Voici l’un des deux coups de cœur du concours de nouvelles, organisé par le département Information-Communication.


Friendship and human punching ball


Of course, I always knew I was different. My skin color told me. My last name told me. My religion told me. But it didn’t seem to bother me or the others for a long time. I used to have good friends at school, we’d play soccer together, invite each others after school and so on. But one day, they stopped inviting me and responding to my invites, just like that. Without an explanation. Time went by, and I sort of forgot about it. Because at least I got to spend more time with my family, especially my sister, because my brother was always locked up in his room and talked very little to any of us. Then, one day in class, I got paired up with one of my old friends, and since we appeared to hit it off pretty well again, I asked him why did we ever stopped being friends? He said it was because his parents didn’t want him to hang with me anymore, but that he didn’t want to listen to him so much anymore. So Ethan and I got to be friends again! Though we could only see each other in school, so his parents wouldn’t know about our friendship, we would have a blast every time we got together. And most of all, we were there for each other. He got my back when I was failing in some classes, I got his when his dad got sick and had to be transferred to the hospital.

Everything was fine, I had friends again, my grades weren’t great but at least I wasn’t failing, I just got nominated captain of the soccer team. Everything was fine. Until it wasn’t anymore.

From the bottom of my cell, I heard footsteps above me, then on the stairs leading down to the prisoners, and again walking along the corridor. I wasn’t the only one locked up in there, though we weren’t all in for the same reason, we would all receive the same type of treatment, each in turn. His footsteps stopped all at once. In front of my door. Curled up in a corner, my knees up to my chin to cover my nose from the smell of pee, I could still see the muddy ranger boots of the man who was now walking towards me. He stopped there for a while, not saying a word, not making a sound except for his heavy but steady breathing. As I was getting accustomed to his presence, I was also starting to think that he might not be there to hurt me today, that he might let me go, for he was acting in a very singular way compared to the usual. Suddenly he appeared to come back to his old self for he barked at me to get up, grasping my arm, pressing on a not-yet-healed bruise, and pushed me away from the dampness of my cell. Not paying any attention to what the other prisoners were saying as we walked by, he was as careless as one can be, making me walk faster than my limp would allow, waking up the striving pain in my leg from the previous day.

The smell of blood was filling up the room as my tormentor kept hitting me with his own fist. At this point my nose may have been broken for all I knew. Some of my ribs as well.

Fortunately enough, the pain had gotten so acute that I could not feel anymore: whether it was the pain itself, or my limbs at all. I could only see the damages my assailant was causing on my body. The smirk on his face was pure evil; he enjoyed doing this to me, he enjoyed hurting me. I could tell he was actually getting some kind of pleasure from the cracking noise of my bones under his hands, the paleness of my face, the sweat pearling on my forehead from an upcoming fever, but most of all, I am fairly convinced that what he liked best was the lividity that was slowly reaching my eyes. And yet, he would never let it overcome me completely: he always stopped right before I could pass out.

For a little while I got to rest a bit, as my nose was indeed broken – my ribs only badly bruised, so I won a trip to the Emergency Room. Mrs Caroline accompanied me. She was wearing that sympathetic yet pitying smile the whole time the doctor examined me. She told me after he had gone that she found me very brave, I didn’t budge at all. And then the questioning started… “Which one was it this time?” “You understand this isn’t right, right?” “Why don’t you come to us? We can help with this situation. “Have you talked to anyone about this?” “How come you never even try to defend yourself?” “Do you know why they would do this?”

That last one was sort of the last drop I could allow.

“Why? You really are asking me why?! You wanna know why I keep getting beaten up every now and then, thus being pretty much every time one of my wound healed, making room for the next one to come? I’ll tell you why, then. Have you noticed what my name is? Have you been watching the news lately, or do you live in a cave? I’m gonna choose the second option because there is no way you didn’t make a connection between the two. I’m Sahid Al-Araad. I repeat: Al-Araad. Same name as the main suspect in Seattle’s latest terrorism attack whose picture is practically everywhere these days. And surprisingly enough, if you put his picture next to mine, you could swear it was the same person, only a few years apart. Getting there, yet? Have you finally understood that the guy who bombed the Hospital, killing 143 persons, injuring another 267 including 59 still in intensive care, and then managed to escape, is my brother? And that, is the very reason why these guys from school have been beating me up everyday since, because some of their relatives were part of the casualties, because they needed a reason to hit me, because my name’s only a reminded of why my people shouldn’t even be allowed within these borders to them, because they want answers, because they want the satisfaction of having some sort of revenge, even if my brother never gets caught. Which I hope he will, I really hope he’ll either go to the Police himself, or that they’ll catch him real soon, and not because it’d mean the end of my bullying – maybe, but because he’ll get what he deserves. I hope he’d never done such a thing, I hope he’d never had gotten involved in this organization, that he’d have talked to me.

My name’s Sahid Al-Araad, and I’m not defending myself when I receive a hit because I deserve it. I deserve it because I wasn’t there for my brother when he obviously needed me, when I could have helped him, him and the 410 people he has hurt and their families and friends. I let them hurt me because in some way I know it take some of their pain away, knowing that I, suffer too.”

Pauline Moisan.