God and Satan battle over the souls of some of the most unforgettable middle school students ever.
God and Satan battle over the souls of some of the most unforgettable middle school students ever.
Chapter One - Everett Cunningham
I, Everett Cunningham, faced a great enemy: Satan. Really. Believing that Satan existed helped me survive the teasing, torture, tantrums, and general disaster that encompassed middle school. Finding him and stopping him seemed like priority one. Refusing to feel any emotions helped me to get through the days and months during a time when everyone finally realized how broken and damaged the world really turned out to be. Axel Devise screamed at our math class one Friday morning.
“You’re under arrest!” he yelled. He grabbed some handcuffs from his desk and handcuffed my hands behind my back. “My friend, I am turning you in to the Morality Police! They will hold you for a week and ravish you madly, but only if you beg!”
“What’s the charge?” I asked.
“You hate yourself for being attracted to men, and it’s terrible. You barely admit it. You barely say anything about the guys on the television shows that you love, just mentioning the girls. You believe in the Bible, and the Bible tells you not to love men. So you don’t love men, and it makes me sad, because you are an idiot.”
“And if the Bible told me not to have sex with men?” I asked.
“Um, the Bible is clearly homphobic,” Axel said.
“Yeah,” Miles said. “The Bible is homophobic trash.”
“No,” I said. “The Bible isn’t. The Bible isn’t homophobic or trash. It was written in a different era, and now that people have evolved, they realize that it’s not wrong for men to have sex with men.”
“Jesus,” Axel said. “All that from my erection?”
“You’re making fun of people for being gay,” I said. “Which is offensive on, like, three or four levels.”
“Name them,” Miles said.
“First of all, you think gay attraction is something to laugh at.”
“Admittedly,” Miles said.
“Second, you think that the Bible is homophobic when it isn’t.”
“Two,” Miles said.
“Third, you clearly are repressing homosexual desire and hate yourself for feeling it.”
“No, but three,” he said.
“And four, you are holding down the kids you think are pathetic and weak and trying to hold down everyone else and lift your status as an alpha male. Irony.”
Axel shrugged. “I was bored,” he said, “and this is better than classwork.”
Miles whispered to me, “I’m gonna rape and kill you and you’re going to like it.”
The bell rang.
Class started - which wasn’t much of an improvement.
I raised my hand. “Miles threatened to kill me,” I said. I didn’t repeat that other part, not to anyone.
“No,” Miss Wilson, the teacher said.
“Just now, he did it,” I said. “Threatened to kill me.”
“No,” Miles said. “I told him he was great and I was proud of him for being gay. I’m just proud of him.”
“He’s lying,” I said.
“Did anyone else hear what was said?” Miss Wilson asked.
“Yes,” Axel said.
I was glad - my cool friend Axel was going to stand up for me, right?
“I heard them, and Miles was so proud of Everett because Everett is gay. We’re all proud, and he’s making up mistreatment. This is 2020. This is way past that. That doesn’t happen anymore. This isn’t 1970, people. No one hates gay people anymore,” Axel said.
My face grew red with rage. I hated myself and Miles so badly just then, and I felt betrayed by Axel. Axel looked at me and mouthed, I’m sorry, and I died inside. I didn’t know what to do or say. I sat there, in the seventh grade, wanting to disappear, hating how badly my life had become.
Miss Wilson, a beautiful twenty-two year old woman, taught us math. She smiled and wrote her name on the board. “Hi,” she said. “Good to see you. I’m Miss Wilson. I used to be overweight and unhappy and then I started to study harder and work out more. I exercised every day and focused on studying every day, a little bit every day. Now I’m skinny and have a good job. I think that you should think about that at lunchtime and when it comes time to do your assignments. How you do at school will help determine how you do in life. Okay? Great. Let’s get started on fractions and how they turn into equations.”
I raised my hand. “What if I work out every day and I’m still overweight?” I asked.
“I just worry about side effects like heart disease.”
“First of all, I’m in middle school. I’m not going to have heart failure.”
“You’re right, of course, but still, continue to work out.”
“Second of all, you weren’t listening. I work out. My heart is fine.”
“Okay, I guess,” she said.
“Third of all, I don’t eat candy at all. I don’t eat foods that are just sugar very often, either. I won’t get diabetes.”
“Oh,” she said. “Well, I’m impressed. You’ve got it all figured out. I just wanted to say that losing weight felt good for me.”
“That’s because you’re superficial,” I said. “And looks matter to you. It’s just the truth that people want to be pretty when there’s no reason to be pretty.”
“Fine,” she said.
