Father went to school. He dragged me. He forced
me to tell my story again. Stinging in my chest continued.
Principal Somani gave Father the same plastic smile everyone
gives me. It’s easy to spot.
“Frank, the school is aware of the problem and working on it.”
Father left satisfied. So did Somani.
Mother asked how my day went again. “Fine.” “Details?” “No thank you.”
“Why won’t you let me in? Why do you have to be so negative?
It’s your attitude that makes everyone hate you. Fine,
you can just spend the night in your room.”
The phone rang. Mother answered.
“This is Margaret. No. I can talk.
It’s just my ungrateful child. Think they call it Emo.
Hallway giggling crawls deep under my skin. Each chuckle
feeds whatever’s growing in my chest cavity.
Laughing used to be direct. They pointed at me, called out names,
said what they wanted. Teachers heard nothing, saw less.
Mr. Durand told me to suck it up. It’s not as bad
as it seems. But he’s not standing beside me on the bus,
walking me home, sitting in my family’s house, standing in the halls,
or whispering in my ear.
“He apologized,” spat Mrs. Jenson. “So,
he doesn’t mean it.” “Do you mean it?”
“I do.” “See, he does.” “He said that to you five times already.”
“Shake.” “No.” “Shake his hand.” “No.”
“Apologies are for those who make mistakes;
he recognizes his mistake.” “You don’t get it.”
“SHAKE.” I shook. “You can leave,” she told him.
She told me, “you have detention.”