All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Robin Of The Woods
It is bright. Too bright for anything good to be happening. I sit up slowly. My body aches furiously. I look down to see small scars litter my form. A gauze band is wrapped around my side. I lift my hand to feel what lays underneath. My fingers touch it, gingerly feeling the bump under the band; it feels crusty and unnatural. I draw back my hand just as tiny pieces of dried blood fall from my fingers onto the white cotton sheets. A rumbling comes from the corner as a man clears his throat. I whip my head around quickly, realizing too late this is a mistake as my head starts pounding. I survey the man sitting in the far corner as he stands and gently pulls his chair over to me and sits again, this time only feet from me.
I pull my legs up around me and hug them while I start to rock myself back and forth on the bed. I look back at the man as he x-rays me with his dark eyes. He is middle-aged with graying hair and a small goatee. Glasses hang from his neck on a golden chain resting on a brown jacket and crisp white shirt. The only thing I like about the man is his shoes. They are brown like his jacket but have tiny holes punched in the top making a unique pattern as the laces run through them. He leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees, making his pants pull up just slightly revealing diamond patterned socks. I swallow nervously and keep my eyes on his shoes.
"Do you like my shoes, Robert?" are the first words out of his mouth. I'm expecting this. They always do this. Try to get you talking about a topic completely unrelated to what they actually want to know. Get you to feel comfortable. I should know; I could probably recite all their tactics in my sleep if I wanted to. This isn't my first time in a psych ward.
"I like the laces," I reply emotionlessly. The "doctor" or whoever it is leans back in to his chair.
"I like playing games just about as much as you do, but--" He says until I cut him off.
"Robin. My name is Robin," I say, rocking back on my heels, momentarily losing sight of his shoes.
"Fine, Robin. I'm not here to play games." I glance up momentarily to meet his dark gaze. " I'm here to hear what you have to say about the events that occurred a day ago, on May 4th." I stop rocking and sit motionless. I open my mouth to tell him I didn't remember but I catch sight of an end of his handkerchief, a small arrow is embroidered against the white fabric . I starting rocking back and forth again, this time faster, as my breath comes heavy.
"I didn't mean to do it." I glance up to his face one more time before starting my story.
The light breeze tickles my face as I stand up from my hiding place. Grass has made red imprints on my leg from where I was sitting. I bring the small plastic bow I'm holding up to my eye and line up my target. My brother stands just outside of the door on our cement porch, cell phone in hand, a smile appearing on his face as he picks at the wall absentmindedly.
"Wind coming from the south, target in view," I whisper to myself. Pip is sitting in the grass behind me.
"Just hurry up and shoot," she says, annoyed. I glance at her before I slowly pull the string back to my right shoulder. I breathe out, the plastic shuddering as I let go of the string. The arrow flies through the air and makes contact with Brian's thigh and bounces off. My brother whips around as I give a loud whoop and Pip claps her hands slowly. I jump over the bushes and retrieve my arrow.
"Thank you, thank you!" I throw my arms wide and bow to my adoring fans. "From this day forth I shall be named Robin the Great Huntsman!"
Brian rolled his eyes. "No, sorry, just my brother with his stupid bow," he says into his phone. He moves the phone away from his mouth. "Stop messing around, Rob, you're too old to be playing Robin Hood." I stare blankly at him for a second; I'm not playing. I am Robin Hood.
"If you're really Robin Hood you'd be able to stand up to him." Pip's voice echo's through my head. She stays in my head when other people are around. I stare at my brother with his dark mess of hair and long face. My lip starts to tremble as I muster the bravery to speak. I open my mouth but he beats me to it.
"I'm busy. Go do that somewhere else," he says with a wave of his hand. He puts the phone back up to his ear and my moment is gone. I turn and slowly retreat into the house.
