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Berwald ripped a sheet a paper off his locker, barely glancing at it. He crumpled it in his hand. On the paper was written in thick black letters, “gay fagget”.
He was used to this though, as horrible as this seemed. The others at his school were never fond of him. No one ever talked to him, unless they were insulting the boy. Again, he was used to this. He knew he was unusually tall and open about topics, which the others took advantage of. One would have thought with age, this problem would have gotten easier for Berwald.
But it didn’t.
Now in his senior year of high school, this was worse for Berwald. With the larger vocabulary and knowledge of his class mates, it gave them more power to throw insults at him. That’s all they ever did though. They put notes everywhere, wrote threats and gossip online, and spat in his face. The only factor protecting him from a beating was his height, which at least gave him one advantage.
Also along with the age, the adults and elders cared less and less. This had been occurring for so long they just stopped caring all together, thinking it would never stop. Berwald thought they were right and he planned to prove that today.
“Hey!” someone called.
Berwald sighed lightly and turned. A boy he recognized from his class jogged up to him. He had never really known him well and he never had talked to Berwald before.
“Saw the note on your locker,” he started, “Wanted to say sorry.”
Berwald smiled hopefully.
But then the boy continued, “Sorry you’re such a cock-sucker!” That earned a roar of laughs from those behind him.
Berwald turned back around immediately, face reddening with embarrassment. How dare he give into something like that! He scolded himself, of course he wasn’t going to be nice to you idiot. It had never happened before and he fell for it.
He tossed the paper into the waste basket on the corner before leaving. He shoved his hands into his green sweatshirt furiously, his blonde hair hanging in front of his eyes. He was glad he had hair long enough for that because he wanted to cry.
The chilled breeze kept him from crying though all the way home. He nearly ran into his house, wanting to escape the horrors of the outside world. His parents were never home to console him though, always working. He ran upstairs with heavy thumps of his feet to his room. He threw down his bag, crashed backwards onto the bed, and stared up at the ceiling.
He was always ready to deal with the insults and threats but that last one, the faux kindness of that boy, was the one thing he was not ready to deal with. Sure he had made a friend when a new student came along and knew nothing of him, but their peers always changed that and they would end up never speaking to him again.
Without a second thought, Berwald got up again. He shoved his hands in his pockets again, slowly making his way down and out of the house. He began a stroll through town. He always did this to unwind after stressful days at the torture known as school.
His favorite place to go was the docks, as his town was known for its fishing industry and he loved its liveliness. He always felt like he blended in there. Some fishermen were his height, taller even. They were all bigger than him and it gave him comfort. Sometimes he would do small odd jobs for them and earn some money while enjoying the others’ company. They grew to be like a family to him.
“Afternoon Berwald,” a man said cheerfully.
“Afternoon Adrian,” he greeted back with a small smile.
As he made his way down to the end of the dock this continued. He sighed as he sat on the edge of the very end of the dock, where the water was deepest and not many men were there alongside the barrels and rope. He hung his feet over and they dipped into the water slightly, cold water soaking his sneakers.
A man Berwald knew as Colin sat down next to him, who was nearly as tall as him. “Wha’s wrong?” he asked bluntly.
Berwald shrugged. “You know the usual.”
Colin patted his back, “Ah don’t worry! Things’ll get better soon enough. When ya finish school you can work on the docks with us!”
Berwald smiled, looking out on the water. Oh how he’d love to sail and fish with others who actually wanted him around. He closed his eyes, inhaling the saltwater. It was so calming. He longed for the water… Suddenly Berwald let himself go.
He fell forward into the water with a muffled splash. He started to sink immediately, he had made sure to wear heavy clothing today so he would sink faster. His glasses slipped of his face. The coolness of water against his skin calmed him for his journey ahead.
There was shouting above him. He heard another splash in the vicinity of his limited hearing in the water. He had to work fast. He opened his mouth, quickly inhaling the water around him. The taste of it made him want to gag but he didn’t care, this was worth it.
His chest jerked with awkward motions as he choked on the water, with no air to be found. Every muscle, every nerve, in him wanted to swim up to the surface to save himself, but his instinct’s would not come over his determination. He kept himself stiff as his body jerked about awkwardly. His fading mind did not give in though.
Strong hands grabbed his shoulder. Berwald smiled to himself because he knew it was too late.
I will never forget them.