Saturday, October 3, 2009

Understanding Why

Today two young boys are late for school. But they are always late for school. They know all the names of the ladies in the front office of their elementary school, they know all the procedures that are involved in signing in and they almost never make it before first bell. A normal, everyday occurrence. 

But today, two boys are late for school.

They awoke to a frantic mother, launching around the project house they live in on their one way street. A lot of things around here are one way. Never their way. Rarely a good way. They ready themselves in the bathroom, the bedroom, the kitchen. Making their way through the normal routine. And as in part of the routine, they are not completely ready when the bus comes, so it passes them by. 

This day, like many others, the clothes they were to wear were not dry. Either by rain or merely not being hung up in time the night before, they had no clothes to wear that morning. Underwear in the oven, cooking to a soggy warmth they would sit in for hours. The only solace being the dark colored denim over it. A fate they knew and expected by now. The sort of thing you deal with when you are always late.

On this day, like many others, the TV was on and cartoons were playing. Being a young boy at home and already late, you begin to fall into a slower momentum knowing you cannot catch that bus, or reset that alarm. You slow down and just glide through. Maybe you would eat a bigger breakfast, or sit to watch some cartoons as your pants dried on a kitchen chair. Habits just reinforce with time, and this was the habit. Slowing down. 

On this slow morning, two poor boys were late to school. Sitting in the parlor, watching cartoons, waiting for clothes that were unknowingly ready, teeth UN-brushed, bags unpacked, simply sitting. The frantic mother rolled in. And stopped. Upon further inspection she notices the unclothed boys, UN-brushed teeth and unpacked bags. She leaves the room. She returns with an old black cable cord wrapped in her fingers. She stands the boys up. And she threatens to beat the fuck out of them with it. 

On days like this your mind stops to record the world around you. It takes note of the salmon pink window blinds drawn down so no one can see inside, the dark tile on the cold floor that offers no sense of comfort if you were to land on it, the thin cotton garments that cannot shield you or offer any protection, the empty sounds of screams reverberating from the walls of the sizable room. The complete irony of being held accountable for habits impressed upon you. Held accountable by your oppressor.

On this typically slow morning, two poor boys pleaded for their skin. For the first time, and most likely the last. They screamed and sobbed and yelled for help and screamed some more. Tears running down their partially clothed bodies, making stains no one would notice in the rest of the day. A terrified look in their eyes that no one would see in class. Stuck in a one way life that no one else had a clue about, and wouldn't believe if they were told.

On this day, these two boys were not beaten, but they were not spared. They were not hurt, but they were injured. At least one was. At least one left the house that morning irrevocably scarred. At least one left that house with an unshakable knowledge of what violence was, and what violence could do. At least one of them has never had to beg for his skin again. He watches and waits for the patterns and habits to return. He slinks back like a snake and waits for the moment. The moment where the threat begins. And he strikes first.

Violence begets violence.

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