Pain on a wall

“Come on! We don’t have all night!”

“Only losers don’t do it.”

“It’s easy. We never get caught.”

Their words swim in and out of my mind as I study the can of paint in my hands. How it came to be there I did not know. I vaguely remember it being shoved roughly into my hand, but I didn’t recognize the face.

I bet they are watching me right now, laughing at how I am such a coward. They will scoff at my hesitation to do the thing we all know I will do, in the end.

But the real problem isn’t that I’m chicken; no, that’s not it at all. It’s that fact that I don’t know what to write, to say. I search my brain for something meaningful, something special. I try to think of one word, just one word, but come up with nothing. It’s as if the word I want is dangling right in front of my eyes, but when I go to reach out for it, it just disappears.

“Come on you guys, let’s go. This dork will never do it.”

Dork. That was word. That was the word I had heard my whole life, from my classmates and teachers and even my parents. That was the word that hurt more than a belt buckle, more than a punch. That was the word that they threw around carelessly, as if it was nothing.

I looked down again at the can of black paint in my hand. Then slowly, surely, I shook it, looking intently at the bare patch of wall in front of me.

I stood back to admire my handy work. It was neat and straight, unlike all the others, but it was definitely me.

“Why the h*ll did he write ‘Dork’?”

“Cause he is one,” someone snickered behind me.

“Come on guys, let’s get out of here,” I turned to follow, then seeing the frowning eyes I thought better of it. It was evident they didn’t want a dork along.

As I walked home that night, I saw the letters I had written. It was as if they were painted into my mind as well as on the wall. Somehow I felt lighter, freer. It felt like a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. In some way, the simple action of writing on that small bit of wall took the pain of fifteen years away.

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