chapter six

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[tw: f-slur]

I tapped the end of my pencil against my bottom lip distractedly as my fourth period teacher droned on monotonously about the importance of atoms. I knew I should've been taking notes, especially since I was a little behind thanks to my transfer in the middle of the school season, but my mind was busy thinking about my lunch situation.

There was no way I was sitting in the cafeteria. I already knew Pete would be there, and probably Bob and his cronies. The outcasts table featuring David seemed tempting, but ultimately I decided I needed to be by myself.

Unfortunately, I had no idea where the library was. I'd seen glimpses in passing but I was too busy trying to make my way through the crowds unnoticed. If I could just chill in there for the entirety of lunch, instead of some dingy bathroom...

An idea formed in my head. I'd ask a few minutes before bell if I could use the restroom, then hide out in there until the rush hour of kids heading to the cafeteria or wherever they had lunch passed. Afterwards, I'd start walking around, searching for the library and mapping out the route on how to get there.

I tentatively raised a shaky hand. The teacher called on me and I pointed to the door, hoping he understood. He simply waved me off, evidently engrossed in the scientific lecture. Breathing a sigh of relief, I scooped up my backpack and left the classroom, now the only student occupying an empty hallway which was soon to be filled in the next couple minutes.

My feet carried me to the nearest restroom, wherein I locked myself in the last stall and glumly sat on the toilet, waiting. The lunch bell rang and the cacophony of students exiting their classes and meeting up with friends echoed into the bathroom. A couple of people stopped by to check their appearance, wash their hands, or use the restroom. I stayed tight-lipped as ever, hoping no one would take notice of me and if they did, hoped they wouldn't care.

After a while it seemed like no one else came in and the sound of mingling teenagers thinned to pairs of scattered footsteps and conversations. I almost got up to leave when I heard the sickeningly familiar voices of three boys making their way into the restroom.

"...Haven't seen that freak today," I heard Bob saying, his words now clear and ringing within the tiled walls. "Heard he's a mute."

My spine went cold as I realized he was talking about me. I swallowed the lump in my throat, forcing myself to stay silent (as silent as a mute kid could get, I guess) as the three brutes that terrorized me just twenty-four hours before stood only several feet away, unaware I was there with them.

There was a bit of shuffling, until one of them said in a whiny voice, "C'mon Gabe, your hair looks fine." I figured this was Kenny.

"Why do you even give a shit about how your hair looks? You a fag or something?" Bob jeered, earning a laugh from Kenny. Clearly, his selection of insults did not range very far, and something told me all of them were homophobic to a certain degree.

"Hell no," Gabe spat. "Alright, whatever, let's get going."

Just as a twinge of relief sprouted in my chest, my backpack which I had propped up against the wall fell over with a soft thud. I froze in place as their footsteps halted. "Someone else is in here," one of them muttered.

I heard one of them approaching my stall, and panicked thoughts flooded my mind, as did the traumatic replays of yesterday's incident. Please just leave please just leave please just leave.

"You taking a shit in there, buddy?" Bob bellowed, followed by the cackling of his pathetic posse. He racked the door violently before snorting, and finally, after sharing a laugh with his mindless goons, left the restroom.

critical veins || peterick au [REVISED/REWRITTEN]Where stories live. Discover now