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Outside with the neighborhood kids.
Acorn Street Where all the Nuts Liv
A Pitch in Time by joann r romei
 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: April 11, 2012      Views: 436
Prologue Prologue 1 2 3 

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With trepidation, I approached the group and almost said Ciao.

They leered for what seemed to be the length of the intermission during The Godfather, then broke into evil grins. The leader was a lanky boy with pants that needed hemming. I thought he was cute and wanted him to like me. I smiled, hoping I looked pretty, and that he'd invite me over for that peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

"Look who's here? Garlic breath." he snickered.

"How's your pet chicken?" A voice from the left said.

"We don't want to associate with people who have gardens on the front lawn." A voice from the back spewed.

This was exactly what happened last time. What was it about them that hated me for being different, and eating garlic. Nona always said it was good for you. Especially, when eaten raw. I didn't know, mortified, my head dropped because I didn't want them to see me cry. They'd call me a big baby .

The leader pointed at me. "You're weird, just like that old lady who dresses in black. You even have a mustache like her."

They broke into hysterical laughter. The sound magnified and my sadness shifted into anger. I felt rage percolate in my body as heat beat on my scalp. Sweat ran down my back, and suddenly it did not matter that I liked garlic, or was Italian, or would never be invited over for peanut butter and jelly. There was no way I was going to let them disrespect Nona. Just last week she spoon fed me pastina on the couch because I was ill with a fever. She was generous and gave all of the neighbors little lunch bags with tomatoes from her garden. She knew how to treat people. Not like these creeps.

My fist clenched tight and something about defending green, red and white, pizza made me strike him hard on the lip. He made a face like Stymie from the Little Rascals. It was the shock of being struck that surprised him more than the actual blow. The others turned in slow motion to face me, then him. I instinctively knew I was in danger. Boys never want to be humiliated by a girl, especially in front of their peers.

"Get her." He spat.

I hadn't lace my Keds properly, and as I turned to run, I fell on my knees. Large fingers grabbed the back of my shirt and lifted me up. I braced myself because slaps, kicks and punches were landing on my back, arms and legs. Not hard enough to cause major wounds, but each strike damaged the place inside me where joy and love come from. In between snot, sweat and tears, I swung violently to protect myself. Like a wild animal, I attempted to fight back. But one against five was hopeless.

The beating suddenly stopped at the sound of a splat. I wiped my eyes and noticed the leader's chest was covered in red. At first I thought it was blood. Then I heard another splat and something landed smack on another kid's face. I blinked and noticed seeds and pulp. Like a round of gun shots, a stream of red balls whizzed through the air and landed on the arms, bodies, and faces of the neighbor hood kids.

"What the..."

We turned and saw Nona hurling tomatoes at super speed. She removed a tomatoe stick, held it out like a gladiator and screamed, " Sumna'beeches! Get away from my granddaughter!"

They stepped back slowly and cried, "Told ya' the old lady was crazy ,let's get outta here."

In a blur of flesh, denim and tomatoe puree, they tore down the street. I watched them scatter like a bunch of ants. Glad they were gone, I ran to Nona, and threw my arms around her thick waist. She didn't say a word and led me inside. Grumbling in Italian, she cleaned my face with a cool rag. I was panting and my body shook. Finally I said, " They pulled out my earring, I heard it land on the street."

"Shh, we will get it later." The expression on her ancient face was full of pity for me and I could not bear it. She was right, I should have stayed indoors with her. The minestrone simmered in the cast iron pot, and the chicken was roasting in the oven. The smells were medicinal and comforting. Luckily she arrived when she did, or else I would have been seriously hurt. Still, I could not help wondering how she learned how to throw like that?

Nona sighed deeply, as I tried to act as if the bulling had not happened. Sitting at the table staring straight ahead, I pretended not to care but the tears kept falling. I thought about telling my parents but then they would march right up to the homes of these kids and yell and scream at their parents in Italian. It wouldn't solve a thing because they wouldn't be able to understand a word.

Finally, she shrugged and said. "What's the use crying about it." And placed a bowl of soup in front of me. I inhaled and ate every last drop.

Then slowly I braided my hair, changed back into my sandles and put on my mal occhia necklace. Ignoring my English books, I decided it was time for a history lesson, the only one that mattered the most to me now.

" Nona... can you tell me how Rome ruled the world centuries ago?"


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