you really don't like it when he stares at you

November 6, 2013
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You see him sitting by himself in his corner of the schoolyard, with his satiny, butternut skin that gleams in the sunlight and pearly-white teeth that flashes whenever he bares his mouth into a grin, and you look down to the ground when his eyes, filled with the stars and the moons of another world, accidentally peer into yours.
Oh, god, no no no STOP LOOKING AT ME STOP.
You don’t think that you can have him staring into your eyes, because eyes are the windows to the soul, and you’re kind of scared that he’ll look into your eyes one day and point a finger at you and announce to the world, wow, she really does have no soul.
You don’t think you can stand to have it as a fact that you’re soulless, because you know you’re a good kid- you really are; it’s just that you had your off-days, and everyone’s allowed to make mistakes, right? You also can’t stand it if he’s the one who’s told you that absolutely untrue fact because it’s not like he really knows the complete you-
-even though the only part of you he’s ever actually seen was the back of your neck and the flip of your hair when you turned your face away as your friends stole his homework, spilled paint all over his brand-new, white shirt, made him sing for argentina to not miss him, smashed his grandfather’s shiny, golden watch to itty-bitty smithereens, and made droplets of diamonds melt into the shine of his bronze cheeks many, many, many times.
But that’s not your fault at all. If he didn’t like it, then he should’ve stopped them in the first place. Maybe he should’ve pushed back, screamed at them, or even tried to break the cardinal childhood law of never be a rat. But instead he just let himself get shoved off to the side like a rag-doll and he just stared and got broken while your friends laughed and ripped his spirits to shreds so this also makes it his fault.
In his twig-like arms is a stretched-out plastic bag, and it’s just positively bulging with colorful lollipops as big as jupiter, chocolate bars wrapped in twinkling, silver foil, discs of golden butterscotch and striped peppermints, and hard, round gumballs that glint inside their clear, plastic packets. You can see that his butternut hands are shaking as he clutches the bag to his chest, and his eyes are roaming around the schoolyard. You see the darkness of his eyes light up when two girls slowly walk over to him.
From the way that their ocean-green eyes keep on straying to the holy grail in his arms, it’s really no CIA-level-Area 51-ish secret on what they’re here for. He knows that, too, and although you see something crack a bit in his eyes, he masks it all with an upward curl of the corners of his fleshy lips and offers the two girls big bars of chocolate.
With small, porcelain hands, the girls giggle, snatch the candy, and skip off. One of them at least remembers to turn her head around and say, almost as if it was an afterthought, thanks!
And after those two girls, it’s as if there’s a stampede headed for him. They’re going to knock him down to the dirt, grind his small body under their feet, and make him disappear. Shouting and screaming and snatching at him with greedy hands, almost every child in the schoolyard asks over and over again, can i have some?
It almost makes you laugh to see how they seem to care about which side of the border he supposedly came from but don’t give two shits about whose hands are giving them the candy. You suppose that sugar is always sugar, while humans can’t always be humans.
Maybe once or twice you heard a thank you given to the boy, but, for some reason, you’re not too sure if you actually heard a voice or if it was just the slosh of the hot, heavy feeling that pools in your gut and seems to weigh you down.
For twenty-one minutes and thirty-three seconds, he is the most popular boy in school and everyone wants to talk to him, regardless of his dirty skin and dirty blood. But after they take all that they can take from him and as soon as all the sweet things vanish into the mouths of his murderers, he is left with only himself and a shredded plastic-bag.
Just looking at him clutching the bag tight in his small hands make the silk-and-chiffon taste of milk-chocolate melting over the edges of your tongue into something as bitter as tonic and horseradishes. But at least you smiled at him and said, thank you.
See? You have nothing to be guilty about. You still have a soul, and you’re still a good kid. While others pushed and knocked him down under their feet-
you didn’t.
While others threw rocks and tried to shatter him into itsy-bitsy fragments of jagged human-
you didn’t.
While the rest of your friends called him names, you swear
to God-
you didn’t.
You’re practically Mother Theresa compared to everyone else, dammit, so why does your stomach twist and churn whenever you look over at his small, hunched-over form? Why does the thought of him staring into your eyes and deciding whether or not you have a soul still make you squirm? You know that you have a soul, don’t you?
So, what’s wrong?
Nothing, of course, absof*inglutely nothing.
And as you stand by your friends, circled by smiling faces and voices that call for your name and attention, you let yourself bask in this simple loveliness of having someone to eat lunch with, of having someone to partner with for science projects, of never having to stand in a corner of the schoolyard and give out handfuls of candy in mist-colored hopes of one day having a friend to smile at you. And nope, never once do you turn around and allow that *** to look into your eyes and scry for a soul that may not even be inside you.
But like a slight breeze ruffling the back of your shirt, you can still feel him behind you. You can still feel him just standing there, with only himself and a torn plastic bag, and you think you can hear the shuffles of his scuffed sneakers hitting the dirt as he walks away and disappears into who knows where- maybe he’s gonna jump over the border ‘cuz now he finally gets that no matter how hard he pushes, he’ll never really break in.
Good, you think. And don’t come back.
‘Cuz you don’t think your soul (or absence of) can withstand his eyes any longer.

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