He stood among his friends from school;
he joined their childhood games.
Laughing as they played kickball,
and when they called poor Sarah names.
Sarah was unlike the rest;
she was slow and not too smart.
And it would seem to all his friends;
she was born without a heart.
And so he gladly joined their fun,
of making Sarah cry.

But somewhere deep within his heart,
he never knew just why.
For he could hear his mother's voice,
her lessons of right and wrong.
Playing over and over inside his head,
just like a favorite song.
"Treat others with respect son,
the way you'd want them treating you.
And remember, when you hurt others,
someday, someone might hurt you."

He knew his mother wouldn't understand,
the purpose of their game.
Of teasing Sarah, who made then laugh,
as her own tears fell like rain.
The funny faces that she made,
and the way she'd stomp her feet.
Whenever they mocked the way she walked
or stutter when she'd speak.

To him she must deserve it,
because she never tried to hide.
And if she truly wanted to be left alone,
then she should stay inside.
But every day she'd do the same;
She'd come outside to play.
And stand there, tears upon her face,
too upset to run away.

The game would soon be over,
as tears dropped from her eyes.
For the purpose of their fun,
was making Sarah cry.
It was nearly two whole months;
he hadn't seen his friends.
He was certain they all must wonder,
what happened and where he'd been.

So he felt a little nervous,
as he limped his way to class.
He hoped no one would notice,
he prayed no one would ask.
About that awful day;
The day his bike met with a car.
Leaving him with a dreadful limp,
and a jagged- looking scar.

So he held his breath a little,
as he hobbled into the room.
Where inside he saw a
"Welcome Back" banner,
and lots of red balloons.
He felt a smile cross his face,
as his friends all smiled too.
And he couldn't wait to play outside,
his favorite thing to do.

So the second that he stepped outdoors,
and saw his friends all waiting there.
He expected a few pats on the back,
instead, they all stood back and stared.
He felt his face grow hotter,
as he limped to join their side.
To play a game of kickball,
and of making Sarah cry.

An awkward smile crossed his face,
when he heard somebody laugh.
And heard the words, "Hey freak,
where'd you get the ugly mask?"
He turned, expecting Sarah,
but Sarah could not be seen.
It was the scar upon his own face,
that caused such words so mean.

He joined in their growing laughter,
trying hard not to give in.
To the awful urge inside to cry,
or the quivering of his chin.
They are only teasing;
he made himself believe.
They are still my friends;
they'd never think of hurting me.

But the cruel remarks continued,
about the scar and then his limp.
And he knew if he shed a single tear,
they'd label him a wimp.
And so the hurtful words went on,
and in his heart he wondered why.
But he knew without a doubt,
the game would never end,
until they made him cry.

And just when a tear had formed,
he heard a voice speak out from behind.
"Leave him alone you bullies,
because he's a friend of mine."
He turned to see poor Sarah,
determination on her face.
Sticking up for one of her own tormentors,
and willing to take his place.

And when his friends did just that,
trying their best to make poor Sarah cry.
This time he didn't join in and at last,
understood exactly why.
"Treat others with respect son,
the way you'd want them treating you.
And remember when you hurt others,
someday, someone might hurt you."

It took a lot of courage,
but he knew he must be strong.
For at last he saw the difference,
between what's right and wrong.
And Sarah didn't seem so weird,
through his understanding eyes.
Now he knew he'd never play again,
the games of making Sarah cry.

It took several days of teasing,
and razzing from his friends.
But when they saw his strength,
they chose to be like him.
And now out on that playground,
a group of kids meet everyday.
For a game of kickball and laughter,
and teaching their new friend,
Sarah, how to play.

1998 Cheryl Costello-Forshey

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Painting used 'The Little Marauder' ~~ William-Adolphe Bouguereau