the ballad of babby-bobby
Babby-bobby was a lonely child. His parents ignored him except to scold him for being too lazy, too stupid and too slow. His father had once beaten Babby-bobby for playing in the tool shed, Babby-bobby had to be taken to the emergency room because he kept coughing up blood and had received another beating for causing such fuss. School was no better , at school the other children would put frogs in his desk because they scared him so and wipe boogers on his jacket. The teachers never chose him to answer questions even though his hand was always first in the air. Babby-bobby was really very bright but no one noticed. The only people that noticed a thin, shy child like him were the bullies. His days were dark but his nights darker still, Babby-bobby would dream the most terrible dreams, dreams of blood and heat and falling, always falling deeper and deeper through the earth.
One morning in early spring Babby-bobby was walking to school when he found a shell. Normally he wouldn't have picked up anything from the floor (his father had beaten him often for picking up things from the floor) but this shell shone in the sun, it sang and danced before his eyes. It was the most beautiful thing Babby-bobby had ever seen. All the way to school his hand would slip into his pocket to stroke the shell with the tips of his fingers, it made his whole body shake at the touch and he swore that this was his and no one elses, all the pain and the lonliness and the loss would be forgotten as long as this shell was his. Inside the shell was pink as a kittens tongue and outside was run through with colours so bright and dazzling they couldn't be natural, even to look at it made Babby-bobby's eyes swim in his head. On that long walk, for no other children lived near Babby-bobby's parents farm, the thought of that shell, the weight of it in his pocket was better than ice cream or watching the Sunday morning game or those odd, magical days when his parents forgot he was in the house and left for market without him, and the house was his to play in and explore.
Later that day at school they were made to play football on the still frozen ground, the other boys hit him and kicked him and tripped him when the teacher wasn't looking (and sometimes when he was as well), the teacher would smile a cruel little smile as Babby-bobby would pick himself up off the floor. He wiped the blood off his nose and lip and thought of the shell in his desk. Just get through again, he would say to himself, just get through and on the walk home you can look at your shell all you want. Eventually the match was over, the captain of the other team spat in Babby-bobby's face as he walked off the pitch.
None of it mattered to Babby-bobby, all he cared about was holding the shell in his hand. But of course it was gone. He searched through his desk and through his pockets but nothing. It was gone. Babby-bobby sat down hard on the floor, there were no tears, he had cried enough in nine years to last four lifetimes. He thought about his name, his life, his parents, his teachers, his fellow pupils and the shell. Babby-bobby he stood up and turned to the boy next to him. Jimmy grinned "Lost something Crappy-bobby?". Babby-bobby smiled slowly and his hands slid down the chair in front of him. It moved so easily in his hand, spinning up into the sickening grin of Jimmy, splitting lip and throwing teeth and it all seemed so simple, their teacher screamed something and ran at Babby-bobby but the chair flipped up and caught her across the face and she fell at Babby-bobby's feet quite still and quiet. After that it all made so much more sense. He danced through the classroom and out into the hall towards the teachers lounge, he could smell coffe and cigarette smoke from under the door. No angel looked more serene, no devil more determined and Babby-bobby danced.
As he walked home he looked at his hands shining with drying blood, how many had fallen? Babby-bobby couldn't remember. The chair had spun and danced in Babby-bobby hands till it was just a splinter of wood about a foot long, a splinter that had slipped so easily into the eye of Mary-Jane Cadance, she had fallen to the floor making a gurgling noise deep in the back of her throat.
At home Babby-bobby washed the blood from his hands, it span away in the sink like dark rust. He went out to the shed thinking how angry his father would be if he knew that Babby-bobby had been in his shed again. He chose the small axe that his father used for the firewood and a medium sized hammer and walked slowley back inside the house. Babby-bobby sat quite still on his bed and waited for his mother who always came home first.