I opened my locker to find soap covered every inch. A glob rolled out and fell to my feet. My books, my papers, my personal belongings, all ruined. I sighed and closed the door with a click. I would have to explain why I didn’t have my supplies to my teacher.
Walking down the hallway of my school I felt eyes judge my every step. I kept my head down best I could but it did little to protect me.
Oh God. Here he comes, walking down the hall towards me. Erik. Easily classified as the school bully. I prayed for the ground to turn into quick sand and, with each step, swallow me up whole. Anything would be better than what was sure to come next. Erik had that look in his eyes and that smile on his lips. I dipped my head lower, trying to hide. Nothing doing. Erik walked right up to me, uninhibited.
“What’s up loser?” I heard before I felt the shove. I’d adapted by now to twisting my body just enough to catch myself before my head hit the ground. Where was a teacher when you needed one? I stayed down and averted my eyes. If you look them in the eyes it only conveys defiance and aggression, both of which Erik hated in everyone except himself.
Erik walked over to me and knelt close to my ear. “How are you doing today?” He asked, turning his head this way and that. He looked a bit like a parrot to me but I dared not laugh. “That mp3 I saw you with the other day was nice. I took the liberty of saving it before I have your locker a bath. It really needed it.” He held his nose in disgust and stood up.
There were others in the hall. But no one stooped so low as to help. I hoped it would be over soon. With Erik you never knew. Some days it could be as little as a point and snicker, other days an hour of physical torture.
Out of the corner of my eye I watched Erik’s shoes slowly pace back and forth, probably deciding whether or not he was done. Unexpectedly they turned to the side and stopped moving. The hall had been quite before, but now it was silent. No one seemed to move. Curiosity got the better of my fear. I looked up and my mouth dropped open.
I instantly recognized the boy who had a hold of Erik’s collar as Skyler. He was just another boy in the school, just like everyone else. So what was he doing?
“What do you think you’re doing?” Erik mirrored my thoughts. He looked level headed enough, but his eyes had changed. They looked dangerous. As far back as I could remember no one had stood up to Erik. No one.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Skyler retorted. He wasn’t smiling either.
“You better watch it or you’re gonna get hurt,” Erik threatened. Skyler’s grip tightened.
“By who? You? Or one, two, or five of your friends?” Everyone else looked scared an actual fight would break out between the two. Me, I kinda wanted the two to fight. “Let me let you in on a little secret, k? Everyone’s sick of you and your attitude. Yeah, you’re such a grand guy. All that you’ve accomplished, I’d like to see you brag about that. Only, what’s this? It looks like your running out of friends willing to put up with you.”
Erik peeked to the side. No one looked like they wanted in on the conversation. In fact I could have sworn I saw a few shrink back at the very suggestion. Then Erik looked at me. Actually looked down on me still on the ground where he’d shoved me. I looked back, hardly believing what was happening.
“You’re so busy looking down on everyone that you haven’t noticed there is no one below you. Everyone’s already moved on and is looking down on you.” Skyler let go of Erik with a jerk. He stumbled backward against a locker causing a loud crash. In response the bell rang for the next class to start. Like clockwork everyone awoke from their trance and went on their way as if nothing had happened.
Erik straightened his shirt with as much dignity as possible and walked away with the others. Only Skyler and I remained in the deserted hallway. I looked at him but he only stared ahead. Without a word he turned to walk away. I felt I should say something but could think of nothing. Not even a simple “thank you” was exchanged.
I continued to see both Skyler and Erik almost every day for the next few years. An interaction between any of us happened never again. Honestly I preferred it that way. Not having Erik stealing my things anymore was nice, but I didn’t see Skyler as my knight in shining armor. I didn’t feel anymore attached or attracted to him than any other student. To this day I don’t believe what he did he did for me. I believe he was doing it out of sheer selfishness. Everyone was sick of Erik and the way he treated those around him. But the difference between Skyler and everyone, the difference between Skyler and me, was simply that he had a shorter temper.