Caring For Such Weak Children

I kicked Ben Chester in the head. He rolled over and began to cry. Not loudly, he’d given up now, he was only trying to make himself small. Not even audibly but I could tell he was crying. “Get up mate, you’re so weak. Does your Mum still change your diapers? Oh sorry, I forgot. She left you because she doesn’t have time to care for weak kids like you.” I didn’t hate Ben Chester but I didn’t like him either.

He was this short, ever-present kid who smiled a lot and talked to everybody. He wasn’t rude, he was just different because he wasn’t afraid to be himself. The popular kids like Marcus Frusciante hated that and they hated Ben although he’d never hurt them. He wouldn’t have ever hurt me either but I’d rather be Markus’ friend than Ben’s.

“Mr Slovak, would you care to wake up? Thank you.

” Mr Kiedis’ voice oozed with sarcasm like ink from a squid as he gave me a look of burning nonchalance after I picked my head up off the desk. “Nice one Brutus,” Lucas Williams elbowed me in the ribs with a grin. I hadn’t really been asleep but listening in class was for nerds; people like Ben Chester who I for some reason couldn’t stop thinking about. “Life is like a beach,” the honied and broken voice of Mr Kiedis struggled on “You can live fast, run along the beach and make lots of footprints,” I rolled my eyes.

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What a crazy old fart. “You can live slow, walk along the beach and make less footprints,” he was really on a tangent now “You can leave the beach and still you leave footprints.”

He lowered his voice and stared for a second at every one of us, “What I want you all to understand is that everything you do has an impact.” Mr Kiedis raised his eyes to Markus Frusciante at the back of the classroom, who still smelt like pot from before school. “Everything you say, everything you do, everything you don’t do. It all leaves footprints. You’ve all got eighty to a hundred years to do the best you can and if you get to my age and you’re, how can I say? Pleasuring others,” there was a ripple of giggles around the room myself included. This fossil wouldn’t have known his peas from his carrots. Who does a sixty-year-old man who’s done nothing but teach Health and bore people to death his whole life think he is telling us what to do? The only thing Kiedis was equipped to teach anyone was how to hate their life.

The old man waited for the giggles to die down and began again “When you’re out there pleasuring others because you’re not getting enough money from Centrelink to feed your kids and buy drugs, having done nothing with your life you’re gonna feel like a real screwup and you’re gonna be wishing you could have these years back and as much as the lot of you dislike me I don’t want that for any of you.”

A wave of relief washed across the room as the school bell sounded and we all began to pour outside. Markus Frusciante was barely out the door before a lighter was at his lips, Davis Cornell had his hand down Marie Cobain’s skirt and Lucas Williams was reaching for his flask. Clearly everyone had already adopted the conservative lifestyle that Mr Kiedis had so fervently outlined. Ben Chester ran past with his younger sister. He had to find another two before he’d run to try to catch the early bus. Markus swore at him at glanced at me as if expecting something. “You’ve got no friends, you pathetic sook.” Ben kept running but his sister turned around and stopped. “Leave my brother alone,” she said with defiance “Can’t you see you’re hurting him?”

Markus and I laughed. How pitiful this was. Now Ben stopped and turned. “Come on Monroe, let’s just walk away.” “Don’t go teaching her that Ben, just cause you’re a pussy doesn’t mean she has to be? What is this mate? An eight-year-old girl has fit more fight into once sentence than you have into your entire life. You’re so weak mate no wonder your Mum left you.” Monroe gasped and started to cry which was too much for Ben. He charged at me with his fists raised, I could see the anger in his eyes. But I was stronger than he was, I knocked him over and punched him in the gut once before I walked away. I caught the eye of Markus who gave me a nod. That was all the approval I needed to justify what I’d done.

When I got home I did the work that I hadn’t done in class and texted my friends. Despite what you might think based on how I treated Ben, I was a good person. I always did my work and I was good to all my mates; which included most of the grade minus Ben Chester. Most people liked me and I liked most people and that was the way I liked things to be. After completing my schoolwork and eating dinner I went to bed without a second thought. I knew something was wrong when I walked in the school gates the next day. It wasn’t because the schoolyard was deathly quiet as I entered.

It wasn’t because Mike Chester and his sisters hadn’t been on the bus and it wasn’t even because the principal was at the gate waiting for me. “Bruce Slovak. My office. Now.” Miss Baker’s voice was terrifyingly monotonous. She looked at me in disgust and I followed her back to her office. Along the way I saw Markus Frusciante, who shook his head and wouldn’t look me in the eye. Baker sat me down in her office and threw me her phone. It was unlocked and an article was open with a headline that made my heart stop.

Fifteen-Year-Old Michael Chester Latest Victim to Suicide. I dropped the phone and it hit the floor with a THWACK. The first thing I felt was disbelief. This couldn’t have happened; I didn’t mean any of what I said to Mike. He’d been such a good, clean guy and now he was gone. “I’ve got nothing to say to you Bruce,” Miss Baker kept that same monotonous voice “I’ll leave you for a minute to reflect on everything that you did.” She left the room and closed the door.

I fell to floor and cried. I was nearly too ashamed to open my eyes but I picked up the phone. I don’t know why I did it but I had to know the details. Hung himself in the bathroom… Found by his youngest sister who’d come in to brush her teeth… Left a note that only said “I’m sorry.” This was my fault. I’d pushed him to this and for what? Approval from a deadbeat dropkick not smart enough to tie his own shoelaces. This was stupid and horrible and wrong in every way. Mr Kiedis had been right. I realised, more with sadness than surprise that I had turned into the wrong sort of person.

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Caring For Such Weak Children. (2019, Nov 20). Retrieved from

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