by Chris de Serres
Pig boy was kid I knew in elementary school. I don’t remember alot of things about my childhood, but I remember Pig Boy. His face resembled one of those wild boars in a temperate rain forest. He used to snort loudly when he was angry. Almost like a bull about to charge.
He didn’t have any friends. He hated recess because he had to deal with people like me. We hovered around him so that there was no place for him to go. We sure as hell weren’t going to let him play in the playground. We were waiting at the entrance. We mocked his short, stocky appearance. The way his face creased up like an animal. Like a porker.
Our victory came when the Pig Boy would charge us. That’s when we really knew we got to him. When he charged, we would jump out of the way and trip him. The pig had dirt all over his new pink t-shirt now. Maybe Pig Boy needed some mud to go along with that helping of dirt. We mused aloud why the Pig wasn’t in the retard class? Or a pen? The way he hunched over he might as well move on all fours right. I mean, why bother walking upright when you’re a pink, bulbous animal? Show us your belly Pig Boy!
Here’s the part where I explain to you why I was a monster. My justification. I won’t. Our actions tell the story for us. This is not the only story that matters. It’s just one that revealed who I was.
For a long time after that I used to have this recurring dream. I was floating on a cloud. The cloud traveled to my old school. I came down from the sky and hovered of this scene of us tormenting Pig Boy. Time had stopped. There I was, with claws extended, grabbing at Pig Boy’s shirt tail, pulling him. My face was a contorted in an unrecognizeable sneer. Another boy had a tuft of Pig Boy’s hair in his fist.
I couldn’t get time to start up again. I tried reaching down from the cloud. To touch my face. To change it. When I made contact my face turned into a blur, like a shaken Etch-A-Sketch. I moved my finger over the palette like a pencil, changing my expression. I contorted my hands from claws to open palms. I extended my arms out and pulled them like a rubber band so that it surrounded Pig Boy completely. Those other boys could no longer reach him. This would protect him, only it didn’t.
It doesn’t matter whether we were children or we felt justified. Our inhumanity stays with us. It’s so much easier for me to forgive people who do me harm. I have never been very good at forgiving myself. Over the course of time and countless acts of cruelty we wonder about ourselves. About who we really are. Am I good person? Do I deserve love? A good life? When someone steps on my throat is that merely karma? Pig Boy was a human being. He should’ve been protected, but I can’t extend my arms around him. Only in dreams.
One of things I realized when deciding against putting our daughter in public school is how much of that was to protect her from boys and girls who did the things I did.
Apologies are fleeting things. Pig Boy is like a rough draft that I have been writing and rewriting over the course of my life. The apology that needed space and time to appear. It needed growth and transformation to properly deliver it.
I don’t think I will ever release the Pig Boy that weighs on me. His tormenter that was me.
I wish I remember his name. Just so I can write the words:
________ I am so sorry.