It wasn't like I cared about it. Not until that one day. Not until she came back. After discovering my ancestor was the mighty and immortal Artemis, my life was changed. I was constantly picked on for being "mentally challenged" and "crazy," because I thought Greek gods and goddesses were real. People just wouldn't believe anything I told them. However, it was brought to my attention that a boy in my class, Cody, had watched me intently all throughout fourth and fifth grade…
That's how my story begins. After a thrilling expedition to ancient Greece (thanks to time traveling), I returned to Manhattan to begin my last year of elementary school. We were asked to write a five-paragraph essay on what we had done in the summer, and I described fighting the Minotaur and cheering for the Greeks in a war now told as the story, The Iliad. "Hannah, I understand that you have a great imagination," the teacher said unsympathetically, "but this is supposed to be a true story, not something you made up."
The words "true story" bounced off the walls of my head. I wanted to protest, but I knew it would be useless, possibly even send me to detention for arguing with the teacher. Suddenly, I felt tears pricking at the best of my eyes, and a lump began forming in my throat. I rushed out to door to the bathroom and wept desolately, furiously shredding toilet paper as I did so. I guessed my face was red and blotchy when I returned, because all my classmates looked in my direction and burst out laughing. Either that or they were still amused about me believing in such fantasies.
The only one I could turn to at that point was my best friend, Elizabeth. Her dad took her on his business trip and they wouldn't be back until the next week, so all I could do at that moment was to ignore anyone who mocked me. Whoever teased me I wanted to punch in the stomach, but I knew everything would just get a lot worse if I did that.
"Weirdo," people would call me.
"Crazy," they would say.
They would even whisper amongst themselves whenever I was anywhere near them, forcing me to shadow my emotions.
Finally, Elizabeth returned, and I waited for her on the playground structure we claimed as "ours, and only ours," wanting so badly to tell her what had happened while she was away. She approached me soon, and we embraced after such a long time apart.
"Why is everyone saying you're crazy?" she demanded, but without any anger.
"So it's spread to the other classes, too?" I replied without answering her question, as I was both scared and infuriated.
"What are you talking about?" Elizabeth questioned, seemingly confused.
Then, the words came tumbling out. "I wrote an essay about my summer and said that I fought to Minotaur and witnessed a war that took place in Troy. And it's all true! I swear! But nobody will believe me. Please say you do…"
"Hannah, you don't really think all those things exist, do you?" she said softly, looking at me in bewilderment.
"You don't get it," I hissed. "My ancestor is Artemis. Really!"
"I know you have an amazing imagination—"began Elizabeth, looking annoyed.
"You don't get it," I repeated, cutting her off. "You're my best friend and you should!"
"Stop being so immature!" my apparently ex-best friend fumed through clenched teeth. She suddenly looked like she'd burst into flames. "If you're going to whine about Greek gods and goddesses being real, go talk to Cody! They don't exist, I tell you. They don't! Stop being such a baby!"
That had done it. Elizabeth was no longer my BFF. She huffed at me, and stomped off towards a crowd of popular girls we never had the nerve to stand up to. I figured that she didn't need me anymore. Perhaps she even thought of me as a heavy burden, and that if I was there with her, the popular girls would avoid her. Well, I didn't need her either. At least that was what I thought.
It turned out that, after a few days of being friendless, what I had previously presumed was not at all accurate. I did need someone by my side, and that role had only one candidate: Cody. Elizabeth had suggested him, but I couldn't be sure if she had meant it sarcastically or not. Fortunately, he had approached me before I confronted him, so we chatted and learned more about each other.
"I believe in them too, Hannah," was the first thing he'd ever said to me.
"Really?" I asked, surprised, yet contented.
"Yep, but, um… There's something you should know about me." He shifted from foot to foot nervously.
It turned out that, because he was a reincarnation of one of Artemis's friends, as well as a soothsayer in Greece, he foretold that I would have problems as I grew older. He explained that he had watched me ever since I was born, and wanted to make sure I lived a long, happy life.
"Okay," was all I could get out, considering that all that was a lot to take in one dose. First, my great-great-great-something is Artemis, then I'm humiliated by the teacher, then my best friend stops being what she was, and now, I find out that reincarnation is real and one of the strangest people in my class was a soothsayer.
The two of us decided to be proud of who we were, and let everyone know. Even talking to Elizabeth for me, my appreciation for Cody basically became a hundred percent higher.
"You should let your imagination go wild, Elizabeth," I heard him say, watching from the highest play structure on the playground. "Don't be afraid to be who you are. And more importantly, don't make others feel bad for what they believe. Everyone is their own person, and they should be happy about it." I beamed at him from above, and he smiled back. I was baffled by all the talking he could do, considering he's probably said about three words before we really met.
Soon, Cody supposedly had to transfer to another school, but I knew that his leave was really to go into the future to help my descendant cope with the things I had to deal with. Elizabeth and I made up, and together, we organized a speech for the whole school about anti-bullying and being who you are. The teasing stopped shortly afterwards, and I was able to move on to junior high without a problem.
That was what brought me to what I am today. I am a third grade teacher, and I travel from school to school with Elizabeth to give that same speech, in hopes to make every school a safe environment for students.