* Dring *
The bell of the famous Mayville Parkdale School rang. Immediately the schoolyard was taken over by hundreds of children who were yelling from all sides. However, the cheerful air of the court had suddenly changed into a movement of agitation. The perfectly blue sky a few minutes earlier had covered, and a thunderstorm that we had rarely seen in summer had broken out. The children, surprised, had run to take shelter under the covered playground.
Sullivan Lyles was huddled up, hiding in the corner of the courtyard.
But he did not care about the raging sky: He took advantage of the din to make him forget.
A boy came forward with a nasty smile on his lips. It was Barton Rooks, always the same, always the one who made him suffer, who harassed him.
- So Sullivan, are we playing hide and seek?
Barton was the tallest and strongest in school, wore nearly shaved hair, hooded sweaters that he lifted over his head and very wide joggers, a real bully. Even the upper class, the grown-ups of thirteen, were wary of it and preferred not to provoke it.
Sullivan looked up at the group around him: Barton was in the middle, legs apart, his fist in his hand. He preferred to avoid the mischievous black eyes of his executioner, who pierced him. Barton had a vicious little smile, making him look like a big bad guy. Except that in reality, Barton was even crueler. His favorite pastime was to be relentless on weak, fragile, or shy children, just for the pleasure of making people suffer and dominate.
Sullivan was the ideal victim. He had a sickly shyness that almost prevented him from speaking, and since he didn't like sports, he was as skinny as a needle.
Barton reached out to the boy on the ground.
- Did you forget what day it is? It's Monday!
Sullivan swallowed hard and tried to answer without stammering.
- I ... I don't have any money today.
Barton's smile grew, he was not angry because there was something he preferred even more than money: to fight.
Sullivan knew what forgetting money meant.
- What about your weekend pocket money? What did you do with it?
Sullivan buried his head in his lap.
- I didn't get it, he said in a small voice.
- Why didn't you get it? Your parents are too poor, right?
The group laughed, even a group of girls a little further had also laughed.
Barton leaned over and grabbed Sullivan's neck.
- How you going to pay, huh?
Sullivan couldn't even answer, while Barton's iron hand was suffocating him; the other was clasping ready to strike. As Sullivan closed his eyes, another loud voice from behind interrupted them.
- He told you he didn't have one. You didn't understand?
Barton let go of the boy and turned around with his group. Abruptly, two bullies from his group went to face a medium-sized boy with blue eyes and brown hair.
- Here, Ezra! Do you want to pay for him?
Barton hadn't impressed the newcomer at all.
The latter did not even answer him, hands in pockets, he walked past the group as if they did not exist and stopped in front of Sullivan.
- Get up, he said gently. You're not going to let yourself go yet, right?
Sullivan would have liked this to stop, but when Barton forbade talking to anyone about it, it was best to obey him, so he let it continue.
- Hey, Ezra, what are you getting into? yelled, Barton. It's a matter between him and me, so get out.
Ezra was not particularly strong; moreover, he did not know Sullivan very well, probably because he was not really interested in the people of the class. However, he was not like the other pupils who watched the scene, passive. He knew what it was like to suffer and did not wish it on others, so he just couldn't sit around and do nothing.
Ezra held out her hand. Sullivan grabbed it and stood up while brushing the dust off his pants.
- You shouldn't let yourself go, said Ezra. Never. Otherwise, that ...
He was interrupted by Barton. He had lost his smile, and his expression was now tense with anger at the behavior of Ezra, who had completely ignored him.
He put his large hand on Ezra's shoulder and squeezed tight.
- Coward, didn't you hear me? It's none of your business, so get out, or you're going to get the same "thing" as him.
Ezra turned and freed himself from Barton with a quick shoulder movement. Instead of shaking, he smiled.
Sullivan watched him admiringly, glad that at last someone resisted this brute.
- And what is that "thing"? He asked, clenching his fists.
Barton looked around, many children had come to attend the scene. In particular, there was a group of girls, one of whom was Théa, the most beautiful in school. Barton couldn't help but smile, he was looking forward to being able to martyr another boy, who seemed to want to be tough. It would be an opportunity to show that he was the strongest and to show off a little in front of Thea.
He approached Ezra and tilted his face full of pimples and scars on him.
- It will be a very special treatment for those who are poorly educated. Tell me, your father never taught you to respect the strongest? Ah, I forgot, it's because you don't have one, he said mockingly.
Until then, Ezra had remained calm. But like every time we talked about his father, he felt anger rising in his body like a wave.
Barton's smile was so broad that his sharp teeth stood out. He understood that he had just touched a sore point.
Ezra's once calm demeanor had changed dramatically, his blue eyes glowing with anger. He wasted no time and threw herself on Barton to take him to the ground.
The two boys rolled on the ground, but Barton, more stout and tall, took over it. He immobilized Ezra and put his big hands to his throat. Ezra had trouble breathing, he felt like his head was going to explode, but he didn't want to admit defeat. He suddenly moved his knee, which hit the side of his enemy. The rage had increased its power tenfold, which made Barton tense with pain. In response, Barton assigned a violent punch in the sale of Ezra. He almost wanted to throw up on Barton because the blow was so sharp.
Obviously, Barton was more potent than him... Around them, everyone seemed to be panicked, but no one intervened.