He is smiling. It stinks of burned hair. He stares, grinning, while Krystelle tries not to cry. Mrs. Harley moves him to the front. He whines when she takes his bunsen. He tells her he likes experiments.
She’s new so maybe she still feels sorry for him. He’s got eczema and is small for his age. We call him “scab,” and hiss if he comes too close. Even the teachers hate him. At the end of class she reminds us about tomorrow’s field trip.
Next morning, he’s cupping something in his hands. It’s a mouse, a cute brown baby one. We crowd round to see, and then he squeezes hard, crushes it. Krystelle grabs my arm, and goes white. He shakes the floppy little body at us, smiling. By the time the teacher arrives, he’s thrown it into the bushes.
She’s put him in our group. He finds a fishhook and some line on the beach. He ties one end around a rock, and baits the hook with a piece of his sandwich. Almost immediately a gull lands, swallows it, and tries to take off, screaming. He throws the rock into the water and we watch the as the struggling bird is dragged under.
Mrs. Harley seems to run in slow motion.
Krystelle’s a lot bigger than him. She sits on his chest, her knees on his arms, and sort of scratches and rips his face with her long fingernails, shouting “How do you like it, you freak?”