Alex
Arya, Age 11, Charlotte, NC

Alex was different. He had black hair, blue eyes and pale skin. There was one thing about him that people defined as “different.” He had autism.

He didn’t have friends and liked to be by himself. He went to a normal school, but people there hated him. They bullied him, excluded him and teased him. Some of the teachers singled him out and had him answer difficult questions.

Alex hated this. He wanted to be treated like everyone else and not like a strange outcast.

Each day it got worse and worse. One day he was walking home from school when three large kids jumped from a bush and attacked him mercilessly. They took his bag, called him names, and left laughing. Alex lay on the cement and let the tears fall from his bruised face.

Tomorrow was the school talent show. He would show them he was just like them and finally fit in.

****

Alex waited backstage and listened to the other performers and the loud clapping that followed after. He pulled back the curtain from where he was waiting and turned to get his performance ready. Standing right behind him was one of the same boys who had ambushed him. The boy was holding his paper for the performance and sneering at Alex said, “What do we have here?” He scanned his eyes over Alex’s paper and tore it in half. Alex whimpered as the boy ripped it in smaller and smaller pieces. “It was worthless anyway,” the boy mocked. He looked Alex in his eyes and muttered, “So are you.”

The boy swung his fist and lashed into Alex. The boy bruised Alex’s face over and over again and silently Alex let the boy push him around. The boy kicked and then, without a warning, pushed Alex through the curtains.

The light blinded Alex’s eyes. He looked around and found that he was on stage. Approximately a thousand eyes were pointed at him. Slowly he walked up to the microphone and coughed. The entire auditorium was silent. “My name is Alex” Alex spoke, not knowing what came over him. He had never spoken to this many people. “I have autism,” Alex continued. He slowly started talking about himself. As he built momentum he felt something that he had never felt before. Confidence. Alex talked for ten minutes without anyone saying a word.

He talked about how people hated him and how he suffered. “My name is Alex,” Alex said as he ended his speech. The thousand eyes were still pointed at him. Alex backed away from the microphone, turned around and ran. He ran out of the school and didn’t stop.

Alex ran to his house and up the stairs and into his room. His chest heaved in and out as he thought about his “performance.”

***

The next day, Alex walked into school. Everyone’s eyes immediately looked at him; then they went back to their conversation. Through the day, nobody talked to him, but they treated him the same as everybody else. The teachers treated him like an average student. In the hall, he passed the kid who pummelled him in the auditorium. Their eyes met for a second. The boy looked down and walked away slowly. As Alex walked out of the school gates that day, he knew something had changed. Alex knew that from now on, things were going to be fine.

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