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Honorable Mention - "The Big Fight"

1996 Anne Horton Writing Award
Honorable Mention
"The Big Fight"

I get off the school bus and head toward the huge playground to wait for the bell to ring and school to begin. It is a cold morning, somewhere in the transformation from fall to winter. I can clearly see my breath in front of me. It is the kind of day where my friends and I, come recess time, will probably be found out behind the big tire configuration toking on rolled up pieces of notebook paper and exhaling the condensed water vapor as if we are smoking eleven-inch cigars. I'm wearing my usual apparel: white high tops, blue jeans, and my proudly displayed new winter jacket, with my book bag slung over my shoulder. I'm still tired and groggy from getting up.

To the naked eye, this morning appears no different than any other, but it is. I feel nauseous; my guts feel as if they are being rung out like a wet towel. I can't ever remember being so nervous and having such intense butterflies in my entire life. I'm still acting rather cool, though. I don't want anyone to think that I'm actually scared, but they all know. They must know. On this day, Randy Kinsey is going to take my young life.

I just received the official report last night after basketball practice for the fifth grade Wallace Raiders. Randy Kinsey, a notorious troublemaker, not to mention a terrible basketball player, is going to beat me to a bloody pulp. According to my so-called friends, whose eyes light up at the thought of seeing a fight, Randy is seeking revenge concerning a remark about his famed foul breath, which I thought I had made in the confidence of friends.

Needless to say, I'm feeling a bit tense. I keep telling myself to be reasonable. These stupid rumors never amount to anything. I'm sure it will blow over. I don't know why I'm getting so frantic about something that isn't even going to take place. Besides, Randy's always aimlessly threatening kids.

Then, as I calmly progress toward the center of the playground, a few friends run over to bring me the good news. I try to suppress the shaking of my hands by putting them in my pockets. They say that Randy is looking for me. My heart descends into my lower abdomen. All hope is now lost. I'm a dead man.

I look up and see Randy walking toward me. I'm too proud to turn and run so I just keep walking straight. I wish the stupid bell would ring. It always seems to ring prematurely, but not today. It doesn't make a sound. Instead, all I hear is the hushed excitement of my peers. They all seem so damned intrigued by the whole thing. I feel like I'm going to puke. I swear I'll never watch another fight as long as I live.

Randy mutters something to me and shows his teeth like a caged animal. He's standing about two inches from my face. I can feel, and smell, his instigating breath. I don't hear what he says. My head is spinning and everything is moving in slow-motion. His eyes get real big, like they're going to bulge out of his head. As his face starts to change color, due to lack of oxygen to his brain, he lunges, and I can see his huge fist coming at the side of my head. When he connects, though, I don't feel anything, except nausea. I'm just standing there with my hands at my sides .

He hits me about four or five more times before an older kid decides to discontinue my use as a human punching bag. The bell rings. I still don't feel an ounce of physical pain. Everyone forms a herd and pushes through the front doors of the school. Out of the corner of my eye I see Randy smiling. He seems to feel much better. I can't figure out why I'm fighting back tears. It didn't even hurt.