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Mike. Adam was my cousin. to see how small they were. as her good little boy. I would have been ashamed. He was a mean. That's what I tell myself. Maybe that's why I'm telling all of this now. or watch TV. that was his name. A little slow. Everything seems so much grander when you're a kid. It wasn't until they left that he revealed his true nature. I wanted Adam to think of me as a good person. I didn't want to stay. It now belongs to new owners. a silent cry with dry eyes and sobs that went no further than my own ears. Hide and seek at first. It was Mike's idea to play cops and robbers. working a man's job. Or maybe it's myself that I can't forgive. Just the child of one of Aunt Clara's friends. I cried. Never mind that I'm an adult now. The farm was small. Adam was too simple to realize he was the butt of the jokes and laughed with him. Nor will I ever forgive him. but the fields still seemed to go on forever. but the message was clear. In front of Adam. I'll never know or understand. As if anything would do Mike any good. So I cried alone. so long after it happened. and the trees were just beginning to shed their leaves. but the forest and fields were the same. It wasn't all my fault. hoping that she could get me out of the house. though. I wanted to go home and read. Another boy was staying with Aunt Clara that fall. to tell you the truth. and I'll never forget him. and I wanted Mike to think I was a tough guy. afraid of seeming different. stuck there with Adam and Mike. which we eventually abandoned as impossible since it was so easy to get lost in those vast woods. Maybe they just don't know how to be mean. the kind that you follow because you dare not put yourself at the receiving end of his torments. all goodness and innocence. though. and picked on him every chance he got. who thought that the country air would do the boy some good. I remember the swirl of brilliant reds and oranges and yellows. to stay for a week with my aunt. at least. I don't know. but you'd never meet a kinder person. It was August. It made me laugh. You see. She did it nicely. I felt bad for him but I laughed too. In front of Mike. The blame is shared with another. How I let such a bad thing happen to such a person. I recently went back to the farm. and I still ain't. the kind that you so rarely see in people. Then we moved on to crueler games. Mike recognized Adam for what he was. The next day. nasty boy. hateful little demon who's mother adored him and thought him to be perfect. and he had a natural goodness about him. I don't really believe it. He was a bully at heart. he was the kind who was real good at sucking up to adults. I didn't cry in front of them. I wasn't much of an outdoors person. I wanted to go home. He made Adam play the robber and we were the . Mike was no relation.His name was Adam. Playtime with Adam and Mike started out simple enough. My first night there. like a good little boy. That's still how she thinks of me. of course. The boy was a spiteful. It was August. I feared getting bullied. Or maybe they have to compensate for their ignorance with an intolerable goodness. and my mother brought me out to the country. It wasn't really my fault. Adam was like an angel. or do anything besides stay in that farmhouse miles away from anywhere. Aunt Clara booted us out of the house to go play outside. like a million miniature sunrises dancing off the trees. Slow people tend to be that way. He was a simple child. and the woods beyond them stretched out into infinity. Never mind the terrible thing I let happen. or at least resolution. the thing that aged me more than all the years have. with a ruddy complexion and a ridiculous looking crew cut that made him seem older than his age. A chance for absolution.
I mean. dancing side to side. or bacon. The morning began innocently enough. the old fool. He cried and cried. The trees cast us in a cool shadow. whether it seems right or wrong. it was fear that kept me from doing something. and nobody wanted to go against Mike's wishes. He made Adam play the robber and we were the cops. It really does. but never all three at once. Adam seemed to have no breaking point. Mike would always swing his sword too hard. “I said. after that. that my life was forever changed. The meal took on an air of menace. I'll never forget a single detail. We started playing swordfighters. free to carry you where it will. I would have happily traded in my life for the life of one of those big leafy ferns. I remember the way the ferns looked. “Shut up!” Mike screamed at him. for the first time in days. and have a face full of dirt. as usual. She probably just sat there and knitted. I thought. I learned that a mob can consist of just two people. Good. Even thinking about it now. But Adam was indomitable. Finally. a simple old-fashioned breakfast of scrambled eggs. I could have told Mike to ease off him.” Mike said. and that once you're caught up in a mob you'll go wherever it takes you. swishing his sword back and forth. Adam cried even harder and Mike screamed again. When we caught Adam. After breakfast we all went outside. despite my desperate desire to be free of those horrible memories. bacon. and I'll forever remember it as the food that fuelled that hateful day.It was Mike's idea to play cops and robbers. It wasn't until that fifth fateful day came along. I could eat eggs. Adam kept laughing. I