My fingertips were bleeding. Their sharp pain pinched up to my arms, sending a burning sensation to the back of my head. I stopped my task to lick them, the flavor was damp and disgusting. Only one nail left, I encouraged myself. Only one nail and you will be free of this blasted crate.
I caressed the wood where the last nail was buried. Touching it hurt. I should feel proud of myself, four nails were down already. I had worked meticulously to scrape the wood until their sharp tip was visible, and then I had taken my time to push and loosen the large metallic nails back to where they had come. Instead, a hint of self deprecation made me grumble, if I hadn’t spent less energy growing and cursing during the first hours after my imprisonment, I wouldn’t have been so drained at this point. The conviction to take the last nail out was abandoning me.
Maybe I should take a rest? Laziness had never been my feature, and yet, the idea of going back to sleep lured me. Half asleep, I wondered how those kids had figured out I had come from the orphanage. School kids were cruel. They would never understand how hard my life was before, when food was scarce or of poor nutritional value.
The moment those kids figured my origins, they had set in motion this naughty plan to bully me. To their eyes, I didn’t deserve to share the same location with them, I didn’t belong to their school.
The thin one, the one with the stutter, I believe he was their mastermind. I could see it in his pale blue eyes, he had a spark of leadership, and of mischief. Bet he told the others from when he saw me feasting at the cafeteria late at night. It wouldn’t be the first time people avoided me for the way I eat.
Trapped inside this blasted crate, nostalgia started to make me miss the orphanage. The open yard that led to an abandoned supply closet was my favorite place to relax, where I used to read books I snatched from the library. Sitting on a dusty desk among other forgotten stationery was pure bliss. And then dusk was the best part of my day. Remembering the kids screaming their lungs out on the playground still brings a smile to my face.
Kids from the orphanage were nicer than those in this disgusting school. There was Susan, who invented amazing stories that had a small hint of truth, I would vouch for her any time. And there was Richard, who was obsessed with drawing me ever since he saw me by the corner of his eyes. I hope that, wherever he’s now, he doesn’t mind I kept some of his drawings.
Oh and the nursery, I loved going there when the lights went out. I would slid out of bed and tiptoe to the large room full of cradles. I had some fondness for the weaker babies, holding them in my arms gave me peace. I rocked them gently until their sobbing became a sigh. Those were the best moments of my day…. My good old orphanage.
“That damn madman spoiled everything.” I expelled a cuss.
If only he hadn’t set the place on fire, forcing me to leave. And now Richard and Susan were nothing but a number next to the word ‘victims’ in the headlines of a sensationalist journal.
What made me think a school would be a good place to settle? Kids with parents were harder to impress than orphans, always with gadgets and flashy toys. I had not caused a good first impression.
The quirk comments of the class clown still resonated in my ears. Making a laughing stock of my attempts to assert myself. Even worse, taking advantage of my efforts, persuading the others it was all his making. He ended like a hero, despite being sent to detention for a whole week. The class clown and the stutter boy, both were penchant to dissuade the rest of my existence. The girl was the first to read over their lies, but she did it to include the soccer fanatic boy of her brother into the team of oddballs.
If someone had the urge to draw me, those meddling kids would hide the crayons. The first year kids stopped going out to the playground, obsessed with the tabletop games this group of nosy fifth graders had introduced to them. The closets had been lit up, the abandoned areas were cleaned to become after class workshops, and absolutely no one acknowledged my presence when I entered a room. They insisted relentlessly until their meanspirited enterprise achieved to have everyone at school, even teachers, to ignore me! This hostile environment became disheartening.
To tell the truth, I was thinking about leaving next week. But then they decided to stop giving me the cold shoulder, and stated to confront me face to face: they wanted me out of their school. I don’t even understand what propelled them to do so, I had barely nagged with my presence. On the contrary!
Where I usually don’t like to make an escene, creeping from the dark to satisfying occasional needs, now as proof of my good will, I had tracked that fatty who bullied the stutter boy. Also, that old crone who left them excessive homework: gone. That cook who never washed his hands, not that they’d know what happens in the kitchen, I had spared them from cholera. And I didn’t hear praise for getting rid of the janitor who harassed the girl, either.
My blood was boiling with frustration. What did those kids want? Not a single approach convinced them to let me stay in the school grounds, at least until I could find somewhere else to move. And now they had assaulted me when I was my most vulnerable, slamming thick nails on the cover of the crate while I was sleeping.
Only a nail left, I sighed, and started to work my way out.
The movement of their tiny hands, team-forcing to move the bulk of the box with me inside, had awakened me. Counting the tumbling minutes when I was at their nasty mercy, I was probably out of the school area. Who knows until where they had dragged me? This behaviour was unacceptable. Who had raised those kids to treat their Principal that way?
While I worked my way out with injured fingers, the cogs inside my head racketed with devilish plottings. This time I was not going to leave witnesses. That mistake had cost me the orphanage. If I hadn’t left that madman alive, no one would had tracked my whereabouts all the way from the hospital.
But I was going to make sure that stutter boy’s last words were my name. The girl was going to plea for the janitor’s harassment, while his own brother forces into her. And we will see if the class clown still laughs with the skin off of his face. The charade of blending in was over. No more pretending to be a human. The nail loosened, I pushed the lid out of the way with resolution. The fresh breath of the night welcomed me.
I was free falling down the cliff.
I contorted to look up at the sky, where my former cage recessed to a feeble tree that already defied gravity. Before I smashed my head on the rocks underside, I couldn’t help but laugh at the twist of fate. That heinous, clever, stuttering boy.