She waved at me, the swollen joints on her fingers still trembling as she pushed on the door to exit. I smiled at her back as she headed in the direction of the apartments. I’d planned on waiting for her to disappear before I started moving about and checking stock and dates for something to do. I also had to refresh the coffee, which would, undoubtedly, be burned.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get that far. Marilyn had barely made it out of the concrete courtyard of the gas station when two lanky boys approached and flanked her on either side. It wasn’t difficult to see that they’d startled her. She jumped almost a foot in the air at their appearance and her posture seemed to deteriorate with every step they took together.
Moving from behind the desk, I approached the doors, my hands on the cool metal bar as things escalated quickly. The boy on the right pushed Marilyn harder than any woman should be pushed, making her stumble. With precarious balance to begin with, she lost her footing and toppled over, landing hard on her knees. My stomach dropped at the scene as it unfolded in front of me, and things moved quickly. With Marilyn on the ground, one of the teens kicked her viciously and stooped to grab her purse while she was disorientated. I was sprinting across the concrete before I was conscious of moving.
Up close, the scene was even more disturbing. I could hear what they were saying, which only fueled the anger that was burning through me and mingling with the adrenaline that came with the fear. Marilyn had a death grip on the strap of her bag as one of the boys pulled with all of his might, dragging her inches across the unforgiving concrete below her.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I screeched, coming to a stop, my stance protective over Marilyn. The shock of my approach had momentarily stunned the boy pulling the bag into losing his grip, but a moment was all I had. He turned on me, his chest pushed out in aggression.
“Mind your own business, you fat whore.”
His friend, who had been silent up to that point, stepped to the first boy’s side, the nod of agreement weak considering they’d been beating up an old lady. They were taller than I’d first thought and much broader, and my bravado curled up in the pit of my stomach leaving me with nothing but anger and adrenaline.
“Seriously?” I asked, looking between them. I was pretty sure they were both younger than me. “What are you doing? What are you thinking? How dare you attack anyone, let alone a woman who deserves nothing but your respect? What did you hope to achieve?”
I crouched slowly, always conscious of the two boys glaring at me, even as I wrapped one arm around Marilyn and gripped her elbow with the other. I barely had her moving when the first boy made a grab for her bag again. Snatching it from where it was tangled with her legs, I handed it to Marilyn, helped her to her feet and stepped in front of her defensively.
“Give me the purse. I have a knife.”
Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.
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