"Maria says hi," he yells after me as the screen door slams shut behind me. Maria must've heard the ruckus. She'll know what really happened. She always listens to my stories when she comes over to see Brian. She's his "girlfriend" but I know she really just comes over to spend time with me. She's the only one who is ever really on my side. One time I told her about all the horrible things Brian says about me and she actually yelled at Brian about it. She was smiling while she did it, but that's okay because she's so nice she's never not smiling.
I hang up my bow on a nail in the mud room and continue past the kitchen and into the bathroom. I stand over the sink and splash water onto my face. My eyes start burning as tears dribble down my checks. I grasp the edges of the sink and stare at my reflection. Brown eyes, brown hair and a square jaw, I am Robin, I can see him in the mirror. Why can't he see he needs to do something to really stop this.
"You could do something if you tried..." whispers Pip in my ear.
Before I can reply I hear my mother coming down the hall humming. She momentarily stops at the door, "Rob? Are you in there? Do you need anything?" I wipe my tears away with a piece of toilet paper and look at the mirror. Everything was just fine. I was okay. Everything was going to be alright. "Are you okay?" she asks quietly knocking.
I open the door and smile at her quickly. "I'm good, just g-going outside."
"Are you sure?" She looks at me in that intense way mothers do. Her graying hair hangs in her face, her eyebrows creasing in worry.
"Really, I'm fine. I have to go," I say turning to the door.
"Honey, not too long though, okay?" she says, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "Dad and I are going out for a few hours and I don't want you in the woods. Maria is coming over in a little bit. Perhaps you could hang-out with Brian and her?"
My ears perk up at the sound of Maria's name. Then I remember they usually just spend a lot of time in Brian's room when Mom and Dad are gone. The chance of me "hanging-out" with them isn't really an option; Mom doesn't need to know that though.
"Yeah, okay, got it," I say and continue to the door.
"Oh and Rob? Wear some shoes this time, won't you please?" I glance down at my muddy, grass-covered feet and nod my head.
I love the woods. It's quiet and soft with the spring flowers and green canopy. This is where my real family lives. After walking for about thirty minutes I find my path. It leads into a small gully that fills with water when it rains. Sitting above it is a big tree with a hollowedout center; I climb up the gully walls until I can reach inside. My hand touches smooth metal. I smile as I pull out the large green hunting bow from its hiding place. I stole it from the attic before Mom and Dad had gotten rid of all the guns and sharp objects and had locked the cutting knives in a drawer.
I made sure they didn't know I had it. If they knew they would take it away faster than you can say lightning. I love its smooth curves and power. I swing the bow and arrows on to my back and slowly move back down the wall of roots.
"You should've picked a easier location for that." I lose my footing on a root as I jerk my head up. Sitting on a branch high above me on my tree is Ivy.
"Hi, Ivy," I say back. She giggles as I regain my footing and make my way down to the ground. She leaps down after me; she has incredible jumping skills. Once she had convinced me to try it but I broke my arm in the process. Since then I've left the jumping to her. Her long wavy blonde hair sweeps down her back. She is tall, built like a plank, and looks around seventeen. Her green eyes search mine for a second, knowing something isn't right. She opens her mouth to say something but instead claps her hands like a child.
"Henry! Henry! We know you're here!" she sings as she dances along, peeking behind trees.
"Hello, Robin," comes Henry's voice behind me. I turn to find Henry; he's smaller than me with eyes too big for his head and a disheveled mop for hair. He stands there looking serious as always.
"Hi," I say, slightly less enthusiastic. Ivy lets out a joyful scream and hugs Henry while he just stands there staring at me and my bow.
"Come on Henry! Can't we just have fun today like we used to?" she pleads, picking up on Henry's solemn mood.
"I'm not here to have fun, Ivy. How can you think of having fun when you know what's really happening?" he says to her sternly. Ivy shrinks away, her spirit broken. He turns to me, "Brian says horrible things about you behind your back, but you won't do anything to stop it. I'm beginning think you enjoy being laughed at."
