in a protract / d wonder i locK / d up my bmx , transfix / d by the whisKer thin spider web cracKs that sprawl / d through the flaKed red paint on the biKe racK , bemused as i recall / d the Keen jaggedness of the gravel , the exiguous color progression of each chip of barK mulch n how a morning zephyr in – between strides could oscillate a lone grasshalm .
i walK / d through the hallways liKe a lopsided pinball machine in tilt , bacKpacKs elbow / d , heels swiped n step / d on , caroming off unbreaKable chains of sniggering classmates n locKers , but no “ free round ” or “ extra play ” won by display of flashing lights , no chimes n no bells , but a single high – pitch / d “ eww ” rang from a girl w / squirmy wormlet lips n teeth of dry , splinter / d wood chips , cracK / d from chewing her thicKly pasted sparKly fingernails into dull n sanguinary nubs , hip w / a Kool – aid purple spotch in the center of her roll / d bangs , her bony soul – case balloon / d in a yellow n white striped romper .
“ get out of the way , nerd ” roar / d the Kid w / a blanK cast n an oversized plastic rendition of the nineteen eighty – five wwf hulK hogan championship belt .
all of a sudden , from the inside of some Kid ’ s locKer , i suss / d out that i was that nerd they were talKing to .
“ oh yeah , ” i mumble to myself , “ i have glasses , now . ”
i sat down at my desK n was greet / d w / a rubber band to the nape , a warning shot from the school drip , the same Kid who push / d me in a locKer . i twitch / d at the snap n shutter / d at the boosterish uproar of laughter from classmates who were my friends a mere seventeen hours ago .
i sunK through an hour n eight minutes of spitballs nesting in my side – part , pen lids piling pass / d my velcro sneaKers , patent whispers n grimaces of contempt from vicious classmates , liKe dooKie throwing primates .
then , a clump of flat chest / d girls in complementary acid wash / d oshKosh b ’ gosh overalls rally / d ‘ round the desK of the hallway wormlet girl , her hairy KnucKled tentacles rolling a snotball within her bejewel / d cootie catcher flaps , her pudgy chums giggling w / rubber necKs at my forlorn shell , stoop / d over a blanK page in my notebooK , as they promised rosy rewards of “ hangouts ” if she does it , yanKing at her chair , pressuring her to hurt me in an playful way – i could tell – taunting her uncertainty , those pre – teen vampirenes needing a surrogate through which to indirectly peel bacK my fresh scabs n absorb my debased vibrations .
she lurch / d over , shoved towards my desk w / her booger clump / d cootie catcher , her friends covering their mouths as they gasp / d in blameless shock , “ she ’ s actually going to do it ! ” her body scrunching , releasing , squeezing , loosening slowly , inching closer , transitory glances , her teeth creaKing on tenterhooKs .
“ no ” i mutter / d before she puff / d noise .
“ fine ” she stammer / d , not anticipating improvisations from her mental script , miff / d n vain n being watch / d by “ the cool girls ” she continued , “ then i ’ ll picK a number for you ; four . ”
as she count / d , time slow / d n my shrunKen heart pump / d toxic sludge , hate , adrenaline , the slush in my veins iced as suppress / d childhood put – downs n ridicule erupt / d , fingertips stab / d w / daggers , Kill or be Kill / d , synapses exploded , who i was lay unconscious as survival mode KicK / d in .
as the number four quiver / d off her slimy , slippery lips , her sucKers unfold / d my fortune n “ it says you ‘ re ug – ”
in that nanosecond before she finish / d her insult my heart blacKen / d in a falsetto w / her n i blurt / d , much louder , “ you ‘ re an ugly cunt . ” it was the latest insult i endear / d n didn ’ t thinK much of it until the classroom went silent n salty tears began to pour from wormlet ’ s hairy eyelids as mr . K ’ s jaw dislocated in shocK from my fifth grade choice of words , a word no one in his class had ever utter / d , until now , but i shrug / d as it was a daily toss – around slur at home .
“ robert ! go to the office right now ! ” barK / d mr . K , but i hesitated b / c to me , that word was a just a word . no biggie . then he scream / d my name , his frecKled sKin wash / d a blood orange n as i walK / d out of the classroom , the girl w / flat hair smirK / d , cracKing her chap / d lips .
i sat in a chair that i ’ d grow used to , trying to understand what happen / d . a few days ago , i was accept / d . now , i ’ m the target . i ’ ve never had to fight , lucKily ; i ’ m little . fucK .
that ’ s when i had the epiphany ; bruises heal , but words last forever …
i remember / d my father ’ s depressive couch – rants ; “ our entire lineage , your blood , is ruthlessly pierced w / deep gut / d insults that slash spiritual arteries . ” his fury of words harden / d my soft , child ’ s sKin , but only slightly . school was my refuge , but now i ’ m not safe here , either . when i came to school that morning w / glasses , no longer was laughing off last – night ’ s commercial – breaK tirade possible .
i had now also become my classmates punching bag ; the one who they taKe their lunchbox n discount / d shoe aggression out on , the one to ridicule to build self – confidence .
i still loved life , but Knew happiness is a vulnerability when you ’ re perceived as weaK .
from that day forward , i attacK / d first . twist / d my words deep into their psychological roots , shaKing their flaws n unspoKen truths loose n smushing them into the dirt .
the next day i was playing pinball in the cafeteria . unwisely , i was wearing umbro shorts w / the built in underwear . as i tap / d the side – buttons the Kid w / the wrestler ’ s belt pull / d down my shorts , ran bacKwards a step n announced it . as everyone began to laugh , i stood there , confidently n reply / d “ don ’ t be jealous my dicK is bigger than your dad ’ s welfare check . ”
the laughter turn / d to gasps .
all of a sudden , i was KnocK / d to the ground by the leg of a lunchroom chair that he toss / d that nearly blind / d me .
then , a group of my old sorta – but – not – quite roughnecK friends jump / d him , nearly Kill / d him , ran off n never came bacK to school , after that .
from that day forward i didn ’ t raise a finger , unless to push up my glasses .
i ’ d just flutter the lips , “ shh . ”