Path of Endurance chapter 07
Brianna didn?t spend too much time when she located the nearest elementary school and sent Bryan there. The boy, however, wasn?t too pleased to find out the majority of the school?s pupils were black. There were only one or two white boys besides him, and they didn?t seem to be enjoying themselves. Noting this, Bryan literally jumped on Brianna; he wrapped his hands around her neck and tucked his legs around her waist.
"I don?t wanna go there!" he exclaimed.
"Oh, come on, Bryan! Don?t be such a crybaby."
"But I don?t wanna go there! They?re all black!"
"Don?t be a racist, either."
Brianna put Bryan back on the ground. "Look, I won?t be gone long, you hear?" she said. "I'll come get you when the school day?s over. I promise. Then we?ll do something fun together. You dig?"
Bryan nodded hesitantly. He felt he had no other choice but to enter what looked like a hell to him. He wasn?t too far off. He was put into one of the smallest classes in the school, where there were only black people. Bryan stood out of the crowd like a soldier in hippies? party. There were three mean-looking boys that kept staring at him, and Bryan didn?t have to guess twice what kind of treatment he?d get when the class would be over.
On the first break Bryan sat down under a birch tree that grew on the school's yard. He was watching the kids playing soccer on the football field when he felt he was being stared at again. He stood up and looked over, seeing the same mean-looking bunch approaching him. It was the most obvious prologue of a fight he had ever experienced.
"What up, bitch?" the leader of the bunch grinned. "We hear you?re the new guy here, so we thought we?d give you a demonstration of the local hospitality towards whites."
"I?ve already got one," Bryan replied. "You dummies can?t fight."
"What was that!?"
"You heard me! Dummy! A bunch of you niggers picked at fight at me and my sis last night, and lost to us 900'n' nothin'."
Bryan was too concentrated on the leader of the group he had failed to note that one of the group members had snuck up behind him and now grabbed him from behind. He was quite big; Bryan wasn?t able to break free from his grip, not to mention to move at all. The leader began punching his stomach and face as hard as he could. Bryan actually felt his bones getting crushed, his nose beginning to bleed and bruises forming onto his skin. As the leader began to get bored, he sank his knee hard into Bryan?s stomach. As the guy finally let go of Bryan, he bent over and threw up everything he had left of his breakfast. The leader threw one last kick at his head and left Bryan lying on the ground. He tried to breathe, but managed only to cough. He heard the bell ring in the distance and the pupils running to their classes. He, too, tried standing up but the leader struck him right back on the ground. Without saying a word, the bunch left Bryan alone and disappeared from sight.
A depressing silence landed upon the yard. The only thing Bryan heard was his heavy breathing that was interrupted by a sudden cough every now and then. He felt cold. He wanted to stand up, or move, but every single move seemed to hurt too much. He wondered if he'd freeze to death lying there. It didn?t seem a bad idea.
Suddenly he heard a bird singing in the birch that towered next to him. The sound was very familiar, something he had been listening to many times. He forced himself to look up, and he was surprised to see a mockingbird singing on the lowest branch of the tree. It kept singing the same way as Mrs. Mockingbird sang every time Bryan had climbed into the tree to hide from Cary. The singing reminded Bryan of Brianna, and of all the good times they had spent together. It even reminded him of the lullaby she had sung to him when he was sick.
Feeling a new doze of courage inside him, Bryan ignored the pain he felt and stood up from the ground. He dragged himself out of school, and noted that the mockingbird was now sitting on a street lamp couple ten meters away from him. Guided only by the mockingbird and a silent voice in his heart, Bryan slowly made his way downtown. And when he stopped to catch his breath and to gather a little more strength to withstand the pain, he saw Brianna walking out of an office down the street. She quickly looked through a folder she was given before she saw him. Flipping the folder into a bag she was carrying, she ran down the street to her brother. "Bryan, what are you doing here?" she asked, even though she realized the stupidity of her question the instant Bryan stood out of the shadow he was standing; his clothes were dirty with mud, his nose was bleeding and he was all over covered with bruises. Even his cheek had swollen. Without speaking anymore, Brianna lifted up Bryan into her arms and held him near. Bryan cuddled her, feeling much better even though the pain had gone nowhere. Brianna began walking away from downtown, but she stopped as she saw the mockingbird flying through the air. She was certain it was a sign.
Brianna had managed to get herself a job as a bike messenger in a D-Race called company. Her job was to deliver post packages around the area she was living, and she had even managed to bargain a small apartment for her and Bryan. She carried Bryan all the way from downtown to there, locking the front door behind her as she went inside. The apartment had been empty for ages; there was dust everywhere, windows were dirty, and no wonder it was cheap ? the sunlight hardly reached the house.
Brianna felt like home immediately.
The apartment was sold unfurnished; only the main essentials came along ? a fridge, a restroom and a shower ? but whaddayanow, the previous owner had left a TV and a sofa behind him. Brianna laid Bryan down onto the sofa and sat down near him. He laid his head on Brianna?s leg again, and wasn?t surprised as he felt Brianna?s fingers running through his hair again. After a silence, Brianna looked at her brother.
"What happened, bro?"
"Since when a fall has caused punch-marks?"
Sometimes Bryan forgot that Brianna was a warrior; she knew what a guy looked like after a serious beat up and she knew what a guy would look like after falling. But, to be honest, Bryan didn?t know what happened. He didn?t know why he was beaten. He knew that the guys had something against him, but he had no idea whatsoever what it was. He was too young to understand what the whole fight had been about. Brianna, however, knew more than well why he was beaten up. She felt unsure about speaking such things in front of Bryan, but she knew she had to tell him why he was beaten.
"The black people beat you up?" she asked. Bryan nodded. A tear fell down his cheek onto Brianna?s leg.
"Did they say why?"
The boy shook his head, trying to resist crying to no avail.
"It?s because we?re different. That is the only reason they have, and it is the only reason they need."
Bryan didn?t understand. Why would someone beat someone else up for being different? Is that a good reason? Did it mean he, too, could beat people who differ from him? But as he thought about it, he realized that everyone was different from one another. Could everyone beat anyone up for being different?
His head began to ache for such philosophical thinking.
"Don?t even try to understand why, bro," Brianna whispered. "There is no way you can understand it yet. Just promise me one thing ? don?t let it happen again. Don?t let anyone push you around or walk over your feet, you hear?"
She massaged gently a painful-looking bruise on Bryan?s arm. It consoled more than hurt.
"But what if they beat me up again?"
Brianna stood up from the sofa and walked in front of a window. She was enraged ? for Bryan. His innocence and sincerity only made her rage worse. He was beaten up in bright daylight for a reason he didn?t understand, and by kids around the same age as he! That was even worse than the treatment Cary gave him. After she felt she could speak normally again, she turned to look at Bryan. "They won?t," she said. "If they try to do it one more time? you will be ready."
From that day forward, Brianna began teaching Bryan kickboxing. She featured all the sadistic traits she had developed herself; the traits had even become worse due her brain damage. Bryan learnt quickly; he memorized every lock, twist, punch and kick Brianna taught him, and he trained harder than any other kid of his age.
He skipped school for two weeks, just to train. Brianna worked during daytime, and Bryan rested and did muscle-training then. During the evening, it was technique training. Bryan felt his confidence boost up, as well as his physical strength. After two weeks of intensive muscle and technique training, Bryan felt ready to make a memorable come-back.
He would never-ever be pushed around anymore. Not by anyone.