Trevatore's Purgatory


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Chapter 1

My life is on repeat, like a child re-watching their favorite Disney movie. Then there is the Disney villain who is beating me to a pulp at this very second.                                                                                           

“And this is what you get for being such a loser!” yells Clark, kicking me once again on my ribs.

I’m giving myself too much credit. It’s like I’m insinuating that I’m a prince or something. No, no I’m more like an extra in a film; that one who only appears for a millisecond. 

“Kick him in the balls, Clark!” suggests Roger.

“Better yet, stomp on them,” Ben laughs.

How many times did he kick me? I think twenty-seven. I’m not entirely sure to be honest. My mind tends to drift whenever I get clobbered by Clark and his gang. It’s a way to distract myself from the pain.

Clark Carter, Roger Ford, and Ben Sender are labeled the richest kids at school. Since sixth grade, I was marked their punching bag. Never once did they let me forget that.

We all know each other by our fathers who work as surgeons. My father, however, works under Mr. Carter as a surgical assistant. For Clark, it’s a trump card. He threatens to fire Father if I don’t allow him to beat me to a pulp daily. I told Father about this, but all he said was to suck it up. My own damn father cares more for his job than his son. So am I considered wealthy? No, Father is. He doesn’t like using his money on me, only on his girlfriends.

My parents divorced four years ago. My baby sister, Charlie, moved to Chicago with my mother and stays with my Aunt Civi. As for me, I stayed here in Fort Worth with my workaholic father who ignores me as if I were a cockroach living inside the walls.

I live near school so our house is middle-class. Dad could afford a better one if he wanted. Honestly what’s the point if he hardly comes home? Occasionally he leaves me money for food and school supplies. The rest I’m forced to conserve until he remembers there’s a kid he has to feed.

“Nice suggestions,” Clark says. “I’ll do both.” As promised, he delivers the two blows.

I reply to the agonizing pain, screeching like a girl who had seen a mouse. The trio burst out laughing, relishing in my suffering as if it feeds them.

“Hey look Clark, Tore has a comic book,” Roger says, rumbling through my backpack.

My name is actually Tore. Yes, the past tense of tear. Mother told me that Father named me that when he tore his pants on his way to the hospital, drunk. By the time he realized his mistake, the damage was done. 

So, because my parents were too “busy” to rename me, I’m forced to be stuck with this god-awful name. He was unsupportive even back then. They thought they could make it work with another child, turned out futile. A part of me is glad they got together, for without them, Charlie wouldn’t have been born.

I miss Charlie. She is the only person that cares about me. Mother hardly calls. She won’t even allow Charlie to Facetime me. I suppose I can understand. She believes my lack of luck can infect Charlie. Father feels the same. That’s the only reason why he took me in. You would think their lack of love for me would bring them closer.

“Let’s tore it,” Ben stupidly remarks.

“It’s tear, you idiot,” Roger corrects.

“Dude, I know. I was trying to be creative here.”

“Ah, please, don’t,” I beg, my voice mumble and small.

Clark pulls my hair, jerking my incapacitated body up. “Don’t what, Tore? What do you not want us to do?”

I swallow down my tears, my throat having trouble taking in the saliva since my head is pulled back. “Please, don’t tear my comic,” I croak.

Oh man, I shouldn’t have said that. Now he knows that comic is precious to me.

“Its tore, you loser,” Ben corrects. As in perfect timing, Clark lets go of my hair and Ben kicks my face before it has a chance to make contact to the pavement.

I’m bleeding inside my mouth now. I wouldn’t be surprised if I lost a tooth.

I manage to look up despite the pain. Clark smiles like the clown from IT. He motions Roger to throw him my comic.

“Let’s see here.” He reads the cover. “Adventures of Superman.” He kneels to face me. “Want to be Superman, Tore?”

“N-no,” I respond weakly.

He pinches the edge of a page. “I think you do. Say that you do,” he orders.

“I do! I do! Please, don’t tear it,” I beg.

“Its tore!” Ben kicks me again.

Despite my plea, he goes ahead and tears it anyway. “That’s for saying tear instead of tore.” I wince when he tears another one. “That’s for being a loser.” He rips out four. “And that’s… well, that’s for being stupid.”

