The Prompt: Write a scene that begins: “Joe was the last person on Earth I expected to do that.”
Joe was the last person on Earth I expected to do that. But there he was, standing between Alex and the larger boys who’d pushed him down. Joe never got involved with any of the school drama. The class shadow, lurking at the edges, but never coming in.
He said nothing and made no eye contact. Just standing there, he became a perplexing wall and the bullies stared at him with confusion. One bully challenged him, but Joe gave no response. Then the bully’s hands came up to push on Joe’s shoulders. Everything blurred and I couldn’t really make out what had happened. Joe was still standing and the bully sprawled out on the floor next to him. Murmurs ran through the small crowd.
Making no further aggressive gestures, the bullies left and not many noticed their departure. Joe turned and moved along the hall, seeming unaware of Alex as he got up and brushed himself off. Then Alex followed him and I was close behind.
Joe had helped my best friend and all I had done was watch. Maybe Alex would recognize this and make Joe his new best friend. I would understand.
“Thank you,” Alex said.
Joe made a low humming sound that seemed to say “you’re welcome.” But he made no eye contact and the people we passed by would later report that Joe had completely ignored us. It didn’t seem that way to me. He seemed to shrink away from the gazes on him. This public light was uncomfortable and burning.