Nightmares of the past

May 19, 2022

To get to my next class, I have to walk through a long narrow hallway connecting the two sides of the school. Lights in the middle are dimmed out, emitting a warm cast to the white walls and drawing dark shadows in their wake. On every wavering step I take, the red and white checkered floor repeats its blinding pattern of terror.

This game has zero good outcomes.

They see my unease and prepare to take advantage of it.

A mob has assembled in that dark part of the connecting tube, positioning themselves strategically on both sides of the hallway.

Red squares for the enemy, light ones for us.

“Brace,” I tell myself as I make my first move. I take the initial brunt to my right shoulder as the onslaught from the first wave of bullies take their potshots at me.

I’m an athlete, so keeping my balance or absorbing a few checks is fine, but this has the element of menace in it.

I lose my balance as the kinetic energy of the force connects with my body and explodes. I’ve been thrown to the following line of jockeys eying for their prey.

I tense my body to absorb the impact better. It lands much harder than the first, and I feel air escape my lungs.

Gasping for HO2, I can now see the end of the game and the final opponent waiting for me.

Why does there always need to be that one thug who’s worse than the rest? The one ashole who’s been beaten up by their parents is now passing it forward. If the devil has a son, he is it.

But it’s not his blow landing on my ribs that hurts. It’s the words. I shake to my bone and try my best not to show it.

Finally, through the beef grinder, my shoulders, sides, and abdomen feel raw and are turning blue underneath.

I wish it stopped here. But it won’t. 

Next time it’ll be the baseball flying at my head a hundred miles an hour when I least expect it. Or the below waist check from behind at the ice hockey rink.

I hate this school so much. How can one bad apple and his gooneys ruin it for everyone else?

But I must admit. I’m not so different from this son-of-a-gun. We’re both very athletic and very progressive. We leave everyone else to eat dust when it comes to sports. I’ve never seen anyone as good as him. In secret, I admire his skills.

The things we could’ve done together had we been friends.

A black and white photo of the author Jussi's smiling face with shortcut hair and a short beardJussi Tarvainen

Former pro snowboarder. Author at night. Multi(failed)-entrepreneur. And mostly an awesome designer (said, my five-year-old son).

plenty more loot in the vault

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