Caleb looked up from the floor, head spinning and the metallic taste of blood in his mouth. He breathed in deeply, wiping his bleeding lip against the back of his hand. Ben towered over him menacingly, almost willing him to stand up. He was a foot taller and more than that wider and he had a short fuse and a mean right hook
“Get up Caleb!” he roared. “Not got such a big mouth now have you!”
The gathered crowd chanted Ben’s name loudly, cries of “hit him again” and “Kick him” could be heard above the general hubbub. It wasn’t that they particularly disliked him or liked Ben, kids are just like that. No explaining, they just side with the bigger kid sometimes – perhaps out of fear – and on this occasion Ben was definitely the bigger kid.
“Ben please” stammered Caleb, his fists clenched and his heart pounding wildly in his chest “I didn’t mean anything by it honest”.
A tall boy in Blue jeans a black tee shirt leant in and whispered something in Ben’s ear. Ben smiled and took a step closer to Caleb. Caleb stayed down, his eyes fixed intently on his adversary expecting another blow any moment.
“Come on” he said, reaching out a hand to help Caleb up, “get up its fine I won’t hit you again”.
Caleb breathed a sigh of relief, he couldn’t take another shot like that. His mouth hurt like hell and he was already welling up and on the verge of tears. He wanted to go home to his mum and to forget this day had ever happened.
“Thanks Ben” he muttered, taking Ben’s hand and letting him pull him to his feet. “I really didn’t mean to…”
Ben hit him another almighty blow this time square to the nose, his head snapping back and his knees buckling as he fell to the ground. He started to cry, blood now running from his nose as well as his lip.
The Children were silent for a moment as he fell into a crumpled heap, holding his face and sobbing until they suddenly erupted into a cacophony of howls and cheers. Some patted him on the back, others acting out the punch they had just witnessed.
Ben stood over him again, a vicious smile on his face and nostrils flared. Caleb didn’t look up.
“See you at school tomorrow Mummy’s little cry baby!” he snarled.