The boy threw him into the locker, causing harsh laughs from the other kids. "Huh? You got a problem with that?" He groaned as a strong punch caught him in the stomach.
"I don't like his attitude," a nameless bully declared. "I guess we'll just have to beat it out of him!" Someone pushed him forward, and he tripped, falling flat on his face. His glasses fell off, skidding on the floor. He saw a blurry figure stomp on his glasses, and he winced as he heard the sound of breaking glass. Tears welled up in his eyes, but he fought them back.
"Looks like Howie ain't so happy now," one of the boys commented. Howie, however, recognized this one as Adam. Although Adam was once his childhood friend, he had turned into one of the most popular kids in the grade and a cruel bully. "Let's go. We have no more business here." The other boys left, grumbling things like "stupid geek" and "what a loser". Howie slowly got up, and after treating a bloody nose, he gathered his books and went to class.
Being a freshman was miserable. The harsh beatings in the morning were, at best, given by fellow freshman; they were the worst when the seniors did them. Then, because of the beatings, he would be late for class and scolded by his teacher. Unable to concentrate for the morning, he would do bad on tests and not learn much, and at lunch, he would be robbed of his lunch money. The afternoon usually consisted of either another attack or someone robbing his locker; then, when he walked home, kids would jeer and laugh at him. He hated his life.
This day was no exception. After a sharp scolding for being late to physics, the day continued as usual. During math class, the teacher asked him to read and explain the problem on the board.
"Well, I-" Howie stuttered. He couldn't see the problem because his glasses had been broken. "I can't read it," he admitted. "Someone bro- I lost my glasses." Giving the teachers a clue that he was being bullied could be fatal, and at the very least excruciatingly painful. The bullies did not like being found out.
"I'm very disappointed in you, Howie," the teachers said. "You should know better." Making a mark in his grading book, the teacher mumbled "unprepared," and asked someone else to do the problem. Both Howie and the teacher knew that that was unreasonable and unfair, but most teachers seemed to dislike Howie, although he was a smart kid. Howie couldn't figure out why everybody hated him so much.
At lunch, Howie managed to buy a decent meal and get out of the lunchroom before anyone saw him. In the middle of his meal, however, a kid walked by and hastily jerked his tray away from him. Howie sighed, but such was a normal aspect of his daily life.
At the end of the school day, as Howie left the building, he heard several kids taunt him. "Hey, Howie, I took your lunch today! Why don't you come and fight me?" one of them shouted. "Look at me, Howie! Oh wait, I forgot, you're blind. Too bad, I saw a pair of glasses on the floor this morning, if I knew they were yours I wouldn't have broken them!" Another kid laughed. Howie quickened his pace. "Why don't you run home to your mommy, little boy?" a girl yelled. "You don't want us to see you cry, do you?" Howie ignored most of their shouts, but some of them still made him angry. As he sulked home, he heard footsteps behind him. He turned around, and low and behold, Adam was walking toward him. Howie sighed and slumped his shoulders. "I'm not going to fight back. Just beat me up and get it over with." Adam laughed. "Hey, hey, take it easy, I'm not going to touch you." As if to prove it, he started walking next to Howie and put his arms up into the air. "See? I won't bite." Another laugh. "You just gotta calm down and relax. You take stuff too seriously, you know? No offense or anything, but there's no need to get so sensitive and all. It's not a big deal, really." Howie felt a surge of anger. Although at any other time, he would have been too afraid to say anything, but the pent up rage that had accumulated over all of the years, as well as Adam's own betrayal, broke through. "Not a big deal?!?!" he yelled. "Not a big deal? You have absolutely NO idea of what it's like! To be beaten up every morning, robbed every day, abused mentally and physically-" Howie pointed an accusing finger at Adam. "You know nothing! You just stand there and watch them beat me, and occasionally hit me yourself! You traitor! I'd do anything to be you, to get out of this miserable life! I hate everything!" Adam clenched up his fists, and his face contorted in anger, but fortunately he didn't go any further. At the next corner, he turned and walked away. The following day was typical. This time, a few sophomores chose to attack him in the morning, and he didn't see Adam for the whole day. Although part of him was thankful for that, another part of him was afraid that Adam was planning something terrible. It didn't matter, though; he couldn't do anything about it. On the walk home, again, Adam fell into step beside Howie. Howie didn't say anything, afraid that he might provoke Adam. They continued in a tense silence for several blocks. Finally, Adam stopped. "Yesterday, you said you wish you were me," Adam told Howie. Then, to Howie's great horror, he took out a pistol from his pocket. Howie froze. "Adam- I- I didn't-" he started. "Do you really wish you were someone who would do this?" Adam then lifted the gun to his own head and fired.