Wes walked down the street, tugging at the collar of his button-down shirt. He was supposed to go straight to school, but most thirteen year-olds disobey their parents once in a while, and this was one of those instances for Wes Mitchell. He was going to go to the shop nearby that sold guns. He didn’t like killing things. No, he wanted to be a cop, and a good cop knew weapons through and through in order to protect innocent civilians.
He opened the door and the bell clanged. The owner of the shop, Mr. Redford, recognized Wes and waved him over.
“Hi, Mr. Redford.”
“I’m cleaning a handgun and putting it back together. Would you like to see?” he asked. Wes nodded eagerly and followed him to the back. He started to work silently. They both liked silence, and he usually respected that, but today it seemed he had other plans as he looked up at the skinny blonde.
“Other kids still picking on you?”
“What’s that mean?”
“It means ‘no big deal, leave it alone.’”
Mr. Redford shook his head. “You sure do have a tongue on you. You’re going to have to watch that unless you want to end up all alone.”
Wes bit his lip, blushing furiously. He didn’t like to be reprimanded. Still, he stayed and watched him put the gun together. Mr. Redford bent over to pick up a piece he dropped, groaning.
“Oh… boy, do I miss being thirty. Not too young, not too old. Strong and fit and handsome. That’s a picture of me there when I was thirty.”
He pointed to a photograph of a handsome man taped to the wall. Wes gaped at it.
He laughed. “Yep. Best years of my life. Now you’ve seen everything to be seen, so get going. School’s about to start.”
“Yes, sir,” Wes said, giving the gun one last look before dashing off for class.
He worked hard in each class up until lunch. The bell rang and he went to his locker, grabbing his lunchbag. When he shut his locker door, Travis Marks was standing there. Wes and Travis had always kind of been friends since they lived so close to each other. They bickered a lot, and Travis was way more popular than him, but it worked.
“Why didn’t you walk with me to school today?”
“Oh… uh, I went to the gun shop,” Wes said, walking off. Travis hurried to catch up with him.
Wes gave him an annoyed look. “I do things without you occasionally, Travis.”
Crowell, a big kid who was into the wrong stuff, stopped them, his group of thugs surrounding him. He pushed Wes.
“You’re in my way.”
“Hey, lay off, Crowell,” Travis said. Wes gave him a sharp look.
“Oh, I see you need help from the jock,” Crowell teased.
“No, I don’t,” Wes said.
“You don’t?” he asked, pushing Wes into a locker. The other boys laughed, but Travis stepped forward.
“Leave him alone!”
“I ain’t got nothing against you, Marks. Just having a bit of fun.”
“Have it somewhere else,” Travis growled.
Crowell rolled his eyes, but he and his gang walked off after pushing Wes into the locker one last time. Wes’ head was throbbing. He glared at Travis.
“I don’t need your help!”
Wes ran off toward the lunchroom, ignoring Travis. He was just fine without him. He could handle it. Alex MacFarland waved him over, and he sat down next to her and her friends. He didn’t have many friends, so it was a relief to sit with Alex, even if he didn’t know her friends well.
“Hey, it’s your birthday, right?” Alex asked as the table was emptying at the end of lunch. Wes blushed. He didn’t think anyone would remember. He nodded. Alex took a packet out of her pocket.
“Here. I got you this packet of wishing dust,” she said, “Just sprinkle some in your hand and say what you want. It’s kind of dorky, I know, but I thought you could use a little magic lately.”
Wes smiled. “Thanks, Alex. It’s sweet.”
He gave her a hug. He’d thought about asking her to be his girlfriend before. She was pretty, and they got along well. But it seemed like there was supposed some kind of spark when he was around the person he liked. His brain flashed over to Travis and he blushed. He didn’t know why he thought about Travis like that. He didn’t think he was gay. If he was, Crowell would really have a great time making fun of him. He didn’t think it was bad to be gay; he was just scared that he’d get made fun of for it. Anyway, he wasn’t sure he was. Just… sometimes Travis was nice to him. And he was pretty attractive… with large, kissable lips and really blue eyes.
He shook his head and waved to Alex before gathering up his lunch and throwing his trash away. Class went pretty smoothly. He walked along the railroad tracks, on his way home, clutching the straps of his backpack. He felt something hit his backpack and stopped, glanced back. He saw Crowell and his gang following him. One threw a rock at him, and it hit him on the chest. He cried out and rubbed the spot, turning and hurrying along. He felt the rocks coming at him harder and started to run, veering off the tracks and onto a dirt road.
“I bet you suck jock cock!” Crowell shouted, and his gang of guys laughed. They threw more rocks and one hit him on the cheek. He felt blood dripping down.
He groaned at the sound of the familiar voice.
“There’s his jock cock!”
Travis jogged up to him, his hand immediately going to his wound. “Wes, did they do this to you?”
Wes thrashed at him, and Travis pulled away. “You just make everything worse, Travis! Leave me alone!”
Wes ran for an abandoned building. He didn’t hear any of them following. He brought his knees up. The packet of wishing dust fell out of his pocket. He hesitated, then picked it up and tore it open.
“I wish I was thirty. I wish I was handsome, and strong, and thirty. I wish I was thirty. I wish I was thirty…”
He closed his eyes as he chanted. He felt the wind pick up and swirl around him…