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The Weapon

Chris has written more than 200 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

I stand outside the school building and look in, a metaphor of my life, never quite belonging. This has to stop or I’ll go crazy, that’s assuming I haven’t already. Chess club, drama club, the school newspaper, even going to football games, have lost their appeal. Sometimes I don’t want to live. At other times I want to kill him.

We’ve each been labeled by the school, by our parents, by the other students. He has a power label. Mine is made of milk toast. He’s big strong, athletic, good looking and arrogant. All the literature calls him a bully. The principal, teachers and my parents agree that he’s a bully with a capital B. Look at me. I’m weak, skinny, nerdy, shy, clumsy, a victim with a capital V.

Most can’t do anything about it, and those who can, won’t. The bystanders who laugh at how he treats me are as bad as he is. They’re the pump behind the water, the fuel on the fire, the salt in the wound when he trips me in the hall or calls me sissy and gay.

I’ve talked until I’m weary of talking. Nobody listens. Nobody does anything. So I will. It’s taken planning and guts, and today I’ve brought my weapon with me to school. I intend to use it. It’s in my book bag, the bag he teases me for carrying. He says it looks like a girl’s purse.

There he is, as usual, surrounded by a throng of worshippers who try to impress him, to make him notice them. He eats the attention up.

I walk straight toward him, and the Red Sea parts. Moses approaches Pharaoh to let him know that today, everything is different. Some laugh, but most are silenced by my boldness. The smirk on his face tells me he’s amused.

“Well, if it isn’t the school’s number one sissy.” He laughs and the others join in.

“Your right,” I say. “I’m skinny and weak. I couldn’t win an arm wrestling match against a wet noodle. I admire you because you’re strong. I was at the football game Friday night and saw you catch that pass in the end zone. You won the game with that reception, and you also won the conference title for the school.”

“Yeah? So? Lots of people saw me make that catch.”

“You know, I really like football,” I say. “I follow all the college teams in the paper and on TV. You’ll probably be playing for one of my favorite schools next year when you go to college.”

“You like football?” His eyebrows raise in genuine amazement.

My hand slips into the book bag and grasps the weapon. I pull it out and extend my arm directly at him. No one is laughing now.

“What’s that?” His amazement becomes the furrowed brow of concern and confusion.

“It’s the program from the conference game. You won it for us, and when you make it big in college football, I want to have your autograph on this piece of paper.”

He licks his lips as if it’s his mouth that has gone dry this time. He takes the program and the pen I offer and scribbles on the cover.

#

I’m sitting alone at a lunch table. From the hush that swept over the room and from the faces staring in my direction, I know he’s behind me. Something slides onto the table beside my tray.

“What’s this?” I say.

“It’s a copy of the school newspaper. I actually read your article this month. It’s good. When you make it big as a writer, I want to have your signature on that page.”

I accept the pen he offers and scribble beside the article’s title. The paper slides away, and it’s my turn to utilize the raised eyebrow of amazement.

“Peace,” he says and walks away.

Comments

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 29, 2016:

Excellent story, Chris! Kill 'em with kindness. Or at least kill the attitude.

manatita44 from london on June 18, 2016:

Wow! It's very rare that I lose my cool in life. When I do, it's always with people who seem to be in need of a life. and yes, somehow they become my friends afterwards, like your man did. Interesting, isn't it? This kind of human dynamics.

Great writing!

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 16, 2016:

Deb, well said. Thank you for stopping by.

Deb Hirt on June 16, 2016:

A pen is a most powerful weapon and always has been. One can make or break a life with what is sometimes written in the media.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 11, 2016:

Genna, I appreciate your comment and that you were able to connect with this story on such a deep, emotional level. This is one of my favorites as well, but I say that about a lot of my stories. They are like children in that way. Thank you for the visit.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 11, 2016:

Blossom, sorry to have missed your comment. Thank you for being here.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on June 11, 2016:

"Most can’t do anything about it, and those who can, won’t. The bystanders who laugh at how he treats me are as bad as he is. They’re the pump behind the water, the fuel on the fire, the salt in the wound when he trips me in the hall or calls me sissy and gay." This kind of hatred and prejudice, sadly, does not exist in a vacuum. The moral of this story, the hatred met with peace, brought tears to my eyes. This is one of the best flash fiction stories I've ever read. Thank you.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on June 07, 2016:

Such a good story. I hope it might encourage some victims to realise how good they are, and some bullies to wake up to what they are doing.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 05, 2016:

Larry, thanks for reading and I appreciate your perspective. My late wife was also a public school teacher with eighth graders. She saw a lot of this. This, I think, might work with reasonable and relatively emotionally healthy individuals. On the extremes of emotional illness, I don't think so. But the concept of doing good to those who abuse you may pay off in many circumstances.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on June 05, 2016:

As a former public school teacher, I'm in tune with the bullying issue. It is a complex one. You have some kids who are just cruel, but you see a lot of kids that just tease a little too hard and don't realize know they're over doing it. You also have some kids that just aren't emotionally equipped to deal with any teasing.

Like the concept, our main character using his social skills to try to mend this stressful situation.

Great read.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on June 05, 2016:

Great story with an inspiring message. One should not consider himself to be weak. He should realise his own sphere of talents and utilise them correctly.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 04, 2016:

That was really good Cam. I really enjoyed this. A wonderful story about learning that each of us are important in our own way.

Blessings my friend.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 04, 2016:

Ruby, nice to see you. What these introverted souls fail to recognize is that they are likely to go on to be the Bill Gates' of the world. Or at least very successful. I've seen that in my own high school class.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 04, 2016:

Eric, First, I'm glad the twist caught you. I could make more of the "weapon," but in these days of school shootings, I didn't want to push it so hard.

Nice to see you today.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 04, 2016:

Stella. Glad you liked it. I don't think all could end this way or even most, but responding in the least expected way can be disarming.Thanks for visiting

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 04, 2016:

This was great! Everyone has a talent, be gay or straight, muscular or skinny. We all can shine, if given the chance.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 04, 2016:

Just a wonderful story. Perhaps there is some good in everyone, we just need to find a way to draw it out. (you sure got me on this one, great set up for the twist)

Stella Kaye from UK on June 04, 2016:

Good story. If only bullying incidents always ended that way!