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2012 Writer's Duel: Changing Impressions by HPFF United
Chapter 7 : Tommy Boy by Millarz
 
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I am sitting crisscross applesauce in the corner of the room, making sure my drawing is absolutely perfect for Mrs. Cole. My back is up against the wall. It has ugly yellow wallpaper on it. It’s the kind that is fun to peel off when I’m really bored. The room really noisy- it always is- but after a while, you kind of get used to all the loud yelling. It’s hard not to, especially when Jennifer find some candy. Everyone hates it when Loudmouth Jennifer finds some candy. She starts jumping all over the room and on the flowery couches and screeching and yelling at everyone and she doesn’t even share the sweets!

I wish she would let me taste one. I really want to try one, but whenever Mrs. Cole gives us candy, John usually takes it from me when Mrs. Cole isn’t looking and pinches me if I try to tell Mrs. Cole anything. John is really big with brown hair and a face that kind of looks like a pug, ‘specially when he’s standing over you with an angry, squinty face (and he’s always doing that).

Isabelle, one of the older orphans, used to stop John from hurting us. She used to take care of all of us little ones. I liked her a lot. I wish she wasn’t adopted a few months ago. I hope her parents hate her and send her back! ...but they won’t. Nobody hates Isabelle, not even Pug Face John. Now no one helps us little ones. Just the sight of him makes our hearts beat really fast like we’ve been running for miles and miles.

What was I doing? Oh yeah. I was looking at my picture. It’s a little hard to see because the room is so dark. The light bulb things don’t work so well, so the only bright light we get is from the windows and it’s rainy today. I can’t really do much about that, though. I can’t control the weather, but that would be cool if I could!

I drew Mrs. Cole and me outside near the playground. I think I drew Mrs. Cole’s hair funny 'cause it looks like it sticks up, but other than that, I think my picture is really good! I worked really hard on it too! It took AGES to make it just right. I had to keep starting over because I couldn’t draw Mrs. Cole right. Oh no! The corner with the sun is folded! There can’t be a folded corner! It’s really in-portant (or is it important? I forget!) that it’s perfect, or else she might not like it as much! I need to fix it! There! Now it’s smooth and you can see the sun again!

I think I should go find Mrs. Cole and give it to her! She’s been really sad and all shut up in her room lately. All she does is cry and talk on the phone, and she doesn’t notice us much anymore. I hope my drawing makes her feel better! …Why did it get quiet all the sudden? Where did everyone-

Ow! I was trying to stand up and John came and pushed me down. I hit my head on the wall and it hurts. He made me hit the same part of my head as last week, and now I think my bruise is doubly swo-lan! It’s throbbing and it feels like someone is drumming my head! Make it stop! Make it stop!

Go away John! Please don’t hurt me! I can’t get away from him! His legs are blocking me, and if I try to get up, he’ll just slam me against the wall again. I’m surprised he hasn’t pushed one of us through the walls yet. I hope he never does!

“What’s the matter, Little Tommy? Can’t stand up on your own?” John says.

I hate when he calls me that. Tommy is not my name! “It’s Tom. Tom Riddle,” I mumble. I kind of wish I didn’t say that. I hope he didn’t hear me.

“What was that?” He is walking up really close to me and stands over me like a giant. “I can call you whatever I want, Tommy Boy.”

No! He heard me! I curl up into a ball and he kicks me really hard in the side. There’s this really weird noise I’ve never heard before. It kind of sounded like a pencil when you snap it on your knee, but not exactly. I can’t move right now. It hurts too much. I really want to, but I can’t cry. If you cry, it’s just worse. He’ll start laughing really hard at me and slapping me if I cry… laughing and slapping even more than he already is, at least. He kind of sounds like a drowning dog when he laughs, and you can hear it often throughout the orph’nage. Oh! Everything looks like it’s going fuzzy and stuff. I think I want to throw up.

“What do we have here?” I hear him say. I’m trying to twist around to see him, but it makes my side feel on fire. John is waving something in my face. At least I don’t have to move to see what it is. It’s- It’s- I’m trying to see it, but it’s a little hard to after your head’s been smashed into a wall, ya know.

He keeps talking. “This is the most awful picture ever!” My head shoots up. Ow! That wasn’t smart. It’s making my whole body feel like John is poking me with pins and needles, but he really can’t touch Mrs. Cole’s picture!

“Who’s this supposed to be?” he asks, pointing to my stick figure of me. “Is it a pig? And what’s this on top of this person’s head? A rat? A bird’s nest?”

