I saw you there, standing on the corner at rush hour. I thought you were standing with your friends from school. You were all talking, and, I thought, joking around. But then things turned. In the flash of an eye, they we swarming you, punching you. One of them held your arms and another boy jumped on your back. Together they knocked you to the ground.
I was shocked. I sat up in the driver’s seat, looking to see if anyone else in the intersection had seen…a man and two women were across the street from you. I willed them to sprint across the street, to shout, to say something…to DO something. But they turned their faces away. Maybe, like me, they thought you were just horsing around.
Then the tall boy in the blue shirt started to kick you as you lay on the ground trying to curl up into a ball. He kicked and kicked and kicked and kicked and I saw the white sidewall of his Cons disappear again and again into your side, your back, your stomach. Two of the others punched you on top of your head, on the side of your face, all over your shoulders. The bigger boy in the black and yellow windbreaker hit you the hardest. It was his punch to the gut that bent you in half the first time, before the boy in the white held you down.
I don’t know what precipitated the attack. But it doesn’t matter. There were four or five of them.
The light was red, and red, and red some more, and I thought I should get out and go you. But the light then was green and the cars were moving and I couldn’t use the phone to call the police because I had to drive. The other boys started to walk away, and I craned my neck to see if you were okay. The people on the sidewalk had crossed the street, and I was driving under the overpass, trapped in traffic. I couldn’t stop to see how you were doing, or to tell the other boys to leave you alone.
I thought they were done with you.
But as you passed from my view, I saw them converge on you again, and I had seen the tears on your face, and the way you clutched your ribs, and I thought, WHY AM I NOT STOPPING FOR YOU??
But I didn’t stop, did I? I was part of the problem, not part of the solution. I didn’t help you. I didn’t even try. I hoped someone else would stop, and that’s how I failed you today. ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t enough. Can never be enough. But I am. I’m sorry. I’m sorry you were there. I’m sorry those boys were so broken. I’m sorry I did nothing. I’m so sorry.