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, but for 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 for whenever 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, relinquishing from 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 unsupported 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.
“Its 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 salvia 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 from 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 a stupid loser.”
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, flying 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 noise. “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 hard on 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 take 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 on 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 still wet on my cheeks. “Look at what you did, you made my hand dirty you fucker-punk.” He rises again and stomps 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 created a pond of tears and blood.
Neither do I.