“Stop! Give it back!” I say while squeezing my teeth really tight so I don’t scream or cry. I’m trying to reach my hand out to grab it, but trying to hold my hand up is making my sight go all starry and spin-y.

He swats my hand down. He might as well have rammed me with a chair. Moving my arm like that hurt my ribs so much. From what I can see- and I can’t see much ‘cause everything looks like I’m wearing Kyle’s really thick glasses- I think John is crumpling up Mrs. Cole’s picture. No! He can’t do that! He can’t!

“Fine. You can have it back!” he says. I’m having a hard time hearing him now. It’s like my ears are stuffed with cotton. The blurry paper ball he was holding starts bouncing in front of my face. Mrs. Cole’s picture! I spent all day on that! No, eyes! Do not shed a tear! Stop stinging or he’s going to kick me again!

John is walking towards me again. What can he possibly do now? Somewhere, I hear footsteps and somebody speaking, but I can’t tell what he’s saying.

I think it’s Thomas (no, not me, Tom, the other Tom. Why does everyone have to be named Tom?). It has to be. No other person in the orph’nage talks with a squeaky voice like that. Thank goodness he is across the room. John’s going to him now and leaving me alone. Thomas is a better target anyways. He’s smaller than me, and he just got here two days ago. John has to lay down his law on him.

I can finally cry! It’s making my rib twinge- the sobbing, that is. My cheeks are getting all wet and I’m making a puddle on the ground. I think I’m going to fill this whole room with tears! Wait! If I do that, Mrs. Cole’s picture will get even ruined-er! I have to stop crying again. Stop crying Tom Riddle. You have to save Mrs. Cole’s picture. My tears are slowing down. Good! Mrs. Cole’s picture won’t get soaked!

But it hurts! Oh my side hurts so much! I wish Isabelle was here to comfort me. I bet her hug would make it all better. I’m trying to find where it hurts. Ow! I poked myself too hard! It seems like it hurts right here, by the right arm. Maybe rubbing it will make it feel a little better? Ow. Ow. Ow… Hey! I think it’s working! Ow. Huh. I’m moving around, and I can barely feel where John kicked me anymore. That’s weird. Doesn’t it take a while for boo-boos to get better? At least it doesn’t hurt anymore.

I guess my vision is better now too. I can see the walls again- they’re the same old walls with ugly yellow paper on them. The old, dusty couch with pink flowers on it is there again, and it looks like John went into another room with Thomas, because I don’t see him, but I hear Thomas somewhere. He’s screaming and crying. Thomas should know by now that John doesn’t like screaming and crying. I think he just learned his lesson, because now I only hear a whimper.

I hate John! Why does he have to be so mean to me? Just because he’s eight and I’m four does not mean he should be able to push me around like that. I wish Mrs. Cole would stop John, but she never sees him hurting anyone. Actually, she hardly even sees anyone, except at mealtimes. I wish someone would adopt me so I can get away from him, but no one seems to love me enough to take me home. I wish the most awful people would adopt John so he would go away. I’d even be okay if wonderful people adopted him. Just get Pug Face away from me!

Enough of him. The crumpled up paper is right next to my right knee. I hold it up and try to straighten it out on the floor. It’s all crinkly and now the sun is probably the least bit ruined compared to the rest of the drawing. How am I s’posed to make this flat? When Mrs. Cole flattens cloths, she uses a really hot eye-orn. It hurts when you touch it. I learned that when Mrs. Cole left her eye-orn out to take a phone call. It gave me a brown mark on my finger that stayed there for a really long time that was really sore. It’s still not as bad as John’s kick, though. Maybe that eye-orn will work on my picture! Where does she put it, though?

Why is my hand getting hotter? It doesn’t hurt, but it does feel really strange. It’s kind of cool too! What happens if I touch my hand, though? Ow! It burns! I think my left hand left a burn mark on my right hand like the eye-orn did before! Weird… Hey, isn’t this how an eye-orn works? What happens if I put my hand on Mrs. Cole’s picture? Neat! Steam is coming out of my hand just like Mrs. Cole’s eye-orn! Mrs. Cole’s picture is smooth again! How did I do that? Oh well. Better get this to her.

* * * * *

“Mrs. Cole?” I say as I approach her room. She’s on the phone like usual and probably didn’t hear me. Her hair is all wild and messy, and I’m starting to think that I actually drew her hair correctly in the picture. Her eyes look red and she has a bunch of tissues scattered around everywhere. Gross! I’m not cleaning those up!

“Mrs. Cole?” I say louder. I’m waving my picture for her up in the air, but she’s shushing me. She can’t shush me! This is important! It will make her feel so much better!

