CHAPTER 4 (600 words)

4

Then it was gone, snatched from my hands. Stuart Cross had it, grinning, “Oooooh, what’s this Stinky’s got? Looks interesting! Looks expensive!”

Then his vile mate Tom London took the bag from him, laughing, and they started tossing it back and forth between themselves.

“Hey!” I said, knowing as soon as I said it how useless I sounded, and how futile was the gesture. I’d been on the receiving end of this scenario many times. This was Year 11. I was 15. Kids like Stuie and Tommo had been doing this to me since the first day of grade 1.

But this was the first time it had ever involved something extraordinary. I had no idea what an Apple iPhone 7 might be, but I understood just from the heft of the box, from the way it looked, that it was expensive, that it was special, something exotic. Something that did not belong in my grubby world. I watched the yellow package flying back and forth, and saw the boys having a great laugh at my expense. I knew from long experience that standing between them trying to capture or intercept it in flight would not work. Already other mates were gathering around, laughing it up, big mocking smiles, kids looking my way. I’d played this scene many, many times. My main concern was that the Apple iPhone 7 might get broken. One of these idiots might drop it, or throw it against a wall. I had only had the briefest glimpse at the picture on the box. It looked fragile. It didn’t look like something that would bounce.

So I stood near my locker and watched them play. There were only a few minutes until Maths class. The yellow package flew back and forth, full of mystery and wonder. It was hilarious fun, making sport out of Stinky’s special present! And look at his sour face! Wouldn’t you love to just punch that face? Aren’t you sick of him being such a know-it-all? Isn’t he just disgusting and filthy and horrible? How is even allowed in the school stinking like that? Shouldn’t he be hosed off before being let onto the school grounds every morning, or maybe dipped like sheep, attacked with scrubbing brushes?

I knew what they were thinking. I heard their voices in my head as I watched them throwing my parcel back and forth, as I watched them laughing at this hilarious sport. I had years and years of their voices whirling and screaming through my head like a winter’s storm, a cyclone, a rain-bearing depression, blasting through my head, pushing out all possibility of decent self-esteem, of achievement or pride. All I thought about sometimes, listening to these voices, was how everything would be better for everyone, maybe, if I wasn’t here. If I just removed myself, like cancelling out the x, from the equation of life. I seemed to be a problem for my parents, my teachers, and even these moron kids. The package flew back and forth, back and forth. The laughter sounded like the opposite of happy–it was mocking and sarcastic. It was derisive and hollow. It was abuse dressed up as hilarity. It was cruelty dressed up as harmless frolic.

It was my fucking gift and I wanted it back.

I charged at Stuart Cross, hit him like a freight train, and kept going, and drove him hard against the brick wall of the locker room. We hit the wall at speed and I felt him crumple and I heard the air whoosh out of him as he sank to the concrete floor, and I fell on top him, my greater size and mass crushing him. I snatched the JB HiFi bag from his loose grasp, got up, kicked him in the nuts, turned and went back to my locker. It was time for my Maths class.

XXX

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