Clara watched as Tuesday walked up the lane coming home from school. She could tell by her slow pace, and the head staring at the ground that her day had been a rough one,
She had carefully planned how she was going to reprimand Tuesday for hitting Brian when he was down, but that evaporated when she looked at her sad face. They hugged for a long time, Tuesday trying hard not to cry but failing. The more she cried, the tighter her grandmother held her, and she kept whispering into her ear, “I love you, it’ll be okay.”
Clara felt her granddaughter had suffered enough in her short life. Two bad parents was more than enough trouble for any child, and she had no intention of adding to her pain, since other people seemed intent on doing that.
All her classmates ignored her for the next two weeks. Even Cindy stayed away, and Tuesday didn’t know if her parents told her too, or if Cindy had decided to do it on her own. Being scorned by her best friend hurt a lot, but she kept to her grandmother’s advice and said nothing to anyone. She walked the two miles home from school each day by herself, Brian’s goons staying away because they didn’t know what weapon she might have stuffed in her knapsack.
During recess she’d sit alone on a swing, and the only one who even said hello to her was Brayden, the fifth grade boy now known as the “karate kid, after he set a new school record by breaking ten pencils with his bare hand. His attention was nice, but it made the fifth grade girls jealous, so none of them would now talk to her either.
As the end of the second week approached, tension was building in the school. Brian had recovered enough to return to class, and all of the kids wondered if he planned to get even. Most of the boys in fourth and fifth grade had been betting their lunch money during recess, wagering that Tuesday was going to be in for a very bad day when Brian returned.
His jaw was no longer wired shut, but it was hard to understand him at times, and the rumor circulating around the school in a “whisper down the lane fashion,” was that Brian had been lifting weights for the whole two weeks, and that Tuesday’s picture was posted on the dartboard in the basement of his house.
It was not surprising that her teacher gave a two-hour lecture on forgiveness the day before Brian returned.
Everyone in class was seated when he was escorted into the classroom the next morning, and everyone but Tuesday stood up and clapped as his mother walked him to his seat. The teacher thought it would be wise to keep him in for recess, saying he had work to make up, but it was more for Tuesday’s safety than it was for Brian’s education, since she had long ago given up any hope in that area.
The teacher dismissed the rest of the class several minutes before she did Brian, and when Tuesday walked out the door, the other students scurried to get around her. Those heading in the same direction as Tuesday’s house started running toward their homes as fast as they could not wanting to have to chose which side they were on.
Brayden was waiting for her when she reached the edge of the parking lot. “I’ll walk you home,” he said to her.
“You don’t have to, I can take care of myself,” she replied, but it was false bravado since her teacher searched her school bag this morning and removed the heavy stick she’d placed in there on her way to school.
“I want to,” was all that Brayden said.
Tuesday was scared, but she walked slowly because she knew that if she got home before Brian caught up with her, that she was simply delaying the inevitable, and that tomorrow or the next day he would surprise her by running out from behind a tree.
When they were halfway home, Brian came over the hill behind them, and it was obvious he’d been running at full speed ever since he was dismissed from the school now more than a mile away.
Hey Tuesday, Stop, he yelled, and his sore jaw combined with being out of puff made it hard to understand the words.
What do you want? Tuesday yelled back as Brayden moved forward to position himself between Brian and her.
“I want to talk with you, Brian said as he came closer.”
“What about? I’m not going to let you bully me, but I really don’t feel like fighting with you anymore, Brian.”
“I don’t either, Tuesday. I came to apologize.”
Now the word apologize wasn’t really a balloon word, but it did take Tuesday’s thoughts in a different direction, and she stood there with her mouth wide open not knowing what to say next.
“I’m really sorry I picked on you, Tuesday.”When the candlestick hit Brian’s jaw, it serendipitously knocked some of the loose pieces that rattled around in his skull into those places the creator originally intended, and the second swing had lowered his testosterone level to that of a normal boy of eleven rather than that of a bull elephant in musk. The two blows in combination had turned Brian into a nice guy, and before Tuesday got home, she, Brian, and Brayden had become best friends.