“You never know how strong you are until
being strong is the only choice you have.”
Lunchtime in middle school was the best part of the day and the worst part of the day. I sit for lunch with Amanda and several new friends. We always sit together. We sit at the end table away from everyone else. Two of my new friends, Marco and Albert have trouble eating, Amanda and I sometimes help them.
The other kids ignore us at lunch.
It is the best time because we can talk and laugh. No one at our table judges us. Marco doesn’t talk much, because of the slur. Albert talks just fine and never shuts up.
“You should have seen him. He can really play the game.”
“No way. You played X-Box with one hand?”
“Amanda is right, I can play now. The game is mostly right-handed so I can play. I use both hands but mostly the right.”
“Albert, you should have seen him. No twitches. No stumbles. His hands flying over the controller. Until the end.”
“What happened at the end?”
“Jac almost won! Spittle was flying everywhere.”
They are laughing, everyone is looking at us. Albert wipes Marco’s face causing us to laugh harder.
Until I see Amanda start to panic.
She is choking.
I jump up, using my right hand for balance on the table, I rush around to her side. She is pointing at her throat. She is turning pale.
I remember something. Because of Max’s comment about me being a hero, I remember. I read on the internet how to help someone who is choking. The Heimlich maneuver, but what are the steps?
I reach around Amanda’s waist making sure I am just under her ribs. Then I give a hard, quick, squeeze. My right arm is very strong.
The quick squeeze works.
Amanda spews a blob of peanut butter and bread that lands with a splat in the middle of the table.
Everyone in the cafeteria looks to Amanda. She waves politely that she is okay.
I turn and announce everything is okay.
“Move along, nothing to see here. Just a girl learning to chew.”
I am laughing and waiting for Amanda’s response.
Amanda gives a thumbs up.
I own it.
When the giggles cross the cafeteria, I sit back down and smile at Amanda. She smiles back and I feel like we have connected somehow. She feels it too.
I can tell.
Then I poke the peanut butter blob with a pencil pushing it back to Amanda.
We roar with laughter.
I remember what Max said: Jac, you are going to save a girl from choking.
What is Max not telling us?