Smart Mouth

It wasn’t so much the fist that hurt, balled up fingers with with just a trace of fine black hair on the knuckles, to be honest, I barely felt it. It was the helplessness, the injustice of it all that hammered home. The why was only a number, a perfect test score shattering a reluctant detente, and Aaron, burying his shame with rage.

I had broken the pecking order; the outsider must remain at the bottom. Now I’d be getting out of here, faster and sooner than anyone. There was nothing left to do but wait, pay the price of my ticket and board the train. Wait, just like everyone else.

But not like everyone else. Aaron and his fine friends would be staying here. Another year, maybe forever. The soporific nature of the institution only made it harder to escape. The tears stung my eyes as another punch split my lip against my teeth, and Aaron threw me to the white-washed floor.

“Who’s the smart guy now, hunh?” he said, towering over my body. The answer was obvious, as only one of us was bleeding.

“I am.”

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