Erich - TwoA Chapter by emily
It was pretty damn clear that no one was happy about being put together as a lab group, especially after the incident of that morning.
My attempt to detach myself from my roommates was not working out. I just wanted to be alone. I wasn’t good at dealing with people, even if they barely said more than I did. I got edgier and edgier the longer I stayed with them and Biology seemed to go on forever. By the time the last bell rang, I was so tired of Hersch’s disheveled appearance, Jim’s accent (he had taken to pronouncing my name ‘Erik’ and it had caught on with the other guys. It was only the second day and I knew that would be my name for the rest of the semester) and I knew and Gabe’s staring at me that I was about ready to explode.
Looking back on it, it was definitely my fault that things unraveled the way they did that day. When it happened, of course, I blamed them, but it’s impossible to argue that I wasn’t eager to start a fight.
When we were released, I still couldn’t get away from them. Jim and Hersch walked together, a step ahead of us, and Gabe shadowed an inch behind me. He was irritating me the most of anyone, mainly because I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like him. Back home, it was always best to know your enemies, and not knowing if Gabe was a threat was unnerving.
“So, German, huh?” he started, confusing me even more with his implacable accent. “It must be pretty rough over there,” he continued when I didn’t answer. I gave him an unfriendly grunt in response. How would he know how rough it was back home? “How did you get here then, if you don’t mind my asking?”
He could not have possibly done anything to provoke me further. The last thing on earth I wanted to do with this weird guy I had just met was talk about Germany. “What’s it to you?” I grumbled, trying to keep from boiling over on him.
He shrugged, oblivious to how he was infuriating me, “Nothing, just wondering. I guess you weren’t the kind of guy I expected to meet here.”
For some reason, that was what put me over the edge. I turned to him angrily. “What’s that supposed to mean?” I demanded, giving him a push. “What kind of guy did you expect to meet here? Huh? Someone to flip you over and f**k you in the a*s?”
I wasn’t sure why I chose that particular insult, but Gabe shrunk back like he’d been hit, looking away and biting his lip. “I’m not saying anything.” What the hell? I had just shoved him, called him a queer, and he didn’t fight back?
I took another angry step towards him, fists clenched. Gabe was smaller than me; it would be an easy win. But Jim and Hersch were between us in a second, blocking any blow I could have thrown at him. “Come on, guys,” Hersch said, “Just let it go.” He looked me meaningfully in the eye and I realized he was actually my biggest threat. “He didn’t mean anything by it.”
It made me angrier than anything that he thought he could calm me down. I turned away from them and spit. “Don’t f*****g touch me, you Jewish b*****d.”
“Hey!” I don’t know who actually yelled it, but it made me turn. Even though I was ready for a fight, Hersch was faster and I felt the sting of his punch to my face before I could respond. I moved in to return it, but he ducked and I got Jim in the gut. And when he jumped at us, Gabe tried to pull Jim out of it and got himself thrown forward between Hersch and me.
I guess we were all too angry to think straight; otherwise they probably would have been smart enough to gang up on me. I fought through the mess to get my hands on Gabe, my original target. My fist collided with his face and I felt warm confidence rush through me. I didn’t care who won or lost by then. I just wanted to hurt someone. Fighting was the most natural thing in the world to me and it was the only way I had ever been able to feel good about myself. At that point, it didn’t matter who I was hitting anymore. I had to let it out.
Only when a whistle blew did we break it up. A crowd had gathered around us, a crowd that was broken by the man with the whistle. He was tall and had a huge gray beard and a bald head. He looked at us disdainfully from behind his glasses and waited for us to stand before he spoke.
“You four,” he said affectedly, “come with me.”
We followed, keeping our eyes down and trying not to appear injured. I surveyed the damage. Gabe’s nose was off center and bleeding, Jim was badly winded, and I could feel my cheek starting to swell where Hersch, who seemed mostly unharmed, had hit me.
We followed the bald professor into the main building and up the first flight of stairs. His office was large and clearly intended to be intimidating, though nothing about it bothered me. He sat behind the large, dark desk and the four of us pulled up chairs in front of him.
The professor waited along minute to begin. “So, you’re the new students.” It was not a question. “I am Professor Knight, headmaster of Wellington’s.” He waited another few seconds, probably giving us a moment to appreciate his title. “I had intended to welcome you to the school, but I see you’re all already rather comfortable.”
When none of us said anything, he went on. “Now, I understand that you all come from very different places. And believe me, it was never my intention to group you as dormitory-mates. But, circumstances being what they were, I had no other choice. It is rare that students are accepted for only a semester, and I don’t think any of you appreciate your good fortune. And what none of you seem to understand is that, as new students, your standards must be even higher.” He turned to Hersch with purpose, “especially you, Mr. Abrahamson.” No one dared to ask what he meant by that, so he went on. “And that means no more skipping class, and absolutely no fights.”
“Sir, we weren’t trying to skip…” Gabe was the first one to speak.
“Also, the wearing of shoes,” he cut Gabe off and looked again at Hersch, “as well as pants, Mr. Banhart,” he looked at Jim who flushed and continued looking down, “is a necessity, since apparently that was not made clear this morning. Understood?”
Though he said it perfectly seriously, it sounded so ridiculous that I could tell I wasn’t the only one near laughter as we nodded and said, “yes, sir,” in unison.
Professor Knight leaned back and smiled. “Good,” he said. “Now, I’m hesitant to punish you on your first day of class, so if you’re out of my office in the next,” he looked cynically at his watch, “three seconds, I’ll let this slide.”
four of us leaped up and nearly knocked over our chairs as we galloped out of that office. We then stood uncomfortably together in the hall for a minute. I looked at Gabe. He looked so pathetic I almost wished I had it in me to apologize. Instead I gestured to his nose, which looked a little broken. “You want me to fix that?” I asked, for lack of anything better to say. I knew it sounded strange and more than a little awkward, but it was honestly the best I could do.
The silence that followed was agonizing. They all gave me an odd look and Gabe recoiled away from my extended hand like I would hit him again. “No,” he said. “No, really, it’s fine.”
No one followed me back to the room, making it the first time I had really been alone since arriving at Wellington’s. I climbed into the bunk and lay on my back, covering my face with my hands.
I had already messed things up, probably beyond repair. I had hardly been at school for a day and I had already proved I didn’t belong there.
I had thought I was under control. I hadn’t wanted to hurt anyone. I had wanted to badly to forget life back in Germany, to start over as a person who wouldn’t hurt anybody, who didn’t rush into a fight over nothing, who didn’t shut out emotion by attacking the first person who looked at me the wrong way. I had tried to tell myself it wasn’t my fault, that out of Berlin I would be able to be whoever I wanted to be, as long as I was far away from the people who made me that way.
But I had already failed. And if I couldn’t do it, if at the end of the spring I was still like that, I would have to go back home. There was no other choice.
© 2011 emily
Added on August 8, 2011
Last Updated on August 8, 2011
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AboutHello all! My name is Emily, I'm 18, I am definitely not at home in this tiny MN town, and soon I will be the most famous author my generation. I go to Barnes and Noble to see where my book will sit .. more..