What Is My Purpose, O Lord?
H. Lena Jones
Right after school, nine-year-old Hua Taylor fled for cover to the clump of pine trees just beyond the dilapidated boat shed. This was one afternoon that he didn’t want to wet his pants; they were his church ones. If he was lucky, the class bully, Peafish, would give up and leave him alone …but, he wasn’t lucky, somehow luck always seemed to escape him! "What is my purpose, O Lord," whispered Hua.
Just when fear threatened to snatch him in its claws of doom, Hua's mind produced words his grandmother urged him to memorize: "Whatsoever things are true , whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" But, what do these words mean? thought Hua. Perhaps I should just pick one thing to focus on. Escaping the wrath of Peafish might well count as something good!
In a flash, Hua scaled one of the trees and nestled amongst the thick leafy green foliage. He was glad his backpack was not as full of books as it normally was.
Parting the branches slightly, Hua’s telescopic eyes zoomed in on Dan Peafish. The bully was stomping along the path leading to Hua's hiding place, and his beady eyeballs were already combing the area for the object of his obsession—HUA!
Hua cringed when he saw the baseball bat Peafish slapped incessantly against his palm. If I wait long enough, Peafish would give up and go home, thought Hua. But will my bladder co-operate?
Peafish must have a way of sniffing out Hua, for he was now heading towards the pine trees with a purposeful gait, swinging the bat above his head, a wide grin plastered menacingly across his chubby face. Hua thought of making a dash for it, but that would be suicidal. He closed his eyes and pressed his wiry body deeper into the foliage, hoping to blend with the greenery. He forced his breathing to a slow, steady rhythm.
Something slammed against the tree, sending a vibration up the trunk and straight through Hua’s body. His eyes popped open. He fought hard to control his bladder. He peeped through the branches. Peafish was standing directly below him with one foot braced against the trunk of the tree and the end of the bat pounding rhythmically against the tree trunk. His face was turned up and Hua saw his lips moving.
“Come out, come out from wherever you are,” said Peafish in a menacing singsong voice. “You know I’ll find you, Airhead, so make it easier on yourself. I only have two words to say to you. If you wanna here them, you know what you gotta do."
“What’ll be, Airhead? Tell you what, show yourself and I promise not to hurt you. If I have to come find you, then the promise is off.”
Hua’s heart raced. Maybe Peafish wasn’t certain where he was hiding after all, then again, maybe he was. Maybe he should just comply with Peafish’s request and get down. But to believe anything Peafish promised was like walking in front of an express train and hope it doesn’t flatten you. Hua knew he had no choice. He must face his Waterloo!
Reluctantly, Hua slid down the trunk of the tree, ignoring the pricks and jabs from the cracked bark. He landed just centimetres from Peafish’s left foot.
“Smart move, Airhead."
“What are the two words?” said Hua with a croak.
“Do what?” asked Hua, focusing on Peafish's lips. He tensed his behind, willing his bladder to hold fire.
“Write my short story.”
Hua eyes widened. “But I’ve got my own story to write, Dan. You should do your own work.”
“What are you? Stupid? Which planet are you from?”
“It’s your homework, you have to do it. That’s how you learn.”
Peafish widened his grin and tapped the baseball bat on the ground beside his foot. “I don’t have to do anything I don’t wanna do . . . and I don’t wanna do no writing of no story. Get it?”
“But that’s cheating if I do it—” began Hua, clamming up when the bones in Peafish’s neck crunched.
A mean look replaced the grin on Peafish’s face. He flung the baseball bat to the ground then grabbed hold of Hua’s shirt front, drawing him close. Spit laced Hua’s face when Peafish uttered, “DO IT OR ELSE.” Quite unexpectedly Peafish slapped Hua’s left cheek with the back of his left hand.
One drop of pee escaped. It took all of Hua's strength to stem the flow. He swallowed. “You promised not to hurt me,” he said feebly.
“I lied. Count yourself lucky I didn't use the bat.” Peafish released his grip and watched Hua land on his bottom. “Story . . . tomorrow . . . get it?” Peafish broke the strap off Hua’s backpack then kicked his leg as an afterthought. “DO IT.” He picked up his bat, brandishing it over his head. “DO IT, or suffer.”
"Okay, okay," said Hua, protecting his head with his arms. He had to cross his legs and really squeeze his buttocks now.
"Good answer." Satisfied with his bullying tactic, Peafish waltzed off. He stopped mid-stride. "By the way, why do you stare at my mouth when I talk? Don't tell me. I probably won't like the answer. Just don't do it anymore."
Hua, frustrated and annoyed, stared at Peafish’s retreating back. He was thankful that his bladder did not let him down, but now was a good time to relieve himself. He scurried behind the trunk of a pine tree and did just that.
Comfort restored, Hua began a slow trek home along the narrow, dirt path, occasionally kicking a loose stone or ducking his head to avoid a low-lying branch.
"What is my purpose, O lord Almighty," he whispered to the sky.
"Be an example of My goodness," came the answer from the recesses of his mind.
TO BE CONTINUED….WATCH FOR CHAPTER 2