After school, p.1
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       After School, p.1
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           J.J. Francesco
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After School
AFTER SCHOOL

  BY J.J. FRANCESCO

  After School

  by J.J. Francesco

  Copyright 2014 J.J. Francesco

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  Acknowledgements

  This story was originally written for a creative writing class in college and later published in Transient literary magazine. It was further adapted into it’s second version in yet another class. I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer my endless gratitude to the teachers and students of those classes whose critique helped shape my story into what it is now. And to anybody who’s read it online, I think you as well. I thank Transient magazine for publishing it originally. And lastly, I thank Rhoda D’ettore for helping me get this publication together.

  Author’s Note:

  When I first wrote After School for a creative writing class, I had no idea how far it would take me. Such a short and simple scene really seemed to connect with readers. Once freed from the restrictions of assignment page counts, the story came alive and took on a life of it’s own. And I was overjoyed when it was accepted for publication in a local literary magazine, Transient. Shortly after that, circumstances led me to submit it for another college writing workshop. The feedback I received in that class led to the second version included in this publication. Neither story is meant to be “better” or even drastically different than the other. The first is simply the published version, and the second a newer version. Both are included here for your reading.

  Version 1 of After School, originally published in Transient magazine.

  After School

  “Caleb? Caleb, what happened?” Dayana Forbes nervously shot up from the bench in her high school hallway. She stood in horror as a boy from her Geometry class stumbled out of the boys’ restroom, clad only in an unbuttoned shirt and torn boxers that barely clung to his waist.

  Each step of his bare feet was a struggle and he appeared about to lose his balance, yet, with every inch, he forced himself forward. His face and exposed limbs were covered in bruises and bloody gashes. His usually tidy brown hair was a mess and his emerald green eyes were filled with a look of horror.

  Dayana could see that he couldn’t stay standing much longer. She rushed toward him, seeing his legs begin to give out seconds before she got to him. She extended her arms just in time to prevent his tall, but frail form from crashing to the ground. His bony body felt heavy in her thin arms. It was as if he had no strength to hold himself up.

  She assisted him to the bench – her slender form just barely able to support him – and helped him sit down. A small puddle of blood quickly gathered around where he sat. She also noticed a long trail of blood coming from the restroom to the bench. These weren’t minor injuries.

  Dayana quickly dialed 911, nervously twirling her long, dirty-blond hair the entire time. Her heart was racing but she managed to get out the information without a noticeable stutter. Within a minute, she closed her phone. “Help’s coming Caleb. They’ll be here soon.”

  She stroked his neck, not caring about the blood that smeared onto her hands. “What happened to your clothes?” She felt the need to look away. She knew how shy he was and the fact that he didn’t seem to care about his near-naked state troubled her even more. “Caleb, can you hear me?” She gently took his hand.

  No response. He was typically quiet but he was always warm and laid back. Now, he looked almost dead. Only the rise and fall of his chest with each deep breath and the shaking of his entire body gave her a sense that he was still alive.

  “Caleb, you have to tell me what happened.” She tried to look him in the eyes, but his face remained fixated on the restroom.

  “Did he do this? Garret? I know he’s been picking on you.” She felt his grip on her hand tighten. She looked up to see a tear rolling down his cheek, mingling with a spot of blood.

  “I was helping Mister Altman straighten up after class.” Caleb swallowed a mixture of saliva and blood. “Everyone had gotten into groups so all the desks and chairs were all over the place. It wasn’t fair that the teacher had to do all the work. You know?”

  She nodded. “Of course. That was good of you to help.”

  He shook his head. “I didn’t think anyone else was still here. Right after Mister Altman left, I was just going to my locker to get some books I needed for homework. Garret was waiting for me there. I could see that he was really pissed.” He titled his head back and tried to fight sobs. “I tried to run but he stopped me and threw me into the lockers. I called for help but everyone else was gone. Then Garret put his hand over my mouth. He was so much stronger than me.” Caleb held his chest and took a deep breath. “He slammed me through the door of that bathroom. I crashed and landed on the floor. He just kept hitting me and wouldn’t stop. Then he started to rip off all of my clothes and then he kicked me into one of the stalls. I really thought he was going to beat me to death.”

  Dayana felt her stomach turn. She thrust her eyes closed. It almost made her vomit to think of how Caleb must’ve felt as he was assaulted. He was a year younger than the other sophomores and worse yet, looked young for his age, despite his height. He never had a chance against an oversized bully. She opened her eyes again and saw Caleb staring out the front window at the dusk sky.

  “Why now?” She turned his head to look him in the eyes. “He’s been bugging you for months, but he’s never done anything like this before.”

  “The principal saw him bothering me yesterday. Garret tried to pretend like everything was okay, but he got suspended. He was so mad. I could tell.” Caleb began to cry.

  Dayana couldn’t take seeing him like this. “Hey, don’t give him the satisfaction of shedding tears. That’s what he wants. Help’s coming. They’ll fix you up and you’ll be okay.”

  He shook his head. “I’m not okay. I won’t ever be okay again.”

  “Is there something you’re not telling me, Caleb?” She scanned his battered body, paying particular attention to the blood pooled underneath him. It seemed quite extensive even for Caleb’s visible wounds. Was there a wound hidden under the scraps of clothing remaining on his body? She felt her eyes drawing to his abdomen. The blood had to have been coming from there. Then she noticed the awkward way that Caleb was seated on the bench. She placed her hands over her mouth. The truth smacked into her with a relentless force. She’d assumed his clothes were just ripped off to humiliate him. In all the confusion of seeing Caleb so bloodied, she’d never considered that Garret was capable of a deeper violation. She felt fury building up inside of her. Who could do that to somebody as kind and sweet as Caleb?

  “Oh God! Caleb, no!” She wrapped her arms protectively around him. “Did he . . . did he force you to do something?” Heavy breaths prevented her from uttering the horrible word.

  Caleb tensed up but didn’t pull away.

  She loosened her grip to avoid making him uncomfortable. “He couldn’t have. He wouldn’t want to.”

  Caleb stared straight ahead. “He said that telling on him was something a sissy would do. He wanted to show me how to be a man.” His fists tightened.

  A chill shot up Dayana’s spine. She angrily gripped the bench.

  Dayana could see the sweat forming on his neck as he recalled what happened. “Caleb, I’m so sorry.” She cupped his hand in hers. “Somebody should’ve been able to stop this. Someone should’ve seen. I should’ve se
en. I was studying right down the hall.” She felt her breath leave her as a memory of moving to the beat of a rock tune playing through ear bud headphones taunted her. “I wasn’t even paying attention.” She couldn’t even look at Caleb, but he needed her now. She forced herself to return her gaze to him. “But I’m here now and I want to help you.”

  He looked her in the eyes. “You can’t help me anymore. Nobody can help me.” His words sounded so empty to her, so cold. It was totally devoid of the care that usually filled his voice.

  Dayana moved closer to him. “You have to let me at least try.” His eyes looked so lifeless as she stared into them. It cut her deeply to see what he’d been reduced to in the hours since she’d last seen him.

  Caleb lowered his folded arms to his lap. “It’s so cold,” he said, more to himself than to her.

  Dayana scanned him head to toe. His almost naked body was shivering. She then looked at her watch. Almost five o’clock. It’d been over five minutes since she’d called the police. They’d be there any minute. After all the humiliation Caleb had already suffered, he deserved at least some amount of dignity.

  She shot a glance at the restroom. “Are your clothes still in there?”

  He nodded. “But they got torn up. They’ll
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