Clark hands back the book to Ben who resumes from where he left off. Ben hands Roger every ripped page he tears out—who shreds them into pieces, throwing them right above my head like confetti.

“Well, will you look at this mess,” Clark says. “Tore, you shouldn’t litter.” He stomps my head. I hear a crack on my nose. “Go on, now,” Clark squishes my head as if his shoe is a spatula and my head a grilled cheese, “pick up each and every piece of your stupid comic. Think of those poor janitors, will ya? Here, I’ll help you up,” he says, pulling me up until I’m on my knees.

My body sways as if I had too much to drink. Never been drunk before, but I can imagine the feeling. I feel so heavy. Whatever strength I had is all gone now. I so badly want to fall back down on the pavement, despite the situation I’m in. But I won’t do that. I can’t. My strong will is what’s keeping me stable. That comic means too much to me to give up.

I crawl shakily towards the torn pieces, my body twitching from the fear that Clark will hit me when I’m least expecting it. And that is exactly what he does. He jabs me so hard in my stomach that I fall to the side and groan from the intense pain.

I knew the attack was coming, but I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I lift my chin, resting it on the steaming pavement as I look at my torn comic. Some of the pieces are flying away. I eye where each of them lands, noting to retrieve them whenever this is all over.

A gentle breeze lands a torn piece a few inches from me. It is as if the wind is telling me it is on my side. I stretch my arm to grab it, but a foot slams on top of my hand, ceasing my movements.

I should have known better. Not even Mother Nature will defend me.

     I don’t scream at Clark’s actions. I don’t like admitting it, but I’m used to this pain already. Instead I snivel, my whole body shaking as I still make the effort to reach for that piece of paper. It’s only a few inches away. Why does it feel like miles?

“You little fucker. Why don’t you give up?” Clark says, kicking me once again. “Why do you have to be such a loser, huh? Why? Why? Why?” He kicks me in-between each why. He sighs, tired of the attack. “Ben, Roger, grab the garbage."

“Alrighty, boss,” they harmonize, high fiving as they skip their way towards the trashcan.  

I can’t turn around to see them, but I could hear them lift the can. A load of morning trash splashes on my head and back. My shirt gets soaked with chocolate milk that the students selfishly didn’t finish.

The trio laughs at the pathetic face I make.

Clark kneels. “Something is missing.” He pours a carton of milk that smells sour over my face. He must have left that out in the sun just for me. I should feel honored he thinks of me that way. “There you go. This look suits you best.” He slaps my face; disgust washes over him when he realizes the milk is still wet on my cheeks. “Look at what you did, you made my hand dirty you fucker-punk.” He rises again and stomps on my back. “Here’s your punishment,” he says, Ben and Roger joining in.

The attack keeps going until the morning bell rings. Finally, the trio stops.

“Aw, man,” whines Roger. “I really want to hurt him some more.”

“We’ll continue this after school. Right, buddy?” Ben says, tapping my back. “Let’s go before the teachers see this.”

I feel Clark glaring down at me. I look up at him, my eyes stinging.

Clark looks disgusted. “Don’t give me that look you piece of trash.” He spits on me, his saliva lands on my forehead. “I don’t even know why you’re alive,” he reprimands, finally leaving with his buddies and me alone.

I hide my head inside my arms, releasing the sobs I contained until I create a pond of tears and blood.

Neither do I.


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Chapter 2

I remember the day Clark first bullied me. I defended a girl he was picking on; I don't know whether I hurt his pride or if it was just jealousy, but from that moment on, I was his constant target. At first I stood up for myself, even won the first fight, but then he recruited Ben and Roger, and thus from that moment on, they gradually stole my bravery. Clark practically brainwashed me into thinking I was weak, and my brain believed it—believes it. Every foul rumor, every foul word became true.

I'm a loser.

I'm ugly.

I'm nothing.

Those words keep repeating involuntarily as I stare at my reflection. I'm currently hiding in the boy's restroom. No one comes here because of the rumors of a suicide that happened. No, actually they do come, hoping to catch some paranormal-bullshit-activity, but that's after school hours so it is safe to say I'll be alone for a while.          

