Whispers. Clara could hear them all around her as she walked out onto the playground for recess. It was bad enough being the new kid at school this year. But to be the new kid with a funny accent … it was just horrible!! The whispers seemed to be widespread … it was insane!

Apparently it was also taboo to be best friends with two boys. Clara’s only friends happened to be her closest neighbors. Her family arrived in Virginia Beach over the summer, and she didn’t really have a choice.   It was either play with Josh and Steve – or spend the summer with her bratty baby sister!

Clara was a year younger than her classmates .. a third issue. Apparently the kids in Scotland are ahead of American schools. Or, Clara liked to secretly think she was just smarter than all of the other kids!

Well whatever .. that’s three strikes. And in that sport called baseball .. that means your out. “It’s no wonder everyone is whispering about me”, Clara thought sadly. All she really wanted to do was hang out with Josh and Steve …but in this playground there was a definite division of girls and boys! The girls were all sitting around talking – the boys were playing soccer! Clara didn’t know where to turn .. so she just stood where she was and watched the others playing.

Becca and Lisa were sitting on the benches closest to the slides. They were the popular girls in the classroom – and very much the girlie-girls in charge of the group. All of the others wanted to be just like them … that was until Clara came to school. Now everyone was talking about HER instead of THEM!

Becca leaned over and whispered to Lisa, “We have to do something about Clara – she’s taking all the attention away from us!”

Lisa smiled at Becca, and nodded her head in agreement. “I’ve seen her hanging out with those boys a lot,” she said pointing at Josh and Steve.

As Becca and Lisa plotted against her, Clara turned toward the group of girls and sighed. “I best make some new friends”, she thought. Walking towards a group of girls jumping rope she introduced herself – “Hi! I’m Clara! Can you show me how to do that?” The other girls were happy to teach Clara the simple jump – and they all laughed good naturedly as she stumbled her way through the routine.

All of a sudden, Becca and Lisa started chanting from their bench,

“Clara and Josh sitting in a tree – K-I-S-S-I-N-G! First Comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Clara with a baby carriage!”

Clara glared over at them at burst into tears! How could people be so meanl! She was sure Josh and Steve had heard the chant – all the boys had stopped their game and were staring over at her too! Clara just wanted to run and hide!

Becca and Lisa were quiet proud of themselves and started asking Clara, “When’s the wedding?” “Are you really going to have a baby?” “Does your mom know!?” until finally Clara turned and stomped away. Thank goodness the bell rang and recess had ended – Clara could escape the teasing and return to the safety of the classroom.

The next day during recess Clara was very reluctant to go outside. Her teacher gave her a gentle push and told her to “go have some fun!” Once again Clara stood on the sidelines and watched the others play. She wanted so badly to play soccer too … but was afraid the girls would tease her for hanging out with the boys again.   But Clara knew she didn’t want to go anywhere near Becca and Lisa … so she did the unthinkable and for the first time ever that year .. a girl went to play soccer with the boys!!

Josh and Steve ran over and claimed Clara for their team right away. They knew she was a strong player and wanted the advantage before any of the other boys figured it out. The game started, and Clara proved herself right away by running the length of the field and scoring the first goal of the game!

The other girls started inching towards the boys side of the playground too. They saw how much fun Clara was having, and they too wanted to join in. There was a conference among the boys .. and they decided to divide the girls equally between the two teams. Everyone was having so much fun!

Well .. everyone that is except Becca and Lisa who sat alone on the benches on the other side of the playground. Recess was half way over when Clara looked over to see the two girls silently watching the soccer game. Suddenly, the ball was kicked off the field and started rolling toward their bench. Clara went to retrieve the ball .. and when she got to the bench Becca and Lisa were at … saw that the girls desperately wanted to join the game!

Clara took a deep sigh and then asked “Do you want to play on my team?” Lisa eagerly nodded her head yes and jumped right up! But Becca seemed to linger just a moment. Clara said “Come on Becca – I’ll show you how to play,” and grabbed Beccas’s hand. The three girls ran laughing towards the field – and Becca ended up scoring the goal to win the game!

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