You are John Egbert, and right now you are very mad. Everyday the same three boys that used to be your friends tease you. They call you things you don't know the meaning of, and call you a girl. You think they are dumb, and you wish they would be nicer to you. You wish for a lot of things. You never get them.
Your first grade class had just ended, and you were waiting for your Dad to pick you up by playing on your favorite swing with your blue bunny, Liz. You love Liz, she's the most precious thing to you. Or was. You look at the remains of her, laying muddy and massacred in a heap of mulch. You aren't really sure what happened, but you are mad. You are so mad that you might...might!!!
"Stop crying! I thought you said you were a boy! Boys don't cry! And they don't play with stupid bunnies!"
You think Jake came up with the idea. He always came up with the ones that hurt the most. You miss the old Jake, before he became friends with Cal and Jack. He used to be nice. Now he was just mean.
Jack and Cal laugh at you, and Jake squirts Liz's remains with one of his favorite green waterguns. You remember what 'she' always told you, and fix your glasses. You fix them, and then get up from where you were pushed off the swing. You almost start crying again when you feel your knee burn when you get up. But you don't. You pick up her ears and legs and stuff the wet things carefully in your pockets, they make a home with rocks and plants.
"What are you doing?! Leave it alone!"
You aren't sure why Jake is screaming at you, but you don't stop, even as he squirts you in your face. You bend your knees to get the last of Liz, when you feel it. You make a sharp cry when a rock bounces off the side of your head. In terror, along with all the other kids watching, you turn towards Cal and Jack. You know what happens next, and you are scared. You run.
Liz flops wetly from your arms as your shoes slap-slap-slap against the sidewalk. Rocks hit you, even though a lot miss, you still feel the pain of a lot of them. You were never a faster runner than Jake. He grabs you.
Cal and Jack catch up, huff-huff-huffing, only pebbles are left in their hands. They grab you by your hair and yank your head around. You were scared. Very scared. What was going on?
"Say you're a girl!"
"Say it! Say it!"
"But I'm a boy! Leave me alone!!"
You can see a chubby closed fist, coming towards you slowly. Just like in Superhero cartoons, except you aren't Superman and you have no powers, and this would hurt.
But even though you aren't Superman, you think he is. You never saw him appear, and you swear you saw only a blur when he ran up. Jake was lifted up and Cal and Jack were pushed away from you in seconds. You look up, squinting into the sun, at your hatted savior.
You think you've seen him before. When he's come to pick Dave up. Dave was your best buddy, behind your angel, Dave stands red faced and puffing, mini sunglasses tilted. You remember him as Bro, or Mr. Dirk as your dad calls him. His blonde hair is almost white in the sunlight and you think he is the greatest ever.
He takes Jake and hands him off to a teacher before grabbing Cal, Jack was long gone once Jake was picked up. He wasn't a good friend to anyone. He yells at Cal, who is biting him, and calls him by his real name, Caliborn. Once Jake stops crying, you don't know why he is., you are scooped up along with Dave and taken inside.
Coolkid Dave pats your head a lot, while wiping tears and dirt away from your face. He starts to cry, which is more of just a bunch of hiccuping than crying, and then you start. Dave yells at Bro when he has to leave the room when your dad comes. You wish he could stay. You don't understand grownup talk like he does.
"They were at it again."
"What did they do this time? Is John ok?" You tell him that you're ok, and climb up on his lap when he sits down in one of the big kid chairs in the office.
"Tore apart Liz, squirted him with a watergun, threw rocks at him...harassed him. How can you be so calm about this? If it had been Dave, those kids wouldn't be alive anymore. Only reason why they are now, is because I'm leaving you the honors."
"It's not they're fault, it's their parents' fault. They probably just are imitating what they hear their parents say and do."
"...kids are cruel. But then instead of growing up, we adults are the same, if not worse because we know better. Just because someone looks different or..." Bro trails off, and looks down at you. You clench your dad's shirt even tighter, face half buried in it already.
"You're a special kid John, real special and strong."
You look up at you're dad. He says your favorite words to you.
"I'm proud of you."