A Cut String Beads of sweat drenched my forehead as I spied them through my cabin window like a lion stalking its prey from the bushes. All of the blood evacuated my face as my skin turned ghostly pale. I shielded my face with both of my arms, cloaking myself from their racial slurs, which pierced my emotions like whistling arrows. My emotions erupted, but my consciousness, the prison guard to my body, locked them inside. I kneeled down in the shadowed corner of my cabin and pressed my ear against the splintery wall.
Through the wall, a camp fire snapped in my ear as its heat radiated through every member of the campfire circle. Their attitudes reflected the flip of a coin, they could be cruel yet admiring at any given moment. These people occupied a special drawer reserved all to themselves within my heart. They were not only my fellow staffers, but also a second family every summer. Whenever I curled in a corner with my hands acting as floodgates to my tearing eyeballs, they would always comfort my soul with gallons of encouragement.
Even if I sprinted a hundred acres to the other side of camp, we would still be intertwined by an invisible string that bound us together like family. Meanwhile, they all shared their thoughts in a humorous conversation after a gruesome day of back-breaking work at camp Napowan. “How did swimming merit badge go? I heard you were swamped this week with 140 scouts,” asked Kiwi.
“Eh, it went decently. We had to do the mile swim today, and all of them passed with no trouble except for this one black kid,” responded Dobby. Kiwi chuckled, “Of course it was the black kid who couldn’t swim!” “Speaking of that, I had a scout in the Trading Post that tried to negotiate a better price for a fifty-cent candy bar. Not to be racist, but I bet you guys a million bucks he was Jewish.
Soon enough, this whole camp will be filled with those stingy rats!” annunciated Launchpad. “Dude, there’s a good chance someone here could be Jewish. I’d keep it down if I were you,” warned Mittens. “No one here is Jewish. Rook is freakin’ Asian, and the rest of these chumps are white and Catholic,” informed Launchpad. Right as Launchpad’s words struck my eardrums, my thoughts transformed into a whirlwind of emotions. The blood boiled in my veins as I clenched a fist as hard as a cannonball. However, concealed by a mask of rage lay an innocent heart, pierced by the daggers of racism. A huge gulp of saliva trickled down my throat, and I held my breath as I reached out with my left arm to open the lowest shelf of my dresser. Squeek! The shelf resonated, as I tried to open it without revealing that I eavesdropped on their conversation. After I fumbled around with random trinkets, I pulled out my pocket-sized prayer book from the rubble. Rays of hazy light illuminated the six pointed star on the cover. My eyes closed shut, and my mind began an endless search to elicit my higher power. I bowed my head, and I tapped the small book to my forehead, searching for the strength to defend my faith. I recalled the slurs that shackled my religion inside of me, and I turned towards God to give me the courage to break them. The floor squeaked as I propelled myself up. I slipped on my flip flops as I stepped onto the rugged path to the campfire ring. With every step, I gained the confidence of a boxer nearing the fighting ring.
As I approached my fellow staffers, Launchpad greeted me, “What’s up, Rook, how have you been doing, bud?” I used a cheerful smile to blind him from my anger within. I hesitated for a brief moment and uttered, “Fine, I’m just going to bathroom, thanks!” Another false smile found its way onto my face. I mouthed curses to myself and my gut shot out a lightning bolt of fury towards my brain. I hurled a typhoon of shame at myself knowing that I failed to stand up. I took a few more paces in the direction of the shower houses, but then the guillotine came down and I snapped. “Don’t you ever make fun of Jews! I have my faith and you have yours. Never hate on mine again!” I howled with the voice of a thousand wolves. “Geez man, chill out!” asserted Launchpad. “Sorry, Rook. We were just having a little fun, but aren’t you Asian?” interrupted Mittens. “You bet I am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be Jewish.” With that, I walked away and hung my head. I tried to close my eyes, but they wouldn’t budge. Instead, rivers of tears poured from them and mixed with green slime from my nose as they touched my lips. I was a small child who lost his stuffed animal to the monstrous trash can. The slurs that pierced through my skin didn’t wound as much as the cut of the string that had unified me with my family of staff members. I zipped into the staff lounge and found refuge in a green colored sofa. It reeked of stale cheese, but concealed heaps of lost treasures buried in its crevices.
I peered over my shoulder at a nearby window and saw the burning orange flame and all of the people surrounding it, except one. No one occupied Launchpad’s seat, so I assumed he retreated to his cabin. Whether he kicked himself for losing my friendship, or weeped gallons of water, I hoped he had learned to never mock my religion again. I stared at a piece of yellow foam bulging out from a tear in the green sofa cushion and I realized that the loving bond between the staff might have dated back to when the couch was first brought to Napowan. However, just a sticky piece of grey duct tape could repair the worn fabric, but nothing could ever reconnect both ends of the cut string. Usually, I try to shrug off unintentional comments or criticisms against Jews. This is because I understand that I don’t appear to be Jewish on the outside. Even if I saw a random person of Asian descent, thinking that he was Jewish would never even cross my mind. However, when people make false assumptions and assume it is alright to make fun of Jews when none are present, I usually go along with it instead of being the victim. I try never to hint or signify that I am Jewish, but instead act as the perpetrator against Jews. Nonetheless, my experience that day at Napowan was different because the people that spat out the racial slurs I called part of my family. I knew I would see them everyday during the summer, and couldn’t let silly words rip us apart for the rest of the year. I learned to never mold my personality and faith around what other people think, but express what I truly feel inside. Instead of laughing it off or actually participating in racial harassment, I learned stand up for myself, and refuse to be bullied any longer, even if it wasn’t intentional.