Skyler stood at his gym locker changing into his clothes. He had just shut his locker door when he was pushed into it. "Loser." Skyler turned to see a group of kids, the cool kids, walking past him laughing. Skyler sighed.
"I really wish they wouldn't do that to me." He said turning to Jared.
"You can't do anything about it Sky. These guys just think they're better than you. And frankly, they are."
"No they're not." Sky said as they entered the gym and took their seats.
"Alright class." Coach Barnes barked as he stepped in front of the class. He was an old man who loved his job. He originally wanted to play basketball, but he never made the cut. After 20 years of teaching he never regretted becoming a teacher. "This is our last week of school, so we'll be playing kickball all week." He smiled at the kids' reaction. "Okay, instead of going through the pain of picking teams we'll just go guys and gals." The kids stood and began moving around.
"Hey Skyler, shouldn't you be on the other team?" One of the boys laughed. He was a short punk who everyone called Chambers. Not many knew his real name and that's the way he wanted it. "Coach Barnes!" He called, "Can't we trade Skyler? He's nothing but a girl in a boy's body. A pathetic one at that."
"Mr. Chambers, be nice or I'll lock both of you in my office."
"No way! He might rape me or something!"
"Mr. Chambers this is your last warning."
"Man, hush." His best friend Ivan whispered "We need you to play."
"Alright." Everyone began walking outside, Coach Barnes in the lead. As soon as Barnes was out of site Chambers turned back to Sky. "Look bitch, don't do anything to screw up this game like you normally do. Don't start any shit that's gonna get me into trouble."
"CHAMBERS!" He turned to see that Barnes had walked back into the gym. "You and Mr. Tate in my office NOW! Everyone else get started on the game." The two boys followed the coach into the small office. "Both of you take a seat. Now I've put up with your mouth ever since you got here. Mr. Tate may not be one of your friends but he doesn't deserve your treatment. The rest of this week the two of you will be locked in this room for the entire gym period. If anything happens to either one of you in here I'll fail you both. Do I make myself clear?" They both nodded silently. "Good." He left the room locking the door behind him.
"Look shit-for-brains, I'm not failing this class, so just stay outta my face for the next week." Skyler just nodded. "God, you're a fucking loser."
Over the next 30 minutes they sat in silence; both of them wanting nothing more to get out. Skyler looked at the coaches posters on the walls thinking about what the coach had said. He was right, no one had the right to treat him the way Chambers and his friends did. So he wasn't the cutest person in the entire world. So he wasn't good at sports or any of the other things Chambers and his friends did together. The more he thought about it the more angry he got. "Chambers?"
"What the fuck do you want?"
"Why do you always pick on me?"
Chambers opened his mouth to answer but he realized he didn't know what to say. He thought about it for a minute. "I'm the coolest kid in school." He finally said, "You're Skyler Tate. It's like a school rule that I pick on people like you."
"That's a dumb reason."
"What do you know?"
Skyler suddenly stood. "I know a whole lot more than you think. You know absolutely nothing about me! You don't know what it's like to be me and you never will! I'm not a nobody, I'm not a loser, but you've never taken the time to notice that. You've got your head stuck so far up your ass..." He heard the door handle jiggle and immediately sat back down.
"Alright boys." Coach Barnes said stepping into the room. "Go change, I'll see you at the same time tomorrow." Chambers, who was still shocked by Skyler's speech walked quickly from the room. "Mr. Tate, did anything happen in here I should know about? I thought I heard yelling."
"Nothing happened Coach. We just sat here and stared at the walls."
"That Skyler needs his ass kicked." Ivan said as him and his friends watched Sky getting dressed. "What a nerd. Later today, after school, let's jump him. We'll get Chambers to help us. That nerd's gonna pay for what he did to Chambers."
"Yo, Sky, my man." Ivan yelled causing Sky to stop. "I wanna talk to you a minute."
"What do you want?"
Ivan laid his arm on Sky's shoulder. "Walk with me." Sky reluctantly followed. "I wanna talk to you about joining our little group." Ivan pulled him behind the building where all his friends were waiting.
"What's going on?" Sky said, trying to break out of Ivan's arms.
Ivan grabbed him and pushed him into the wall. "You made Chambers miss the game today." He pulled Sky back and slammed him again. "We're gonna beat your ass." All his friends laughed. "We'll just wait a little longer until Chambers gets here."
"Let me go!"
"Why should I?" He grabbed Sky's arm and twisted it around behind him.
"Ivan, what the fuck are you doing?" Chambers said coming behind the school. "Let him go."
"Umm.. no.. I'm gonna beat the fuck outta him." He pulled Sky's arm back further and Skyler screamed. "Oh yeah baby."
"Hey, Ivan, maybe you should stop." One of the other kid's said, the rest of the boys nodded their heads.
"What's wrong with you people?"
"Let him go Ivan."
Ivan held onto Skyler's shoulder and pulled his arm back suddenly. Everyone heard it crack. Skyler fell to the ground screaming at the top of his lungs. Drawing attention to the people lingering near the school. Ivan laughed loudly but realized he was the only one. All of his friends, especially Chambers, was looking at him like he was crazy. They heard the footsteps of people coming around the building. Realizing he could be in deep trouble Ivan ran.
"What's going on back here?" Coach Barnes said being the first one to come behind the building. He saw Skyler laying on the ground, his arm still bent in an awkward position. "Oh my God. Someone call an ambulance and get ahold of his mother. Mr. Chambers what did you do?"
"Nothing." Chambers said backing away. "I didn't touch him, I didn't..." More and more people were coming around the building. Most of the kids had skipped out unnoticed leaving Chambers there to deal with this by himself.
"Mr. Chambers I should have you arrested."
"But I didn't do anything Coach!"
"He's telling the truth." Principal Jackson said. "He was with me up until a few minutes ago. You may go home Mr. Chambers."
"Is Skyler gonna be okay?"
"Yes." Principal Jackson said, "He'll be fine. Don't worry about it, just go."
The paramedics arrived. Chambers didn't leave, he watched them do their thing and place him on the gurney to take him to the hospital. Skyler was looking at him, his eyes were so sad and angry at the same time. Chambers thought back to what Skyler had said to him in Coach Barnes' office. He didn't know anything about Skyler, he didn't even know why they'd started picking on him in the first place. They put Skyler into the ambulance, but Chambers didn't stay long enough to see it drive off.
Skyler awoke from his dream. He hated reliving that moment of his life over again. Dustin had brought it up, that's the reason he thought of it. As he thought about it, he didn't remember Dustin being there. Of course, he was half conscious at the time.. but he thought he could remember someone like Dustin.
He walked over to his bookcase and grabbed his 7th grade year book off the shelf. He thumbed through his classmates looking for a Dustin Gray, he wasn't there. He went to the "not pictured" names. "Chambers, even in the year book they called him that." Skyler laughed. But there was no Dustin Gray. He searched the other grades as well and still didn't see him.
He got up to get his eight grade one to find it missing. He frowned, but shrugged it off. He'd just ask Jared if he could borrow his. Skyler laid back on his bed and closed his eyes, drifting to sleep once again.