We had a very large pyracantha bush in our front yard growing up. One prick from that bush was all you needed to learn the meaning of its Latin roots. Those thorns burned like fire.

Yet as a small child this was my safe haven. The sanctuary I’d retire to after being followed home by the school yard taunts of “retard” and “cripple.” There was a perfect branch growing horizontally about 12” off the ground that was made a perfect bench. Another branch growing a bit offset and slightly higher, like a gymnast’s parallel bars, served as my book rest. I would cocoon myself away for hours to read and escape to other realities.

I pricked myself surprisingly seldom. Yet the volcanic burn of these barbs were no deterrent to me and smarted far less than the stings of my peer’s hurled insults.

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