had stepped back from it. content to just watch. not just playing. The games got progressively nastier but he took them all in stride. down the well-trodden path that generations of people had taken before us. free to just sit there. free to drink in the straggling thin beams of sunlight. Raising his branch high above him. and he finally caught on that Mike was actually fighting. The field was a boring place to play anyway. thinking that her precious little Adam would be alright. sure. Adam cried until Mike convinced him that it was all part of the game. Mike had enough. Let Aunt Clara hear and come put a stop to this hateful child. Mike wore his anger openly on his face. and it didn't take long before Adam's arms were all scratched up. convinced him that it was fun to eat grass. shaking lazily with the slightest breeze. Mike forced him to the ground roughly. It was a lesson in mob dynamics. He'd laugh. I could never eat that same meal again. he brought it crashing down on Adam's sandy blonde head. The last blow actually hurt. and I saw the danger early on. and toast lining our bellies for the day to come. Booted out by Aunt Clara so that she could do whatever it is that grownups do when kids aren't about. it makes me nauseous. You can't help it. Without any guilt. not realizing that the game was over and that Mike was serious. Every laugh drove Mike closer and closer to the brink of madness. or toast. all these years later. without anyone telling them what to do. shut up!” . Unbreakable. We took the long route into the forest. I was afraid. I envied them. You have to understand. a loud wail that I was sure would carry all the way to the farmhouse. the way they were free to just be. using broken branches and twigs. shoved his face in the dirt and made him eat grass as a punishment. Adam cried. a much welcome reprieve from the heat of autumn. but I feared I'd get the same treatment. All those scratches on Adam's arms scared me. as if a powerful wind picked you up. I wasn't so big back then and had never gotten into a fight before. It's like being seized by a force greater than yourself. “Let's go into the woods.
” “I'm gonna tell mama on you.Nothing could silence Adam's cries. will you!” His face was contorted in a mask of hate. I've never vomited so hard in my life. He was still crying a feeble whimper. “If you don't shut up right now. staggered to the middle of the creek. and I was too frightened to resist. and Mike was nearing the breaking point. and it was an accident. I just held Adam's body still. I felt this anger towards him for crying. Mike leaped on top of him. and eventually stopped. head first. just staring at him. and started slugging away. I'll beat you even harder. “He's dead. doubled over. “I'm telling mama on you!” Mike looked genuinely frightened for a moment. Mike finally got tired and got off him. but he was too dim to see the danger. I felt like I was floating five feet in the air. thick voice of his. “You still want to tell on me. “He's dead. as he made his pathetic attempt at dragging himself out. retard?” Another punch. and I just wanted him to stop.” I grabbed his legs and he kicked weakly. I'd never even seen a real fight before except on TV. just lay there. I didn't have to wonder long. He straddled himself across Adam's chest and started pounding him in the face. and I turned to see Mike standing over Adam's body. Adam was dead and I helped kill him.” I nodded weakly. “I'm gonna tell on you!” I prayed that Adam would just keep his mouth shut. Adam was dead.” At that. and he slipped and hit . That was the first thought that ran through my head. tackling him to the ground. Eventually Mike got off of him. I stood up. staring at me with those wide frightened eyes. Mike caught him first. and dragged his struggling body to the water. “Don't you dare. Adam wasn't a very good runner. I helped and watched with a fascinated horror as Mike pushed his head under the water. but I still held the legs and he fell hard on the ground. I was too frightened and disgusted to move. bawling his head off. and you're gonna get in trouble. We both chased after him and caught up quickly. “Help me catch him. panting heavily. He let loose his grip on Adam's torso. Just shut up! Mike reached down and grabbed a tuft of his hair. “We're taking him to the creek. I hated him. Adam's face was a mess. feet splashing in the cool water. It just kept coming. Mike had gone too far and he knew it. His nose broken and dripping blood like a leaky faucet. and true to his word. It was more like watching something in a movie. “Huh?” Adam cried out. and at that moment. Adam didn't even struggle. Grab his legs. Mike faced me. Adam crawled to his feet and cried out in that sweet. eyes already starting to swell shut. And I just stood there and watched. After a short eternity it stopped. see? We were playing in the creek. and I thought for sure that my eyes were going to bug out of my head. I wondered just how far he would go. We reached the creek soon and I dreaded seeing just how far Mike was going to take it. because Adam's struggles soon grew weaker. and threw up. and the brutality of it shocked me into inaction. I'm going to knock that stupid look right off your face!” Adam continued. and after that beating he took there was no chance of escape. I swear I will.” “If you do. Adam turned to run. It didn't even feel like I was doing it. watching the events take place from above.