“…Mr. Cole is in… emergency operation… hospital… chances not…” I hear little bits and pieces of whatever the person at the other end of the phone is saying. Mr. Cole is at the hospital? Is he having a baby? Oh wait… only girls have babies, and Mrs. Cole is right here! Why else would he be in the hospital for, though? Is someone else having a baby?

“Mrs. Cole!” I say much louder. “It’s important!”

Mrs. Cole heard me very well that time I think, because now she’s coming to me. She looks mad, though. She’s not supposed to be mad when I’m giving her the picture to cheer her up! Mrs. Cole kind of looks scary too with her red eyes looking at me all angry-like. Uh-oh. She’s going to yell at me. What did I do wrong?

“Tom Riddle! Whatever you’re up to, it’s not half as important as this phone call right now! I don’t care what you want right now! Leave me to my conversation!” Mrs. Cole screams.

She’s pulling me out the door and now she’s slamming it. The door almost hit the bruise on my head. The huge slamming sound went all echo-y through the hallways. It was so loud that my ears are ringing! Some kids are peeking their heads out of doors. I can’t tell who the people at the way end of the hallway are since it’s too dark. The other people don’t see much I guess, since they start pulling their heads back into the doors.

That wasn’t how it was supposed to go. She was s’posed to love her picture! She’s not s’posed to not care about it! She said it wasn’t important! I worked really hard on that picture! I even had to borrow one of the red crayons from John’s crayon cup for the slide! He didn’t notice, of course. John’s not smart enough to notice, but still, if he had

Mrs. Cole is going to stay sad! She didn’t even see my picture! Wait- that’s it! She didn’t see my picture yet! Maybe when she does, she’ll get happy again! I like it when Mrs. Cole is happy! She plays hide-and-seek and cards and board games with us when she’s in a good mood! So I can just push my picture under the door and she’ll be all happy again!

Let’s see… there’s plenty of room at the bottom of the door. Here we go! The picture is in the room! But will she see it? I’ll tap on the door and then she’ll see it! Tap tap tap! I hear her walking to me! It’s working! She’s coming! She’s-

My picture slids back out of Mrs. Cole’s room and onto my side of the door. There’s a shoe mark on it now where she pushed it with her foot. I keep staring at that shoe mark. It covers the perfect white cloud I drew in the sky.

She hated my picture! She hated it! Mrs. Cole is going to be sad forever now! My picture is ruined again too, and she ruined it… probably on purpose just like John did! Why, Mrs. Cole? Why did my picture not make you happy? I can hear Mrs. Cole crying through the door. It serves her right! It’s all her fault for not liking my picture!

My cheeks are getting all wet again and if I fill up the hallway with tears, I won’t care anymore! My picture is awful! I can’t stand to look at it anymore. I’m ripping you up, stupid picture! You’re done for! There! The slide is in half, Mrs. Cole is in half, and I’m in half, and there’s no way I’m going to fix this dumb drawing again!

“Aw, Tommy. Mrs. Cole didn’t like your stupid little picture?” John says from somewhere. I jump a little since I didn’t expect him to be there. I can’t see him since my arm is covering my eyes.

“Go away!” I mumble into my sleeve. Wah! John’s grabbing my shirt by my neck and lifting me up. It’s choking me a bit! Must he really do this now? I just want to be alone! I hate Mrs. Cole for letting John do this to me. I hate Isabelle for leaving me! I hate how her new parents love her and not me and didn't take me away too!

John is chuckling. “I’m not going anywhere, Tommy,” he tells me. John has no idea how much I hate him right now. I can't really show him how mad I am when I can hardly breathe. He’s looking at what’s left of my picture.

“Are you lonely, Tommy?” he asks. Huh? Why is he asking me that? He doesn’t care about how I feel… or does he?

“I would be, if everyone rejected me like they do you, Tommy. I mean Isabelle left you, Mrs. Cole ignored you and hated the picture you make specially for her, and nobody loves you, stupid, little Tommy boy. Seems like you can't do anything right. Even your mum-”

“Don’t talk about my mum,” I cut him off. I should have known that John will always be John. My mum loved me. She did! Mrs. Cole said so… but Mrs. Cole doesn’t care about me. She could be lying. But my mum, she’s the only person who would have loved me, if she lived. She had to have loved me! She did... right?

John ignores me. “Even your mum didn’t care about you. She left you here and-”

I grab his arm with my hand and make it start to steam. John’s getting stiff and his eyes are widening. He drops me, but I’m still holding onto his arm. He’s starting to cry? Big baby.

“Say that again, Jonny. Go on. I dare you.”


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