For Children

Vivian Solum

The Smallest Voice

3rd & 4th Grade Prose Winner

The Smallest Voice

I never thought of what would happen when I would have to stop being fearful and do what’s
right. I knew it would happen sooner or later, but I never thought or spoke about it. It almost
seemed fitting that in the church I would ponder it. The reading had nothing in the slightest to
do with courage. Church makes one think deeper and farther ahead. It is Sunday and tomorrow
we have school. I’ve always enjoyed school. I have a group of friends, get excellent grades, and
always have excelled in reading and writing. The only thing that really bothers me is the
bullying.

People banding together to jeer and mock anyone who displeases them. That bullying has always
made me feel guilty and self conscious that I didn’t prevent it. I’ve always been scared to defend
the subject: what if I’m subject to a new bout of bullying, and while trying to defend myself end
up bringing on the worst kind of bully, like flies on a lightbulb. The worst kind of bully is the one
who works behind the scenes, controlling the students who think he or she is saint-like. That
kind of bully who spreads rumors and gets everyone to hate you, attracting more bullies that will
harm you. I fear the bully who can always remain one step ahead of your protests. The bully who
teachers think are golden in all names. When I confided those fears to Mama she spoke in a
riddle, a lesson that all must learn. “ Lia, you may be quiet, but even the smallest voice can make
an impact.” I’ve never grasped the meaning of those words. In a world that’s silent, a quiet voice
can make an impact, but how can a small voice be heard in a loud world? I can feel the reading
wrapping up so I rest my head on the marble pew and stare at my reflection in the glass. I see
intelligent blue eyes. My hair is black as night and it falls at the end of my shoulders. I snap back
to life when Mama shakes my shoulders. “Lia, time to go.” As I exit the church, I make a prayer
that bravery will arrive. The next day I’m sitting on the bus, waiting for my best friend, Summer,
to come. Since her house is the farthest away, there’s plenty of time for the bullies to arrive.

Four stops away from her house I hear a commotion behind me as I turn around in my seat and
I almost wish I hadn’t. A tiny boy is cowering beneath four bullies and to make the boy’s torment
worse I see Sally, the worst kind of bully, turn to her “friend” smirking. The boy looks new, and
my beliefs are confirmed when one of the bullies says, “Missing home yet?” Conflicting emotions
soar through me, and before I can change my mind, I yell, “Leave him be.” The bullies turn
towards me and I can feel them judging me.

“Why should we be doing that?”
“Because you should never underestimate a person.”
“Huh, that’s coming from a girl who’s literally useless.
“You’re the expert.”

He glares at me and that’s when Sally stalks over. She sizes me up and scoffs, “Girl, I’ll give you
one chance. This boy is new and he needs to learn the way of things, and he can’t just expect
everyone to be friendly, I’m very influential....” She paused for a second, letting the threat linger.
Then the unspeakable happens, others on the bus see what I’m doing, and stand up.

Now I know, I wasn’t the only one who hated the bullying; others did too. They just needed a
spur to action. The two sides stared at each other, and, in this short amount of time, I study the
boy, he’s small and is looking around in terror. I feel a hot rage course through me and I stand
up as well. When Sally sees she’s outnumbered, she yells, “Bus driver this girl caused a
commotion!” The bus driver stops, turns around and stares. We’re only a block from school, so
he points to me then to the door. As I leave I hear people shouting and correcting the bus driver.

I may have been punished, but I feel accomplished. I now know what courage really means.
After a long day, I return home and when I see Mama I shout, “Mama Mama today my small
voice turned big!”