You Changed Me
by Carrie Gordon Watson
When you got on the school bus that first day, you changed me.
When you sat three rows back, you changed me.
The first time you talked about me like I couldn’t hear you, you changed me.
When you made fun of my face, you changed me.
When you mocked my imperfect body, you changed me.
When you hinted that my ethnicity was hate-worthy, you changed me.
When you disparaged my family, you changed me.
When you saw the hurt in my eyes and said it anyway, you changed me.
When it wasn’t enough to make you stop, you changed me.
When you got bored with me and moved on to someone else, you changed me.
When I was too scared, too beaten down, too ashamed to speak up, you changed me.
Twenty years later,
when you shocked everyone by coming to the reunion, you changed me.
When you crossed the room,
when you came straight toward me,
when you knelt down by my chair
as my heart slammed inside me
in a fight-or-flight response so strong
I couldn’t hear the music anymore,
you changed me.
When you asked my permission to speak to me,
when you said you wouldn’t blame me if I said NO,
when you admitted to being an asshole all those years ago,
when you said you were deeply sorry for the horrible things you’d said to me,
when you admitted you were wrong,
that you wished you could take it all back . . .
You changed me.
Carrie Gordon Watson is a writer, high school teacher, and one-time performing songwriter. Her debut novel QUAD was an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Visit her online at www.cgwatson.com.