“See? We saved him. it worked. Shit. I knelt down. stabbing pain in my gut. Adam coughed up water and gasped. “Tom.. We tried to save him but it was too late.. I would tell him to spill the beans. Thanks for saving me. the guilt. We helped carry him back and Aunt Clara drove us to the hospital. “What are we going to do? Wait. Because in the end. I had to atone for what I did. for myself.” I cried again and held his head delicately in my lap.” Mike's lie cut right through me and I felt a second wave of nausea come and go. “Why are you crying?” I didn't know what to say. “Shit!” He paced back and forth. I know. senselessness of it all. He was silent for a second. kicking the rocks in the waterbed up. the sheer. and he beat Adam up. “It was some black kid. I can barely even go on. Couldn't help it. “What about his face?” “What about his face?” “It's all beaten up. Mike. I knew I had to. as if the decision was trying to claw its way through my belly.” A dark look passed over Mike's face. Mike turned and ran. They'll know something's wrong. I can't put it into words. where Adam was finally taken care of properly. oh. I would fess up for my part in it. Should I tell the truth and risk the consequences. We saved him. but he almost drowned. and nodded. I just wanted to die. “And you too. from the absurdity of it. he was out here. “Adam?” He looked up at me. The gravity of the situation.” He turned to look at me. I didn't know what else to do. “Oh God. Soon. so that they splashed violently into the creek. I bent over him and let the tears flow. I couldn't take it. The guilt. “Right?” I nodded again. and for poor Adam. Adam?” Adam looked at Mike. That's all. see? We were playing in the creek. Aunt Clara came running up with Mike in the lead. you really don't remember?” He shook his head. but it worked. and smiled faintly. The shame is still unbearable to this day. I know. probably from the TV. my face hurts. stared into his mutilated face. Even after all that time. I didn't care. I don't know where he learned it. All the praise from Aunt Clara.” He turned to face me. Convince Adam not to talk? Ha. and cried. Right. “I guess so. for Mike. It was too much to take. mindless. Tears streamed down her face at the sight of her poor baby boy.” He bent over Adam's body. and convince him not to talk! You understand?” I nodded stupidly. “What happened?” “You don't remember?” I almost laughed. Mike stood up and faced me again. . for our brave rescue. The fear was still there. and started giving him mouth to mouth. Not our fault. and he slipped and hit his head and drowned. finally caught up with me. and then he erupted with rage. staring through his swollen eyelids with those sweet baby blue eyes.” I threw up again. I was convinced I'd go to jail but I didn't care.“He's dead. Tom. and it was an accident. I don't remember too good. I didn't know at the time that they don't send children to real jail. I've never known such guilt. or let Adam remain in ignorance? I felt this cold. “You stay here with him. such. I decided to save my own ass and went along with Mike's lie. who let it all happen. going to get help. and quickly realized the flaw in his plan. hatred. but it doesn't matter.
Maybe the guilt will finally go away. for the crime he doesn't know I committed. I work. I won't let myself. . He believed me. that wakes me up in the middle of the night soaked in a cold sweat. The boy confessed. How could I ever live with that? No. It's the only way I can atone for what I've done. and all that nonsense. I mean. He smiled to see me. Maybe Adam could forgive me. I'll never know why. To this day. I saw Adam recently. I'll never live a normal life. I knew he would. Some men from the paper came later on. How could anyone love someone so despicable? I'll forever be a killer. No release from the guilt that haunts my dreams. The police later arrested some black child. holding down a steady job. him and his wife and his little girl. Maybe not. I'll never live a normal life. Maybe Adam never would have led a normal life. Cathartic. I could. though. It made me cry. Mike does. Telling this story. And we were made into heroes. I passed by him in the supermarket recently. Adam will never live a normal life. I'll never live a normal life. I know that. it didn't have the effect I hoped it would. Even though we brought him back. but it doesn't matter. to take pictures of us. I had to convince him that my tears were tears of happiness. They told us not to worry. so I don't deserve to either. No relief. Nope. Over fifteen years have passed. because we probably wouldn't even notice it since he was slow already. they said. He didn't recognize me and I'm glad he didn't. pinned the beating on him. I still can't shake the guilt. But I'll never marry. Because I'll never forgive myself. I know that. we still killed him.Permanent brain damage. No. and I still can't shake it.