I throw away the banana peel that rests on my shoulder, and I shake my head to remove whatever waste that might be hiding in my hair. It is a struggle to remove my t-shirt when it's soaked against my skin thanks to that rotten milk, and my body aches every time I move my arms as if it experienced a good workout at the gym.

I place my shirt underneath the soap dispenser until it gets slippery. As I let my shirt soak in the sink, I examine my wounds around my body and face.

My chin is bleeding from when Clark greeted me with that surprise kick on my back. A scar will no doubt mark to remind me of this day. My nose is dripping blood and crooked, guessing right on that nasal fracture.

Going to the nurse will only lead me to questions I'll probably mostly answer. And I know there are good people out there, but that would mean they'll help me and I cannot receive their help. I don't want their help, actually. Their help would mean they will share my pathetic story online for the world to know. The moment my face is known, Mr. Carter's—not Clark's father but grandfather—reputation will precede him as the chairmen of the hospital Father works at. If he's reputation is tarnished, firstly he will cover it up somehow to save Clark, then fire Father for allowing his son's mistake to spread over the internet, and that will lead to Father coming home drunk every night beating me by night while Clark beats me by day. That's the only reason why Clark doesn't cyberbully me. He's smart to keep his beatings a secret, and as messed up as it sounds, I'm glad for that privilege. We both can't afford to damage our family's reputation. I don't know about him, but I'll be punished never to see Charlie again.

Besides, I know how to fix this fracture. I can say that with confidence only because Father taught me how. This wasn't the first time my nose was broken, and it wasn't by Clark.

It was an accident, Mother didn't mean to do it. A heated argument got in-between my parents, and I got in the way when Mother threw an iron at Father. The iron hit me right on my face. 

I remember that day so well because both my parents showered me with love, which was rare for them to express at the same time. Mother helped stop the bleeding, and Father aligned my nose back in place while he explained how, to cease the atmosphere after what had happened. After that, that's when they decided that having a second child might work out their differences. Though that only lasted when Charlie turned two.

I pull out some paper towels and blow away the lingering liquid dripping down my nose. With just one blow, blood submerges the paper towel. I wait patiently for my trembling fingers to stop before I align my nose back in place, breathing out my pain. I turn on the other faucet to wash my face and neck, then my sticky arms and chest, rinsing first then scrubbing it with soap. Then I stuff some paper up my nose to help control the bleeding.

I survey the wounds marked on my torso and back. The bruises won't come till tomorrow, and I'm so looking forward to how my body will look like a spoiled orange that grown mold all over.

I grab a paper towel and leave it under the running faucet until it gets soaked. I gently place it over one of the scraping wounds on my body, wincing the moment the paper touches my torn skin, the paper towel sticking like glue. I continue doing this to the other wounds until my body looks like a Papier-mâche.

I turn off the faucet that drenched my shirt and begin to scrub away the smell. While doing so, I stare at myself.

I'm not as good looking as Clark. I'm scrawny like a twig, my chin looks like a butt, my skin pale like a ghost, my hair is a mash mess, and my eyebrows are bushy like Bert from Sesame Street. The only thing I admire about myself is my green eyes, but at the moment, it's hard to notice them because of my dark circles. The promise Clark made during a business party I was forced to attend with Father is what kept me up all night. He told me he was going to beat the living shit out of me to celebrate being high school students. I was too afraid thinking of the possibilities of what he was going to do.

I squeeze my shirt over and over again, and let it to dry on the rack attached to the last stall door hiding in the corner. I hide myself inside and sit on the toilet, my whole body shivering from the man-made air hitting my naked torso.

First period started fifteen minutes ago. I see no point attending class now. I don't have to worry about Father scolding me for skipping. He'll receive the call from school, but he won't answer it and/or won't care what the message entails. I'm debating whether or not I should skip school and go home. If Father doesn't care about my grades, then I shouldn't. Besides, school won't get me anywhere.

No, I shouldn't risk sneaking out. If I get a truancy ticket, it would reverse back to ruining Father's reputation. I'll just hide in here until my shirt dries. I have a sweater hiding inside my locker. I'll just wear that for the remaining school hours.

