I Hate You

Jeremy Tucker

 

            The wood splinters. The trees breathe sighs of agony as branch after branch is thrown aside, broken apart, splintered in the boys’ mad rush to get to the street.  What ambush is this?  Where did this rage and desire for agony, screaming, tongue-twisting agony come from?  The sun looks on from up high, safe in the knowledge that it will only play the role of silent witness in this brutal attack of pack superiority.

 

            First comes the pushing.  They circle me, tongues rolling from their mouths in wolfish laughter.  What else could they be but the preteen wolf pack that bands together to bring down the lone wounded deer.  Why me?  Why now?  Pushed back and forth like a game of dodge ball, I finally hit the ground in a cloud of dust.  The ring of action now turns into the stadium of spectator sport.  The others watch as JC and I become the gladiators they’ve come to watch dance for death. Anger pushes aside blood to become the dominant substance that pumps through my veins.  Vision turns crimson cerulean.  I’m now only the desire to hurt, to kill.

 

            I come up for air from the sandy, dusty, unforgiving, unyielding soil.  You want some

again, punk?  Oh yes, oh yes, you shall have some!  I follow with a strong right hook – the same hook that left me open earlier today.  He ducks it again!  JC, how fast you are.  I have strength, brawn, rage that fuels my soul, but it is not enough.  A foot crashes into my stomach.  Again?  Is this a prearranged dance we will follow for the second time today?  I scream in frustration, but he doesn’t falter, doesn’t topple, doesn’t stop.  Why doesn’t he stop?

 

            The second fist thrown, his, catches me like a sledgehammer to the side of my face.  The tears begin to fall.  A second, a third, and down I go again.  Dust in hand, in mouth, in hair; arguing with the shame on my face to be worn, I rise, never one to stop until they’ve gone.  This drama has played out too many times, at too many schools; I know that the only way to stop it, to end it, to not die myself, is to keep coming.  Maybe his hands will tire before the blackness rises.

 

            “I’ll kill you!” I scream. 

 

            A sneer of sublime, surreal inhumanity stretches his face from ear to ear – followed by a kick to my stomach - and I’m down for the count.

           

            Walking to Dad’s store, tears in my eyes, gasps of pain wrench from my throat.  The heat that surrounds me is not only delivered by the sun; now it comes from the recesses of my soul.  I’ve failed again.  They keep coming.  They never stop.  Why won’t they stop?  What did I do to give them the impression of being the walking punching bag, the living, breathing embodiment of all they need to make themselves feel better.  Even the stones weep for me as rain splashes down, doing nothing to cool the radiant face it tries to drown.

           

            Dad, later that night, hugs me, crying as he tells me he’s sorry he brought us to this place.  Sorry that he chose poorly in selecting a new home for our new lives together.  He croaks from between the sobs that he will do all he can to get us away from this place.  Every night he prays to his god for succor from the pain he feels responsible for.

           

            “It’s okay, Dad.  I still love you.”

 

            You didn’t choose for this to be my life; you only hope for the best for me.  You try.  You’ll try again.  Maybe the next place will be the be-all, end-all for this kind of pain.

           

            It’s not.  But at least you tried.