Essay by violin1595Junior High, 8th grade December 2008

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Kayla Bobsburger dashed out of the cafeteria, huge wet tears coming down the sides of her freckled nose, dozens at a time. She rushed out the school door and onto the playground where her best friend, Julia, sat on a bench. Kayla wiped her red, runny nose with the sleeve of her sweater and sat next to Julia.

Julia was the kind of friend who was really down to earth. In fact, most of the time she was down in the earth! She liked to discover the wonders of nature everywhere-in the dirt, up a tree, or in a flower. Julia was always very quiet and usually would talk only to Kayla. “What happened?” Julia asked“They were so awful. I wish they’d stop teasing me about my name. I can’t take it anymore! I hate them, Julia! I hate them!”Julia gave a very kind, knowing look to Kayla. “I hate them, too,” she said quietly.

She reached into her hoodie’s kangaroo pocket and pulled out a small tin full of Junior Mints candies. They were Kayla’s favorite. “Cheer up,” Julia said, passing Kayla the candy. “In a few days we’ll be headed to snowboarding camp, and you’ll forget all about these bullies.” Kayla couldn’t help but smile, and soon they were giggling and talking about the adventures they were going to have at camp.

On a cloudy, freezing Sunday morning, Kayla and Julia were being driven up to Crystal Top Mountain by Julia’s mom in a shiny green electric-hybrid car. They were singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” Aaaheee-ee-ee-ee-ee, um-bum-bawayy! A weem-ba-weh, a weem-ba-weh, a weem-ba-weh,” all three sang in joyful harmony.

When the song was over, Julia’s mom said, “Now remember, girls, at camp you have to be open to trying new thing. You got it?”“Sure, Mom,” Julia said, and Kayla nodded.

“All right,” Julia’s mom said, laughing. “Let’s rock and roll!”“Woo hoo!” they al yelled. They pulled into the campus, and the camp day began.

A college-age counselor wearing a blue sweater that read “Crystal Top Mountain Staff” stood in front of a line of kids. “When I call your name, step forward and I will tell you your cabin number,” he said. “But before I do, I’d like to remind you that you will be using nicknames of your own choosing, so think about picking one today. Any questions?” No one spoke. “O.K. Tony Hall?”The names swept by quickly, but Kayla was worried. It was likely that everyone would laugh at her last name, just like the bullies at school. So when the counselor said, “Kayla-ooh, this name’s a good one!” she knew she was in for it.

“I apologize if I say this incorrectly: Kayla Bobsburger?!” Everyone instantly began cracking up like a pack of hyenas. Kayla hung her head and trudged to the front.

“Here, Miz Bobsburger!” The counselor pointed straight ahead to cabin number 13. More bad luck, she thought as the snickers and teasing disappeared behind her.

Kayla opened the door to the cabin and went inside. She plopped her stuff down on a bed and looked around.

Just at that moment, the door opened and Julia emerged. “So, you’re here, too?” she said. “That’s good. At least we’ll be together after-” she lowered her voice, “-what happened outside. But I figured out a plan,” Julia said. “We’ll find a nickname that’s perfect, just for you, and everyone will forget about your old name. Now let’s go get some dinner. Whadya say?”“Dinner,” Kayla said, and they began their hike to the dining hall.

“Snickerdoodle? What’s a snickerdoodle?” Kayla inquired, reading the dessert sign. “I’ve never even heard of it!”“Me, either,” Julia shrugged, “but you should at least try it.”“Oh, Julia, of course I’ll try it!” Kayla laughed. She picked up a pair of tongs, grabbed a snickerdoodle, and put it on her plate.

“You know what?” Julia said. “You can never have cookies without milk.” Kayla gave her a look. “It’s true,” Julia laughed.

“Oh, all right,” Kayla said and poured herself a glass. They sat down and began to eat their dinner. Kayla took a bite of the cookie. It was buttery and cinnamony. She took another bite. And another. It was delicious. She went back for more. Minutes later, she had eaten three snickerdoodle cookies. “I LOVE these!” she cried. “They’re heavenly.”“Kayla, that’s it!” Julia yelled. Several heads turned. A counselor murmured something and shook her head.

“Shush, Julia,” Kayla whispered. “What’s ‘it’?”“Your nickname! It really fits! A well-rounded person with a funny name and a spicy side. Think of it, Kayla, your nickname-Snickerdoodle!”“Well, O.K.,” Kayla decided. “I like it.” But that night, she had nightmares about a snickerdoodle cookie being eaten by bullies.

The next morning, Kayla fell out of bed and banged her head badly. She winced and put her hand on the hurt spot, but quickly pulled it back when she realized what she was toughing. “Is this…KETCHUP?” Kayla roared in anger, as she smelled the red substance on her fingertips. “It can’t be…”“Blood,” came a boy’s voice from the doorway.

“It can’t be salsa, either,” snickered another.

“So you’d be right!” laughed yet another boy as they ran away.

Kayla took a shortcut to the restroom building to see just what was on her head. “You little jerks, you little creeps,” she muttered all the way.

Kayla entered the girls’ restroom. When she looked in the mirror, she couldn’t believe what they had done to her hair. On one half of her head was ketchup, on the other was mustard, and sprinkled all over were relish, onions, and pickles. As a bonus, her freckled face looked just like a sesame seed bun. She was completely speechless/Kayla took a shower and shampooed three times. But the dark cloud of anger was still hovering over her head, and she wished dearly that the bullies would suffer.

Just then Julia came in, out of breath. Her smile faded when she saw her friend’s face. Julia took a breath and said, “Believe it or not, I know everything about your terrible mess.”Kayla didn’t say anything. Julia knew she wanted her to say more. “The counselors caught those boys and made them confess to the whole thing. You don’t have to worry, because they were sentenced to community service.”“What kind?” Kayla asked.

“Shoveling snow all day and a note home. And missing out on campfires and hot chocolate.” Julia added for a grin, “Follow me, Snickerdoodle.”The two girls sat outside in front of a fire pit singing songs and drinking cocoa. Kayla smiled because she knew she was not a hamburger-she was a snickerdoodle. And as a bonus, her freckles looked just like a pinch of cinnamon sugar.