"What are you reading, dweeb?"

I cringe at the sound, knowing that voice all too well. I avoid answering, but he just stands in front of me, staring down on me, so I finally give in.

"We Are Not Ourselves," I respond, not even looking up. I hate looking at him. He's so much bigger than me, and he likes to really make sure I know.

Before I know it, he snatches the book from my hands.

"Hey! Give it back!" I yell in frustration.

He just keeps it above his head, apparently reading it while laughing as I try to take it away from him.

Why do I have to be so short?

"This book is stupid," he says flatly, tossing it over his shoulder before turning to me.

Fear starts licking up my spine as I step back from his menacing smirk, and shit bricks when I feel the wall. I knew I should've gone to library today!

"So, d'ya bring me anything good today?"

I rub my forehead as I look down. I know what's coming, and I know he's looking forward to it. He always loves using me to practice some of the wrestling take downs he learns. God, if I were just a few inches taller, a few pounds heavier, I'd be able to take him on! But I'm fucking tiny compared to him.

"Well, I'm gonna take that as a no," he says before pulling me into a choke hold.

The next hour is a blur, but at least it's over.

"You better bring me something tomorrow dweeb," he says before leaving, giving one last good kick before he's finally gone.

I cough, feeling something warm running down from my nose, so I wipe it off.

God, I can't wait for my senior year…

~One week later~

"James, please, talk to me. What's happening? Is something going on at home?" my English teacher, Ms. Morales asks.

My right cheek stings, and I can feel a bruise coming on my left hip, but it's to be expected. I mean, it's not like this is a new situation. I guess maybe he has been beating me up a bit more… violently than usual. And he hasn't been stealing my food or money lately. So what has him so pissed off at me now?

"No, there's nothing wrong at home, ma'am. I just fell on my way down from chemistry is all. I'm sorry for the worry I caused you."

Shit, why did I cover for him? Someone finally notices, finally comments on it, and I freaking COVERED FOR HIM! Why?

"James, people who fall down stairs usually get the palms of their hands or their knees slightly messed up. How many people do you know, who've fallen down stairs, have ended up with bruises on their faces, and with a limp?"

A limp? I don't have a limp! … Do I?

"I really don't know what to tell you."

It hurts to lie to her, and I don't know why I'm even lying, but I can't bring myself to tell her. If I tell her I've been beat up for the past two years on a weekly basis, how is she going to take it? What if she thinks I'm lying? Or even worse, what if she feels like shit because she never noticed before?! I can't do that to her!

"Fine. When you're ready to tell me the truth, call me."

Immediately, she takes out a piece of paper and starts scribbling something down.

"This is my personal cell phone number and email, as well as my house number. When you finally decide you want to tell me what's happening, give me a call. I can't do anything if you don't let me help you."

A warmth builds in my chest as I slowly reach for the strip of paper. I don't know what to say, so I just nod. I can't look her in the eye though, so it startles me when I feel a pat on my shoulder, and a mumbled, "you're not alone."

As I gather my belongings to finally head home, I feel a strange sensation on my back. It's almost as if I'm being watched… But Ms. Morales is at her desk with her back to me. and I'm the only other person in the room.

I shake my head, trying to dismiss the feeling.

It's not until I'm almost to the gate that I finally see a figure leaning on the wall besides Ms. Morales' classroom. That's when I realize where the feeling came from. I try to walk faster; maybe he won't notice me. But things never seem to go my way.

"So," he starts sharply. "You went to snitch to that old hag?"

I hold on tightly to the strap of my book bag. Despite my fear, I can never shut up when it comes to him.

"Ms. Morales is not an old hag. She's only 29," I say defiantly.

He stares at me while he takes a drag from the cigarette I didn't even realize he had, then pushes himself off the wall and walks towards me.

Pride keeps my feet rooted to the ground, but the knowledge of the fact that when I try to run, he usually makes the sessions last longer and harder probably has a lot to do with that too.

