Dan is the king of the schoolyard bullies, and I have been one of his pet projects since the fourth grade. It isn’t hard to see why. I am a goody-two-shoes, he is a bad boy. I am reserved, he is gregarious. I am a geek, he is a jock. I am a victim, he is a victimizer. We were made for each other.
I’m getting righteously sick of it. And here he comes, just as I got my game of four-square going. Great. I guess we’ll be playing keep-away. Again.
“Gimme that!” he says as he rips the ball out of my hands.
“Hey, give that back!” I ritually intone.
This time, though, it’s different. Deciding to take him up on his offer, I charge straight at him.
To my great surprise, he runs. Something clicks in my head. I can almost feel some recessive, neglected predator genes kick in and say “It’s about goddamn time. Get that bastard.” Dan’s running makes him look like prey.
Undiluted rage is washing through my body and soul, and for the first time in my life I don’t fight it off. It courses through my veins, energizes me, feeds me. A weak, quiet voice in my head tells me this is Wrong, but I no longer care.
Dan’s laugh floats back to me. He isn’t adopting the proper victim role at all, and my fury erupts as a torrent of words I have never uttered before in my life.
The words stream from my mouth of their own accord, and the voice carrying them is strong and powerful. I have never felt so good, so FREE, in all my life.
Dan stops and turns around, wide-eyed. He completes our role-reversal by being properly fearful. I can see it in his eyes.
“Give me the fucking ball”
Wordlessly, he bounces it to me. I take it just as the bell rings to tell us all to return to class. As I turn around to walk back to the building, I see all of the kids on the playground staring at me. I have discovered Words of Power. I smile.
The game has changed.