Word Count 499
Givin’ You a Warning
By B.A. Sarvey
Who does he think he is? Calling me loser. Never amount to nothing. He’s the friggin’ dropout. He’s the one quittin’ school. Not me.
Stuart slammed his locker shut. Kicked it for good measure. Started walking away then turned back, slammed his fist into the center of it. A shock-wave of pain, like a huge splinter of ice driving into his hand and all the way up his arm, hit back. Stuart leaned into the locker, forehead pressed against cool metal. Almost felt good, the jangling bones—but he hoped it wasn’t broken. Needed his hand for work after school. Needed the paycheck. Swelling and throbbing heat followed the stab of ice almost immediately. Sh*t. Better not be broken.
Nonchalantly, Stuart pushed away from the locker, looked left, right. No teachers. Good. If anyone questioned the dent in the locker, he could plead ignorance. Or maybe stupid. A couple girls watched from a nearby doorway, whispered, giggled behind their hands. “What are you lookin’ at!” he barked. They scurried away. A group of guys passing turned around at his shout. “What?” Stuart snarled. “Nothin’, man. Chill.”
Stuart, head down, cradled his arm, made his way along the hall to his classroom. “Can I go to the nurse?” Stuart’s teacher took in the swollen hand, the pained eyes. “What happened? Are you okay?” “Sure. Gym class.” She knew she wouldn’t get more information—or any truth—out of him, so she let him go. Stuart left the classroom, left the school, kept walking.
It was January but really warm—forty-two at least. The wind bit into his exposed ears just enough to get his attention, woke him out of mild shock. He pressed his arm harder against his stomach, trying to ease the ache in his gut. Stupid. What did it matter that Lucas called him a loser? Lucas would be gone tomorrow, gone to wherever drop-outs go. The only way Stuart would see him again was if he went to the Mall. But he couldn’t let the insult pass unanswered. Stuart had given fair warning. Told Lucas to shut-up or he would shut his mouth for him. Lucas had just looked at him, smirking. Then someone—Lucas?—called him a drug addict. Stuart lost it. That expression ‘seeing red’? It’s true. Intense anger creates like-a blood-haze in your vision. Words hurled back and forth in a verbal assault. ‘Would feel so good to ram my fist into his face,’ Stuart had thought. “Not worth it. He’s not worth it,” someone was saying. Then the bell had rung. Lucas swaggered out. Stuart let him go. Wasn’t worth it. Phone call home. Suspension. Worthless old man looking for any excuse to hit him—that’s what waited home.
Stuart stopped walking. Now what? Get kicked out for leaving? He turned around, headed back to school. What did Lucas know about his life, anyway? Guess he couldn’t judge Lucas, either. Maybe he didn’t have an old man, warning him to stay in school.