Drop #139: Paper

IMG_2026Barefoot in soft pajamas, she went to the front door to fetch the paper. This flawed old medium, with its wide ungainly pages that kinked at every turn and stained fingers a disturbing blue, still did it for her. In the twenty odd years she’d been addicted to coffee, she’d found no better companion for her morning cup.

She walked past the kitchen, ignoring the high-pitched squeals. A glue trap had finally worked. Opening the heavy gray door onto suburbia, the crisp air teased with the promise of a pleasant day.

The paper lay on the front porch, just two feet away. Some mornings, victim of a wayward arm, it barely cleared the fence. She stepped forward to pick it up, noticing the two boys as she bent down: maybe 8th or 9th graders, maybe on their way to school. They’d stopped beside the elm tree just outside the yard.

‘You little shit,’ the bigger one said loudly, as she straightened back up. ‘I’m gonna make you eat my fist.’

Curious now, she waited and watched. The bully was already well into his routine: ‘I’m gonna make you pay,’ delivered with a curt little shove.

‘Please,’ said the little one. ‘I didn’t do anything. I didn’t–’

‘Shut up, faggot.’ He put a hard palm to the other boy’s jaw and pushed it away. ‘Or I’ll hurt you worse.’


‘I said shut up!’ He slapped the kid twice before grabbing him by the collar and shoving him against the tree. ‘You just don’t seem to get it.’ He flicked him on the forehead, smirking slightly. He was good at being mean. This was what he did. This was what he was. ‘And now I’m going to have to hurt you.’

She watched motionless in her pajamas, from her camouflaged spot on the porch, holding her rolled up paper. She watched the children with her adult eyes, with a responsibility, a duty to intervene. It was all so close, so clear: the hollow sobs, the growing wet patch.

‘Oh don’t cry, you pussy,’ the bully scoffed. ‘Take a beating like a man—oh Jesus, you went and pissed yourself too. That’s disgusting.’

Too clear: the humiliation, the sad reality. She’d watched it all with her terrible adult eyes; now she’d had enough. She’d seen enough.

She turned and went inside, closing the door softly behind her. She leaned against it, too taken by the scene she’d just witnessed to move another inch. Playing back the degradation, the closeness, the keenness of those slaps, she slid down the hard gray wood, banging her head twice against it and pursing her lips as she slipped four fingers under her pajamas bottoms and into her panties. In the past she would have fought back tears but it had long been all too clear: what one is, what one does. The mouse still squealed but faintly, slowly dying but not dead.

By EM Vireo