A deathly silence prevailed. The only sounds were the rustle and scrapes of the leaves in an isolated corner of the park. The boy hid his face behind his gangly hands as blows rained upon him. There were three of them. Much more than he could handle.
He felt the blood trickle down his chin from the cut on his forehead. He wanted to reach out and touch it. Just to see the damage they had done. But he wasn’t able to. Not when they were determined to ruin the rest of his face. Not like he considered himself worth looking at.
A particular sharp jab to his hip made him double up in pain, leaving his face unprotected. He felt the grass beneath his fingers as he curled himself up, almost like a fetus, and prayed for it to end soon.
He could hear their laughter and mockery clearly through the pain that now clouded his senses. They said he was gay. That he was ugly.
But he doubted that. If he was gay, he wouldn’t have a crush on that pretty brunette in his science class.
Some part of him knew he was a coward. He shouldn’t let them subject him to this humiliation. He didn’t deserve-
" What the hell do you think you’re doing?“, a voice shouted.
The beating stopped.
The boy sent a prayer of thanks to heaven.
" Who the fuck are you?“, one of them snapped.
The boy dared to lift his hands from his face and sat up to get a look at his savior.
She stood there about two feet away from him with her hands on her hips. She looked to be around the same age as him. Maybe younger, he couldn’t say.
Her dark black hair was all over her face. But it was her eyes that caught his attention. They were grey. Almost black. Like a thunderstorm that had set itself to wreck everything in its path.
And she was fat. Well, not exactly fat but healthy. He was so used to the skinny girls in school that he had forgotten what it was like to see what he knew was the beginning of curves, on a female body.
She was as tall as all of them and to his amazement and awe, didn’t budge from her position even when the bullies advanced on her.
" If you know what’s good for you, run away little bitch.“ The leader spat out as he tried his best to tower over her.
She smirked. He thought he was hallucinating.
" And if you know what’s good for you, you piece of shit”, she jabbed a finger in his chest, ” You’ll take your sorry little ass and those of your pathetic disciples and piss off right now, or I’ll call out to them.“ She pointed behind her to the two guards who had begun their regular check around the park.
He saw their eyes wander to them and stay for just a second before they strayed.
His eyes in their turn wandered to the bully still standing before the girl.
He looked worried. There were sweat patches on the front of his shirt.
His comrades had begun whispering among themselves, glancing at him occasionally.
" You won’t do that.“ Their leader croaked trying to appear brave in the face of the threat that had now appeared in the form of that dark-haired girl.
She folded her hands across her chest.
" What the fuck do you think you’re doing?!“ She suddenly screeched at the top of her voice.
Two things happened simultaneously. The bullies stared at her for only a nanosecond before they took off, running like hellhounds had just been let loose on them and the girl laughed.
He stared at her face. The transformation was incredible. The dormant thunderstorm in those grey eyes was gone and in its place was a joyous sparkle.
A movement behind her made him look away.
They had caught the attention of the guards. They walked swiftly to them.
" Are you alright, miss?“, the younger man among them spoke.
Her laughter subsiding, the girl looked at him.
" I am. He’s not.“, she gestured at him.
The guards looked at him, a frown on both their faces.
He felt the pain from the blows resurface.
" Do you have any sort of medication around?“, she asked as she peered closely at him.
He blushed at her scrutinizing gaze.
" We have some, back at the cabin.“, the older man answered.
" I’ll get him over there. Just give us two minutes.“, she said as she sat down beside him on the grass.
The guards looked at each other and then at her. Nodding once, they took off back in the direction from which they came.
She stared at him without blinking.
" Who were they?“, she asked in a soft voice.
He stared at her, uncomfortably.
Did she think he was a coward as well?
" Guys from school.“, he almost whispered in shame.
She abruptly reached out and touched his cheek, turning it to the side and leaning forward to examine the wound on his forehead.
It was the first time a girl had gotten so close. He revelled in her touch, liking the way her fingers felt against his sensitized skin.
Then she pulled away, standing up and dusting her jeans.
" Let’s get you cleaned up.“, she said as she offered him her hand.
He stared at it for two seconds before he clasped it.
Trying hard not to wince at the pain in his calves and back, he bit his tongue and stood.
She led him down the path towards the cabin.
The walk was silent as he sneaked glances at her. She appeared to be lost in thought, her hair blocking her face from his sight.
She had her arms behind her back and was humming a tune under her breath.
Straining his ears, he tried to catch the notes.
And recognised it.
It was one of the band ABBA’s hits- Lay All Your Love On Me.
He looked at her curiously. Was she old-fashioned or something?
She didn’t seem like that.
Then he blushed as he realised that he himself had always been an ABBA fan. How hypocritical of him.
They had reached the cabin by that time.
He could see the guards through the open windows.
The girl stopped just outside the door.
" Are you gonna be alright?“, she asked him, squinting against the rays of the afternoon sun.
He nodded, for some unknown reason, wanting her to stay.
" Okay. Take care of yourself.“, she began to walk away.
Then abruptly she stopped and looked back at him.
" Don’t let that happen again okay?“, she said as she brushed away the hair from her face.
" Okay.“, he promised.
The door to the cabin opened and the older guard stepped out ushering him in.
He looked inside the cabin and then at the now empty spot beside him.
She was gone.
And he realized that he didn’t know her name.