I don't have a phone to pass the time, so instead I dig inside my backpack and cup out all the torn pieces of my comic. Even though my whole body ached, I managed to locate and retrieve every piece I could find. I'm lucky that Clark didn't shake out the contents in my backpack, otherwise I would've wasted time putting everything back inside—which would've made me constantly worry that a security guard, or teacher, would catch me while I frantically look for the pieces of my comic book. Good thing too because it took me a while to retrieve the ones that flew away. I'm thankful my memories came through that time.

If I try hard enough, I can tape the pieces back together. I just hope I got all of them. I don't have tape with me, so I'll have to use plastic dividers to organize each page. I've got to puzzle each of them first though.

Superman is one of my favorite superheroes. Man, if I were Superman, if I were brave like him... honestly I wouldn't know how I would turn out. Will I be heroic like him? Or would I take revenge on everyone who harmed me, turning into the villain? I don't know why I'm wasting my thoughts away fantasizing. My life is no fantasy book. Ugh, I envy Clark for having the same name as Superman.

The reason why this comic means so much to me is because Charlie wasted her allowance to buy this for me on my birthday, the day she left to Chicago. She just got a random one, not knowing it was Volume #477: Time And Time Again! Superman is stuck at some distant planet in the far future it seems, meets the Legion of Super Heroes and teams up with them to defeat the sun-eater. I'm not entirely sure what's going on, but now this comic with beautiful memories is ripped apart like my life; tore and torn. I should have known better not to have brought this to school, but I couldn't help myself. Having this book with me makes me feel as if my sister is encouraging me to move on. 

It took me four periods, and trying to be still and unheard from anyone that came to relieve themselves, to puzzle and organize the comic. And as I feared, the top left corner of the first page is missing; one out of the hundreds. I remember what goes here. A sentence that says, "Time is against me." I can't do anything about it now. The wind probably took it somewhere, far from my reach. I just hope the next time I see Charlie, whenever that will be, she won't be sad knowing her big brother didn't properly care for her gift.

My shirt is dry by fifth period, so I decide to attend the rest of my classes. I make a pit stop to my locker first to get my sweater, and I hide my face underneath my hoody, trying to conceal my cuts on my chin and neck.

I'm the first to arrive. I don't bother asking the teacher where to sit. He might end up making sitting arrangements later. But just in case he doesn't, I'll claim the last seat on the fifth row.

Mr. Gonzales, teaching Algebra 1, welcomes me to his class, doing that to every student that comes in. He glances at me time and time again, and every time he does, I avoid his gaze. I hope he doesn't ask me to bring down my hoody. I think he might know what happened to me, but he won't help, even though he doesn't know it yet. I say that because... Clark is here.

He notices me sitting at the back of the row. Damn it! The one class I decide to attend...

Now I know what class to skip from now on.

For a second, my stupid head thought I will have a normal day of class. Now Clark is going to mentally bully me. Oh shit, a thought just occurred to me. What if this isn't the only class I have with him? He probably might know during rollcall, and if he knows, he will figure out I skipped, and just throw that at my face later.

Clark takes the seat right in front of me. He doesn't turn around to greet me like a lost friend, or even acknowledge my presence. I want to get up and sit somewhere else, but all the seats have been taken already. I'm stuck being his front neighbor for the remaining of the first semester. Now I'm begging myself that Mr. Gonzales will assign us seats, which he doesn't when he says he'll note down our names to our current seats to help with rollcall.

He calls our names one by one, and when Clark's name was called, his voice makes me jump and shake. Call it instinct I suppose.

"Tore Main," Mr. Gonzales calls me.

"Here!" I announce, managing to surprise myself when my voice came out strong and clear.

"Tore, I would like to see my student's faces when I teach. Can you bring down your hoody, please?" he says.

My heart drops. I hesitate for a second, feeling the room staring, Clark glaring. If I don't do what he says, I'm just going to bring more attention to myself—which I don't want.

I do what he says. 

Mr. Gonzales narrows his eyes and walks my way, examining my face. "What happened to you, son?"

I can't tell him what happened. Last time a teacher tried to help me, Clark got his grandfather to fire her. Not to spite me, but like I mentioned, to keep his reputation in check. He managed to bribe the principal by donating money to the school, and to him.

