Nina & Meana
“You’re out again!” called Rachel, as she ran to pick up the ball Nina had just kicked out of bounds. Nina frowned, then marched over to the slide. Halfway up the ladder, she stopped, the rungs blocked by a sign. “Do not use! Wet paint.”
Nina frowned again. Today was becoming a BAD day. She clenched her fists and barged over to the hopscotch corner of the basketball court.
As she bent down to pick up a stone to use, Olivia shouted, “Sorry, Nina! Too many girls are playing already. Come back later.”
Pouting, Nina threw the stone in the dirt. As she stamped away, her face grew hot. Definitely a BAD day. The more she thought about it, the angrier she grew. Why was everybody so mean to her? Her arms and legs cramped and tingled. I hate them!
Nina began to cry, but it turned into a growl. Fangs filled her mouth, claws sprouted from her fingers, and she looked down to see her legs twist and knot like tree trunks.
“Nina! What’s wrong?” gasped her teacher, Miss Waldorf.
“I’m not Nina. I’m Meana!” snarled Nina. “And I want to play hopscotch!”
Olivia looked up and shrieked. Girls scattered as Meana bent down and snatched up the marker stones.
How can I play hopscotch with no one to play with? Meana sneered and dropped the rocks. Fine! I’ll just go back to kickball. Meana stomped back toward the field.
Where was everyone?
Children peered out from under bushes and behind benches. Miss Waldorf peeked around the slide, while Brandon, the biggest boy in the class, scrambled up the monkey bars.
“I want to play!” yelled Meana. “And I don’t want to always be out!” She kicked the ball. It sailed away as it bounced off her foot. How can you play kickball by yourself? Tears burned her eyes. As they rolled down her face and hit the ground, she watched them sizzle in the dirt. Flopping down, Meana howled.
Boys and girls peeped from their hiding places, watching fearfully. Meana kept crying. “All I wanted is to play with someone,” she sniffed.
Soon recess would be over. Meana got up and trudged to the water fountain. Bending to drink, she glimpsed herself in the metal. What a scary face! She was a monster. No wonder no one wanted to play!
Meana ran back to the playground. “I’m sorry,” she called. “I don’t want to be a monster! I didn’t mean to be so nasty.”
No one moved.
“Please? I just wanted to play…” Meana tried to smile. It still looked rather like a grimace. Her shoulders drooped, and she hung her head. “It’s OK. I wouldn’t want to play with me, either.”
One brave little girl crept out of her hiding place. Meana didn’t notice.
“Hey, Meana!” Hanna held up her super-bounce ball and her pouch of jacks. “You can play jacks with me.” She smiled, just a little.
Meana sniffed again. “I can?” Her voice cracked. “Thank you, Hanna!”
She swiped a hand across her eyes. Wait a minute? A hand? No claws? She looked down at her legs. No longer twisted and gnarled, yesterday’s pink bandage was starting to peel off a normal right knee.
“Hurry up! Recess will be over soon.” Hanna held out the ball toward Nina, no longer Meana.
“No, you go first.” Nina grinned, skipping over to her friend. Today was becoming a GREAT day.