Another story based on a picture prompt after the first one I wrote for the letter U – Umbrella. All comments are welcome:
The bus stopped beside the kerb, its engine still purring. Five people boarded the bus, mostly in silence, still wishing that they could sleep in for another 30 minutes. Two college girls got into the seat at the front, and continued their conversation from earlier on.
“What do you know about this new boy who will be joining our class today?” Mei asked.
“I used to live two doors away from him before I moved here five years ago,” Ling answered, her eyes brightened, “His family was weird.”
“I remember there was always lots of shouting coming from his house. I rarely saw his father and his mother looked like a mouse. He never spoke much too. My parents and I came home one night and saw the police and ambulance outside their house. Both his parents came out on stretchers with him following behind, blood splattered across his shirt. He was in handcuffs too and he looked so scary!”
“My mum said the boy attacked his parents because he was doing drugs or something like that. Thank God they moved away after that. Can’t imagine having a drug addict as a neighbour.” Ling shuddered.
“Wow! Then we’d better stay away from him.”
The girls chatted a little while more about the latest Korean series before the bus stopped in front of their college. Mei noticed a boy getting down the bus with them but did not pay much attention to him. Making their way through the corridors, Mei and Ling met some of their friends. By the time they took their seats at the lecture hall, they have already forgotten about the new boy.
At 8.00 am, Professor Ram entered the hall and everyone settled down. Then he spoke, “Today, we have a new student joining us. Lee, come up front and introduce yourself.”
Mei whispered to Ling as she recognised the boy walking passed them to the podium, “He was in the same bus with us this morning. Do you think he heard what we said?”
“Who cares? Not that I was lying.” Ling rolled her eyes but avoided looking at the boy.
Lee said his name and where he was from before walking back to his place. Professor Ram was a little surprised by the very brief introduction but did not press for more and resumed teaching.
At the end of the lesson, Lee walked passed Mei, Ling and a few other girls. Their voice dropped to a whisper as he came near and a few of them tried to avoid looking at him. He knew they were talking about him.
After college, Lee headed home. It was a low-cost flat which was so small that he could walk from one end to the other in just 20 steps. No one was home. He went to his room and dug out a large envelope from under his bed. He took out the X-ray inside revealing the black and white image of a broken ulna.
The image brought back memories of the night that changed his life forever five years ago. Father came home drunk and started beating Mother again. He heard a bone snap as his mother cried out in pain. Fury burst out of him, empowering him to do the unthinkable. Only later did he realise he had knocked over his father, fractured his skull and pummelled his face until he broke both his cheekbones. That was the last time he saw that man.
Lee smiled at the X-ray as he put it back into the envelope. It was the ticket to freedom for him and his mother. He never regretted doing what he did, no matter what others thought of him. The taste of freedom was enough to keep him going, he didn’t need any friends. Shoving the envelope under the bed, Lee went to the kitchen to prepare dinner. His mother would be back from work soon.