Idaho Centennial Trail 2022
When I was 12 years old, my brother and I had moved with my grandparents from Las Vegas to the small desert town of Mojave. My first day of junior high, a tiny dusty and windblown school on the western expanse of the Mojave Desert plain, I had a rock thrown at me from a bully and his flunkies. The rock hit me on the side of the end, just above my temple. I had been playing basketball alone at lunch recess. Barely halfway through my first day and I already had to look over my shoulder. At the first break, Malachi saw his girlfriend approach me at the basketball courts. Innocently, she was curious about who I was, where I was from, and if I knew what the desert was. I had not thought about any of those questions before. This was my 6th school in less than a year and a half and I still had not gotten used to being the new kid in school. I did, however, get used to floating around by myself with a basketball in hand, really just being the odd kid out alone. I had to answer questions politely to fit in, if I could. Luckily, the rock missed my temple, but I still stumbled and had to brace my fall with my right forearm on the ground. Stars twinkled above me and I felt the wind whistling through my head, the hot Mojave Desert wind, the kind that blows right through your hollow soul. I took a deep breath, regained an upward stance, and collected myself. I turned and went towards Malachi, shoulders square with intent. He was nearly the same size as me, and with his flunkies close by, I knew he felt pretty cock sure in his position. I narrowed my gaze, unfrazzled, without showing any teeth. His jaw went up pridefully. He wanted me to try and do something. I noticed the pole of the court behind him within a few feet. Rather than throw a punch I knew he would be ready for, I pushed him square in the shoulders knocking him off balance. He stumbled back and hit the back of his head on the pole. His flunkies helped him up and they stormed off, Malachi not even glancing back at me.