New Kid -- creative nonfiction by Rory Armstrong
I watch the boy approach, rushing, stumbling towards me with one sleeve of his winter coat on his arm, the other dragging across the slushy pavement. His movements are uncontrolled, haphazard, involuntary. He falters, his legs giving out, crumpling, tumbling to the ground, and he’s gagging, spitting phlegm across the wet concrete. Looking, searching, his eyes meet mine in a brief moment of recognition. I’d seen him before, vacantly walking the hallways, passed out on the library floor, slumped out by the football field. But our eyes had never met like this. They’re a deep dark mahogany, his eyes, the pupils miniscule planets floating in an orb of muddy oblivion. Greasy strands of black hair stick to his sweat-beaded forehead. He grins, a string of drool sliding down his pale chin. Some kid follows him, laughing, unconcerned, joking. The boy turns at the sound of sneakers slapping the sidewalk, spotting his pursuer. Screaming, he stands with haste, staggering, tripping within seconds, spittle flying onto the sidewalk like rain. Coughing, choking, collapsing, he scrambles against the pavement, scared, upset, careening toward the brick wall of the school.
I look down at the phone in my hand, checking, processing, hurrying to my mother’s car across the street. I slip into the seat beside her, at once interested in seeing what will become of him, and unable to watch as he finally crumples onto the concrete, face pressed into the contents of his stomach. My mother turns to me, Is he okay? Her brows are furrowed, distantly concerned, curious. I nod, rejecting the sight of him floundering, flailing, not okay. The window swooshes softly as it slides down. Are you okay? Her voice is loud, shrill, disconcerting. He looks up, I look away. Keep driving, I hiss, pressing my fingers into my thighs and shrinking, evading, ignoring. The window goes back up, and the sound of him heaving, struggling, his unzipped backpack thudding, spilling, is sealed out. What was that? My mother, prying, staring. I shrug, pulling my phone from my pocket and staring into the screen, avoiding, escaping, forgetting.
Rory Armstrong lives in Boulder, Colorado. When she's not writing, Rory enjoys hiking and hammocking, skiing over the winter weekends, reading novels of every genre, and playing with her puppy, Indy. Rory looks forward to exploring the world and all it has to offer, but only after she completes the rest of her Junior year and the intimidating college application process.