When I first met her, you wouldn’t even believe that it was her. She was so very small then. She was nothing then. I wouldn’t believe that she would grow up to be a dragon. When I first saw I wouldn’t have believed that she would grow up to be a demon. She didn’t have any claws or fangs or a poisonous bite back then.
I suppose it’s fair to point out that back then I lacked all the things that make me feared now too. I didn’t have anything, but I had more than she did. I did have a secret weapon; I still do have that secret weapon. But, talking about my secret weapon would be getting off topic. After all, this is about the day that I first saw that oh-so scary bitch.
It was a grey day, like it was going to rain or something like that. I was being the usual brat; I’ve been proudly being that way since the day that I was born. I’ve been an escape artist since I managed to get out of my mother’s womb two months ahead of schedule. Panicked the crap out of her at the time and I’ve been doing that ever since. Oh, how I loved giving that woman a run for her money; I was doing just that on that fateful day.
I was making a nice getaway on my brand new bike; it was hush money to get me to stop whining about moving to a new town. My mother knew it would take more than a new bike to shut me up, but it was a good start; I was thankful that she didn’t just shut me up be calling my father, which she could have easily done. I wasn’t punishing her for making us move; I was just getting us both a little exercise at the time.
Anyway, it was all good until my attention was grabbed by a bulge on a flagpole some feet away from me. Now, I was six at the time and when a six-year-old is riding a bike as fast as possible, it is always better to focus on the road ahead rather than thinking stupid things like the flagpole looked pregnant for some reason. Well, I was thinking that very idiotic thought and failed to notice the huge crack in the sidewalk. I hit the crack and was thrown from my bike at a good speed. It couldn’t have been more frightening than if it happened in slow motion.
Now, I’ve never been one for safety and my mother was never big on the issue either; one of the reasons I’m here, but that’s a different story. The thing was that I wasn’t wearing a helmet or pads, so when I hit the ground, it hurt quite a bit. I rolled around on the concrete after landing stylishly on my face and skidding a few more inches than I liked. I sat up, rubbing my then sore forehead and noticed that I had landed in front of that very distracting flagpole. I then found out why it looked pregnant; she was tethered to the thing.
Yes, tied a couple of feet off of the ground was my future best friend, apparently having a far worse day than I was. Once I saw her, I was much too fascinated to be hurt. Besides, my mother wasn’t around to baby me, so there was no point in crying as far as I was concerned.
So, instead of weeping, I stood up and stared at the very peculiar sight of a tiny blonde munchkin fastened to a flagpole. One of the binding tools appeared to be her own jacket; I assumed it was hers because it did not make any sense to me that someone would tie a girl up in their jacket. Yes, she was definitely having a worse day than I was.
I wiped away some blood that was dripping from my nose thanks to my accident and then I approached her for a closer look. As I went into the grass, I heard a crunch under my feet and looked down. I had stepped on some glasses and that sparked her to life like an “on” switch.
“No, that’s my third pair this month,” she groaned in a very low voice.
I laughed a bit and picked up her glasses. I had done a number on them, but I try not to admit fault whenever I can help it. I decided not to address the issue of her ruined eyewear.
“Do you need a hand?” I asked. It might seem like a stupid question, seeing as how she was a tiny thing tied to a pole with her feet not even touching the ground. To make matters worse, she didn’t have any shoes. At the time, I figured she was having the worst day of her life, but I learned otherwise later on. I am glad I asked since she was always an independent cow, even when she was a frightened bug.
“My mom and dad are gonna be mad,” she whispered.
I didn’t think anything of her mumbling, which was a good thing. She worried about the dumbest things back then. I know why she did, but knowing the reasoning behind something did not make it logical or intelligent.
I went up to her completely with the plan of putting her glasses on her face to show her that I hadn’t destroyed them too terribly with my oversized feet. As I said, I try not to accept fault, even back then. I lifted up her face and that damn harpy could have had the courtesy to warn me about what I was about to witness.
Her pale face was bruised almost dark purple and her face was also bloody; far worse than mine from my fall. I gasped and dropped her useless glasses to the grass. It was like I was watching television because I had never seen someone so beaten up before; little did I know that soon we would be twin, little Frankenstein monsters. Once I saw her face, I knew that I had to get her down before whoever had done that to her came back.
My pudgy little fingers worked hard to get out all of those knots; it was like a Boy Scout troop had attached her to that damned pole. She dropped to the ground with all the grace of a brick and coughed. I watched in sheer horror as a tooth fell out of her mouth.
At that moment, all I wanted was for my mother to find me and get me away from the beaten blonde. She scared me. She truly frightened me. Her wounds scared me. It was the type of fear that one gets from wondering what kind of person would do such a thing to a little girl and wondering if that person was still around. If that person was still around, I wanted my mommy; yes, I call her mommy to this very day. I wanted her around to save me if things got bad and that wasn’t just some childish faith that a mother could do anything.
