by Beverly Forehand
I'm lying on my back with sweat pooling in my eyes, fear running like ice down my spine. I try to take a deep breath, but can't because of the foot on my throat. I try to speak, but it comes out like a squeak or a gasp.
"Hey," says Tony, "Let up already. He's trying to say something, I think." Fatboy takes his grimy shoe off my windpipe and I half-sit up. Tony leans in, his nose almost touching mine. "I think you was trying to say something? Weren't you?" I cough and nod.
"Yeah," I say, "I was." Tony smiles. His teeth are unnaturally white. "I was going to tell Fatboy here that his foot is as fat as the rest of him." Fatboy balls up his fist and advances on me, but Tony waves his hand. Tony smiles and my false bravado cracks like glass.
"I think we had decided that you weren't going to say nothing about what you saw," says Tony with another brilliant smile. I scowl. "Unless you'd rather talk to Fatboy here about it," Tony continues.
I swallow and feel dirt from Fatboy's foot slide down my throat. "Yeah, Yeah," I say, "I ain't saying nothing to nobody."
"Good," says Tony, "Because you know I already got enough trouble." I nod and Tony grants me another smile. He pats my cheek hard. "Good boy," he says. He nods to Fatboy and the two move off.
I pick myself up out of the dust and brush off my pants. "Good for nothings, sonsofbitches," I mutter but not very loud. Certainly not loud enough for Tony to hear me halfway across the playground. Maybe I will tell Old Miss Callahan or the Principal that Tony was the one that knocked out the school's two front windows last night. Maybe I just would. I swallow and rub my dented throat. Or maybe I wouldn't. It's hell being in sixth grade. I watch Tony and Fatboy swagger across the ball yard waving at their friends and knocking sixth graders out of the way. I'd be in eighth grade someday. Maybe I'm even due for a growth spurt this year. My Mom keeps telling me that I am. I smile to myself. My Dad's six foot three and Tony's Dad is no taller than five ten. I have time to wait. I rub my throat. Plenty of time.
Beverly Forehand is a freelance writer and reviewer working in Nashville, Tennessee. Her hobbies include cultivating her medieval herb garden and telling her cats (unsuccessfully) to stay off the sofa.