A favorite statement of my mother’s was “If you’re taking the day off school, you’d better be dead.”
Most parents wouldn’t have sent their children to school that way. Most parents would probably have taken a more concerned role after the attack, worried more about their child’s safety. I went to school with the bruises and cuts. I was, after all, still clearly breathing.
My classmates prodded me with questions. The suffering of others always made them gregarious. I tried to deflect their attention, but inevitably found myself explaining that I had been attacked in the town hall park. While the others crowded me to hear the story, Jay listened intently from a distance, far enough away to seem disinterested, but close enough to hear.
At lunchtime I was called to the Principal’s office. This time I approached with no dread. I thought I knew what to expect, but when I was motioned into the office by the receptionist I discovered I was wrong.
Mr. Ford introduced me to a constable and invited me to sit down. My parents had called the authorities. He explained there were just a few questions, that it wouldn’t take long.
Did I see the person who attacked me? What time was it, approximately? Was anything taken from me? Was I alone? How did I get home? What did the person look like? Did I know them? Who was with me?
The questions went on and on, and every once in a while the constable would repeat a question he had asked earlier, phrased a different way. His face was friendly enough, but his manner became less so. I supplied answers he didn’t want, I continued to not be trapped by his questioning.
It was clear he didn’t believe me but equally clear there was nothing he could do about it.
An hour later I returned to my class. Jay looked at me intently as I made my way to my seat, trying to fathom what had transpired. A moment of cruelty stole over me, and I smiled wickedly at him. It was delicious to watch his face contort in fear.
Later on I felt bad about it, but at that moment I relished the look on his face, and the power I had to cause it.