“Even a one inch worm has a half inch soul.”
– Japanese proverb
As Kenta fell back, head cracking against the pavement, he looked up. The sun’s white light blinded him. Dark figures loomed, laughing. A foot came down on his temple. He curled into a ball, doing his best to shield already bruised skin. The assault continued until the group of boys grew bored.
“Ey, what’s wrong?” One said, prodding Kenta with a stained shoe.
“He just can’t stand up for himself,” another commented.
“Least not now.” A round of laughter accompanied the words.
Kenta felt his face harden. “Dumbasses.” The boys stopped laughing. Slowly, tenderly, Kenta unfurled himself and rolled over onto his back. They were right. He couldn’t stand. Everything hurt too much.
“What did you say?” One more foot, one more dash of light. When Kenta opened his eyes he saw a worm, dead, an inch from his face. The same old scene—guts busted out through pink skin, sticky now from exposure.
A little time had passed, not much since the sun was still up, but the group of boys were gone. Kenta looked at the worm and sighed despite himself. It was likely stepped on during the attack, going unnoticed. “A half an inch of life my ass. What a shitty way to go.” Kenta thought. “A half an inch of pride is better.” Struggling, he made his way to his knees before standing with the aid of a dumpster. Holding his side, he limped to the street and turned a corner.