FICTION. 400 words. I fought the bully and it’s still going on. I’ve walked with him, I was in his group, it was so easy to get along. All I had to do was serve his whim, stick to his will, and his golden shield was mine. The bully would offer protection from being outside the group, from being cold, hungry, and lonely. And it was like a drug. Everyone understood we would never get far, never be a star, but we wouldn’t find harm either. I relieve you, he was fond of saying. He brought us relief so long as we played, so long as we stayed.
And my crowd went right along.
My crowd feared being alone. My crowd feared the cold, and the lack of comfort. My crowd, never to separate. My crowd, never to be one, never to be a fraction, never to venture as a wholly uneven number.
I’m not fragile! Throw me down, again and again. Can’t you see? I’m not cracking. The bully was on me; I didn’t break but I broke free, and now he knows. The bully knows I’m no longer for the agenda.
I’m not going along anymore.
His limits are not my limits. His grasp is tiny but his reach is far, his tune is sweet but the bandwidth is narrow, he points and makes a motion but we the people are the muscle that gets his work done. One man can’t stop the crowd, but damn it, one man can stop himself.
The crowd. Look at you! We are all going along, moving with the bully, feeding him and swerving in his direction like shards of little fish. I heard someone whisper “I’m scared as hell!” But one of us is no longer scared.
I said no! and the muscle still moves. I stop and won’t play, and others make up for the lost motion. I follow the bully’s eyes and he’s smiling away from me. He can win without me.
I’ve taken his cue. My sign is big, with a small message: STOP. Someone threw something at my sign, and it banged and clattered, the sign shook in my hands. Wet, sticky, plastic debris hit my head and fell around me. Two people got out of the way and three kicked the trash to the side. Four followers pushed me forward and five screamed bloody murder in my face. Six more held me steady.
I sensed their terror now. They were terrified of me. But still they stand. We are fighting the bully.