“Todd! Hey, Todd! Come ‘ere, Todd!”
Mark Tolbin called out to me from his table of goons, half-way across the cafeteria. I ignored him, already in a terrible mood, and kept walking towards the exit to hallway, pleading silently in my mind to God, Please, please, please, do not let him come after me today. If he has to come after me everyday after today, except for this day, that’s fine but please, just not today!
I guess God wasn’t paying attention to me at that moment though, because the next thing I know, Mark’s got a hold on the back of my shirt and is dragging me like a cartoon character the rest of the way out into the hall. I flail my arms, trying to grab onto something to stop my now forced exit, but all I end up doing is knocking a lunch tray out of a girl’s hands and earning myself a dirty look. I barely manage to apologize before I get yanked around the corner and slammed into the wall on the other side, my head slamming back against the painted concrete bricks.
I wheeze for air, having had the wind thoroughly knocked out of me, and slump down the wall just a little. Mark picks me up by the front of my shirt, still having a massive three inches and 57 lbs. on my six foot two inches, 178 lbs. frame. He looks me in the eye, smirking a little and giving me a little shake two inches off the ground, and says, “So you think you can just ignore me, huh, Wolf Boy?” He refers to the derogative nickname give to me based upon my appearance. I grip the wrist of the hand holding me, fearing he’ll throw me or something of a similar fate.
Hating this situation so badly, yet knowing no teacher will come to my rescue anytime soon, I respond diligently, “N-no, of course n-not.” Mark’s eyes flash with anger and he slams me back into the wall, and waits, holding me there as I catch my breath and realize my mistake. I breath in deeply, choke on it, cough, and finally manage to spit out the response he wants, “N-no, of c-course not, S-sir!” I keep coughing; my coughs get weaker as I run out of air to cough with. I start to panic, thinking I’m going to suffocate or something, but Mark realizes the issue and lets go of me.
I drop like a rock and manage to get my breathing under control as I lie in a heap on the floor, but not without quite a bit of stress and panic buildup. Mark just looks at me with pity and reminds me, “Don’t ignore me again, Mutt.” He walls off, straightening his senior football jacket and re-spiking his blonde hair that matches his blue eyes to make him that popular all-American jock jerk that he is.
“Argh!” I turn and punch the wall behind me. Mark makes me so mad! There’s absolutely nothing I’ve ever done to him, and yet he beats on me day after day! According to him and his lackeys, it’s only because I offend him with my appearance or something stupid like that. Do I really look that bad?
I push myself up off the floor and walk down the hall. There’s usually only one place I can go to calm down after Mark harasses me like that and only one person I can talk to, but unfortunately that place doesn’t exist anymore, and hasn’t since the remodel of the school halfway through junior year and as well that person has retired. I usually go to my counselor now, not that they actually do anything. Turning down another hall, I spot the door to my counselor’s office.
Or what I thought was.
The door that should have been a plain wooden door with a super annoying “Reach for the Stars!” poster on it, was now a bright sapphire blue door with puffy white clouds and a sun painted on it. I immediately hated it, yet I still walked up to it and knocked, wondering in amazement at why in the world my Ms. Doom and Gloom counselor would do that to her door. I got even more of a shock when a cheerful male voice called out in a sing song voice from behind the door of the office, “Come on in!”
I cautiously opened the door and peeked inside the office to see a bright green office with a modern decorated theme including two large bean bags for students and some weird wavy looking chair for the young, hip looking college age guy sitting at the chrome desk. “Well? Come in! I don’t have all day! I only have until that last bell too, you know!” He grins at me as I step carefully into the office and he isn’t at all taken back by my ruffled, canine appearance. I slowly sink into a bean bag as he gets out a blank file and asks, “First, what’s your name and second, what can I help you with, young man?”
For the first time in a while I begin to relax a little and I grin sheepishly. I gesture to my sharp canine teeth, my pointed ears, my slightly muzzle like face, my jet black, mane-like hair, and my black and silver flecked eyes all in one motion, and respond jokingly, “Name’s Todd and where do I even start?”