It's not long before he reaches me, and gets in my face. That's when he (apparently) finally exhales.

I start coughing up a storm as I recoil away from him and this toxic cloud, but he reaches for the collar of my shirt and pulls me forward.

Our noses are almost touching at this point, and I resist the urge to try to push him away.

"Same. Thing. Now what the hell did you tell her?" he asks coldly.

My fear of eyes suddenly kicks in again; we're too close! His ice cold, blue eyes are too much and within seconds I can feel a panic attack starting up.

"I. I… I didn't t-tell her anything," I tell him, nearly whispering towards the end.

With that he roughly shoves me away. Like usual, I land on the floor with a muted thump.

I get up quickly on my elbows so I can roll in case he decides to kick me while I'm down—he just loves doing that—but as he starts pulling his leg back, he suddenly stops and storms off away from me.

Oh my god, what did I do? I need to do this EVERY TIME!

~Two months later~

"Good job today, guys! Now all you've got to do is use that offense I taught you guys last week, and y'all might finally be able to be football material!"

Coach Pete is really nice, but he can be so annoying. And he's such a favoritist.

As usual, he's focusing all his energy on these bozos just because they can do a few good throws and have a pretty damn good kick, but they're so lazy! They hardly ever show up to class, and they always cut corners in ANYTHING Coach asks us to do.

But he's nice. And I get it, he's the JV football coach too, so of course he's going to want to recruit some good players. I think the only good players right now are that Marco kid, Anthony… Diaz I think is his name, Julius Cesar as I call him, and… Ugh! Yes, Luke.

Just thinking his name makes me want to spit!

Especially now. I don't know why, but he's been beating me up more frequently recently. Maybe it's because his entire clique is already glowing. Even his girlfriend was glowing! Needless to say, he took out his frustration about that on me. I guess even dicks can get their hearts broken.

But why is it always me?

I mean, look at me! I'm not glowing yet either! Does that give me the right to beat up some poor, defenseless younger kid? Does that mean I'm allowed to be a fucking prick just because I haven't met my soul mate yet? Fuck no!

This jackass has entitlement issues.

God, I wish things could change. I wish he would finally stop beating me up for no reason.

I mean, he beats me up sometimes simply because he doesn't like my shirt! I did get enough blood on my shirt that day though that some people thought it was a pretty cool tie-dye job.

I mean, I'm fine with anything at this point…

"Four eyes!" a voice calls out just as I'm about to take my gym shirt off.

Speak of the devil doesn't even cover my situation.

It literally is just THINK of the devil for a second and he the fucker is.

"What do you want," I say bluntly. I'm done. I'm so done with this shit, and I just want to have one day without being beat up. I just want ONE day where my body can finally heal.

Taking this shirt off? Not so fun when you got (I'm pretty sure), a broken rib, a sprained wrist, and quite a few bruises littered all over your chest.

That's why I change all the way back here honestly. I don't want anyone seeing my bruises…

"Geez, so hostile," he says with a laugh as he rolls his eyes.

"Just wanted to check if you brought me that essay I told you I needed done if you didn't want to be beat up tonight."

"No! I thought that was for tomorrow! You said you needed to turn it in for your third period class!"

He smirks darkly as he takes a step toward me.

I throw my hands down, beyond upset. He told me a different time! That was part of the deal; write a B worthy paper in time for him to turn it in, and he won't beat me up for the rest of the week!

Fucker broke his side of the deal!

Suddenly, confusion covers his face.

"You… Your chest…"

I take a step away in case he's trying to trick me. But as my eyes start to go down, I can see a glow reflecting off of the shirt still on my arms. Suddenly, I notice a glow starting from in front of me.

As I look up, shock overcomes me and I fall to the floor while I point at him.

"This is not what I meant when I said I wanted things to change!" I yell in frustration.

If I weren't so upset about my recent discovery, I would be laughing at the fact that he's covering his chest as if he were a nude woman.

"This is not what I meant…" I whisper to no one in particular.