Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
I was never what you would call, “Normal”. My name is Dylan, and from the time I was born I had unmatched strength. My father said he discovered it for the first time when I was three years old. We were wrestling in the living room and I threw him through the drywall. He broke his wrist and had a few marks on him, but he recovered just fine. My parents were always supportive and encouraged me to harness my abilities. I was homeschooled and was never allowed to participate in sports or social events. From an early age they had a strange curriculum for me. I would learn anger management above any other subject, and then practice controlling my strength.
Sometimes I would get frustrated, but it was never really a big deal. I understood there was a reason I couldn’t play sports or interact with other kids my age. Eventually I turned eighteen and was considering a higher education. My parents understood my wants, though they tried their best to talk me out of it. I explained that I was done being kept behind walls and wanted to explore the world… I wish I didn’t.
Before I enrolled in college, I decided to take a trip. I didn’t go anywhere too huge, just right outside my hometown to explore the world. Oh, it was lovely. The sunsets, the warm sand under my feet as I walked through the beaches, conversations with people who weren’t my parents or their friends, all of it was just so nice. What I didn’t know about, however, were bullies. Well, I knew of them. My father had lesson plans dedicated to them and how I could and should defend people from them, while assuring not to deal any physical harm unless somebody’s life was in immediate danger.
Well, one day I was at the mall and had just finished watching a movie at the theater. I was sitting on a small bench just a few feet from the entrance. A few women were walking by and I made eye contact with one of them and we smiled at each other. As they passed, a large group of men were coming from the other direction. They were very enthusiastic to say the least, and all began shouting catcalls. I rolled my eyes and continued listening to their corny pickup lines. I was curious how people interacted and wanted to observe everything I could before I moved across the state. It was clear that the women weren’t interested and tried to make their way past the men and into the theater. That’s when things took a bad turn… The group wouldn’t let them pass and were becoming more aggressive with their pickup lines and attempts to wow them. I heard a woman say in an annoyed tone:
“Okay, stop… We just want to go see our movie.”
I chuckled and felt for the men. One of my father’s lessons was that sometimes in life you will simply get rejected. Whether it’s by a woman who’s not into you; a rejected promotion or job application; a teacher giving you a grade below what you think it’s worth… whomever it may be, sometimes things just wont go your way in life and that’s okay. It’s up to you to control where your day will go from there.
I thought that would be a lesson that everybody was taught, an obvious moral compass; I was wrong. I saw one of the men grab one of the women by her wrist and start to get angry. She yelled for the man to stop but he insisted that she listen to him. I walked over and attempted to breakup the little scene that had been created. He let go of her wrist and spun to face me. He was so incredibly angry and unhinged and I had no clue why. Was it his pride? Was he embarrassed that the women weren’t into him or his friends? I had a problem processing the situation because it seemed to be of such little importance. I apologized if I’d upset him, then explained that him and his friends should just go because these women were clearly going to be late for their movie. He licked his lips and rolled his shoulders in a manner that suggested he was angry enough to become physical with me. Again I had no clue why, but his friends seemed to know something I didn’t because they shouted and encouraged the entire situation. I shrugged and turned to the women, gesturing to the door and explaining that they should just go see their movie.
I turned around to try and defuse the situation, but the man was already bouncing around and holding his hands in front of him as if he thought I was going to try and fight him. All of his friends were holding cell phones and screaming for the man to, and I quote, “Beat my ass”. I turned over to the women to encourage them to go inside once more, and to my surprise majority of them were also recording the situation on their phones. How did that happen? I went from trying to defuse a situation to becoming the center focus of a fight that I wanted no part of. I wasn’t going to go against my parents lifelong teachings the first time I went out in the world, so I did what I think everyone should do in a situation where violence is simply not needed: I turned and began walking away.
I heard his feet scratch the floor and his footsteps patter towards me. I spun around and saw him running at me with his fist held back, readying for a punch. Now, my reflexes have always been a tad bit above the average human, so I watched him come at me and thought about my best move. A full sprint to me, when I apply my full training, looks like a fast paced walk. When he finally reached me, I placed my hands in pockets and closed my eyes. To this man’s credit, he must’ve been an athlete, because I vaguely felt his knuckles make contact with my jaw. I heard the people screaming and cheering, and I looked at the man who’d punched me. I felt an instant regret when I saw him holding his hand. He kept his composure and continued to insult me, but anyone who was there would be able to see that his wrist was clearly broken.
Why? Why didn’t he just walk away? Was this really the world I was kept from? Angry and bitter people who turn to violence and insults over the littlest of things? I wish I could say that the whole thing ended there, but that’d be something I could handle. After the man had punched me, he stumbled back and pulled a gun from his waistband. At this time the group of girls began screaming and sprinted inside the movie theater. His friends screamed at him to put the gun away, but I didn’t think they cared either way because they kept their phones in their hands. I looked him in the eye and pleaded with him, saying:
“Please put the gun away. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, and I don’t want to hurt you.”
I had no clue that everything people say sounds like a challenge to the outside world. I saw red and blue lights light up the walls around us, and before I knew it the entire place was covered with police cars. The man’s friends ran as soon as they saw the cops approach, but he stayed right where he was, staring at me with malice and holding the barrel of his gun centered with my head. A few officers stepped out of their cars and pulled their weapons out, aiming at the man and demanding that he drop his weapon and get down on his knees. What have I done? I didn’t want any of this to happen.
My father always told me that no matter what happens or who is around, not to judge or make harsh decisions. People are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends. All I could think at moment was no matter how this ended, the man in front of me was losing a part of his life. If he pulled the trigger, I’d be perfectly fine, but the officers around us would fire at him and he’d lose his life. If on the other hand he surrendered, he’d be going to prison for many years, and if he did have a wife or a son, they’d lose a husband and a father regardless of how this night ended.
“What have you done?”
I asked with remorse. He didn’t say a word, he just stood there thinking about his next move. That’s when I saw it… He was squeezing the trigger. My adrenaline shot up and everything moved in slow motion. I saw smoke and fire explode from the barrel of his gun, and as the bullet left it, I turned to study the police officers. They were also squeezing the triggers of their weapons. I turned back to the man and sprinted towards him. As I made it over to him, I grabbed the bullet from the air and tried to kick him out of the oncoming fire from the officers. When I finally calmed down, I turned to see all of the officers staring at me with dropped jaws. I felt a cold rush come over me and I turned to see if the man was okay.
He was over fifty yards away, on the other side of the plaza. I ran over to him, and picked him up. I began to cry and screamed for the officers to call an ambulance. I refused to give a statement, and the officers didn’t seem to mind. They figured no one would believe the situation anyway. They were all happy that no one was killed and considered the night to be a success. I disagreed… The man lived, but he’d be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life with little motion in his arms. He would be unable to make love, play sports with his children, or even basic tasks without added difficulty. I felt awful, like everything I was taught was just thrown away.
I moved down south and work for a small warehouse. I make a decent living since I have no social life and am able to pick up extra shifts without breaking any kind of a sweat. I still sit awake at night and think back to the moment when I kicked the man. The scariest thing for me is… for a moment, I liked the sound of his ribs breaking on my foot.
CREDIT : Alayne Winters.