The school day has just started and already people are gathering on the softball field to watch an ongoingfight. I don't stop to crowd around like others do. Instead I wander up the bleachers and pull out my drawing book to sketch the scene. The first signs of spring are starting to show, with dandelions and weeds sprouting inbetween the cracks in the sidewalks. The air is warm and sticky, a bit more than it was last time spring came around.
I put my pencil down, satisfied with what I have drawn so far. The softball field is sketched faultlessly, the sun blazing down on the fresh mud, casting the shadow of diamonds from the fencing over the freshly cut grass. Supposedly some whack job tried ditching school and tore open the fence with a pair of needle-nose pliers, leaving a gaping hole in it, and no has bothered to fix it. The perimeter of the field is freshly painted with white chalk and already people are scuffing it up with the bottoms of their sneakers. Everyone is crowded around home plate, and in the middle of the chanting circle of students are two guys tugging at each others' clothes and wrestling to the ground, kicking up a cloud of dirt.
I recognize one of the boys as the notorious Christian Bay. He’s in all of my classes, but I rarely see him because he hardly ever comes to school. This is the first I've seen him in two weeks. Whenever he is here, though, he’s always fighting someone. He practically fights anyone that breathes in his general direction. It’s pathetic, really.
I watch as two security guards run across the field towards the animated crowd. Everyone scatters like ants, each heading to their first class of the day. I let out a breath of laughter as I watch Christian and the other boy struggle against the guards, trying to break away and throw in a few last blows. It’s a worthless attempt. I shake my head and walk down the bleachers. The halls are crowded, the air filled with mixed scents of deodorant and hairspray and body odor from the teams’ early morning practices. I walk by the office and stop when I saw Christian sitting inside, head hanging low, face between his knees. His hair is a mess and his knuckles have become a dark bluish-purple. They’re bleeding too.
He sits up and I suck in a tiny breath — his face is much worse. He has a bruise forming underneath his eye and his lip is split in three different places. There’s a cut over his right eyebrow, blood dripping into his eyelashes. He looks up at me and catches me staring at him. He raises a questioning eyebrow. I compose myself and I shake my head, and then continue on my walk to class.
Of course Christian isn't in English class. Or Physics. Or Calculus. Not even in Government. I'm not sure why that surprises me so much. He’s probably still sitting in the principal’s office, being informed of yet another suspension. I erase him and his bloody knuckles from my mind as I sit at an empty lunch table and ate my sandwich. My best friend Kelsey isn't at school today, and she won't be for another week and half. Her father is re-marrying some woman down in Cape Cod and she has to be one of the bridesmaids and spend time with them for a "family honey-moon." She's only been gone two days and I already miss her. Tonight is our movie night — usually we would be scrolling through Netflix for half an hour until we found an interesting movie we have never heard of, or just watch The Breakfast Club — again — if there was nothing good. That’s her favorite movie, and to be honest, it’s mine too. I love Judd Nelson as the bad boy and how extreme he is with his actions. He's quite impulsive. However, I have to scroll through Netflix alone tonight.
I pull out my drawing book and sketch the last of the baseball field by memory, filling in where the sun cast a unique shadow over the trees and those that were gathered around Christian and the other boy. I draw a few of the rusty bleachers and the toes of my shoes. The drawing seems oddly perfect in black and white, more than it did when I actually witnessed the scene first-hand and in color. Personally, I think black and white makes everything look better.
The bell rings shortly afterwards and I’m off for the day. I only had four necessary classes to take, which means I am on track to getting the heck out of my town and go somewhere far away, like New York. This town is too small for me to do anything and achieve my dream of being an artist. New York has it all — crowds, snow, cities, skyscrapers, amazing universities with the best programs I know. My town, compared to New York as a whole, is a pile of cheap unfertilized dirt. I hate it and I don't know how anyone else here can be contempt with spending their lives in a place like this.
This town is mostly trees and roads that lead to remote little homes inbetween more trees. The nearest town is a few miles out, and even that doesn’t have much. There’s no malls or nice little plazas with water fountains and fancy technology stores. It’s mostly just restaurants and a grocery store and a few stores that look like the knock offs of Forever 21.
Today I have to ride the bus home. Both my mom and dad are working so they can't pick me up, and they don't come home until the evening on certain days. That doesn't bother me much. I enjoy being home alone. It gives me time to get my work done in a set time and then relax before they bombard me with questions like "How was your day?" or "Don't you want to go out with your friends?" My response to the latter is "Kelsey is my only friend. You know that." My mom always smiles and pats my cheek. She always wants to sit and talk to me while my dad cooks dinner. I'm able to tolerate it for the most part. I know they both mean well. They're good parents and I wouldn't ask for any others.
By the time The Breakfast Club gets past the opening credits, my mom knocks on the door to let me know that she's home. My dad comes in behind her and hands me a chocolate bar, just like he does every night. I can't say he doesn't know his daughter well, but I can say that if I don't stop constantly eating chocolate, I'm going to get fat. My dad ruffles my bangs and says, "I'm making steak tonight. You in?"
"Of course," I say, my mouth already full of chocolate. I couldn't help but sink down into my sheets, eyes half closed as Judd Nelson walks into the library. It isn't long before I fall asleep. My dreams are empty and utterly boring. Dreams are supposed to fulfill your desires of what reality lacks, not replay it for you. Instead of dreaming of a sketch book under my arm and snow on my feet, I dream of Christian and that boy he was fighting. This time I’m in the crowd, making my way to the front to witness everything up close. Everyone is rooting them on, shoulders bumping and fists pounding the musty air. Kids are pushing and shoving, all trying to get a better look at the gruesome scene. A boy ffalls at my feet and scrambles back up, losing his spot at the near front of the crowd. Christian towers over his opponent a good four inches, making him seem more intimidating than he really is.
The boy falls to the ground with a blow to his left ear and Christian takes the chance to pounce on him and beat the boy until his nose is bleeding and his lip is split in three different places. Is this how it went down earlier? It was hard to tell from high up on the bleachers. There’s an annoying and obnoxiously loud ringing sound in my ears and everything starts to move in slow motion. The boy slowly scrambles to his feet and wrestles Christian back to the ground, repeatedly slamming his face down on home plate, turning it a dark blood red. I can't help but cover my mouth and gasp. Tears well in my eyes and I don't understand why. The fight is just too brutal.
I'd never actually witnessed a fight before, and I suppose my dream doesn't really count either. I wasn't actually there. The security guards come, pushing through the crowd that resist against them, rushing away from the scene, but I stand there, watching as Christian struggles. As he does so he’s watching me, eyeing me down, a sneer plastered on his face. His gums are bleeding, and he spits blood onto the dirt near my feet as the guard jerks him away. He doesn't turn back as he’s escorted to the office.