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BAMBOO SHOOTS
Works of fiction and poetry by friends of Bamboo Ridge Press.

THIS IS A GREAT BR FISHING AND WISHING 100 ENTRY

"Matches"

Published by SHAWNE HAMPTON | Saturday, November 26, 2011 12:01 AM


"If you don't stick up for yourself, don't expect anyone else to." -Royce Smith


"Hey Jason, you want to come to my house later?" The sound of Carl's whiny voice snapped Jason back into reality. "I've got that new dragon game I told you about yesterday. And maybe if we're lucky, my mom will even let us eat pizza pockets in my room!" The excitement in Carl's voice made Jason cringe in embarrassment. Jason looked around to see if anyone heard Carl. He ducked his head and lowered his voice.
"Carl, I told you, you can't be saying that kind of stuff so loud."
Carl’s face dropped. "Oh, okay. Yeah I remember." Carl looked up and flinched to see the school bully, Flatts, walking past the other lunch tables and heading directly towards the two freshmen.
"Hey, losers. What was that I heard about the new 'dragon game'"? The whole cafeteria laughed, not because what Flatts had said was funny, but because they were scared what might happen to them if they didn't. By this time, a couple of his teammates were behind Flatts, cornering Jason and Carl into the wall of the cafeteria.
"Where's your lunch money, Jason?" Flatts asked, waiting with an open hand. Jason hesitated and then spoke. "Can't you take someone else's lunch money today Flatts? I’m really hungry. Are you not smart enough to make your own lunch?" Impressed with his [the] realization to [that he had] come up with something witty, he smiled triumphantly at Carl.
WHAM. Flatts' meaty hand met Jason's chin perfectly, and his spindly body fell to the floor. Without a word, Jason took his lunch money out of his pocket and handed it to Flatts, who walked away with his buddies, laughing. The cafeteria was quiet, for no one knew what to say. Jason got up and rubbed his chin, embarrassed. Heat flushed his face as he glared at Carl.
"I'm sorry, Jason," Carl whined. Jason said nothing, because his glare spoke for him. Jason walked out of the cafeteria, and ran home. It was about a 40 minute trip, and the air was crisp, which Jason needed. He thought about why he was even friends with Carl, and how many times Carl had been the cause of him getting into trouble with Flatts. He thought about how he would explain his bruised chin to his mom. He thought about his matches, and how many he had left. He thought about how much trouble he would get in for leaving school in the middle of the day, but at the same time, he didn't care. After a short while, Jason found himself standing in front of his house, three hours before school was out. His heart pounded. His head was throbbing. He checked the garage; the car wasn’t there. Jason's mom wasn’t home but he suspected that she'd be pulling up any minute.
Jason rushed up to his room and went directly to his stash of matches underneath his bed. His matches were the only thing he could depend on, now that things were so heavy at school and he had no one to turn to. Jason took the matchbook out and closed the door. He lit a match and watched it burn for a while. He watched the flame lick the air above the match and watched it until it burnt out.
He took out another match, and examined it. He started to calm down now, and his heartbeat settled a little. He lit the match and watched it burn again. This time, he inhaled the sulfur from the smoke into his lungs, and he coughed. He then took a deeper breath to inhale the smoke from the match. The smoke burned his throat, and he could feel it enter his lungs. Jason was finally calm.
He walked over to the mirror and studied himself. Small. Skinny. Short. He was disgusted at his appearance. He wasn’t big, handsome and athletic like Flatts. He wasn’t smart like Carl, and he hated himself for it. He wished he was good at something. He wished that he could get good grades, or be good at sports, or make his mom proud somehow. But he knew that he couldn’t, and it made him sick to his stomach. He wanted to die.
Jason’s mom walked through the door, and he could hear her running up the stairs to his room.
“Jason!” She screamed. “I know you’re in there!” Jason wiped the tears from his cheeks, and quickly sat on his bed and waited for his mom to enter. She furiously swung the door open and marched in. She was in tears.
“Why are you here?” she demanded. “You should be in school! I keep getting calls about how you’ve been skipping class. You keep ditching, and I’m kicking you out. That’s the bottom line.” She was sobbing and talking now, and it was almost impossible to understand her. “I can’t have a son like you, Jason.” She walked out of the room, and Jason sat on his bed and stared at the carpet as she went. And at that exact moment, he realized that the only reason no one knew how miserable he was, was because he didn’t want them to. Jason brought out the rest of his matches, and thought. He knew that Flatts was the sole reason for his unhappiness, and he thought of a plan to get his revenge.
He walked to school the next day, and decided to sit outside instead of in the cafeteria to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s teasing. Carl saw Jason and walked past him nonchalantly, as everyone else in the school did. Jason needed to talk to him, but couldn’t. Carl set him up yesterday. The last thing he would do was talk to him. The bell rang and Jason got up and walked to class. Jason didn’t take notes in class; rather just stare out the window thinking about his matches, or going home, but mostly thinking about how he would get Flatts back.
A few periods later, Jason was in the boys’ locker room, getting dressed for P.E class. He hid behind the lockers and waited for Flatts and his football goons to change and leave. They did, and Jason changed alone in the locker room. As they played dodge ball, Jason stood in the far corner, so no one would hit him. He did this every day as he waited for P.E to end. But today, every ball Flatts threw was directed at him. Flatts eventually hit Jason in the face, and Jason’s nose started to bleed. Jason decided had enough, and retaliated for the first time.
Jason took out a metal fork from lunch and whipped it at Flatts’ face. Blood streamed down his cheek under his eye as it hit him. Flatts swore and ran toward Jason, who was standing and ready for Flatts’ attack. Jason tripped Flatts onto his stomach and choked Flatts, eager to finally kill him. Flatts turned red, and then purple, and passed out. Jason stared at Flatts’ unconscious body, and then at everyone else’s astonished faces. Embarrassed, Jason ran through the doors of the gym, all the way home.
Jason sat down on his bed, and the feeling of accomplishment made him smile.





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