It’s him. He’s lifting weights, wearing that red football shirt he always wore. It can’t be the same shirt he used to wear to school under his sweater, but it’s fun to pretend. The gym mirror reflects my early-onset bad-bod while I run on the treadmill. Now he has tacky tribal tattoos and a chiselled face. The muscles are new, too. But those eyes are the same. Pale-green innocence. Eyes that make girls swoon. Some girls. Not only girls. He spots me watching him in the mirror and winks.
I’m fifteen. My face is pockmarked and full of holes. He calls me, Crumpet. He pushes me to the ground, spits on my face. He calls me… He calls me a faggot. Fairy. Puffter. He does the same to Hamish too, even though he’s straight. Guys like him never see the harm in it. Guys like him never see.
The guy in the red football shirt winks again, acting like we’re cool. We’re not cool, and if his vanity asks me to spot him I’ll let the weight of it all crush his windpipe.
Santino Prinzi is a Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day in the UK, and one of the founding organisers of the annual Flash Fiction Festival. His flash fiction pamphlet, There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This, is available from V-Press. For more information, please visit his website: santinoprinzi.com.