"He tried today," says a bored voice from another corner. Pip leans against a tree, her body relaxed but her blue eyes dancing, enjoying every moment of the turmoil. She is small with short blonde hair; she looks harmless enough but her mischievous grin gives her away. "He shot Brian in the leg with his bow and arrow." She lifts her hands and makes air-quotes around bow and arrow. "Then tried to stand up for himself but instead cried in the bathroom like a little girl," she rubs imaginary tears from her eyes. I crease my eyebrows. This is how Pip is; either your best friend or your worst enemy. She gives a small laugh at my face and rolls her eyes.
"I didn't know what else to do," I respond quietly. I know this is the wrong thing to say the moment I see Henry's eyes darken and feel Ivy's hand on my back.
"We know you try but--" Ivy starts but Henry cuts her off.
"Do you want to help or not?" Henry gives me a wicked look and continues. "Do you want to help yourself or not?" He takes a step closer and points a finger in my face, his voice dropping to a whisper. "We came here to help you but there is only so much we can do. Now I'm saying if you're not willing to do something about the way he treats you, we're not willing to stay." He releases a breath and stands back.
I bite back tears and look to Ivy and Pip for confirmation. Ivy looks back with pleading eyes and Pip finishes picking something out of her teeth in time to give me a slight shrug.
"You should hear the awful thing he says about you, Robin," Ivy says, tears brimming her eyes. "It's horrible! You don't need someone like that in your life."
"He doesn't treat me that badly. He only says the really bad things when I'm not around. And the only way I know that is because you tell it to me," I say, watching as a bug crawls over my foot.
"I don't get why you don't take our word on this. He's mean to you when you're around. Why is it so hard to believe he's evil when you're not around?" Henry says, his voice quiet.
"I think he likes it," says Pip from the corner as she slowly walks over. "I think he likes playing the helpless little brother." She leans in close to my ear, "little baby can't help himself." I back away from her and shake off her smug little smile like it was still near me.
"Brian's treated me like that for years. Why do I have to do something about it now? He doesn't say it to my face, I can handle it," I say. It wasn't so bad. So what, Brian wasn't nice to me. He would be out of the house in a year; I could take it until then.
"You don't really believe that crap you're feeding yourself, do you?" Pip asks, incredulously.
"Oh shut up, Pip," says Henry. He turns to me, "Are you so full of yourself you can't see you're not the only one getting abused by Brian?" I take a step back not understanding. "Use your eyes to see what's really going on."
"I don't understanding, Brian only ever says mean things to me," I say.
"This could take a while," mutters Pip stepping forward. "He says the same things to Maria as he does to you. Got it?" she raises her eyebrows and tilts her head before continuing "But that's not the only way he hurts her. Oh no, he does it with his hands too." She widens her eyes at the last part almost making me believe she cared until a smile appeared on her lips. She gives a small happy shake and prances back to her tree; content with the bombshell she just dropped.
"Brian wouldn't hurt Maria!" I yell at them, backing away from their stares. "If he did she wouldn't be with him. She wouldn't keep coming to our house if he was hurting her. Why would she do that!"
"She doesn't want to leave you alone with him. That's why she hasn't left him. She comes to see you. You know that. You even thought it yourself earlier! She comes to see you because you know what she's going through!" yells Ivy, her usually beautiful features changing into something much less attractive. I stop my retreat.
"She comes to see me? " I look around; the eyes of Ivy and Henry are on me like cats. "Wait. How did you know I thought that? I didn't tell you that." I look over to Pip "Did you tell them? She looks at me, eyebrows raised, and shakes her head no.
"It's not going to stop, Robin. He's always going to abuse you with his words. Every family vacation, every spring break, every summer. He'll be there, he'll always be there. If you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for Maria." Henry speaks in a soft tired voice, too old for his age. "You need to remove Brian from the situation," Henry lays a hand on my shoulder. I shrug it off and take a step backwards only to bump into Ivy.
"Please? For you? For Maria?" she says. I look into her eyes and momentarily forget my fear.
"I can talk to him, try to make it stop," I say with more confidence. Ivy and Henry shift uncomfortably.
