‘New Kid’

By Raoul Suarez

The new kid sat at the back row again today. He wasn’t really a talker. He was always alone and never really tried to interact with the others except during group activities that required cooperation.

We don’t know much about the guy. All we know is that he was from a small school in Alimodian and that he mumbled when he spoke. We don’t know if he had siblings. We don’t know what his parents do for a living. We never really bothered to ask. During recess, he would just sit in his chair and draw. He never really left his chair much. It has been seven months since he became part of this class but we never really had the chance to have hearty conversations with him. Maybe we never really tried. He was always silent and wanted to be left alone. Timid. Shy. Detached. Solitary.

I couldn’t say we were friends. We had a few interactions. So few that I can even count it with my fingers. I remember that one time I accidentally packed the extra sandwich my mother made for my sister. I was in a rush to go to school that day because I was afraid to come in late for the exams. I only found out during recess that I had two sandwiches in my bag. One sandwich was actually large enough for one person. I gave the other one to the new kid. He was a little startled with the gesture and he mouthed an inaudible thank you. That was pretty much it as far as I can remember. I made it a habit to give him a sandwich once in a while, and I would tell my mother to make extras. He was always thankful but he never really talked to me much. He would just go back to what he was doing and I would leave him be.

He was always the butt of all the jokes. The bullies in school would make fun of him. I vividly remember his chair being empty for an hour. He missed one of our classes because they locked him up in the comfort room. He was an easy prey for the school bullies. He was thin, tiny, and wore thick glasses. He was frail. He was quiet. He was the perfect person to pick on.

The bullies would take his lunch money once in a while. They also would play pranks on him most of the time. A couple of weeks ago, they brought a dog leash and made him wear it. And they walked him around like a pet; forcefully pulling the leash once in a while so he would walk faster or bark if they want him to. They would laugh their hearts out afterwards at the new kid’s expense.

We tried talking to these bullies and they would just tell us it’s none of our business. We were told not to put our noses where they didn’t belong. The other kids did not want to interfere. They did not want to become targets so they just turned a blind eye or would play along with the joke. The girls who liked hanging around with these bullies would often giggle and laugh so hard at how these guys would treat the new kid. It was disgusting to watch.

The new kid, he was tough as nails. He never told the teachers and would just play along when he was being picked on and bullied. He never complained. He just took it and he swallowed it without complaining. When the bullies were done with him, he would just go back to where he was supposed to be seated, quietly sit on his chair, and scribble or write down random things. Most of the time though, he would just sit there and draw.

It has always made me wonder if people had a breaking point. The new kid never really fought back or showed signs of breaking. He just came to school regularly and made the bullying look like it was just a routine for him and the bullies. We really couldn’t do anything about it. We tried talking to the new kid a couple of times and we would tell him that we were willing to accompany him if he wanted to tell on the bullies, but he really wasn’t into doing it. He’d just take all that punishment every day like it was normal.

The school bullies did a “swirly” on him a couple of days ago. They brought him to the comfort room and flushed the toilet with his head inside it. He was soaked when he came inside the classroom and my friends, who were dormers, had to lend him some clothes. We asked him if he was doing fine and he just smirked in response. He mumbled a few words we didn’t understand and then just sat in his chair like he would always do. We left him alone. He liked being alone. He was always alone anyway.

The new kid sat at the back row again today. He wasn’t really a talker. He was always alone and never really tried to interact with the others except during group activities that required cooperation. Today, during recess, he told me and my friends to get out of the room and he thanked me for the sandwich. He didn’t mumble when he said it. After we left, he pulled out a gun from his bag and started firing away.