There were days when Leila really didn’t enjoy recess and then there were the days that she did. Today was one of those days when Leila practically raced out of the school doors and on to the playground. The November breeze that had been plaguing the children for the past few days had passed on and with the sun shining down brightly the temperature had risen. Leila still wore her sweater, but it was unzipped and it flapped behind her like eager wings on a young bird.
The playground was divided into four sections. To the far right was the diamond where kids could bring out a ball for a game of kickball or something like that. Then there was the blacktop so kids could bring chalk and draw different pictures or games, like hopscotch. There was the area with the play structures: wooden towers and swing sets and monkey bars. On the far left was an open field for kids to run and play in. Leila headed towards the open area now. She ran as hard as she could with her arms wide open, laughing and smiling in only the way children can.
When she reached the end of the field she collapsed, laughing, on to the ground. The earth was cold and hard, preparing itself for the winter it knew would inevitably come, but the grass still provided a nice comfort. Leila peeked one eye open as she stared up at the sky. All of the leaves had fallen off the trees so they didn’t do much to shield the sun.
But that didn't bother Leila, nothing seemed to bother her today. She closed her eyes again and listened to the sound of the other kids running and playing. She laid there in the grass on the cold ground and could not have been more content. After the stress of the past couple of days, Leila found it nice to just lie there and do nothing. After a few minutes, she sat up and began tearing the grass up from its roots. She unearthed a worm from under the ground and cupped in in her hands. The worm was small and pink, just a few inches long.
"What are you doing?"
Leila's eyes closed. She knew that voice, of course she knew that voice. "I don't see why it could be any of your business, Katie," she said without turning around. She heard Katie scoff.
Katie Miller, the most spoiled and bratty child in the fifth grade. Usually she was accompanied by her sidekick, Jessie Cook. Leila turned around, hoping they had left, but they hadn't. Both Katie and Jessie were standing a few feet away with their arms crossed and hips popped.
"Don't you have anything else you could be doing?" Leila asked, turning around and gently poking the worm with her finger.
"Where were you yesterday?"
"Really, Katie," Leila said, standing up and facing her. "It's really none of your business. So I wasn't here, what does it matter to you?"
"I just want to know," Katie said snobbishly.
"No," Leila said, walking away. "You really don't."
Katie said, "Don't you wear anything other than that old and raggedy sweater? I mean, seriously, you wear it all the time. I'm surprised it doesn't smell."
Leila knew that Katie was only bothering her to get attention, and Leila was determined not to let that happen. She kept walking away, and gently stroking the worm still in her hand.
"Leila!" Katie yelled. Leila heard running feet and soon Katie and Jessie were on either side of her. "What's in your hand?"
Leila smirked. "A worm," she said. She opened her hand shoved it close to Katie's face. Katie screamed and backed away. Leila laughed and continued walking away.
"You are so gross, Leila," Katie said. "Is that why you don't have a mom? She left because you just kept grossing her out?"
Leila was determined not to give Katie the satisfaction of gaining her attention but at those words she turned around and said, "My mom didn't leave because I'm gross, Katie," she said.
"Then why, huh? Where's your mom? All you have is a dad who doesn't love you and --"
Leila couldn't explain what had happened next. She heard Jessie scream and heard her shoes hit the cold earth as she ran away. Leila had never been so angry, she couldn't control herself. She flung herself at Katie and pinned her to the ground. Leila pulled her fist back and punched Katie in the face.