Daniel walked to school. His movements resembled a frightened rabbit traveling amidst the smell of a fox. His eyes jerked to his surroundings, flashed right and left, returned to center, then around again. Daniel moved his long legs by kicking out awkwardly from the knee, giving him a slightly cocky gait. His shoulders rounded in, hands slammed into pants pockets gave all viewers the outward impression to leave him well enough alone. Daniel tried to overtake the walk to school with fast movement and unapproachable personal stance. His gait contradicted itself, showing him to be both hard predator and easy prey. During one of his quick glances, he saw a boy from his school. The kid, Daniel knew his name to be George, was sitting lazily on the sidewalk. His legs outstretched into the street, a mundane unsafe practice yet one Daniel would never consider doing. Daniel feared and revered the boy’s tough exterior. George looked and acted all of the bully. He had a rough, hard bitten face, dirty clothing and an eye that searched out weakness. Daniel worked his body into forced nonchalance but his pace quickened without him meaning too.
“Hey faggot,” George called to Daniel as he passed. He didn’t answer. The first time a kid in school called Daniel faggot was over three years ago. It was in the middle of a paper presentation he was giving in English class. The name struck Daniel like the shock of cold metal pressed to flesh. He stuttered, lost his place and ultimately froze. The teacher, asleep at his desk, was no lifeline. Tears had come then. Any laughter from the class fell silent at this social faux pas that bordered on high treason. Daniel had stood there for several minutes, crying in front of his peers, only to be saved by the bell tolling the end of class. The other kids left like new murderers, silent, fearful, smirking. The name had stuck, now most of the kids in school referred to him by that hateful slang. Most days Daniel was hailed by faggot more than his given name. Each time he heard it, it shoved Daniel further into himself. Nothing in his body told George he noticed, but George knew he did. George knew it hurt him. It wasn’t that George thought Daniel would come over to him when called. It was enough to bait the wounded fish with a severed worm.
“Hey you! Fag boy. Come here,” George called to him again. Daniel didn’t answer. He kept moving. The first abuse of the day took its pound of flesh and readied itself for the upcoming feast. Daniel felt a hard hand slam down on his shoulder, roughly turning him around. “I know you can hear me Fag boy. You ignoring me? I should have to walk my ass over to you to get your attention?”
“No,” Daniel said meekly. His body stiffened as George gave him a smart slap on his left ear.
“Maybe you hear me a little better now?” George said.“Pick you head up so I can slap you on the other side.”
“Please don’t hit me again,” Daniel said.
“Pick your fucking head up before I decide to punch you instead of slap you.” Daniel looked up. The second slap was harder than the first and rocked him. Daniel’s legs buckled. “Stand up bitch. You’re not hurt.” George hefted Daniel back to his feet. “You gonna make me walk over to you again?”
“No,” Daniel said.
“You gonna answer me when I call you?”
“That’s my bitch. Off to school you fag bitch. I’m sick of fucking looking at you.” George took one hand and shoved Daniel in the face. Daniel stutter stepped, spun and returned on his way to school. The rest of the walk was spent in the fantasy of smashing George’s face in. Watching his teeth clatter on the concrete. Driving hard kicks into George’s ribs, feeling them bend and break. He dreamed of George begging for forgiveness as landed punch after punch into his face. “I will kill you George,” Daniel thought. “I’m going to kill you”.