"All right, you lot. Let's play stingers!"
Little James' heart sank. He hated that game, and all the other kids seemed to hate him. He was a pretty good shot with the tennis ball, but he was terrible at getting out of its way. Besides the other kids, even Mr Evans seemed to have it in for him; he wished he knew why.
James wasn't a very big fan of any sporting activity, now that he came to think of it. He was much happier with his head buried in a book, than out here on the field.
He looked around him, at the other kids standing in a circle on the football pitch, all rubbing their hands in anticipation. Then he looked at the school building, no less than a hundred paces away. He wondered if he could run there, and sit in the library. Surely Mr Wilson, the English teacher, would protect him.
A sharp pain shot through his right arm, yanking his head out of the clouds. Rubbing his arm, he looked around to see everyone, Mr Evans included, giggling hysterically and pointing at him. Tears welled up in James' eyes, but that only seemed to encourage the pointers.
"Clarke, you're it!" Mr Evans managed through his laughter. "Run, everybody!"
Still rubbing his arm, James walked over to where the ball had rolled.
May as well make the most of this.
He picked up the ball and lobbed it in the direction of two of the kids as they ran away. The ball hit Harry on his massive right calf. Harry was a big kid, the same age as James, but easily three times his size. He was the school bully, and there wasn't a student at the school who didn't wish they could one day get the better of him.
The ball sailed through the air gracefully, and didn't hit particularly hard, nor did it roll very far. Harry turned around, scooped the ball up off the ground, and flung it back at James.
"That hurt, you little shit!"
The ball slammed into James' chest, knocking the wind out of him and causing him to fall onto the ground and curl into a little ball himself. As he lay there, sobbing in between deep gulps for air, he sucked dirt and loose grass into his mouth. The rest of the phys. ed. class formed a circle and danced around him, chanting "Poor wittle Clarkey-warkey! Poor wittle Clarkey-warkey!"
Mr Evans was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down his face. Through his laughter, he managed,
"Come on, Clarke! Don't be a wuss! Sting them back!"