Edition 2 2021

milkbar

30 April 2021

content warning: violence.

it starts in the middle of the milkbar with me staring at the lolly wall, the colourful sweets locked inside their plastic compartments, allowed freedom only by their little scoopers and the hands of sweet-toothed teens – the freckles, the gummy babies, the milk bottles, the snakes – and i’m thinking of palming a handful of sour worms to my mouth when michael storms in, pissed—he says he left his car in the middle of princes freeway, which he pronounces princess freeway, because he crashed it into a guy with a bumper sticker which said something about loving jesus, or about jesus loving you—and now he’s throwing punches and gripping my shirt collar, holding me up to the sky and telling me about how far he had to walk which, considering he doesn’t do any physical exercise full stop, wouldn’t normally mean much, but i know for a fact that the freeway’s a ten minute drive from the milkbar, so i can’t imagine how he made it all the way here by foot, or rather why he didn’t just call me when he pulls my phone out of my pocket and i notice the seventeen missed calls i’ve got from him, which is a fatal mistake because michael’s angry and i remember he kicked the shit out of billie mosner for cutting him in line once at the tuck shop, and i saw him punch a wall once after his mum asked him to mow the lawn, with his fist calloused and grazed he said he couldn’t see the point in mowing the lawn seeing as the grass would just grow back, and even though i’ve seen a hundred action movies, i’ve never actually been punched, so when his knuckles come up out of nowhere and brush my face it’s less of a brush and not even the THWACK i imagined it would be but is more of a dull pfff followed closely by a click, and i feel my jaw knocked aside before i hear the clerk’s scream of horror, it makes me think michael’s not as good a friend as I try to convince myself he is, but we’ve known each other so long and even though i’m the butt of every joke, when the two of us are alone he says i’m the best friend he’s got, but i realise now that what he means is that he knows he can punch me without getting punched back, and when the police sirens get closer michael’s walked out already, his steps heavy and his arms swinging coldly, but i don’t see him in the traditional sense, seeing as i’m gangly and weak and thin and his punch—one hell of a punch considering he’s well practiced on kids like billie and plaster walls which his parents can’t fix—has sent me to the floor, but i can feel him leave by the thud of his footsteps getting lighter, and i come to realise there’s blood dripping from me where i hadn’t even realised i’d been cut, so when a cop, who i can’t see because my eyes are blurred, pushes through the jingling swinging doors and says “we received a report of an assault” and the clerk stretches her arm out to point at me, bloodied and pale on the goddamn floor thanks to michael and my thick jean pockets, all i can think about is palming a handful of sour worms to my mouth. 


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