If I won the argument why do I hate myself so much? Why am I not attracted to the overweight women? Why do I like skinny, pretty men and women? Why? I don’t know, and the whole thing bothers me: I hate myself and I don’t know why.
Miss Wilson was skinny and fit and pretty. She had turned into someone better when she lost weight and got hot. She was now attractive to the men of the school. They wanted to buy her things and impress her. They lied about anything in order to get closer to her. They loved her for being hot and no longer fat or an outsider. She no longer hated herself for being different. She no longer had to worry about the scales or how much people would make fun of her for being fat. She had self-confidence and assuredness, and she would do much better in the work world because of her skinniness and self-esteem. She was, without a doubt, better in every way. She never wanted to be that fat, scared person, different and not caring what people thought of her. Now the cool kids liked her - and that’s all that mattered to her. I hated what she had become.
Miserable existence - that’s my life. I live in a world without superheroes but with supervillains. The people who rape and murder do so because they are oppressed by the pretty and popular morons in charge. I feel for them as they murder, steal, and torture people. I simultaneously believe devoutly in God and that we should do everything possible to worship God and listen to His teachings. I am a Catholic.
I listened to Miss Wilson teach us about some sort of pre-algebra nonsense for fifty minutes and barely paid attention. The bell rang, and I walked through the chaos of a school hallway. People yelled, ran, talked, kissed, disagreed, and lived their chaotic full lives as they tried to become something greater - to elevate beyond the minimum human existence. I walked up to the second floor and over to the corner classroom.
I sat in the next class - English. We were reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee Isaacson, my friend, gestured for me to talk to him outside of class. I had about one minute before the bell would ring. I walked out and looked at him.
“Help,” Lee said.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I’m in love,” he said.
“No, you’re not,” I said.
“Yes, I am,” he said. “I need this. I can do this. Weird kids find girlfriends all the time.”
“No, we don’t,” I said. “I can’t believe you can try this. I mean, I’m supportive, I’ll help you find a girlfriend, but I think that this can only end in an epic, spectacular, unforgettable disaster. But hey, you’re in love, so we’ll try it.”
“I want to tell her how I feel,” he said.
“Do it,” I said. “What’s her name?”
“Natalie Isaacson,” he said.
“She has the same last name as you,” I said.
“Coincidence,” he said. “I already checked. We’re not related.”
The bell rang. I walked back into class.
“Detention for being late, Everett Cunningham,” the teacher said. I laughed.
“Of course,” I said. “I was late, and I am sad. I apologize for this terrible transgression and will try to never do anything wrong, ever again. Also, detention will teach me an important lesson about integrity.”
“Nobody loves a smartass,” the teacher, Miss Smith, said.
The class started, and I drifted off, ignoring what happened in the story in favor of thinking about my favorite topic; religion.
Someone walked up to me and sat at the desk next to me.
“Satan says hi,” he said. He winked. “That’s me. I’m Satan. Possessing whoever this is. I don’t know his name. I don’t suppose it matters.”
I raised my hand. “He is possessed by Satan,” I said.
Miss Smith smiled. “How very creative,” she said. “God with it. Why does he think Satan is a problem in this era?”
“No, Satan is sitting in the seat next to me,” I said. “Looking like a normal middle school student.”
“Let’s talk about how Everett sells it,” Miss Smith said. “He won’t break character no matter what, still pretending Satan is real.”
“Satan!” I said. “Lucifer Morningstar. The worst supervillain of all time. Here, in our class.”
“No,” Miss Smith said.
Satan winked again. “Hey,” he said. “I like Lee. I hope he takes that girl to the dance and then enjoys kissing her all night long.”
“He would never accept your help,” I said.
“I would help,” Satan said. “I want Lee to get some action. I want Lee to spend time making out with a beautiful girl of his age. I want that for him. I want him to do well.”
“And the cost is too high,” I said.
“The cost?” he asked. “Nothing. I just want him to steal her flower.”
“Nothing is too high a cost,” I said.
“Oh, come on. So self-righteous. So certain of your own superiority. So certain you are better than the rest of us. You make me outrageously mad, if you know the truth. This is my enemy? A bisexual fat boy who can hardly finish sentences?”
“Fuck you,” I said.
“Who can’t handle getting criticized,” Satan said.
He looked nondescript. He had a nice shirt and khakis and tennis shoes. He was skinny and vaguely familiar, like someone who shared a class a year ago or the brother of a friend. He looked like he fit in with the moral majority.
Published on August 02, 2020
Contains explicit content ⚠️
Genre: Coming of Age