He was shoved in the chest by a pair of forceful hands, and he toppled backwards, falling in the grass on his rear. He glanced up in fear at the boys who surrounded them, excitement in their eyes and amusement in their grins. The one who pushed him down, their unofficial leader, kicked him where it hurt. He heard fuzzy laughter as he saw stars. He would have thought—would have hoped—that it would end there. But it didn’t.
He wasn’t sure how many bruises he would have to cover up after this, just that it hurt. He was in pain. He didn’t want to feel pain. He wanted out. He had to get away from the pain. He had to get away from the root of the pain. Instinct reminded him of the pain givers that stood above and around him in the back of the schoolyard, relentlessly kicking him with their worn sneakers and pounding him with their child fists.
Suddenly the pain was ignored and his body was numb as he instinctively stood up, yelling, before breaking through the g