- Vol. 04
- Chapter 03
Image by Manon Bellet
FreeThe murky water, slightly tepid, washes over my feet. I watch it swirl in tiny whirlpools around sticks and branches sucking in the garbage. The sun beats down relentlessly on my almost bare back. The torn vest not much cover against the heat. My feet are filthy and calloused from walking barefoot. The dirty water struggles to wash them clean. I don't mind the stench, it's something which is familiar and clings to me too. My trousers are rolled up to mid-calf so they don't get wet. The older boys wouldn't consider finding me here. I'm safe for now.
I watch the little puffs of clouds ripple in the water, the dirty blue of the sky stretched on its shivering surface. They blur suddenly as the first tear rolls down my cheek. I should never have stood up to the bullies, I am not a superhero.
My fingers curl over a little rock lying beside me. I fling it across the water, it lands on the other side of the broad drain then bounces back and drops into the water. The plonking sound has a domino effect. Anger gathers and spills into my belly like an ache. I grab a handful of stones and start flinging them with all my might. Some land on the other side while some plonk into the water. Tears and sweat blind me and I wipe my eyes with the back of my hands. I can't hide here forever.
There's a white plastic bag caught on a stick on the other side. The current is tugging at it trying to set it free. I watch fascinated by the little tug o' war. I find myself rooting for the plastic bag to set itself free and flow away. I try to will it free as though my wish is a force that can help. It bobs about for a while and I'm more worked up than I know. It is like me getting freedom and floating away. I throw stones in its direction falling short or off target.