THE PHONE RANG a couple of times before Michael answered. It was Jen, his former girlfriend and the mother of his son, calling.
Michael and Jen separated right after graduation and both had chosen to follow different paths. Both claimed the decision was mutual. She migrated abroad with their son, Paulo, and he had chosen to stay behind.
It had been four years since the last time Michael saw his son, though he had visitation rights and continually supports him financially, he refused to see him.
It’s not that he doesn’t love him or anything. He just couldn’t bear to look at him and stare at his face, afraid that he might do something unforgiveable to his son. The same unforgiveable thing his uncle had done to him when he just a boy. The memory of which was still clear and forever burned in his head.
One day his uncle picked him up after school. His parents we’re abroad on a business trip and so he was entrusted to his uncle. He lived with him for a week.
The scorching heat of the sun burned his skin. But like all the other kids playing in the quadrangle, he barely noticed or even cared. The dirt on his shirt, blood on his arms and knees, sweat on his back and forehead was something he’s used to everyday. His team needed to win at any cost. He pushed one boy, tripped the next, and knocked all the others blocking his way. Victory was close but one more obstacle must be overcome, Big James.
He slowed down, breathes and allowed his mind to work. He pictured every angle and what kind of manoeuvre would succeed. If he runs to Big James’ left there’s a 72% chance he’d get caught considering the following factors: the number of people walking which could be a form of distraction, Big James’ height, weight and skill plus him being a lefty. But if he runs to his right there’s 38% chance he’d get caught since more people are walking.
With one final sigh he looked at his watch and runs to Big James left. As if on cue the bell rang and sea of people started flooding exiting from the building. No Big James in sight only white polo uniforms. He surged pass all the people blocking his way and finally reached their base. Victory!
If he had run to his right he’d surely get caught but since the exit of the high school building was on Big James’ left he ran towards it. With the final glimpse at his watch his move was perfect.
He sat with his friends at one of the benches in the open hallway. Talking about what had happened and arguing who was the best tactician. Of course, everyone knew it was Michael.
One man came up to him and pulled him through his collar. Screaming at him and asking where he had been. The man claimed to have been waiting for him for over an hour at the gate. He’s stench with alcohol. It was his uncle.
His uncle screamed and yelled at him on the way home while he cried and begged for forgiveness. He slapped him on the face to shut him up. He tasted his own blood mixed with his tears.
The night came and he tried to sleep while holding a bag of ice against his eyes. The door opened and his uncle woke him up. He grabbed him by the arms and pushed him against the wall.
What happened that night stripped Michael off his childhood forever. He was only 11 then.
Part 5 of In The Closet