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Burning the Boats to Hesperion

No reason and No rhyme

Burning the Boats to Hesperion







I think it was raining and I think it was cold.

No. It couldn’t be raining because they wouldn’t let us outside.

But it had rained, and our playground was all sand and mud.

And it was grey.

Yeah, I remember that.


I was in the third grade and Miguel Portela was the biggest bully around.

Not because he was the strongest, or the hardest,

but because he took the most pleasure from bullying.




Tried to fight him.

He was stronger than me and everytime I pushed him, he pushed me harder to the ground.

I kept getting up and taken down repeatedly,

until he started to laugh,

-”So, “Angry” do you want to try another time? Come at me again, “Angry”, see if you can take me this time.”

I tried and cried and failed miserably.

He kept taunting me, calling me “angry”

Every time I lost a little more of my confidence

my resolve grew diffuse,

until  I was slowly,

but surely,

wore down.

I retreated in shame.


From then on, he would see me and ask, “Hi “angry”! How you’re doing?”

I felt so powerless,


I had no more fight in me.

I was defeated and knew it.


Months passed.

Enouhg time to resign myself to be made fun of by Miguel.


One Autumn afternoon the kids were playing football on our makeshift filed.

I was told that Miguel Portela got into an argument with one of the strong, popular kids,


as things got heated,

he tried to punch him.

The other kid fought him hard,



When he stopped Miguel was lying in the football field,

sand sticking to his clothes.

crying softly.


And it was then that something magical happened.


Our playground was like any other.

Filled with the relentless movement and hollering of children.

We were left there to scream and vent

for as long as they would keep us outside.




In the football field,

a woundrous transformation occourred.


As the kids saw Miguel Portela writhing and whining in the dirt, they made a circle around him.

For a long time, he did nothing but cry.

The beating was so violent and final it’d cracked something inside him,

leaving him to sob into the mud.


This display of weakness didn’t go unnoticed by the other kids.

They stood above him as he blubbered, pleased to see him grovel.



he tried to get up,

someone kicked him down.

He whimpered

and cried some more in the sand.


After the first kick something changed.

Now everyone on the football field knew they could hurt him.

Shortly after the first, another cracked him in the gut.

The circle got tighter and there was a lull.


Slowly it dawned on everyone that what they had was something very precious,


they knew,

should be kept from the teachers.

They had the school’s biggest bully squirming abjectly on the floor,


at once,

A victim that invited punishment, and a bully, that justified it.


There was no rush,

No frenzy,

Just looking and waiting.


They watched him,



eyes closed,

hands opening and closing spasmodically.


When he,


tried to get up, someone would kick him down.

Sometimes gently, sometimes not,

but always hard enough for him to understand where everyone wanted him.



in the wet sand.


You could hear the silence in the football field.

And if the teachers were slow to react,

the other kids weren’t.


All around the playground, first, second and third graders, started to pick up on the absence and searched for its cause.



they poured into the field and thickened the circle around him.

They all had came to see Miguel Portela.


Tentatively they renewed kicking him,

now one kid,

now another.

He would just whine softly

and cry some more.


A stillness crept over the playground as the kids congregated around him.

Quietly they stood,



booting him down every time he tried to get up.


By then most of the school was in the football field.


Eventually the silence alerted the teachers that something was wrong.

When they finally got to the field they saw the circle,

By now, four or five people thick,

encircling Miguel Portela,

as the rain, the tears, and the snot coated him with wet sand.


It all ended then.


They made us listen to lectures about the terrible thing we’d all done,

But there was a deep dearth of contrition.



there was just too many kids to punish.

Miguel Portela’s parents took him out of the school and we never saw him again.

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