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Sara on the Wall MAG
I sit at our kitchen table thoughtfully munching a bagel, slouching in the dark.
“It is a total dump down here,” my sister Sara says, pulling the chain above my head to turn on the light. My eyes shudder at the sudden brightness even though I have been up for an hour and am ready for school. I look up at her, the light on her scalp reflecting the many hair colors she has had in the past two years.
“What?” she asks, towering over me. I feel so small and helpless as I sit, she so luminous in her platform shoes.
“You driving?” I ask dully.
“No, Kirk Gallenger is giving me a ride. Looks like it’s the bus for you,” she says twisting her shirt around so it reveals part of her stomach. “Tell Mom I left. If she even gets up today.”
“Get lost,” I say. “Is Kirk boyfriend-of-the-week?” She uses my breakfast plate as an ashtray in response.
“Don’t do that,” I say, miserably.
“Damn you,” she says, throwing the rest of her cigarette out the window. It misses and falls to the floor where other junk is lying around. Sara does not notice, and I hear her slam the front door behind her.
I slowly get up to follow. Reaching into my pocket, I make sure the switchblade I stole from our neighbor’s garage is still there. When Freddie Cooger and his gang come after me today, I will be ready.
My school is so big I always feel helplessly lost. There are at least 250 sophomores, and one can lose his identity in the swarming mass of students. The school’s front doors, walls and floors are mocha brown. I hate mocha brown, but it represents the school perfectly, and it is also the color of the vanilla yogurt from the machine in the cafeteria.
With my first step in the door my hand zooms to my pocket, making sure the knife is still there. I have to be ready, defensive and quick, like Jackie Chan in Rumble in the Bronx.
I go to science first block. We are doing an experiment with phenol red that might be worthwhile. Sam Freemor, Jack Renalds, Kraig Skyler and I skip math, though; I hate math, it’s such a waste of time. Next is Spanish and only Beth Harrison and I show up because there is a test that day. Spanish tests are okay because I am pretty much fluent; my dad spoke Spanish with me when I was little and it sort of stuck. I decide to take the dumb thing. I don’t have anything better to do.
Lunch rolls around and I sit alone. Eventually Bud Herrup sits down next to me.
“What’s up?” he asks.
“Nothing,” I say. My sister’s standing at a table in front of me with her arms around Derek Holson, the quarterback, who is more than three times my size. The thought of him puts my hand in my pocket again. The knife is still there; today I am sick of being pushed around.
Dan Turner, a junior, comes over and puts his arm around me.
“Hey, when are you going to hook me up with your sister, dude?” he asks, staring at Sara.
“I was wondering the same thing,” says Bud, laughing.
“Go to hell,” I tell Dan, staring through the busy cafeteria at my sister.
“Defending her, huh?” Dan asks laughing.
“No, just get lost,” I tell him. My sister and I have no relationship whatsoever. It’s just like she happens to live in the same house. No childhood memories. I do not know her, and I don’t even want to.
I see Cindy Lipman, a junior, through the bustling cafeteria. She was voted student president last year and still assumes the position since no election was set up this year. She’s wearing jeans and a white turtleneck, has a perfect pale complexion and light pink lips. Her wavy blond hair bounces as she sits with her giddy friends. My sister is just as well known around the school as Cindy, but they are nothing alike.
“Hey Rick, you going to English? We have that test you know,” Bud says to me. Dan has left.
“Yeah, I’ll be there,” I say, still looking straight ahead. English is the only class I like.
“You’ll ace it, you know,” Bud says, annoyed. Kids always get annoyed because I ace tests. I don’t study, just kill the tests, that’s how I do it. I pick up a textbook once in a while, which is more than most kids, but I only do it on a strict need-to-know basis.
I see Freddy Cooger and his friends eating and quickly get up, throwing away my food. I reach into my pocket and feel the knife against my leg as I walk quickly out of the cafeteria. I enter the boys’ bathroom and lean against the graffiti-covered wall, feeling safe. My heart starts beating normally again and I turn around. Where my head was resting is my sister’s name, with all sorts of horrible swears and curses around it, scratched in the wall. I am sure I noticed this before, but it had never bothered me or stimulated my attention.
“Sara,” I whisper, blowing away the dust and dirt from where her name was scratched, tracing the outline of the letters with my finger. I bring my hand up, cleaning her name with my sleeve, then draw my knife, switching the sharp blade out for the first time. I hear the bell ringing for English, yet I stay in the bathroom scratching away the curses, the name-calling and the taunts. Slowly, my knife cuts away at the painful words, disintegrating them into a pile of dust on the bathroom tile at my feet.
In less than 40 minutes I am done, leaving only her name, Sara, pure, simple and fresh, the way it should be. I pause a moment to admire my work, then kick the pile of dust, throw my knife in a toilet and leave to catch the last few minutes of class.