Never a Child

By: Zoë Christianson

A class clown attempted murder today.
A mother’s little boy,
a child’s best friend,
a teacher’s beloved terror,
stood over the monster who raised his freckly faced son
like the animal he’d become,
clutching a knife.

The only story told
was of a victim,
motionless and bleeding on the ground,
glaring up at his son.

But no one’s ever bothered themselves with the story
of the boy
who was as much as killed by circumstance.

Killer used to sit by me in art class.
He used to joke about the way his mother left him home on friday
nights with a cheap video game to keep him company.

Next time he saw her, she was rarely alone.

He took in stride the way his villain of a father
whistled at
girls six years his senior.

He saved his best friend’s life once,
one day on the playground.
Only killer knew the telltale signs of the poor boy’s asthma.
Only killer knew where to find his inhaler.

No one looks at mug shots of a brute
who almost killed his own father
and wonders

if he was someone’s best friend,
someone’s love,
someone’s baby.

But he never had a friend to share the disturbing facts of his
life with.
No friend was ever burdened with the reality of his home
with his father’s belt and rage.

No one ever wondered
why he didn’t know how to love.

No one ever cared
that he had no one in the world to tell him
that the way he treated all of us was wrong.

Killer was not born
He was made
by the very “victim” pitied through every source.

It doesn’t matter, they argue.
Why should it matter?
He’s someone else’s responsibility.

I was taking a test
for AP class
while the boy who came from the very
same place that I did
got arrested for fighting his abuser.

By next week, the boy who could make
anything exciting, could make a
statue smile
will be in jail.

And the rest of us will continue living
our lives with nothing but cold pity
for the boy we insist was never
one of us.