Hiṃsā…by G. Mramor

They stood on the busy corner. The crowd dispersed when the light went red. Some who had crossed the street entered the station next to the boys and others passed by them into the big window stores. The boys did not speak, they stood there looking across the street. They wore blue emblemed blazers and backpacks and red ties to clean white shirts and beige slacks, blemishless all the way to their shining brown shoes. A crowd gathered again on both sides of the street and on the opposite side there was a group of girls and business men and women who crossed the street. The girls followed the crowd to the boys. They wore red emblemed sweaters and clean white blouses and grey red-checkered skirts rolled up above the waist and white socks with shining black shoes. They talked and quieted when another crowd was crossing the street. A boy, dressed like the other boys, broke from the crowd and they all went down in to the station.

They paid for their fares and stood around the turnstiles quietly. Some people entered but no one paid attention to them. One of the boys and one of the girls helped a woman down the steps to the platform next to them because she had a baby in a carriage a two year old in her arms and a wandering five year old on a leash and the man who had helped her down into the station had hurriedly gone through the turnstiles. After they came back up they continued waiting. Fewer people entered as four o’clock grew farther and farther away. After a priest passed by, smiling a hello to them, they headed down past all the stairs to the turnstiles that were closed down due to construction. They passed under the yellow tape and one of the girls jumped the turnstiles to see if there were any more construction workers. Finding none they waited for another ten minutes. The station was empty. They all put down their bookbags and formed a ring. The boy who had come last and another of the boys began removing their ties and blazers and shirts. Their white undershirts were tight on their big chests and short on their big arms. The boy who had come last had wavy black hair and big black eyes. His cheek bones were sharp and there was already a break in his nose. The other boy had small dark green eyes that would have been pretty to look in to if not for the wiry veins that scrawled around the iris and the cut that went jagged from his left temple to his nose. He was the smaller of the two but would never need any help. He had small pink lips and a small mustache. He had a beautiful smile and he showed it now as the two boys separated after shaking hands. They began to cheer but neither of the boys heard them. They looked at one another.

He moved first. He faked with a wild shot and caught him with a stinging left jab but he had already known this was coming so at the moment his left jab met his ribs he came down with his head on the boy’s nose and rebroke it but he had seen his last fight and was willing to give his nose in order to get his eye with the upswing. The boy was caught off guard and took the hit. Both staggered away and were bleeding. He could not breathe through his nose and his eye felt like it had shattered. They came at each other again. They wrestled and jabbed and knocked their heads repeatedly trying to knock off the other’s hold but each held onto the flesh tightly and they pulled and stretched and dug in deep and pinched until each other’s sides went bone-white but they did not let go, they knocked bleeding heads and pushed forward and turned and when they turned his foot slipped and he smiled, he had caught him. He rammed him into the wall. His head cracked. He began to slip down. He grabbed him by the throat and kept him up and punched his broken nose and shoved his face against the wall and while he did this the boy clung to his side and blood greased his fingers and dripped from the side and he moaned and drove forward and threw him down and on the ground he fell on his face repeatedly. His vision blurred and his hands fell slower and missed their mark. He felt a light tap then on his thigh. He stopped. The tap continued lightly. He got up and stumbled back against the wall. The other boy struggled up and stood above him now. He put out his hand and helped the boy up.

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