Don't bottle things up - bottles can break so easily.

Passive-aggressiveness, biting your tongue to avoid snarky retorts, saying nothing when you should say everything, quiet resentment at others’ criticisms…  being hidden behind a mask can only last so long… even the most peaceful and calm spirits among us have a breaking point.

So who is it that’s ready to blow? Push them over the edge, by either words or deeds. Have ‘em let it all out… rage, scream, bellow, yell accusations and obscenities until the windows rattle… or just break down into on-their-knees tears and sobs that rack the body as everything pent-up floods out into incoherent wails and howls of no single specific emotion. But no punching, slapping, or otherwise harming others.

Would prefer to leave Sara out of this challenge - that girl’s got enough deepseated psychological issues already without having her be ground-zero of a mental volcano going off.


[AN: Sara’s already had one meltdown, and that was a bit of a strain on me… so I will do something rare and tell a version of the truth. How I know why it is unwise to victimize.]

Society is, by and large, a reflection and an emphasis of the media surrounding it. The instant Television took over from Radio, appearances became more important than voice. The myth of the poor nobody becoming somebody because of their talent and skill became a lost cause forever.

Hierarchy, however, has lasting power. The only difference is what gets one to the top, and how others keep those at the bottom. But let’s just say 'fear’ and move on.

In an era just barely into adequate contraception, there are still unplanned children. Sometimes, they are happy accidents. Sometimes, they are unexpected burdens that turn a double-income household into a single-income family just barely scraping by. Fear becomes an atmosphere, then.

Keep the child healthy. Keep the child fed. Keep the child away from any threat, real or imaginary, because the instant you fail at one thing, the Government will come and take it. And the loss of a child instantly leads to the loss of a marriage. And won’t They just love it? The old gossips and crones who would laugh and sneer behind your back, call you 'poor dear’ to your face, and glory in the schadenfreude that you, too, are a failure. Just as they always said.

But that’s not the real story.

In that family, just scraping by, is the child. Living and breathing in fear and unaware of it. Just knowing that there are places not to go and things not to do. A clumsy little thing. Myopic and asthmatic. Dressed perpetually in hand-me-downs and homemade attempts of clothing from a mother who battles with anything that requires an 'on’ switch.

A child who encounters, at school, a society based on image and television in colour (We can’t afford that! The one we have is still working fine) and glossy magazines that cost too much, and especially, having good clothes.

In such a society, to be a true individual is to soon be a pariah.

The true friends are the friends who stay. The ones who may also be pariahs because of an accent, or a wonky eye, or because, just maybe, a kid their age with an imagination that spans a cosmos or three just might be more entertaining than Days of Our Lives.

Whatever the reason, those friendships last. Even in a time of utter desolation and loss. When the best Grandfather in the whole world, a friendly giant in blue overalls and magic… dies in a freak accident. The time of tears passes, but the time of mourning is not over.

And when the friends gather for aimless chatter, two of the shallow Others come skipping. They are a great distance away, confident that the weedy, asthmatic child can not catch up to them even if she tried. And they sing. A taunting little tune, usually used for 'nerny nerny ner ner’ and other such childish taunts. But these two have come up with new words that will make the weedy child cry.

It’s something of a daily pastime. Make that child cry.

These two, out of willful ignorance, sing, “Cathy’s grandfather’s de-ad! Cathy’s grandfather’s de-ad!”

A lifetime’s worth of bad feelings, formerly caged in propriety and rules, comes out as red-hot rage. There is a scream. The desire for blood.

And darkness.

When the child returns to herself, there is no sign of the ignorant boys. There is a weight on both her arms. Her feet still want to run. Claw, still, at the soil hardened by a thousand feet and cheap cooch grass.

When she looks back, she discovers that two friends, each, had grabbed an arm and held her back.

She had dragged them all an entire meter.

Four times her weight and then some. At least.

If her friends had not been there. If she had been a true pariah…

Those boys -or just one of them- would have died.

Ignorant, unthinking, most definitely unknowing children -possibly popular children- had had their lives saved that day.

From a pariah.

By pariahs.

There are no words for the terror of herself that settled into her stomach, that day. How every attempt by her contemporaries to goad her into an outburst, thereafter, were coloured by that fear. By the knowledge that, given enough rage, she could kill with her bare hands and not know it until she woke up with their blood in her mouth.

And the certainty that they were too stupid to know that they were throwing sticks at a wolf.

That’s a lot to heap onto a child.

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