"That's not going to be enough, Robin, it has to be more permanent than that," replies Henry. I look at them and it clicks. This whole time they never wanted the problem resolved the easy way. I back away quickly, looking at them with wide eyes.
"No, no, no. I'm not doing that. HE'S MY BROTHER!" I scream at them.
"Then I'm afraid our time is up," Henry says.
I blink and they are all gone. All is quiet except for the rustling of the leaves. I am alone. I start running, my feet pounding over ground, my shirt catching on branches. I don't stop until I reach the fence line. I walk along, trying to slow my breathing, pausing a moment when I hear voices. I round the corner and there they are; Brian and Maria facing each other yelling. I watch as Brian grabs Maria's arm and twists it. She wriggles against his grip. Brian's voice grows louder.
"You don't get to talk about my brother like that again, got it?" he shouts in her face. What was he doing to her? My thoughts bounced back to what Ivy had said, then to what I was hearing now. "He doesn't deserve to be treated that way and you know it," Brian continues. What if it hadn't been Brian who had said the awful things? What if every time Maria talked to me she was just making fun of me? That would mean Brian has been defending me. That would mean my friends are wrong.
"Do you believe us now?" comes a bored voice to the left of my ear. Pip is standing on tip-toe beside me. A piece of grass sticking out of her mouth.
"You didn't leave me." I feel relieved she came back, but concerned about what that means. "What do you mean 'believe us now'?"
"Once again I have to explain everything." She sighs and spits out the blade of grass. "Your brother found out about your talks about him with Maria. Now he's going to make her pay. Isn't that a bit obvious?" She jerks her head towards Brian who had let go of Maria and crossed his arms. "We told you he was a horrible person, we told you he hurt her, we told you to eliminate him. You asked for proof; now you have it."
I look back at my brother and the conversation I just overheard; he wasn't trying to hurt Maria, he was trying to protect me. I feel the smooth metal of the bow I had forgotten to put away, and in that moment I know what I have to do. Pip's hands clasp with glee as I swing the bow into my hands. I place an arrow on the taut string and pull it to my shoulder. I line up my target and everything is frozen for a second. The wind shifts, slowly ruffling my hair. The sun beats down and I see them in my sight, lined up perfectly with the end of my dark arrow. I take a breath. My brother's eyes connect with mine as I turn the bow around, the arrow releasing from my grip.
I don't remember much after that. I remember she didn't bleed much. I remember her small frame crumpled on the ground, one of my arrows protruding from her side. I remember Brian running over, flinging the bow from my shoulder then ripping off his shirt and pressing it to my side. I remember Maria talking quickly on her phone. I remember wanting to yell at them to help Pip who lay on the ground unmoving, soft trickles of blood staining her white shirt. Her blue eyes looked into mine in a moment of surprise, and then she melted into the air like she was never there. The last thing I remember was looking down to see a matching arrow to the one I shot at Pip sticking out of my side, Brian's shirt wrapped tightly around it.
"So now you understand," The doctor says looking at me quizzically. He had sat in his chair for my entire story and now stands up.
"I understand I'm free from them," I reply and stop rocking, finally releasing my legs.
"Not entirely, Robert. They will come back. Maybe not in same shape or form but they will come back. When they do, you have to tell someone, do you understand? This can't happen again." I nod my head in reply. "I understand your family would like to see you as soon as possible, so I will leave you." He tilts his head in my direction and takes several steps toward the door but stops midway and turns to me again. In his hand he holds his handkerchief. He walks to me and sticks it in my gown's pocket, its small arrow sticking up from the fabric. "Not ever." His eyes blaze into mine for a second before he turns and exits through the door.
A second later my family comes rushing in, worry on their faces. The rest of the day goes quickly. I talk to lots of doctors who want to hear what happened over and over. I never see the doctor with the brown shoes again. It is only after everyone leaves several hours later I realize the handkerchief has disappeared from my pocket.