Why did he do this? Why did he pick on this poor kid? Why did he feel the need to keep Jamie down while rising himself up? Greg had paused, Jamie coughing and wheezing beneath him. What made this kid so worthy of such horrible treatment? He let his foot lower and began to walk away, “I’ll save the rest for next time,” spitting on Jamie as he walked back the way he came. He couldn’t be seen like this.
He turned into the alleyway he had come from and blended back into the familiar territory. The sea of backstreets were filled with Greg’s thoughts. He knew every graffitied brick corridor, as he had explored them numerous times in an attempt to slow his progress home. He turned right again and was sandwiched between a furniture store and a chinese buffet well past its prime. However, terrible spring roles are still spring roles, especially when home leavs much to be desired.
At the far end of the buffet stood the ‘restaurant’s dumpster, a faithful supplier of the finest trash cuisine. While the owners had always been stingy about throwing anything away, recent visits from the health inspectors had them disposing of food even flies wouldn’t touch. Greg lifted the lid to see what was on the menu today. He was looking through the discoloured noodles and odd smelling meat when a voice startled him. Greg may have been dumpster diving, but it was still the buffet’s dumpster, and the owner did not like having property stolen. The lid came sailing down, landing hard on on a fresh new bruise on Greg’s upper arm.
Immediately the scene replayed in Greg’s head as his father grabbed him firmly around the arm and dragged him. In a drunken stupor, they made their way across the kitchen, stopping in front of the fridge. Greg’s father threw the door open, “Look!” He forced Greg’s head into the fridge, “what do you see? Huh? Tell me!” even with a slur, the anger pulsed through and bit into Greg’s arm.
“N-nothing, I don’t know!”
“That’s right.” Greg was wrenched from the fridge and tossed across the room, colliding into the tupperware cupboard. Greg’s father flew into a rage and began tearing open cupboard doors revealing their empty contents, “you just keep eating it all, don’t you? You tryin’ to starve me out?” He took a long swig from an almost empty bottle and followed up by wiping the excess on the sleeve of his plaid shirt. “...or you’re just trying to embarrass me, takin’ tiny stabs at me whenever I gotta go to the food bank... You listenin? Hey! I’m talkin to you kid!”
Greg snapped back to reality. He saw Mr. Lang coming down the alley, “Hey kid! I’m talking to you! What do you think you’re doing?” Realization hit him like ice water and he immediately pulled his arm from the dumpster and took off. His arm throbbed as he sprinted away from his only food supply for the day. However Greg’s mind was elsewhere as his thoughts seemed to come to life on the walls he passed. Every time he weaved left or rounded a corner a new worry splashed up on the bricks, ‘What did I do wrong?’ ‘I want to go home’ ‘I can’t take this anymore’ ‘I wish mom was still here’
Greg stopped at a large blank wall while the image of his mother slowly materialized in front of him. Her dark flowing hair. Her piercing sea deep eyes. A tenderness that seemed to emanate from her. It would calm the most hostile of people, but not anymore. Not since Greg had stood, soaked, and watched as she was slowly returned to the earth.
Wednesday, Nov. 1st. One of the loveliest saints had been buried, leaving Greg and his father to fend for themselves.But something had changed in his dad. He wouldn’t come out of his room for days, and would scream for Greg to leave when he tried to talk to him. At night, Greg could hear him crying and talking to himself. When he finally did come out of his room, it was with a bottle in his hand.
Greg slowly left the web of streets. He sauntered forward, his eyes dragging along the ground. It wasn’t until too late that he noticed where he had wandered into. When he looked up, his jaw clenched. He was surrounded by perfect lawns, perfect white fences, and perfect three story houses. He had frozen mid stride, for he was now in unknown territory.
These people were not humans, but cookie cutter clones. They knew nothing of difficult living. For them, having a hard life was not having enough milk for their cereal in the morning. Greg’s life was inconceivable to them. They lived in a fragile little bubble of perfection. It was time they saw outside of that bubble.
Greg walked slowly down the street until he came across a beautifully landscaped rock garden. He took the time to pick a nice, baseball-sized rock. Then, he scanned the street for the area where the bubble was most fragile, the whitest fence, the greenest lawn. Finally, he stood within the shadow of the house, planted his feet, and released not only the rock, but also his anger, depression, and sadness.
“I hate you!”