Chapter 1.5

It was third period. Jonah only knew that because the class was dissected into two halves with lunch in between. For some portion of the student populace, class was being paused and they were being ushered to the cafeteria. Jonah was one of them. The block scheduling of this school threw him off, but either way, it didn’t really matter. He was only half paying attention to everything around him anyway. The other half of his attention was usually either groveling in disdain for his lot in life or lost in whatever song happened to be stuck in his head at that given moment. So, it wasn’t surprising that he only half-heard a call from behind him as he meandered through the hallway.

“You Jonah Math-i-as?” a deep grunt asked.

Jonah stopped and turned to see a bulky, blonde-haired teen in a red bomber jacket. His short hair was gelled into a point that swiped up from his forehead. He wore a condescending smirk with pursed lips and towered in height over Jonah like a giant boulder.

“It’s Ma-thy-us, you moron. And who wants to know?” Jonah’s eyebrows furrowed, creating a deep crease between them. His body tensed and gripped the brown paper bag that contained his lunch harder in his hand. 

“Oh, just checking out what all the fuss is about. Everyone’s talking about you, punk.” The jock sneered, looking Jonah up and down. He then began to turn to walk away, only to look back and say, “But I don’t know why. Looks to me you were way overhyped.”

There it was— the tension inside Jonah had reached a boiling point. That familiar patronizing, presumptuous judgment that thought of him as trash. Inside, he simultaneously felt the need to prove them right and prove them wrong. A strange dichotomy that incensed him to follow his aggressor, cut him off, and get right up to his shitty face.

“Is that so?” came an amused growl, as Jonah forcibly tossed his lunch bag across the hallway where it slammed with a weird slushing sound. The sound had garnered increasing attention from passing students. That didn’t bother Jonah in the slightest, if he was even aware of the bewildered glances at all. Thought and logic were entirely absent in his mind—his movements were all instinct now. “If only there was something I could do to change your mind, mother fucker.”

With that the fuse in his brain snapped. Jonah pushed the jock in the chest, forcing him to stumble back a stride. He then swiped his fingers in his hair to brush his bangs out of his face and licked his lips. He lunged forward, grabbing his opponent by the collar of his jacket and pulling him down enough to get in a swift right hook punch to the jaw.

The fight had officially broken out and a ruckus followed in the hallway. Punches to the face and gut were being exchanged while onlookers either slithered to a safe place or hollered and enticed the brawl with cheers. 

Even though he was smaller, Jonah could hold his own against pretty much anyone who dared to mess with him. He was agile with quick reflexes and delivered deliberate punches as if he was a boxing pro; he wasn’t one. After many similar brawls with class bullies and other badasses, however, one learns a few things. Still, he was at a disadvantage when his blonde-haired adversary grabbed him and shoved him full-force into a wall of lockers. If that didn’t knock the wind out of him enough, a solid jab in the face sure did. He wiped his mouth while he regained his composure, a smear of blood painted on the back of his hand.

The asshole in front of him looked down, seemingly satisfied that he had the upper hand. But to Jonah, he was just getting started. With no hesitation, he grabbed the boy by his shirt and twisted their bodyweight around to throw them both on the ground. There was a thud when the jock’s back hit the floor as Jonah kneeled on top of him. He pulled his left arm back and launched a punch aimed right at the nose. 

It didn’t hit the nose. In fact, it didn’t land on the face at all.

Jonah had split-second confusion as he realized the beefy boy had caught his wrist mid-punch. He mindlessly struggled to get his hand free, but the grip on his wrist was like an iron vise clamped so tightly he wondered if blood was still flowing to his fingers. It was another few milliseconds before Jonah realized that this hand was rendered useless. By the time his brain ordered the other arm to fight instead, it was too late.

The jock huffed and grunted as he gripped both of Jonah’s wrists in front of him. Jonah began to writhe, pulling at his wrists to come free to no avail. Panicked, he locked eyes with the jock who looked equally struggling with where to go next in this situation. Still there was determination in his face, which sent Jonah deeper into animalistic instinct. His eyes glazed over and became detached, almost possessed, as if overtaken with something savage and feral. 

Like a dog backed into a corner, a wild impulse commanded for any means for survival. Jonah bared his teeth and leaned down. A scream for bloody murder followed and moments later Jonah felt himself being pulled up off the ground.

“He fucking bit my ear!”

Jonah breathed deeply, for probably the first time in several minutes since the fight unfolded. Sounds muddled together and he couldn’t focus on anything around him. Time had frozen yet everything was happening too fast. He stared at nothing and everything. The subsiding rage inside him didn’t just hate the dumb jock who picked a fight, or this stupid new school, or being hundreds of miles away from a hometown he can’t go back to. He hated the world. He hated the world and his position in it, even if he knew that he was partly to blame for it all.

He glared broodingly as he tugged his arms, his bangs falling down over his face. He wasn’t resisting restraint so much as trying to remember where his limbs were, but it was enough to trigger his arms being secured behind him by a large male teacher—the same one who had pulled him off his pathetic loser of an opponent. In another blink, Jonah was being thrown face-first against a wall. He swallowed the spit that had accumulated in this mouth, which tasted vaguely of blood, and relinquished all control while repeatedly being told to “calm down, calm down”.

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