Mommy tells me every day that I am a hurricane. Jacko has long declared me stupid. Daddy has not yet given me a name, but I’m sure he will have one for me just as soon as he has the time to call me that.
So, it was only a matter of time till I justified their feelings COMPLETELY.
I jumped on beds, leaped down stairs, juggled heavy stuff and what not on a regular basis. But when Mandy Carter dared me to a game of “Roolet” (Roulette) after school, I did something out of my own league of mischief. It was the new trend. And Mandy was the proud boaster of winning every single game she had played. I had to play her!
So that Monday, after school, I walked with Mandy, and Alison who came along as witness and the rat to spread the results, to Mandy’s house. She said she had just the things we needed. Which only just seemed exciting until we saw what it actually was. Not impressive.
What’s so dangerous about snakes and ladders?!
Mandy got a chance to explain herself. I glanced at Alison. Tell everyone what a dud Mandy is!
“Ok-ok- this isn’t what it looks like. My daddy has got an actual Roulette set. The table and the dice and everything. But we don’t need all that. It’s a simple game, and we can play it on a Snakes And Ladders board anyway.” It sounded well rehearsed.
I sighed. Whatever, I said.
Mandy told us what we had to do. Not impressive, again.
“Say a number and roll the dice. You get that number on the dice you win.”
I looked at Mandy. Alison looked at Mandy. I knew Mandy too would have looked at Mandy had she been on our side.
“That’s all.” Mandy smiled. She rubbed the dice in her hands.
“Mandy, I have to go home.” I said. Alison giggled. Mandy froze. She turned red.
“No- no- it’s good. It’s a very special game. Big people play it. It’s a game for RICH PEOPLE!”
I turned and walked away, hands in my pockets. I could see Alison being impressed. I could HEAR Mandy being embarrassed. I was happy. 🙂
Four steps down the road, I heard Mandy’s voice.
“Fine then Jenny Jackson. I challenge you to a game of RUSSIAN Roulette. Let’s see you laugh at that.” Mandy screamed.
I turned. What now? “I accept.” I said in the same cool air, and walked back in.
“Let’s go inside.”
Mandy’s house was quiet. Her mother was out. Her father was at work. Only her brother was in. And he opened the door and went back to his room. We didn’t see him again.
Mandy took us to her room. (For once, impressive. She had her own bathroom.)
“So here’s how you play it. We put one bullet in a pistol of six rounds, and take turns putting it to our head and pulling the trigger. The one who pulls the trigger when the bullet is in place-”
“Dies!” I gasped.
“Loses.” Mandy says.
I looked at her.
I looked at her. Mandy stares back.
“You- you scared?” She said.
“Bring it on.” I whispered.
I didn’t tell you what happened that day when Jacko had dropped his stuff and woken daddy, and mommy had told us to stay in my room while she talked to daddy. When it had ended, mommy lay on the floor, and Jacko shut me in as he went out. He had promised he’d be back in fifteen minutes. And he was.
Jacko had told me to sit still. He had told me to listen.
And then Jacko had told me why violence was bad. He said it hurt everyone. The person you hit hurt on the surface. And the person who hits hurt underneath. I didn’t understand that. And Jacko said,” Jenny, every time I hit you I feel like I am more powerful than you. No, listen Jenny. But after some time- ten minutes, an hour, a day- I feel ashamed. I feel bad about myself for hurting some one else, for taking advantage of a stronger fist. Now Jenny, I want you to promise me that every time you think about violence, OF ANY KIND, you’ll first think about this. Do you really want to hurt the person you are hurting?”
Of any kind?
“Hitting someone is not the only violence we do everyday, Jen. We say hard words, we wish someone bad, we hurt ourselves. It’s all violence.”
I gave my word.
But I forgot about it that day, with Mandy. With Russian Roulette. It was dangerous I knew. But was it violence?
“Bring it on” I said.
“Please! Don’t use bullets.” shrieked Alison. She was pale. “Uhh- Paint?”
We readily agreed.
Mandy ran downstairs. She came back. “No gun.”
Alison sighed VERY LOUDLY. We looked at her.
“Get a knife.”
Mandy ran back down. This time she came back with a shiny silver vegetable knife.
This was it. Out with Roulette, and Russian roulette. The matter had to be settled with the Knife Game. It was too late to delay things, to let it pass. A challenge had to happen.
Mandy went first. She opened her fingers wide. She put the knife next to her thumb. She breathed…
Slowly, she tapped the spaces between the fingers…
She increased her pace… “39-40-”
I held my breath… I focused…
The knife was quivering. Her hand was shaking. “48-49-50-”
I was sweating. “51-”
And Mandy threw the knife away, clutching her hand hard. 51. That was her record. I had to break it.
I got into position. I wiped the knife clean of sweat. I stretched my own fingers apart…
My eyes focused on the blade, moving steadily, taking in nothing but the shiny tip. Keeping the flesh away..45…
My pace increased. Get it over with! Come on, number 52!
I scraped close to my little finger. i drew my breath in. Focus… focus… 48…
My little finger… it hurt… I looked at it… It was okay. No blood. 50…
But I lost sight of the blade.
Lots of blood.
I dropped the knife. Pain writhing in my hand…
I looked at my thumb.
The warm stickiness spread on it… it poured down my arm.
A loud gash at the base of the thumb looked eerily at me. The deep red blood flowed silently.
I looked at Mandy, who was staring at my hand open-mouthed, frightened.
I said sorry, to Jacko.
And I fainted.