“May I have my glasses back?” she requested.
I picked up her glasses and handed them over with trembling hands, as if I was terrified of her, as if she was the monster that had injured herself. I then backed away from her, but she didn’t seem to notice or care. I searched the area for my bike, hoping to escape the bleeding girl now before she harmed me in some manner. My bike lay at the edge of the sidewalk and I was going to go to it, but the beast girl spoke again.
“Thank you,” she said in the most polite and quiet tone of voice I had ever heard.
I answered that it was no problem or something of the like before running to my bike. I picked it up and mounted the thing, ready to ride off to find my mother for once. But, as I was about to pedal away, I noticed her looking at me. Her eyes were so sad and they haunted me for a very long time. They also prevented me from moving for a while. We stared at each other in silence.
“I’m Shin,” I finally said. “Shin Toriyama.”
She didn’t reply, as if she didn’t comprehend that I was trying to be friendly, which she probably didn’t. After that, I didn’t stick around. I had to find my mother and get a cry in after falling off of my bike and meeting such a frightening little girl. My mother would make everything better.
To hear him tell the story, it seemed like I was some sort of freak that liked being kicked in the face and tied to flagpoles. At least he has grown out of telling it like he was some big hero, as if he was Persus and I was Andromeda. It was also refreshing that the little coward admitted to abandoning me, not that I required his help.
But, had it been up to him at that moment, it might have been it. He would have run from me and we would have been two lone evil twins with no other half. Perhaps the world would have been better off, but I never did give a damn about the world.
My father came and got me a little while after Shin rode off like the useless little coward he will always be. It wasn’t something new that I missed the school bus for whatever reasons, but my father still flipped out when he saw the cuts and bruises. He also didn’t like that my glasses had been crushed; damn Shin and his godforsaken clown feet. As I had informed Shin, that had been my third pair of glasses that month alone.
I quietly took the scolding that came from my father that was accompanied by his deep concern. My father always did have a tough and peculiar job when it came to me. He had to be stern and a disciplinarian all the while knowing that I would have been on the bus had I not had an appointment to get my ass kicked. So, I had to be informed how worried he and my mother were when I didn’t get off of the bus, which was where the scolding came in.
He then went into inquiring where my shoes and book bag where. I told him the truth and that was that they had both been dumped into one of the drainage openings in the sidewalks. That was the fifth pair of shoes I had lost that month and the second book bag; the bad thing was that there had been plenty of month left. I went through a lot of shoes, glasses, book bags, and jackets when I was little.
For a couple of days, everything went on as it normally would and then I saw him again. He was a new student in my class and he did not seem pleased with that; he never did look very happy to be there. The kids laughed at him for some reason that to this day is beyond me when he introduced himself. They then proceeded to ask him if he was Chinese. His name is Shinichi Toriyama. Where in that name does it suggest that he might be Chinese? He didn’t seem offended and explained with a forced smile that he was half Japanese; I’m guessing his mother bribed him in some way to make him even go to school that day. The students still referred to him as “the Chinese kid.” Apparently, listening wasn’t their strong point and all Asians were Chinese to them.
The moronic teacher wasn’t much better. She mispronounced his name seconds after he said it. He corrected her, only for the twit to do it again the next time she called on him. She made us blondes look so bad. I suppose I should bring up the fact that Middleton wasn’t a very diverse community at the time. Shin was the first Asian-looking student at our school, which was too bad for him. Being of Asian descent was his first mistake it would seem.
His next mistake was that he showed he had a brain. It opened him up to racist comments since he was Asian and our teacher, being a dumb bitch, didn’t curb the remarks. She even gave into stereotypes sometimes. I repeat, dumb bitch.
Shin’s last mistake was attempting to speak with me. He noticed me reading in the schoolyard all alone and that didn’t seem to be a clue to him that I was the untouchable of the whole place. I won’t share what I was reading at the time, but it wasn’t an elementary school level book and I had already been beaten up a couple of times for reading it; once because a boy noticed that there were no pictures in the book and apparently that was a cause for alarm. Shin sat down next to me and tried to strike up a conversation. I ignored him for both of our sakes and I just didn’t feel like being bothered.
I had had people pretend to be my friend on a few occasions and I quickly learned to stop longing for companionship. They always betrayed me as soon as they could, causing something terrible to happen to me for the sake of a laugh. Once, a boy that had feigned friendship pushed me off of the jungle gym and broke my arm. So, I learned to be wary of all people at the time.
I knew I wasn’t a person to them. I was a thing. I was just a trinket once I left my house in the morning and I was that until I was back at home. I was just a thing to everyone in that school and I thought that he might treat me the same way because as far as I could tell, everyone except for my parents and sister saw me as an object.
