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I Want to Go Home

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I’m looking at Al’s kitchen and I’m thinking, like, They cook food in here? The place has got pots and pans and stuff littered all over the place, lying on the floor, whatever. It’s not like the clutter at my house – at least that clutter is controlled. The plates on my floor are at least stacked, are at least organized where we can find them. Here, they’re just scattered, like when you blow on dandelion fluff and it just goes everywhere.

Thinking about dandelion fluff makes me sneeze, but nobody comes over and hands me a tissue. The guys are still laughing, pushing each other around and stuff, and it’s cool, you know? It’s what guys are supposed to do. I’ve always wanted to hang out with guys who didn’t sit around and play with Hot Wheels.

Al’s room is the same as the kitchen, but it’s different colors and there’s a poster of Megan Fox on the wall. I see his homework on the floor, it’s trampled. I bend over to try to pick it up, but Al’s hand is on my shoulder now.

“Hey, Hugh, check this out.” He’s holding a BB gun. A thrill passes through me – I know what Mom is always saying about them. Stay away, Hugh, those are dangerous. You never know what might happen, Hugh, darling. Al puts it into my hands, I’m holding it, and it feels great. I grin, and Al claps me on the shoulder. Even though the guys are two years older than me, I’m their height, so I don’t have to worry about feeling little. I hate feeling little.

“Dad lets me use his real rifle sometimes,” Al says, and his chest is puffing way out. Damn! I wish my parents let me use a rifle. I wish my parents even had a rifle. My parents suck.

Al’s parents are really chill. They don’t care when we come to their house, and we can do whatever the hell we want when we come, and they’ve got beer in the fridge and they say, As long as you don’t tell your mum, and Al’s dad smiles that gap-toothed grin and we’re excited.

“Gonna carry that gun, Hugh?” asks Pete. I nod vigorously; he wipes a bit of something from his nose. I can see it on his sleeve, but he doesn’t try to clean it off.

“Let’s go to the park!” someone shouts, and we’re all shouting all of a sudden. I’ve never been to the park this late at night. It’s cool. I’m a little scared, I guess. The BB gun isn’t in my hands anymore – Pete’s holding it. I’m shaking. You know, with excitement.

I pick up Al’s homework, but before I can smooth it out, we’ve rushed out of the room and through the kitchen – somebody slips on a bit of crusted-over food on the linoleum – and they don’t even turn off the fluorescent lights when we leave the house. They’re cool.

We’re running through the streets, now, and screaming and shouting like Indians. So cool! Someone leans out of a window and shouts at us to shut the something up. I feel bad. I don’t want to bother that guy.

But the others don’t seem bugged, so I just keep running with them. The park is way different at night, the birds aren’t even singing. I guess they’re asleep. Birds sleep, right?

Al’s got the gun now, and he’s pointing it at a tree. He shoots, and oh my God he hit a bird. It falls to the ground and its feathers are everywhere. Thinking about feathers makes me sneeze again, and of course nobody’s got a tissue. Of course not. I don’t need a tissue. I wipe it on my sleeve like Pete. I don’t even care that it’s still there.

I feel sick now, but I don’t say anything. Pete and Al bend over the bird and they’re poking it, and it’s still alive. It’s trying to get away, but they laugh and get some sticks and poke it some more. “What’s the hold up, Hugh?” they say, and so I have to go over there. If I don’t, then I’m a sissy and they won’t hang out with me anymore, and then I’ll have to go and hang out with kids who are only ten like me. I don’t want to. I skipped enough grades to be able to hang out with these guys, so I’m gonna.

I get a stick, and wait a minute. Al’s got a lighter. I didn’t know he brought his lighter with him. We smoke sometimes after school, but he has to stow his lighter in the bushes by the front so Ms. Williams doesn’t catch him. I didn’t know he brought it to the park. I want to go home.

I know what they’re going to do. The bird’s dead now, so I guess it can’t get hurt more. I feel sick. I put the stick down, and Al’s like, “Hugh? What’s up?” and Pete’s looking at me funny. I can smell the feathers burning.

I just want to go home.




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