The rage surging across her skin was probably making her stupid, funny how she didn’t care. It was hard to care about anything at the moment, anything except wiping the smile off Perry Manno’s face.
Problem was, Perry Manno’s face was about two feet above hers and even stupid enough to throw a punch, she’d only hit air. He knew it and grinned down at her.
“Go home kid.”
She should go home. She should nurse her skinned knees and fix her ripped skirt and then figure out a way a skinny ten year old could get back at a fledgling thug five times her bodyweight. She should forget about her purple bag now clutched in his dirty fingers and the way he’d pushed her and taken it without any effort. But she was too angry to go home. Perry Manno had beaten her because he was bigger than she was, not smarter, not braver, not even luckier, just bigger. It wasn’t fair.
She set her feet apart on the cracked sidewalk, one frayed slip-on ballet flat missing, balled her hands into fists, and ordered him to return the bag.
Perry Manno laughed at her. It was short chuckle, whiny and pitying. She cursed a slur. He laughed again and turned his back on her. Fury filled her chest. She was nothing to him, she couldn’t hurt him and he knew it.
She spit at him, not thinking anymore, but it worked. He snapped around with a snarl, a thick hand grabbing her jacket front and yanked her forward. His eyes showed white all the way around as he shook her, face pressed close to hers, teeth bared. Feet barely touching the ground, she hung from his grip paralyzed with shock. She couldn’t win, she realized, and it didn’t make sense. He was the bully, that brute, the monster. Why was he winning?
He threw her down hard, knocking the air from her lungs as her back hit the sidewalk. Perry Manno bent to pick up her purple bag while she curled on the stained cement struck silent, just trying to breathe and think past the sudden injustice of the world.
When she managed to push herself to her hands he was gone, Perry Manno had won.