This is the story my son wrote during his four days in my creative writing camp. It will appear in the upcoming LYN House Creative Writing Camp anthology, Swag Surfing.
Reese Broaddus is officially a middle grade student now. He claims to hate writing, yet is continually called upon to do it anyway. He dreams of being a famous quarterback or wide receiver but is content to grow up to be the man who signs the checks of famous quarterbacks or wide receivers. He is no stranger to publication as his story Police as well as a love letter he once wrote have appeared on this blog before.
SURVIVING THE DAY
James Jackson was at the park looking for new friends. His older brother, Mike, began picking on him. Mike just liked picking on people, always the younger ones.
Mike threw a punch and hit James in the face. James tried to fight back. As soon as he stood back up, he got knocked down again. He stood back up again, but started crying. So he ran to the car. Chris was there.
Chris was like the mom. No one was taking care of the younger kids and she was the second oldest. Since Mike kept beating them up, she looked out for them. She got out of the car and went over to Mike.
“Why did you hit James?” Chris asked.
“Duh, because I felt like it,” Mike said.
“You know he has an issue, so you shouldn’t pick on him.”
James was hiding behind Chris. Mike acted like he was going to hit him then Chris pushed Mike.
“You’re lucky your big sister is here.” Then Mike walked away.
“He’s just mad because he’s not special like you.” Chris put her arm around him and walked him back to the car.
James was two and a half feet tall. He still looked like a toddler even though he was fifteen years old. His body stopped aging when he was four. He was frustrated that he was always being picked on and he was tired of being scared all the time. The day ended the way all his days ended, with him in his room, crying.
The next day began the way all his days began, with him in the bathroom, crying. His mom used to sing him a song about brushing his teeth. He missed his parents. It had been one year, three months, two weeks, four days, and five hours since they were killed.
Chris had breakfast ready. She had made him a bowl of cereal. He ate most of it when Mike trudged down the stairs. He looked at James, got mad when he saw no breakfast for him, then picked up the bowl and dumped it on James’ head.
“Eat up,” Mike said.
James got fed up and threw his cup of milk at Mike.
“Will you both stop it!” Chris said, frustrated. “James get cleaned up and go to the bus stop. Mike, try acting mature for once.”
James missed his parents some more. They left the house to Mike, but put Chris in charge of looking after the kids. The twins, a four year old boy and girl, came down the stairs arguing, but stopped when they saw them.
“You are too late for breakfast. Go ahead and go to the bus stop with James.”
“But I have to take a shower,” James said.
“The bus is going to be here any minute, so you have no choice but to leave now.”
“But can’t you take me to school?”
“No, because I have to go to work,” Chris said.
Mike snickered. “You look ridiculous.”
“You look like you peed your pants.”
Mike was about to come over to him when the bus honked its horn. James took off running. His shirt was really wet and stuck to his skin. A Lucky Charms marshmallow was stuck in his hair. His hair was sticky. When he got on the bus, everyone began making fun of him. James tried to hide in his seat, covering his face with his back pack and sliding down into his seat.
James hid in the boys’ bathroom, trying to wash some of the milk out of his hair. He heard the second bell ring and he knew he was late for his homeroom. He ran to his class, the janitor yelled at him for running in the halls. James ignored him, then almost slid into the lockers on the wet floor.
“Your late, Mr. Jackson,” Mr. Arnold, his math homeroom teacher, said.
“I’m sorry. I promise I won’t be late again.”
“Just get to your seat. Save your stupid promises.”
Rumor had it that Mr. Arnold hated smart students because he was never a bright student when he was younger. That didn’t make James feel any better. He held back another bit of tears. He knew he couldn’t cry here because it would only bring another round of being made fun of and he wasn’t ready for that yet. He hated his spot in the classroom because Wyatt Nowak, the big-headed bully of the school, sat behind him.
“What does fist + fist equal, math midget?” Wyatt asked.
“I don’t know,” James said.
“You’ll find out after school.”
“Is there a problem Mr. Jackson?”
“Mr. Arnold, Wyatt is threatening me.”
“No I’m not. That’s just a big,” Wyatt looked at James, “I mean, really small lie.”
“That’s enough,” Mr. Arnold said. “If you have a problem, you can go to the principal.”
James sat back down and tried to be quiet for the rest of the class. He didn’t hear a word Mr. Arnold said for the entire class.
When class was over, James ran out of the classroom to avoid Wyatt. He weaved in and out of people’s legs. He was so worried about Wyatt following him, that he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going and he ran into a student at his locker. James fell down. The student dropped her books on him.
“My bad,” James said.
“No, it’s my fault,” she said.
James looked up to see Ella Richardson. She has long black hair and a couple freckles on each cheek. She had straight white teeth, because she just had her braces removed. She was skinny, but not in a bad way. She smelled like lemons and soap. She was new to the school. Mr. Arnold picked on her, too, when she was in his class. They kept staring at one another. James had liked her from the first time he saw her. In his head, a bad love song from the 60s popped into his head. But he didn’t know what to say to her.
“Hubbity hub hub,” James said. When you see a girl you like, you forget things. He was supposed to say “hi, how are you doing?”
“Hubbity hub hub?” Ella asked. “Hubbity hub hub to you, too.”
“Sorry, I meant to say are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m just fine. You’re the one who fell on the floor.”
“Yeah, I’m used to that.”
They both laughed. It was a good moment and he didn’t want to spoil it by saying something stupid. So he tried to end it quickly.
“I guess I’ll see you later.”
“Yeah…my locker’s next to yours.”
“I knew that. I just forget things.”
The rest of the day he didn’t hear a word any of his teachers said. Nor did he hear anyone making fun of him. He only thought about Ella.
When school was over, James walked to his bus. As soon as he stepped outside, it started raining. He saw Wyatt running to his bus with a backpack covering his head. James didn’t even feel relieved, he no longer cared. When James got to his bus seat, he looked over and saw Ella in the bus next to him. He started to wave at her and she waved back. He turned away so she couldn’t see the stupid grin on his face.
The buses drove away. James stared out the window, watching the rain puddle on the roads. The bus dropped him off a block from his house. When the bus pulled off, it hit a puddle and sprayed James. He goes into the house, soaking wet.
“What happened to you?” Chris asked.
“The stupid bus sprayed me with water.”
Chris wraps a towel around him. “You survived another day.”
“It wasn’t all bad.” James smiled.