Today, I’m taking the same dangerous walk home from junior high. I’m thirteen and in eighth grade. If I could just finish this year, I would be out of this rotten school.
I hear an earthquake rocking underground. I turn around and see hundreds of kids blanketing the street like bees closing in on a hive. They’re all running in my direction swinging sticks and bats, screaming totally foreign sounding words. Gang war! I think. They sound like they’re out for blood. If they spot me, it might be my blood. My stomach tightens into lumps. I hide in the dirty entrance of a downstairs garden apartment behind some garbage cans. I can see the kids flying by like lunatic warriors. I think I’m peeing in my pants.
Finally, the rumbling fades into the distance. The street returns to normal – empty. I stand on the sidewalk, and I can’t see them anywhere. They’ve vanished. I relax a little.
School is over for the day. I go over to the park close to my house and sit on a bench with some of my friends. In this park there are metal railings around each section of grass to keep people from walking on it. Several grass patches away I spot two older girls. One of them bends down and picks something up. Whatever it is, she’s throwing it in our direction. I duck even though I don’t expect anything to reach us. Bam! My glasses fly off my face, and I’m hit right between the eyes. A small rock falls to the ground. I grab my glasses, and we all run toward my house with those two girls racing right behind us. I’m glad we know some tricky hiding places around here. We finally lose them.
I’m home and my parents are horrified by my eyes. I know they’re puffed because my glasses feel crooked, and I can’t see well at all.
“We have to take Emily to emergency,” my mother shouts. She looks at me. “Oh God, no,” she moans, “I can’t even stand to look at her.”
My mother keeps repeating to my father, “Sam, we are getting out of this damn neighborhood; it’s sickening what goes on here. We’ve got to get out.”
I’m sitting in my English class, wearing a black patch over my left eye with lots of gauze under it, my glasses barely hanging onto my nose. Good news because the rock didn’t actually hurt my eyes, just the area around them. My left eye took the worst of it. I look like an alien monster; I know it. I wonder if it’s because of the nasty way I look now that the little gangsters in my classes are showing me respect. If I appear tough, like someone who can take a beating – if I can take a beating – they seem to respect that.
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ABOUT EILEEN ELKINSON
Eileen Elkinson has had short stories and poems published in 6S Anthology Vol 3, Dead Mule School Journal, Camroc Press Review, Dew on the Kudzu, Long Story Short, The Shine Journal, Western North Carolina Woman, and is an editor/reader for Mezzozine Magazine. She lives in Asheville, N. C., an artistic and energetic city in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
She says, “I wrote Everyday Disasters in 2010 as part of a series of stories about my youth. It covers some of my more vivid memories of living in a dangerous neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY.”
To contact Eileen go to: Wise Owl Book Reviews