, short hair and bright eyes and big red lips. Serena never wore dresses—she actually hated them—and loved to play with the boys. Serena even wished she herself could be a boy one day, even trying to pee standing up like the boys.

Whenever she was allowed, Serena would walk, run, or ride her bike to the playground closest to her home. There were swings and slides and monkey bars and a teeter totter. There was even this merry go round type of ride the kids would jump on and hold onto while another one or two kids ran pushing it faster and faster round and round in a circle. But Serena’s favorite piece of playground equipment at this playground was what she liked to call The UFO.

the ufo fm

The UFO erected from the ground about halfway in the playground—just past the teeter totter and before the row of swings. There was a thick metal tube ladder Serena would climb and that would bring her right into The UFO, which was this metal round contraption with windows overlooking the entire playground.

If she was the only person inside, she’d hide quietly and watch. Sometimes other kids would join her and that was okay too, but mostly Serena liked to be alone in The UFO.

She liked watching everyone come and go into the playground—especially if they didn’t know she was in The UFO. She liked watching how people interacted—especially when they thought nobody was watching. She liked lying inside The UFO, feeling the cool metal against her legs and arms, trying to read the graffiti scribbled all around her. She liked closing her eyes and listening to the echo from the rest of the world outside The UFO shoot up from the ground below.

Serena felt special when she was in The UFO alone, like she was the one in charge. The UFO was her safe haven.

When she fought with friends or family, she’d run to The UFO for comfort. No matter what was going on, The UFO was there for her always. Right in the middle of the playground, amidst the newer play equipment and screaming, laughing children stood this old, rusting “UFO”. But to Serena it was like a warm, tight hug and she enjoyed visiting anytime she could.

Although Serena has moved more than a dozen times and has entered more than a couple decades since those days, she will never forget about The UFO.

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Inspired by the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge. This happens to be a story I tell my 3-year-old daughter sometimes when she begs for another story before drifting off to sleep.

 

the boy with the long dark hair

General* Elementary School. 1985.

We had just moved and I was starting General as an 8th grader. Of course I was the only new girl. Of course they all instantly hated me. I wore high tops and flannels. I didn’t wear make-up. I listened to Bryan Adams. I didn’t give a shit about fitting in, but it would’ve been nice to have a friend or two.

One girl did befriend me after a week or so. She was the skinniest girl ever. They called her Skeletor. I was evil because inside my head I laughed at this, but only because I understood it…why they would call her that: she was just SO skinny.

I also understood what an asshole that made me.

 

I remember walking home with Skeletor one fall afternoon. Our feet crunched the leaves littering the ground while a motley group of classmates’ cackles, quite a distance behind us, echoed. We didn’t really think much of it till we got outside Skeletor’s home and the group started calling out to us. Skeletor asked if I would be okay going home on my own (another 4 blocks away) or if I wanted to go inside with her.

I was too bad-ass to go in her house; I couldn’t let anyone know that I might actually be afraid of those assholes.

She went home.

I tried cutting through the alley.

The group of kids soon all circled around me. They called me names. Laughed at me. Taunted me. One girl then lunged toward me and took my back pack. They asked if I would cry. They wouldn’t give up. They kept egging me on trying to have a reason to pummel me. Then one boy with long dark hair took my back pack and threw it way up high in the air. It flew over all of our heads and landed more into the alley (we were just at the entrance). We all seemed to watch it fly in slow motion. I followed it by lunging my way out of the group and picking up the bag and running as fast as I could. I didn’t stop running until I got home. That’s when I finally looked to see if anyone else had followed me but, as always, I was alone.

I got into our basement apartment and collapsed against the door in tears. When I got the strength, I went to all the windows and doors to make sure everything was locked.

When my mom finally got home, I begged her to let me stay home; but the next day, not only did I have to go to school, she was kind enough to drive me there—something she never did before or after that day.

I waited till the last possible moment that morning to get in line to enter the school, and that’s when the boy with long dark hair came running into the playground. When he saw that I was the last person in the playground, he stopped running so fast. Our eyes met and before I dropped mine, he nodded his head a bit at me with a grin.

That’s when it dawned on me that he was trying to help me the whole time.

I never really thanked him.

 

 

* not real name

 

 I remember (freestyle memory)