As the school-appointed psychologist questions me, my mind drifts away to wonder how I got here. I thought I was above their violence, their banality, their pettiness… But no, the incident proved I’m no better than the other kids.
When teachers give us time to waste between classes, I try to hide and read alone. Of course this is not always possible, especially when it rains, because then chasing a ball out in the open is no longer an option, and kids have to release their energy in some other way.
After the ceremonial debasement of the geeks, some kids came after me bearing a turd they offered as meal. That alone was not enough to upset me. No, that had to wait until I failed to wrestle away the book I was reading from one of the brutes and it fell in the rain.
It was the only copy of that book I had. It took me weeks to find it, and I was just about to finish when they took it from me. Just seeing it lying there, lifeless beneath the rain, filled me with rage. Instead of an apology, I received a smug “reading is for—” that I silenced with a punch to the brat’s face.
I must admit it felt good. I oppose violence, in any form. But there is something in justice that just trumps everything else. I tried to explain this to the psychologist, a mistake I regret deeply. “Surely it was just an accident. The boys here don’t act like that,” she explained to me. “You need to work on your anger issues.” Look at her, trying to fix me, to make me one with the others. To make me normal. Even white.
But she either fails to see that’s not an option, or she doesn’t care. So I just nod to everything she says and try to answer what any other kid would. She makes these obviously loaded questions, like “Do you feel displaced from your community?” which I answer as dishonestly as I can.
I have finally sunk to the depths of social status. That, however, has brought me close to the social outlaws: the geeks. Because despite the large amount of anti-bullying, anti-hate propaganda teachers shove down our throats, kids carry on their abuse against us with more refined and subtle ways.
There is no physical abuse, only endless verbal assaults and cold contempt. They simply leave us out of every party, act as though we are unworthy of them and ignore or mock every word we say. So we react by throwing our own parties. Still, it’s easy to see every single one of my geek friends would easily leave the others to die if that only slightly improved their social status.
I can see it in their eyes when someone popular talks about a party they’re not invited to. They set up their own replicas of those parties, not to feel left out. They can’t understand or accept that we’re alone in this world. “Are you listening to me?” asks the psychologist. “I apologize, I was…” But it’s too late, she’s shaking her head and writing down notes about me.
I somehow got through the rest of that day and survived until the next. “Hey!” a kid that likes whispering to himself greets me. “A bunch of us are hanging out at an empty house tonight, wanna come?” I really don’t, but the psychologist said I had to “raise my social interaction levels above the desired average quota,” so what the hell. “Ok,” I concede.
The party is just their response to another party where the cool kids are hanging out, and where my geek friends would actually like to be. Eight of us enter a poorly lit basement, while the granny of one of them is still upstairs. However, that doesn’t stop us from bringing in alcohol to add to the soda.
Oh yes, alcohol. I am way underage to be drinking it. But it seems that if a party is thrown without it, it becomes a meeting. As far as I know, alcohol is the party. This liquid courage, that by the way, tastes like crap, makes these tortoise teenagers explore outside their shell. All their inhibitions seem to fade and we all vent the actual hate and jealousy eating us up.
There is a certain sense of camaraderie in our condition, and for a moment it inebriates me even more than the alcohol. I finally understand the power in the feeling of belonging to something greater than myself.