Friday, February 05, 2010
Teddy was new to the school. Earlier, while he ate lunch at a table by himself, Buster and four other boys approached and pushed his tray to the floor.
“You think you be so smart, laughing cuz I got the wrong answer in class?” Buster asked.
He looked around at the nearby students, who stopped chewing in order to hear what was happening. “Let's see him laugh when I break his face outside.”
He turned to Teddy and sneered. No one said a word until Buster and his cronies left the room.
Now, all the spectators waited in excited chatter for it to begin. When Buster spat on the ground, a signal that he was ready, the crowd stepped back to give him room. Teddy started to tell this bully he did not want to fight, but had hardly spoken when Buster struck and hit him in the head.
Fight! Fight!" came from those looking on, and this was taken up on all sides.
Though a cut in his temple was bleeding into his right eye, Teddy ducked the next blow and ran at Buster. They tumbled to the ground. Teddy, being leaner and quicker, rolled away and stood. He kicked at Buster's ankles and shins, but fell over when he lost his balance.
"Boys! boys! Stop this now!” It was the school principal. He forced his way through the crowd to where Buster and Teddy lay, still pummeling each other, and, reaching down, caught each by the collar and dragged him to his feet.
As they were led away to the front door of the school, Teddy thought about his grandmother getting the phone call. He lived with her now, after his mother had left him on her doorstep a week ago with a small suitcase and run off with another deadbeat boyfriend who promised her everything but stability.
His grandmother sighed when she answered his knock that day but knew Teddy could not live alone and had no other place to go. “Don't want trouble with you, hear?” she warned after explaining the rules of the house. He promised.
This is trouble, he thought as he and Buster reached their fourth grade classroom to collect their books while the principal spoke to their teacher.
Later, as he sat waiting in the hallway for his grandmother to come and sign him out of school, Teddy remembered his mother once told him, “Baby, dreams don't cost nuthin' but the time it takes to have 'em.”
So he will dream of a transformed life ahead. But, the world he inhabits will not make it easy.
He feared he will always have to fight to make his way.
I have Clifford Fryman to thank for the first sentence. I found it at #storystarters, his brainchild, a place to go if writers need a prompt to “kick start their creativity when their muse is a no show.” You can find him at Twitter here.