Shin wisely wasn’t looking to put up with me and walked off to go find something better to do. It seemed that the other students didn’t approve of him trying to talk to me, but he appeased them when they confronted him in someway. He always told me that he informed them that I was nothing more than a three-foot harpy. I doubt he said that, but whatever he said saved his ass that day. It didn’t save me, though. Once they were done with him, they stormed over to me and beat me up for bothering him. I had expected as much.
I didn’t mean to get her beaten up, of course. She later on told me that I wasn’t my fault, but I had been the one bothering her and I was the one that gave them the excuse. She claimed that they didn’t need an excuse, which I can believe. But, that was one of the few things in life that I accepted blame for, especially after I saw her face; they beat on her like a piñata.
I have been hardheaded for most of my life, so where most people would have left her alone to avoid the abuse for both of us, I had to go back for more. Besides, she had been reading a book by Ovid. I didn’t even know who Ovid was at the time, but the sheer size of the book told me that she was a creature with some level of intellect. I considered that she might make a slightly better friend than all of the morons that continued to refer to me as “that Chinese kid.” Some of the older assholes even called me “Jet Li” or “Jackie Chan” and had the nerve to get pissed when I didn’t answer them.
I got her beaten quite a few times after that, trying to get her to introduce herself, even though I already knew her name thanks to our stupid teacher. Sometimes, I would try to get her to talk about her book, but she never said a word. She hardly ever looked at me; I didn’t know it, but the little harpy-to-be was attempting to help me.
I eventually learned the schoolyard’s hierarchy, which started out with going by grade, even though each grade its own hierarchy too. The kindergartners were at the bottom on the chain, but even they were above “the Chinese kid” and even I was above her. It was a sad fact, but it was a fact. I often wondered why she was so different from everyone else. Why was she at the very bottom of the food chain?
I couldn’t figure it out. She wasn’t Asian; she wasn’t any type of minority. She was a little blonde cutie with blue eyes. She should’ve popular, but she was far from that. She was lower than a stray cat to those kids; she was merely an object for them to abuse. She was something for them to pick on and a way for them to feel better out themselves through hurting a weaker child. I suppose I could’ve moved up a notch or two by joining them, but I didn’t know why they were picking on her and I didn’t want to be like them. Besides, my mother would’ve whipped my little ass if she found me bullying some girl.
Instead, I tried to dig myself down to her level in the hierarchy, especially after a certain incident in the lunch room. I sat with her in a corner, a serious, for real corner. It appeared that she wasn’t allowed to sit at a table like the rest of the so-called human beings. She sat on the floor in a corner.
The teachers never bothered her, they never forced her to sit at a table, but I knew it wasn’t because she liked sitting there. For the teachers that did care, it was a way to keep her from getting beaten up by not trying to put her some place the other kids didn’t want her and for the teachers that didn’t care, well, they didn’t care. There were plenty of those that didn’t care.
Anyway, I sat down with her and had lunch with her. She didn’t say anything and she didn’t look at me for a few minutes, but I caught her attention when I pulled out a package of sushi for lunch. The one thing that the mini-monster had in common with women was that she was a curious creature. I suppose it was an intellectual curiosity because she was very learned even at such a young age, so she was probably opened to new things that she knew from other cultures.
But, I finally had her attention, especially when I ate one of the pieces of sushi. I probably grinned all the way through since I love all kinds of sushi; my mother always said that I was my father’s son. I could tell that she wasn’t going to ask, but she wanted to try one. I offered and at first, she refused by shaking her head. I insisted and she probably accepted to get me away from her. She had no idea, but I thrived from positive attention paid to me by females.
I asked her if it was good and she only nodded. The sad look in her eyes disappeared for a moment and then a look of horror replaced any sign of joy that was trying to make itself known. Had I been older, I would’ve known that the look meant that there was an asshole behind me, but I wasn’t older. I was only six and not yet accustomed to being tormented because I was different.
A big kid came up behind me. He snatched my lunch from me. He looked at the food with contempt and smelled it. He then flung my beloved sushi to the floor. He wasn’t done being a dick yet. He grabbed her by the face and neck, forcing her to cough up the sushi that she was eating.
I called for a teacher while he was holding her by the face, obviously hurting her, but all of the teachers ignored what was going on. They pretended not to see as he dropped her back on the floor with bruises already forming on her light peach cheeks. She was struggling to breathe while he stole her lunch and walked off. I growled in anger and was ready to go after him. She grabbed my arm and shook her head, but she didn’t say a word. I knew what she wanted, though. She was requesting that I stay put. She probably saved my butt considering the kid was a giant, especially compared to me, and he had a clique of goons while I didn’t even have an evil twin at the time, but we were on our way there. Bruises run thicker than blood.
Next time: On this to-be-continued installment, Shin sees a glimpse of the woman he knows in the girl he has just met when he gets into some big trouble. Also, meeting Shin’s mother. You know you wonder what she's like.