She was a new kid on the block at a small school in rural America. Her Grandpa took her to her 2nd grade class on the first day. Mom was sick in the hospital. She didn’t know with what but whatever it was, it was for a long haul. A couple of months to be exact but to an 8 year old for whom routine was paramount, a day was too long.
She missed her teacher back home who had tears in her eyes as she walked out of the class with her Dad. Her new teacher wasn’t as forthcoming with affection. It would have helped if another student had taken her under their wing, but there were no volunteers. She kept the pain of the unfamiliar hidden from her grandparents. She suffered in silence.
Her little brother got a hold of one of her schoolbooks and wrote in it. A student sitting next to her saw the marking and threatened to tell the teacher. She was frightened at the prospect of being scolded by the teacher. She’d do anything to keep that from happening. The other student obliged by granting her silence in return for her forking over some of her packed lunch every day, especially the dessert. She kept up her end of the deal and lived on half a meal. She did not tell anyone about the blackmail. Not even her grandparents. She suffered in silence.
Her Mom got out of the hospital near the end of the school year. On her last day, the blackmailing student broke her hair clasp. Someone told the teacher and the student was punished and humiliated. The student whispered that she was going to tell the teacher about the book. By that time, her Grandpa had arrived to take her home. She walked away not knowing if her blackmailer did what she threatened to carry out or not.
Once she was in the bathroom and got up too close to her grandparent’s heater. She suffered a burn that was oddly in the shape of a flame on the back of one of her legs. It hurt pretty bad as one can imagine. But she stifled the scream she wanted to let out. She hid her burn with wearing long pants. She feared once again of being scolded. Common sense would have said that Grandma would have had compassion on her and put something on the burn. But instead, she suffered in silence.
Some weeks later, her Uncle took her for a piggyback ride on his horse. It was during the ride that her blister burst. Grandma noticed it and asked what had happened. She confessed about getting too close to the heater. She didn’t get in trouble for not telling, but she did bewilder the grown-ups as she often did.
The young girl is edging up close to 60 years of age. She learned only recently there’s a name for her odd pecularities. It is called autism.
Now I know why I suffer in silence.