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"Pop"

“My name is Karen!”

My first punch caught him by surprise. It connected with a solid “Whump!” I felt the cartilage of his nose pop beneath my angry fist. I felt my fatty knuckles pop against his shocked face. I felt my fragile memories pop from their tenuous shells and flee the dusty corners they had been safely tucked away in. “Pop” Desperate fury clawed my pounding head. I swung again.

“Crack!” It had started years ago. He had probably forgotten why he hated me, but I remembered. It was because of popcorn. When we were in first grade our school had a movie night, a special treat for most of us, whose families barely scraped middle class. Mrs. Ludwig had rolled her rusty red popcorn machine into the peeling gymnasium, and the steady popping of its buttery snack defined our mood: impatiently content.

Mrs. Ludwig filled a crisp white paper bag to the top and passed it to me as I came in the door. “Thank you,” I breathed, cradling the buttery treat. As with everything I did, I chose my seat very carefully. After long minutes of calculation and observation I deposited myself on the empty right side of the middle row where I had an optimal balance of comfort, view, and accessibility to the bathroom in case the film left the safe confines of its G rating.

The lights flicked out and projector started to hum. We leaned forward, anticipation growing, blowing up inside of us and bursting over and over again as the previews began to play. The rustle and crunch of popcorn hushed; the room went quiet.

“Ohhhhhhh, aha ohahhhhh!” He ran into the room, beating his chest and bellowing his war cry. He tripped to a halt just short of Principal Jean’s barbed-wire stare. “George here,” he grunted, unaffected by the needles shooting from the glares of our peers. “Movie start now.” He swung around, his squinty eyes searching the crowded room. “Where George sit?” My heart beat faster; I tried simultaneously to fill the space around me and to shrink in on myself to avoid attention. He was loud. Loud was scary. I didn’t want him to come near me. I closed my eyes.

“Don’t come over here, there’s no room over here, go sit up front, go steal somebody else’s seat, go home, just don’t sit by m-”

There was a quick slap as he dropped to the grimy floor beside me. “Oogh. Me George. George sit by Fatty.”

I cringed, my fingers scrambled to hide my furious blush. “I’m not fat!”

“Ooga ooga. George is king, king always right. You Fat.” The film began with a blare of courtly trumpets, and he turned away. I swiped at my eyes and glared at the projector screen, trying and failing to ignore the wriggling boy next to me.

What was his problem, anyways? What made him think that he could barrel in at the last second and ruin everything? Who gave him the idea that he was king? How could he just call people names and not realize… It wasn’t just me he did it to. I had seen other kids running away from him with gleaming eyes. I had. I had seen them.

I plunged my hand and me insecurities into the popcorn bag and shoved a salty fistful into my mouth. An animated cowboy doll tripped across the screen towards a plastic astronaut. Stupid dolls. I didn’t want to see the movie anymore. The cowboy was to skinny. Nobody could be that skinny, not really. And he was in love with that skinny doll, Bow peep….

I inhaled another fist of popcorn. Stupid movie.

I felt his eyes on me. Don’t look, don’t make eye contact, don’t acknowledge- I turned towards him. “What?”

“Give me your popcorn.” I laughed, soggy popcorn bits flying from my mouth. His face turned bright red. “Why are you laughing?” I leaned away from him, still laughing, hysterical now. The kids in front of us were turning around now, giggling into their hands. “Give it to me!”

I thrust my hand into the bag and smeared popcorn butter across my mouth. “Mmm.” I laughed.

“Give me the popcorn, Fatty!” His voice had soared up with his blood pressure; the whole gymnasium was staring now. “Give me the popcorn! I George! George want popcorn! Give it!”

“You want the popcorn? You can have it!” I crushed a handful into his face; crispy pieces broke across his furious face. “Pop, pop, pop.” He shrieked. I felt arms grab me, pulling me away. I laughed again and in wild desperation flung the bag to the floor. I was still laughing when my dad shoved me in the car.

He wasn’t one to take a fistful of popcorn in the face lying down. It had been five years. He would never stop taking revenge. On the ride home that night I had popped back to sanity. My dad had spanked me; he didn’t need to. I had cried myself to sleep.

The next morning and every morning after that he had jostled up the muddy bus steps, two at a time, and started torturing me.

“Hey, Fatty. Can I sit with you, Pig Eyes?” He flung himself next to me, shoving me against the icy wall. “No popcorn today, Fatty? To bad. I wouldn’t mind some popcon today.”

I had told my dad once. “Is he hurting you?” he asked.

“No, but-”

“Then take care of it yourself.”

I was taking care of it, all right. “Hey, Fatty. Hey, Freak. Hey, Piggy. Hey, b****.” No more of that. Every day he would drag my ancient backpack from my weak, fatty hands. Stupid hands. Not good for much. Except this.

I slammed his head against the window. “Pop!” His cry fed my starved self confidence, and I struck him again. “My name is Karen!”



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greenwithvelvet said...
Jun. 25, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Please comment on my story. I could really use your good advice. Thanks for reading!

 

 
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