I try so hard not to move my eyes towards Clark's direction. I can feel his warning, can feel his intense presence strangling me. "Nothing sir," I lie, keeping my voice calm and convincing, even though it's dying to shake and croak. "I didn't see a wet sign in the restroom this morning, and I tripped like an idiot, sir."

The class giggles, Mr. Gonzales silencing them. "Very well," he says, buying my lie and continues with rollcall.

I dare to glance at Clark, whose glare is twice as taunting as it was this morning. He mouths, "You're dead," and my lungs forget to inhale oxygen.

Why would he say that? I didn't say anything! I didn't rat him out! What could I possibly have done that made him spite me even more? I just don't get him! I don't get him at all!

When class is over, I don't let him take the advantage in leaving before I do. My mind kept torturing me into thinking he was copying my steps, but it was just my paranoia being stupid.

I don't bother making friends at lunch, despite Clark not being here. Besides, he won't allow it. I'm thankful I have no other classes with him. When the final bell rings, I dash out of here. I don't want to keep the promise Clark made this morning.

My heart races when I see Clark and his buddies meeting at the front of the school, not yet noticing me. I calmly go back inside and find another exit.

Home is a block away, but taking a detour back is hard when I have no phone to guide me. I manage to find a street that leads right to my neighborhood. It's through a construction site. I safely walk on the sidewalk, staring at the construction workers build... whatever they're building. I don't see a sign to define it yet.

I'm thankful Clark lives miles from me. It's safe to say he doesn't know where I live. When I get home, I tremble for the keys, my hands still shaking from the thought of Clark surprising me from behind. When I unlock the door and quickly dash inside, I sigh in relief that my anxiety was overreacting.

I slide my backpack lazily from my back, letting the contents inside bang on the wooden floor. I walk like the zombie towards the kitchen, opening the fridge to find something to eat.

I grab the deli fresh ham, cheese, lettuce, mustard, and the bread hiding on top of the fridge. I open the cabinet below me, inside revealing the pile of knives I need to spread the mustard. I linger my hand above the butter knife, but my eyes drift to the boning knife. I grab that one instead and stare at it.

What would happen if I stabbed myself with this? Will I die instantly? Yeah, if I'm lucky. Too bad I'm not, so I'm more than likely to die from blood loss.

I don't want to suffer anymore. Do I even have a purpose for being alive? I have no goal for the future. College is four years from now, but when it approaches, what good would it do for me? I'll just be wasting money doing something I'll be bound to fail at. I have no skills that can benefit for a suited carrier. I don't have the brains to become a surgical assistant like Father. I don't have the courage to join the Marines.

Maybe if I had friends to tell me what my good qualities were, I might take their advice. Too bad I don't have any friends. Clark will threaten anyone the second he hears someone being friendly with me. Even teachers! I remember I had a teacher named Mrs. Perez. She was such a warmhearted person who was fair to every one of her students. Clark didn't like that. She was the teacher that Clark's grandfather managed to get rid of.

I don't stand a chance in getting married either. I can't be normal around them, because girls are a different species with a different language. I have no idea how to approach them. When I try, I blabber like a baby trying to speak for the first time. Besides, girls bully me too, well more like order me around. Plus I can't deny them their request—not because of Clark's influence, but because they smell too good to say no to. I might be a coward, but I'm still a guy, and I obey with no protest. They use me to carry their books, they make me do their homework, and they also take my allowance to buy makeup. I know they hold no interest in me, yet I have this silly hope that they might give me a chance. It's dumb really. I know it will never be. Clark might physically bully me, but the girls mentally torture me.

I don't stand up for myself, mainly because I'm too afraid to speak, and whenever I do, it becomes brittle and tight. Whereas Clark's voice is gruff and smoky that has all the girls swoon over for. He's the same age as me, but puberty reached out to him and yet to glance at me.

So why am I alive? What does God have planned for me? Does he have a guardian angel looking out for me? If so, why hasn't he or she done something to help improve my life? No, there is no use in relying on him. Now my mind is certain that the bible is nothing but a story that the church made up. I think there is some sort of hidden organization that's forcefully making the words in the bible come true, just so that they can brainwash the people to believe the bible is some sort of crystal ball. Something created the universe, yet that answer is yet to be solved to whom it was. I do believe there is a God of some form. It's just not the one that everyone is raving about. I stopped believing that version after he stopped answering my pleas.

