February 23, 2013
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The punch bag swung wildly as I threw all my anger at it through a fist.
Shock waves rippled up my arm with each punch. None of them felt hard enough though. The longer I went on, the more ragged my breaths became and the more erratic my punches flew. It reflected my mind; all over the place, tired of the things I’d had to put witness this term. I didn’t know how long I’d been doing this, maybe thirty seconds, maybe an hour. My muscles were now shaking with the effort of trying to rid my body of these violent emotions. The punch bag swung less violently as my body tired and soon it was just me standing there in the old, empty boxing ring.
The ring itself was raised off the floor and all around me on ground level were weight machines and other pieces of workout equipment that looked as old as the crumbling building that housed all of this.
Practice had finished a long time ago and without the lights on there were only the shards of moonlight entering through the windows to illuminate the room. It gave everything a grey appearance. The air was still and cool, and particles of dust travelled slowly in the rectangles of light. The only sounds were the rattling of the chain I’d attached the punch bag to and my own breathing. The quiet was almost unbearable. In the noisy outside world I didn’t have time for these thoughts.
I just hated everything so much.
My shriek rebounded off the walls and I gave the bag one last jarring punch before sinking to my knees. Dust particles danced around me and I envied them. I envied their freedom. Do you know what it’s like to be trapped? To despise the position you’re in but know there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it? There were many times before when I thought I knew how it felt, but I hadn’t known the extent of it until now.
Wet tears began rolling down my cheeks. I desperately tried to clear them from my face but the old ones kept being replaced by new drops.
“Pull yourself together, Jack,” I breathed.
But every time I tried to, the pleading face of the eleven year old would come back to me. Just as Max kicked him in the gut, the boy had met my eyes . . . and, oh, his face. . . . His cheeks had been swollen from all the punches we’d given him and his nose had been spewing blood. He was begging for someone to save him?and I’d just stood there and watched as he got beaten to a pulp. I watched as he got torn apart by those vicious beasts that were my ‘friends’. They preyed on helpless boys like him, and girls for that matter, but in a different way.
I felt bile rising in my throat and I retched and fell forward. Nothing came out and I stayed there, on my hands and knees, sobbing until my throat was so sore I could only whisper.
“You’ve got something to hold onto though, Jack,” I told myself. “Remember that. Keep Sam safe.”
Sam, my seven year old brother. He wasn’t old enough to be beaten up by Max’s gang yet but if I hadn’t joined his group then it would have eventually happened. Like it did with me. But by doing this, I was keeping him safe. I was keeping him away from all this.
He wouldn’t be hurt; I’d make sure of it.
But I don’t know how much more of this I could take.

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