Julie is a woman on the edge. The strain of raising a handicapped child and the pressures a small town rumor mill creates have taken their toll.
All her life she has been ridiculed or, even worse, ignored.
But that stops today.
Julie Morton had been wounded on the battlefield. Her reputation was gone. Shot out from beneath her. Most in the hill town of
East Madison thought she
was “absolute crazies.” She was certain that’s how the kids spoke these days.
“Bonkers” and “crazies” and “nutzoid.”
That wasn’t always so, though. She wasn’t always fruit looped. She was once a teacher at the high school. Seventh and eighth grade English. (The junior high was connected to the high school by a large gymnasium that kind of bubbled up between them like a red brick tumor.) She had taught English for a good ten years before she was kicked to the curb. And before that, she had grown up here. She never thought to leave. Well, maybe once or twice, but that was hardly grounds for wanderlust.
It wasn’t until recently that she started to crack from the pressure of the rumors and the daily torments from the townsfolk. Her hair was turning white for it, and that did nothing to alleviate the jokes. And too, there was the difficulty of raising a handicapped – sorry…a differently-abled daughter, all by herself. Well, kind of by herself. Principal Noyle was always there monetarily, he being Betty Morton’s dad.
Aimee Jean, Betty Morton’s only friend, rode her bike to the Mortons every day that summer. The summer of the Fall. She had kept in touch with Betty through Julie while she was away at college. Because of her paralysis, Betty didn’t say a thing, but she could make herself understood just fine. There was a mean streak in that girl that smelled like rubber on asphalt. Betty became bitter early on in life. In fact, that was her nickname in school: Bitter Betty. She had been a very pretty young girl. It’s amazing what one wrong move on a monkey bar can do to you.