I let the point of the knife touch my neck. Yeah, I can make a line right below my throat, and let the blood come rushing out like a waterfall. My body probably won't be discovered right away, not until Father fancies a visit. He only does that once a month. A month, that's how long my body will rot. Father won't care if I die. Mother, psh, she doesn't even remember she had a son. She keeps blaming me for being born, for if I wasn't, she would not have been forced into marriage by Grandmother, who's currently suffering from Alzheimer. A one night stand was their intention. Though it did not turn out as they hoped it would. Then Charlie...

I place the knife back inside the cabinet, closing it before reconsidering.

I guess there is one good quality in being a coward. 

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Chapter 3


Two weeks I avoided Clark. He didn't like that. Every fifth period he'd pass me a note—something threatening I suppose—but I would throw it away, never reading it. He really didn't like that. For those fourteen days, I managed to avoid running into him afterschool. He really really didn't like that. 

On the sixteenth day of the third week, I ran away from him as he chased me after school. I took the opportunity when I saw the football players training on the field. I sat on the stands and I pretended to watch them train. I knew Clark would not touch me knowing the coaches were near. He sat behind me and waited patiently for me to make the first move. His phone saved me that day; probably his rich family wondering where he was. He cursed and threw a water bottle at my head before leaving with his bud.

On the third week, he avoided me. At first I thought he was done with me. Nope. Why did I give myself hope? Nah, he had others torture me in his place. He did his research, found out which classes I'm in and who my classmates were. He chose those who would gladly do his biddings, offered them money no doubt, and they secretly tormented me in class. They stole my utensils, took my homework which I couldn't turn in in time, got me in trouble with the teachers, stole my lunch and dumped the rest, and before I knew it, I was pushed, shoved, ordered, and laughed at. Clark turned me into everyone's punching bag. But through it all, I was never once recorded, not even by the bystanders. Clark got the whole school under his wing—even the seniors worship the guy 

      On the fourth week, I skipped more of my classes, only attending Art and English. Right when the bell rang, I jumped out of my seat and rushed to the "haunted" restroom. There I felt safe, my haven. To skip the time, I drew.

      Now it's Thursday of the fifth week, and I'm currently stuffed inside a trash bin. Wasn't Clark's doing I'm afraid. One of the seniors stuffed me in here, and now I'm being rolled off somewhere. The revolting smell is torturing my nose, ants are biting me, and the thick air is taunting my lungs. I refuse to cry, not now at least.

      Gosh, I have a bad feeling about this. 

      "Brought you a little present," says the senior after a long harrowing ride.

      "Did anyone record you?" It's Clark's voice. 

      Oh man, oh man oh man oh man. I had the feeling; I was hoping I was wrong. I would rather be pummeled by the upperclassmen than by Clark. At least they have mercy. 

      "Nope, ambushed him right as he left the school grounds." He taps the bin. "Stuffed him in here. Anyone who asked, I was taking out the trash," he laughs, Ben and Roger chuckling along. 

      "Here." I don't need to see what I know he's doing. He's giving him money. 

      "Anytime you need my assistance, fill free to call me." I hear the senior leave.   

      My world shifts position, causing my body to bounce against the plastic bin. I hug my knees and hide my head in-between them just in time for the lid to open. 

      "Slide him out of there, will ya?" Clark orders. 

      I'm dragged out, still holding good on my cradling position. 

      "You know," I feel Clark's breath on my ear. "It wasn't very nice of you to ditch our appointment. You outa be taught a lesson before we get down to our regular beating."

      I just want to go home. Why can't they let me go home!

      "Grab that will ya?" 

      "The pipe?" Ben asks. 

      I stiffen. 

      "No you idiot, your head—YES THE PIPE!"

      I can hear the metal tube leave the ground, Clark cursing at Ben for being incompetent. 

      "Now, which body part should I hit first?" he thinks, tapping the pipe on his palm. Every time it contacts his skin, it calms me knowing he's still thinking and not yet hitting. 

      "Yo, Clark, are you sure we should be doing this? It's a bit—" Roger hesitates on Clark's decision. 

      "Shut up!" Clark yells, banging the pipe against another metallic item. "I'll do what I want to-to, THIS!" he hisses, feeling is finger point. 

