‘I Ran’
By Paul Van Der Spiegel
Short Story Recommendation By Edge Of Humanity Magazine

“With vivid details ‘I Ran’ narrates scenes from a young boy’s life. As he struggles with racism and violence among his peers, the youngster builds character and strength.”

 

Joelcy Kay | Editor |  Edge of Humanity Magazine

 

 

Written by Paul Van Der Spiegel

 

David sprinted around the corner flag, his training shoes squelching in the mud as he ran parallel to the speeding cars and trucks on the other side of the fence. As he passed the gray metal gate of the all-weather pitch, he saw the line of demoralized, trudging boys snaking behind him in their yellow and brown reversible sports tops.

The task was always the same: to be the fastest, to race ahead of the pack, to arrive back at the sports hall and get showered and changed before the other boys arrived and the taunting began.

Mister Jesus, the Business Studies teacher trapped in a hippy time-warp, stood at the school gate onto the housing estate. Jesus nodded to David as the boy crossed the road and headed down the dog-shit-strewn ginnel.

On the stubble field, David increased his pace and, feeling the power in his fourteen-year-old limbs, he raced towards the malevolent, looming soup factory that stood by the side of the motorway.

Escaping from the maw of the graffitied underpass, David dipped into the gulley behind the factory car park. Arcing around the wire fence protecting the worker’s vehicles from vandals and thieves, he saw Paul Harding not more than fifty yards behind. Harding was a fast runner and, whilst they were not friends, Paul Harding did not call him a wog or a queer and did not threaten to kick the shit out of him after school.

The two boys circled the fortress food facility and began the climb that would take them back to the school playing fields. As the path wound its way through the labyrinth of dormer bungalows, then through the snicket at the back of the prefab garages, David saw the group of boys in their jerseys and shorts lining the sides of the pitted tarmac as it narrowed behind the dustbins.

David saw their eyes, he saw their silence, he saw Damian Jolley.

He could turn around, find another route back to school, avoid confrontation with the lads who wanted to humiliate him, to hurt him. But Paul Harding was behind, and David was determined to win.

As he raced, head-down, through the middle of the gang, David was rugby tackled from behind. He hit the ground hard, grazing his arms and banging his head. The kicking and punching began. Jolley was calling him the n word, calling him a queer bastard, telling him to get the fuck out of our Roman Catholic High School or else he’d be dead.

Then, Paul Harding was there, pushing the pack animals away, telling them to stop. The boys were laughing.

Blood was on his face and hands and on his sports top. Mum is going to be angry was all David could think as Paul helped him to his feet and pushed him onwards.

Jesus looked blankly at the blood-smeared boys who stumbled through the gates and began the loop across the fields back towards the cubic, glass-topped sports hall.

Inside the sports hall office, Mister Gables looked up from his desk. ‘What happened to you?’ he said.

‘Jolley and-’ Paul began.

‘-I fell,’ David interrupted.

Gables peered through his glasses and frowned. ‘Get yourself cleaned up,’ he growled, ‘and if there’s any blood on the floor after you’ve finished there’ll be a detention for both of you.’ 

 

Text © Paul Van Der Spiegel

 

Hi I’m Paul and I am the author of 4 books: Trans Deus, 7 Minutes, Parably Not, and A Particular Friendship. I love books (just finished Orlam by PJ Harvey which was ace), art (Blake, Goya, Major), music (partial to a bit of Kristen Hersh, Bicep, Moderat) and I live near Manchester, England.

 

 

 

 

 

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