I wasn’t sure why it happened. I didn’t know what I did wrong. I didn’t know why he picked me. I was in second or third grade. It was the Euclid house. It happened at least twice a week.
My walk home path from school was to leave the school through the front doors, take a left to the corner of Central, walk up Central to Oak and then take Oak the rest of the way until I came to Euclid. Sometimes I would cut through the alley by Branch Wolf’s house, if I wanted to get home sooner, about one minute sooner. Otherwise I would hit the corner and walk the rest of way on Euclid. Sometimes I would dawdle and play along the way. A typical kid.
Sometimes I would walk really slow, because I knew what was coming. I don’t know why I wasn’t smart enough to take a different route home. But, looking back, maybe I just didn’t know how to go another way. Once a route is presented to a child, the child tends to stick to what they are told to do. Deviation comes with consequences. I walked super slow hoping they would not be there. I kept looking, trying to see if they were there. I couldn’t tell.
I would get to the corner of Oak and Grand. The corner house. The tall, tall lilac bushes separated the sidewalk and the yard. I was walking by. Then it happened. Two older boys jumped out of the bushes and started hitting me. They knocked me to the ground and kicked me and hit me. Then they ran off. The whole episode lasted maybe 30 seconds. Those 30 seconds felt like forever. Everything on the ground, my books and me. I stayed there waiting. Waiting for them to leave, hoping they would leave. I stayed there until I could not hear their laughter anymore. I stayed there until it was safe to get up. I cried and ran home.
There was no-one to tell, or I just didn’t tell anyone. I don’t remember telling anyone at all. I don’t remember if they threatened me if I told on them or what. I just don’t remember. I remember the name of one of them. The other I don’t. The one I remember grew up to be a nice guy, I guess.
I dreaded the walk home. Never knowing if it was going to happen. It was kind of like a game. A cat and mouse game, only I was the mouse. At least two days a week I was the mouse. I was the one being bullied. I was the one who got picked on.
I still can’t figure out what I did that would prompt them to beat me up. They were 5th or 6th graders. I hate that I remember this. Why wouldn’t I just forget. Chalk it up to childhood stuff. Childhood things that really don’t mean anything. Just things. Just childhood things. But it was childhood things that I remember. Childhood things that scar. Childhood things that fade, but never go completely away.
I think that is why I stood up for kids who got picked on. A few years after this, there was a kid at school who got teased all the time. He was in the special ed class. His name was Greg. He was picked on constantly. I hated to watch. I couldn’t stand it. I remember protecting him. I remember telling them to stop picking on him. I felt so bad for him. I bet he cried every single day. He just wanted to belong. He just wanted to have fun. He just wanted to fit in.
I wonder where he is now…
I wonder where the cats are now…