      "OFFICER QUICK! OVER HERE!" I hear a deep voice yell, but it sounds forced. Clark swears before I hear their footsteps fade away.

      I whimper, relaxing my mind now that I know he's gone. A few moments later, I feel a warm hand land on my back. I flinch from the touch. 

      "Woah, hey, it's okay." The person's hand massages my back. "Are you okay?" I don't answer her. She sounds my age. "Can you get up?"

      I shake my head. "L-leave me alone," I sob. 

      "I can't just leave," she insists. 

      "You don't understand. They can harm you for helping me."

      "My dad is a Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps who taught me self-defense. If they want to fight, I'll take them down with one punch! Besides, anyone who runs away from a bluff is a coward who can't win in a physical fight." I can tell she's trying to make me laugh, but I'm not in the mood. 

      Her hand leaves my back, already I miss the touch.

      She sighs when she receives a text notification. "Hey, listen," I hear muffling, "I gotta go, but if you ever need someone to talk to, fill free to call me." I hear a paper rip. "I'm leaving my number here. Cheer up, alright? Life gets lousy before it gets any better." I concentrate on her footsteps hesitantly retreating. "I'll be expecting your call!" is that last thing she says before disappearing completely. 

      I lift up my head. The first thing I see is a folded paper being crushed by a rock. I take the paper and unfold it. It reads: Kate, then her phone number underneath. No last name, just surname.  

      I crush the paper. I should throw this away. If Clark finds this, he's going to hunt her down. I can't let a bystander suffer because of me. Whoever she is, she's a good soul. 

      But then again... I relax my grip and straighten the paper, re-reading her name. 

      She sounded nice. Who was she I wonder? Does she go to the same school as me? What was she doing—I look around me—in a construction site? Wait, this is the one close to my house. Technically speaking, it's inside—but at the same time outside—the site, where concrete pipes are piled in a pyramid, hiding within some trees they didn't destroy yet. They haven't fence this area, so it's open to where people can trespass. I can see the sidewalk a few meters away. That explains how the girl saw the commotion. Or maybe she heard it.                      

      I refold the note and tuck it inside my back pocket, get up, and begin to dawdle home with my eyes on the ground, hands tucked inside my sweater.  

      I had the feeling I was going to get ambushed one of these days. A part of me didn't care. I kinda want Clark to take this bullying too far; hopefully it can lead to my death. Then, when I'm dead, the world will know how much of a dick he is. He'll get punished and I'll smile on the other side. He can be the brave soul to do what I can't do to myself. 

      It's a shame today wasn't the day to die.  

      I need to take a shower. I also need food, but I'm running out of money. I was robbed of some on the second week from Clark's hired henchman; didn't bring some with me then on. Afterwards I packed my school lunches, only for it to be either stolen or thrown away, depending what type of lunch I brought. Now to avoid all that, I eat in the "haunted" restroom. 

      I never had to worry about Clark stealing money from me. He has money. His henchmen starve for it. People in general stave for it, so I guess it's understandable. 

      It's already the beginning of the new month, yet Father hasn't given me my month's allowance yet. Last month, he just placed the money inside the mailbox. He's probably going to do that again. He must've gotten a lot of calls from school, but he hasn't come home to ask why I'm skipping. I want to move to a different school, start fresh. But Father won't offer me that kindness. Can't stand the sight of me I guess.

      I blankly stare at my small house, only blinking when I feel my eyes begin to water. One story with three rooms, two restrooms, a small dining room with no dining table, a kitchen with few little utensils, a living room with no TV or couch. Bright side, the rooms have beds, but that's how far it goes. It's as if the bank threatened to foreclose the property, leaving me with a few days to pack up and leave.

      This place is not my haven. It is a reminder that I'll always remain alone, unwanted. 

      All of the sudden, the front door opens. 

      My eyes bulge from my socket, my lips quivers. My knees hit the concrete, ignoring the surging pain that follows with the action. I open my arms; the small body wraps her arms around me so tight that it blocked any circulation for air. I hug her back, caressing her like a newborn baby. My eyes sting and my body shakes, stuttering the name I thought I would never say out loud again, "C-charlie."

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