Smack in the Center

Surrounded by enemies, I took out my water-gun and threatened them. They didn’t take me seriously, but maybe that’s because they were holding Nerf guns and those damn little darts can hurt. It was only Jason and Mira and Clam, the usual bullies, but they were serious. And besides, my gun was empty, I hadn’t filled it, and the lack of sloshing sound when I brandished it at them proved that I was all puffed with no backup. Empty threat in my hand and my eyes already swimming in tears, I was the easiest target they’d ever encountered.
So they shot me and shot me, riddled me full of smacking little bruises from the Nerf darts. One of them got stuck to the side of my neck, the suction working on my oily skin. I was eight, what did I know about hygiene? So I smelled of sunscreen more than of soap, isn’t that what everyone was like?
When the teacher came out and stopped their assault, I was already a puddle in the sandbox, crying out of humiliation more than any other reason. It was unfair that I was always the smallest, stuck at the bottom of whatever biological deck I was given. And I had horsey teeth. I’d lost all my baby morals and incisors and the rest of them when I was six and had a full set of adult crunchers when I was seven. They were the only big thing about me and otherwise I was a wimp.
It changed me, that day in the sandbox, throwing up all over the teacher’s hands. Little kids do that when they’re nervous, their stomachs get all het up and spew everything they’ve got outwards in a kind of broken fountain of gunk. I must’ve had lots of chocolate that day too, because the vomit was all brown and rotten looking. The teacher pushed me away, I guess she couldn’t help it, and Jason and Mira and Clam just stood around pointing and laughing. It was a big mess. I think one of the parents of the other little kids sued the school for allowing such distress to occur during the rest and relaxation time of their poor little brats. They took away the sandbox after a while, I guess as part of a settlement for the lawsuit. I don’t know the details, exactly, I just know there was trouble and I was smack in the middle of it.

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