A Helping Hand

11



I was inhaling, fiercely. My irises were lit up with the flames of anger. My fists were firm and dripping sweat, ready to serve justice. The 3E classroom filled with only silence and the sound of breathing.  The classmates had got their popcorn ready, waiting for watching a human monster punching a low-profile bully. Tremendous attention shot me from around. Mai was looking, Serena and Ken were staring at the scene with unmoving eyes, and even Brian was peeping at us from a far corner. The teachers were the same, but there was nothing they could do to avoid a bleeding nose for the rest of the day.

‘Is he just gonna stay like this or is he going to punch him in the face?’ a whisper bounced into my ear from a few meters away, coming with a smirk of humiliation.

I could feel my fist filed with fury, ready to engulf and sweep over Kray’s face.

‘Stop!’ I heard a loud shout. It clearly wasn’t Mr. Ho, neither was it Mr. Shek. Who was such a daredevil?

‘Enjoy your school day, Miles.’ Dad went off after driving me downtown at Atermis High.  As I watched the 7-seater depart, disappearing gradually in the golden rays of a morning sun, I slapped down my black, bulky school bag, with my father’s words bouncing in my ears.

‘Nice day? I thought it will be just like any other dumb day at this stupid junior high.’ That was all I had in mind. I never had a cool day here, especially with everyone staring at you as you walked by. I threw the pills inside my mouth, pouring down the warm water, letting them flow into my throat. Just like another day.

Meanwhile, Kray entered the classroom. The tall, thin figure stepped into the polished floor of the classroom. His intimidating hair, tiny eyes and his chin that was always sticking out all the time, reminded me of the arrival of my arch enemy. He just recognized I was staring at him for the whole time while he was doing his catwalk.

‘What’s up? “Milo Cereal”? I trigger you again?’ Looking amused, he said with a deliberate high-pitched challenging voice that no one could miss.  ‘Dare to have a fight?’ His tilted eyes were like whispering this to my eyes.  I suppressed my flames of anger inside when the whole classroom laughed. I didn’t care much about embarrassment.

I hadn’t noticed that Brian was entering the classroom. I went up to him and shot him a few lines. He didn’t respond, as always. He was always my best friend, I knew deep inside he cared, but depression got his sympathetic voice sealed.

‘Hey bud, you’re just looking as charmingly dumb as you are!’ Kray burst out yet another “amusing” sentence. The classroom suddenly turned silent, reminding him what could have, or would happen. No one managed to force a single snicker, they saw it coming.

I couldn’t do that to my heart fighting for justice, like anyone. My psychiatrist persuaded me not to, my parents did that too, the social workers did the same. But to be honest, they thought a kid who couldn’t control his anger would ever listen?

I lifted my fist just as the two class teachers were about to step in for the assembly. They had no choice but stop, doing what the social worker had told everyone to. Every time I lift the “fist of justice”, I knew nobody, not a classmate, a class teacher could stop me. I had heard that they had briefings for them to avoid me when I was absent. Sometimes I’d wonder if I had been sent to an asylum, everyone would have a better school life, but my mother insisted on letting her kid live a normal life just as any other teen, while she knew I was completely not normal. That’s why rumors were always bouncing around about these seminars, I never thought they were real until just that moment, when everyone froze. I never stopped getting flashbacks of the bloody, crimson puddle of blood on my desk, when I was slamming someone’s face on the table for tasking my junior’s workbook. I could tell nobody was impressed, not even the girl, who was horrified. But I felt like a hero, I felt like I served justice, I felt satisfied for teaching these pricks a lesson, and did the right thing.

That was all I had in mind every time. Until a few minutes later.

Remember I wrote that someone was shouting to stop me? Clearly, he was a clueless kid, who wouldn’t even know how you spelt anxiety. I saw him watching the whole thing happen.

‘It won’t help! This jerk is still going to tease him!’ He continued, catching all the eyes, even mine. His eyes were firmly looking at me. I couldn’t even see a tiny bit of hostile inside. Was he faking?

He took a step. The teachers tried to stop him by gesturing, but that didn’t help. His shoes hit the floor clearly. A guy with a dark brown perm hair, and a face I’d never seen. ‘Who’s that? And what’s he trying to do? Stop me? Isn’t he afraid of being punched?’

He looked at Kray, who was cringing up massaging his bruise on the face. And then he gave me a hand. My mind went instantly blank, clueless. ‘Geez dude! You can’t stop anxiety!’ That was all I thought that single second.

‘Trust me. We can solve this together. Although we just met,’ he was trying to ask. I clearly heard those words, they still rebounded in my ears these days, but I thought my mind didn’t. It never told me to listen to anyone who tried to stop me, because they weren’t serving justice.

I held no reservation and gave him a straight one in the face. He couldn’t stand the force and fell a step. Everyone, from teachers to students, was gasping. Mr. Shek looked like he was about to make a move, but Mr. Chui held him back. They would not be able to interfere anymore.

To my surprise, he rubbed his face, with an awfully red bruise, and used his thin arms to sustain himself. He rose, after my punch of “justice”.

The last time the social worker attempted that, I did the same. The last time Mr. Mak attempted that, I did the same. A lot of innocent warriors attempted to defeat this monster with the sword of sympathy, but none of them stood up again.

Except for this classmate, who I just encountered in 2 minutes.

‘You can hit me. But you’ve got to know, you’re hitting nails in the fences. You can pull them out any day, but the holes remain forever. I know your feelings, I was also your demon’s victims, and I’ve made more mistakes.’

The social workers spent countless hours counselling me, telling me that I wasn’t alone, I never had those words get inside my ears. And this guy here spent 4 seconds and touched me, for the first time ever. It was the only once I truly felt the acceptance and support.

I stared at the floor engulfed in embarrassment and guiltiness. I slowly put down my fist, while he put his left palm on my shoulder, and walked me to the teachers, after I was taken to the social worker, by my two class teachers.

He said he’d head for the office to lessen his pain, with Kray also walking the same direction. But before he went off, he left me a word in fluent English.

‘By the way Miles, I’m Sakuta. See you around!’

After a few words with the social worker, I found that Sakuta was involved in a hospitalization incident with 3 students. But he changed, after starting to be kinder to everyone, every day. He eventually improved his grades too, making him the top student, and chosen to be a transfer student from Kyoto, to Matropolis. Again, the social worker told me I was not alone, and I could change. This was the only time the words really struck me.

For the entire time since I was 5, I never received toy guns, foam board pirate swords, or plastic light sabers for my birthday. Not even my parents knew how I got so violent, as they confessed. I always thought I was alone.

You know, Sakuta could have avoided the fist that he didn’t deserve. He could have stood aside and grabbed popcorn like the others. But as we were both the victims of anxiety, and his remarkable sympathy, he was angel to such a psychopath like me. It was the first time I felt what empathy and sympathy were like in my entire life since I was 5. Sakuta reminded me one thing with his actions.

I wasn’t serving hero justice, but a maniac serving his inner demons.

And for Sakuta, he was a stranger to me, and all the time we talked for was 3 minutes, 180 seconds. And that was a thousand times less than any psychiatrist in nearby regions. Also, as I said, he didn’t need to care.

But that moment he gave me a hand, and rose after my punch, it was a small action physically, but it shoved away demons living in the deepest corners of my heart and kept me away from earning the final demerit that would get me expelled for life, when I will be sent to an asylum.

He was just a stranger, who could choose to pass by.  But he was kind enough to stop his steps, stretching out his helping hand to grab my arm, saving me from falling down a cliff.