December 5, 1985 - Would You Stop It?!

It had been four years. Four long years of living with a bipolar schmuck. Four long years spent making sure he was safe from harms' way. Eric Clastic was ten years old. His father, Shawn, had become much more abusive in the last couple of years. Physically and emotionally. But Eric never let this get him down. He strived to be the best and he knew he would have to stay focused if he wanted a good future.

Eric stood outside his house awaiting the bus' arrival to take him to school. He watched as the birds flew through the sky without a care in the world. How he wished he could be a bird. To fly all day long with no worries or fears. He watched as the little bird perched itself atop a tree. It chirped peacefully and picked at the tree. Nibbling at the branches and leaves.

Suddenly, a large hawk appeared in the sky. Eric looked at it with fear. The hawk screeched as he flew over the houses. The small bird in the tree peered at the large hawk overhead. They made eye contact. The bird chirped and dashed out of the tree. Eric gasped.

"Fly!" he shouted. "Get away! Get away!"

But the small bird was no match for the hawk, who swooped in and ripped its talons into it's body. The bird screamed and struggled to break free but the hawk only tightened its grip. After much struggling the small bird broke free of the hawk's hold. Eric cheered to himself, but that was soon cut short as he watched the bird plummet to the ground. The bird landed with a smack on the other side of the road. Eric ran across to check the bird's condition. But it had splattered every where. A puddle of blood forming around the area now covered in bird.

"You stupid bird!" he shouted. "You could've lived! Why didn't you fly faster?" Eric wiped his eyes and went solemnly back across the street, just as the bus pulled up.

Eric sighed and wiped his eyes one last time. The bus driver opened the doors, nodding at Eric as he climbed in. His stop was close to the last and the bus was quite filled. He had been riding the bus for months now and still had no friends. He made his way to the back of the bus and sat down.

The bus drove away from the stop. Eric watched as all the kids talked and laughed along the bus ride. The bus stopped again. One boy climbed on. But he received a much different greeting than Eric. Many of the kids shouted words of greeting to the boy, everyone wanting him to sit next to them. The boy seemed to have a different agenda this morning though. Eric watched as he continued to walk past all the open seats.

The boy sat down next to Eric. "Hey, I'm Matt. Aren't you Eric?"

Eric nodded.

"So..." Matt said. "What's up, man? How come you never talk or nothing."

Eric shrugged. He didn't know what to say. He didn't want to say anything. What if he slipped and said something about his father? He couldn't risk it.

"Whatever, man." Matt laughed. "You're such a loser."

Eric looked at Matt. His face transformed into that of a man about to kill his victim.

"Damn, man. What the hell did I do to you?" Matt laughed, as did many other kids on the bus. "You know, behind their backs, people call you a freak." More kids laughed. "Now, I never believed them, but now that I talk — well, 'talk' — to you, I see they're totally right. You are a freak." Almost the entire bus burst with laughter.

Eric ignored him and scooted over as far as he could to get away from Matt. He thought about the small bird from before. How it had tried to fly away only to be caught by the immense grip of the large hawk. It had struggled to break free, and when released, it just fell. Lifelessly.

That was how Eric felt. He was the small bird and Matt was the large hawk that had swooped in for the kill. Only to leave Eric falling through the sky. Smacking the ground and being left to die.

The bus arrived in front of the school. It's screeching brakes hurting everyone's ears. All the kids scrambled off the bus noisily. All except Eric, who slowly made his way off the bus. While the other kids were greeted with friends he was left alone. He made his way to the classroom, where he waited outside for school to officially start.

Two other kids awaited with him, but they only talked with one another. Alas, the bell rang and kids gathered around the classroom waiting for the teacher. Eric walked in silence to his seat, avoiding eye contact with anyone. This had been his daily routine since the first day of school. He always did his work but never spoke with anyone or answered questions the teacher asked the class.

Today in class something was different. Eric didn't know what it was, but something was just wrong. Matt, the boy from the bus sat next to Eric, and throughout class continually poked and prodded at him. Eric ignored his immaturity but the extensive jabbing was becoming painful and very irritating.

Matt, on the other hand, found the game extremely enjoyable, quietly laughing to himself. Matt poked him again in the rib. That was the poke that set him off. Eric couldn't stand it anymore and he was tired of sitting back doing nothing.

"Would you stop it?!" Eric shouted, ejecting from his chair and staring down at Matt.

Matt only laughed harder at his sudden outburst. But his laugh was cut short as Eric pushed him off his chair and onto the ground. The teacher hurried himself over to the confrontation where Matt was shouting at Eric. He sent Eric into one corner, Matt into the other.

"Now," the teacher shrilled. "If something like this happens again both of you are going to the office! Do you understand?" Neither child answered but simply turned their heads in disgust.

The class continued until recess. Eric and Matt were released last.

