Chapter 3: Without flinching

144 75 3

"Judith, dinnertime," my Mom calls.

We are all sat around the kitchen table. Family meals are one of the highlights of my day. Between me, my mom and Rodrigo, we're never short of interesting conversation topics to discuss. Tomás doesn't take part, but I'm grateful for his presence anyway. He's eight years old; he doesn't speak but he rocks back and forth. He has a severe mental disability. Everything was fine until the day my mom gave birth. She had a really tough time. An invincible force held him hostage inside with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. When they finally managed to get him out, he was hardly breathing. But he clung on to life, and he's still here with us today.

My mom and brother don't take long to realize I'm angry:

"What's up, princess? Your eyes are as red as stop lights," asks my mom.

"That asshole Sandra posted another photo on Instagram making fun of me because I was out in the rain jumping in puddles."

"Screw her," says my brother.

"Rodrigo, don't encourage your sister. She doesn't need it,"

comments my mom.

"How can I just 'screw her', Rodrigo? When things always go her way, when everybody's scared of her and always take her side?" I ask.

"What does she have against you, honey?" asks my mom in the sweetest tone.

"I don't know, Mom. I don't talk to her, I don't look at her, I don't suck up to her... She's the most boring, insignificant person I've ever met. It's like she's out of some series, a mediocre soap opera, surrounded by her even more mediocre gang. She doesn't interest me in the slightest, not a single thing she says or does appeals to me. She's average, too normal." My voice gets louder as I finish the sentence.

"Well it's obvious that's what she can't stand about you: that you don't sing her praises. She feels threatened by you. Unfortunately, in life there are a lot of people like that: who don't let others live their own lives—instead they want to control and force people into liking them and, obviously, that never works, she observes calmly.

"So what do I do, Mom? Tell her I admire her? And after what they did to Juan, I think they're the cruelest people in the world."

I tell my family what happened.

Juan was having a great time. He suddenly felt important, part of the most popular group at school. They invited him to all the parties and it seemed like he was well and truly part of the royal court. Gonzalo told Juan that Lucía was crazy about him. She came over to him and whispered sweet nothings in his ear under the watchful gaze of her queen. Under the spell of the lady-in-waiting's charm, he started to feel like something he wasn't. They all exchanged knowing glances, laughing at him in silence. They had a macabre plan for him.

Gonzalo made him believe that at the next party at Paula's, Lucía would be waiting for him naked in one of the bedrooms. After one too many drinks, Juan stumbled into where he thought his lover was awaiting him. He was so nervous he couldn't even get his clothes off. He shyly got into the bed and touched the form under the covers beside him. To his surprise, his hands met something large and hairy. Suddenly, the lights came on and to his horror he discovered the body next to him was an enormous teddy bear and he was surrounded by a dozen people all shouting, pointing and laughing at him. Juan was paralyzed with embarrassment. The shock was so brutal that he peed himself. He couldn't move

for more than an hour, to the point that even after everybody else had left the room, Juan was still sat there motionless next to the bear. He was unable to react, his brain couldn't process the situation. Everything in the past few months had been fake, it was all a sham? Who had come up with the idea of the bear?

The image of Gonzalo laughing at him and high-fiving Sandra to the cry of

"we did it!" was burned into his memory. He felt more alone than ever and a kind of sad rage choked him for months. Meanwhile, the monarchy loudly celebrated the grand humiliation. They posted photos that still circulated around school a year later. "Teddy bears turn Juan on," was the adjoining caption.

As soon as we heard the news, we all went straight to his house. He was crying with rage and embarrassment for falling into their trap, he beat himself up over it for months. We were glad to have our friend back, though we would have preferred it not to have come at such a high price.

"What a bunch of assholes! We're going to come up with a strategy, a foolproof plan. I know their kind... I've had to take their bullshit, too," says my brother with determination.

"A plan? What kind of plan?" I ask.

"I'm sure we can find a way to teach them a lesson once and for all, so they let people live their lives in peace. You'll see..."

"Rodrigo, don't go getting your sister into trouble, she's already having a hard time as it is," interrupts my mom.

"It's not trouble, Mom. It's about not letting them walk all over you, using your intelligence to be respected. The worst thing you can do is chicken out. Why don't you get your friends over? I'm sure we'll think of something."

UnpopularWhere stories live. Discover now