Roger stared out the window from his desk, he hated the end of the summer break.  The weather was too nice to be stuck in a classroom listening to some teacher drone on about some shit that happened one-hundred years ago in his miserable country.  He looked down at the desktop, an old laminate off-white with metal edging.  He could see the wood substrate underneath the laminate, mainly because he had spent the last half hour working his way through the laminate with the metal of a heavy-duty paper clip he had found inside the desk.  The desk chair was attached to the desk.  Roger looked at this and wondered why the hell they still used these ancient desks.  Then he looked back out the window and into the sunny day.

He dreaded this year more than most however, this year he entered junior high school and all the horrors it involved.  He looked at his scrawny arms, browned from a summer of playing in the sun and wondered what good they would serve him.  He had spent the summer dreading the return to school because of one little asshole named Dustin.  This guy had terrorized him all of last year.  A year older than Roger he had come straight from junior high (they got let out an hour earlier) to Roger’s elementary just to threaten him.  Roger’s parents had talked to the school and they claimed there was nothing they could do. Roger had been promised the beating of a lifetime when he got to his new junior high school.  He had even asked his parents about being transferred into a french school to avoid having to meet Dustin in the junior high school yard.  But his parent’s felt that may not be the best solution for him.  His father had allowed him to spend his summer at a local boxing club learning to punch a bag so he would feel more confident.  It didn’t really work.

Roger sat here as the class and his day ticked to an end and started to worry about his fate. He had seen Dustin in the halls and his mime work, while not the best, was pretty clear.  Today was the day Roger would atone for the sin of being born.  Dustin was going to kick his ass.  All the boxing Roger had done over the summer didn’t comfort him.  His stomach began to ache, his heart began to pound and his mind raced.  His first day at this school and he would be road kill.  His place in the hierarchy of kids set in stone, as he would forever be the kid who got beat up on day one by one of the cool, older kids.  Roger was terrified.  Earlier he had tried to play hooky, his Mom wasn’t having it.  He asked his Dad to pick him up but he was busy with work.  He had no way out of this.

The bell rang to signal the end of the day, or in Roger’s head the end of days.  He quickly formulated a plan in his head. He collected his books and stuffed them into his bag.  Grabbed his best friend and hurried him,

“Come on Todd, let’s get going quick, lets get home and play some football.”

Todd agreed, always excited to chuck the football around.  Roger hurried them off school property and onto the road home.  He started to relax, thinking if he only did this for 10 more months and another year he may survive.  That is when he saw Dustin just down the street, coming his way, apparently he was a bully and a mind reader.

Dustin approached, his intentions clear, the adrenalin ran quickly through Roger’s veins.  He felt himself tense up and then realized he couldn’t run, this was it.   He quickly dropped his bag in the middle of the street and raised his arms.  Maneuvering in a way he had practiced he pushed out a sharp left jab getting Dustin’s attention and then swung his right fist into the cheek of Dustin.  Dustin dropped to the ground in front of Roger, his eyes welling with tears.  Just behind Dustin stood two of his friends in shock and behind Roger, Todd raised his arms in victory.

As Dustin’s friend collected him off the street and retreated, Roger realized he had beaten his nemesis so easily and the only thing that was stopping him was fear itself.