Like most recesses and lunches, Eric spent his time sitting alone on a bench. A bench that had come to be known as Loner Bench. Eric looked up. A large crowd was approaching him. Matt was the leader of it. Eric sighed.

"Get up!" Matt ordered. But Eric ignored him. "I said: Get up!" Matt said aggressively.

Eric was reluctant, but made his way to his feet. Matt pushed him, causing him to hit against the wall. Eric acted as if it didn't happen, though he knew it did, and he was angry. Suddenly, a bird came swooping down in between the two. "Stupid bird!" Matt yelled to the bird, shooing it away. It squawked at him and flew off.

Eric narrowed his eyes and spoke softly. "Birds aren't stupid."

"What'd you say punk?" Matt said, pushing Eric again.

"Birds aren't stupid!" Eric yelled as he swung at Matt, missing by a long shot. Matt laughed before following up with a right hand to the gut. Though Eric was quiet, he was tough and the anger was flowing through him. He grabbed Matt by the shoulders and thrust him against the wall and then threw a punch, hitting Matt square in the jaw, causing him to fall to the floor. Eric kicked him in the gut. Matt flipped onto his back and grabbed his stomach. Eric jumped on top of him and threw furious punches into his face.

After awhile, a few boys got involved. They ripped Eric off of Matt and proceeded to give him a beating of their own. They shoved Eric against the wall and smashed his head into the wall a few times. Eric tried to fight back but it was no use. Blood ran down the back of his neck. Teachers came running from all over and pulled the boys away from Eric to stop the massive beat down.

When all the kids were away from Eric, his face was almost unnoticeable. Blood filled his hair and back. His nose bled into his mouth. But Eric didn't cry. He didn't even move. He stared into the distance as if in a trance.

"Eric," his teacher began. "Are you okay?"

Eric didn't speak. He only stumbled over to Loner Bench and sat down. He rested his head in his hands and silently cried to himself. The teachers helped Eric to the nurse's office, where he eventually drifted off to sleep.

He awoke a few hours later to a group of people hanging over him. It scared him at first, but he soon recollected where he was and calmed down. Eric touched the back of his head and cringed in pain.

"Does it hurt?" one of the teacher's asked.

Eric looked up. His eyes met those of the teachers'. He nodded.

"Well, school doesn't let out for another half an hour," the nurse began. "So just rest for now and we'll see how you feel then. Do you ride the bus home?"

Eric nodded, feeling the bandages on his forehead and lower jaw. The stern of his head was wrapped with soft padding as well.

Eric laid back down. He began thinking of what had just happened. Why had he yelled? Why couldn't he just keep his mouth shut? How stupid. Thoughts continued to pass through his mind before he was finally disturbed by the nurse's soothing voice.

"Eric," she said. "It's time to go home. Are you okay?"

Eric sighed and sat up. He nodded.

"Well," the nurse said. "I'll walk you to your bus." She picked up his knapsack and walked him out of the office. The kids watched as the bloody, bandaged Eric approached the bus.

"Oh?" the bus driver a bit taken back by Eric's appearance. "What happened?" she asked.

Eric lowered his head, avoiding eye contact with her. He was embarrassed, and scared.

"He got in a little fight today." the nurse explained.

"Little?" the bus driver laughed. "Well, I'll be sure to watch him."

"Thank you," the nurse said as she walked back to her office.

The bus ride home seemed like it would never end. Though his stop was close, the thoughts racing through his head were horrifying. iHave they told my Dad?/I Eric thought. He could imagine what would happen if they did and it wouldn't be pretty. Goose bumps aroused on his arms. His hair stood up straight. Eric closed his eyes and tried to think about other things. But it was no use as the only other thing that came to mind was the small bird from this morning, struggling to break free.

The bus screeched to a halt. Eric's eyes shot open. He looked out the window, where he could see his house. His father's car was parked in the driveway. Eric's heart nearly jumped out of his chest. Sweat dripped down his forehead as he walked off of the bus.

The bus drove off, leaving Eric stranded there with his father inside the dark house. He didn't know what to do. He could run away. Run away and never come back. Or he could enter his house and hope for the best. Maybe his father is asleep? Eric just couldn't figure out what to do. He looked to his left. He looked to his right. He was looking for someone around who could help him with his problem. But there was no one. Eric walked over and sat on the curb. He rested his head in his arms and sighed. iWhat do I do?/I he thought as sweat continued to drip off his forehead. His sweat soon became confused with tears. He couldn't tell which was which.

Eric stood up. He held his chin high as he wiped away the remaining tears. He sucked in his gut and stuck out his chest. Turning towards the house, Eric made his way to the front door. He took one last breath and reached for the knob when suddenly, the door swung open. Eric gasped and jumped back. His eyes filled with fear...

centerb

I couldn't believe what was in front me,

something I wished I had never seen./b/center