Under the Bridge

by

Nga Lulian KODRA

I don’t ever wanna feel like I did that day when I caved in against K, a kid from school. K had been bullying since forever this quiet, almost sickly kid and I had gone along with it – in the beginning because it was fun, and then because standing up to K in favor of the quiet kid had proven difficult.

I was one of the smallest kids in school and K protected me from a guy that had a lot of fun bullying me. In exchange I helped him with homework.

After we studied one day, I tried to talk sense to him. Bullying that sickly kid was mean. I believed in my reasoning, and I did my best, but his beliefs were stronger. I kept bringing it up but he kept laughing it off.

So when I finally realized one day that, that wouldn’t work, I mastered my courage and declared in front of everyone at school that I was switching sides. From now on I was with L, the quiet kid. It was a proud moment and the coldest day right before winter break.

I talked and played with L after school that day and I realized I was right. He was nothing like K made him out to be. He was grateful of my gesture and once the first moments of discomfort in each other’s strange company evaporated, he turned out to be fun. He was going to be a good friend, I thought as we departed, and I was going to be his valiant defender.

But then, returning home, I had to go under the bridge and there he was: K together with the guy that bullied me were kicking a deflated ball around.

I was afraid, but I thought fast. I knew what I had to do. I went up to them and told them it was all a game, a scheme – a piece of theater. I had never betrayed K, but only pretended to. I was gaining L’s trust in order to gather more stuff on him, but I couldn’t have told them before so it felt more real.

K said it was a great idea, but his smile was forced as if from anger. Too bad it’s never going to work – he swore, winking in the direction I had come from. Instead of going home, L – that little fucker – had followed me and there he was, watching us.

And strange as it seemed there was no fear in him. Only disappointment.

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