Thursday, February 1, 2018

Summer Trip

           Summer Trip
By Michael Cannata   

              His parent's summer home was where all his family gathered for their annual Summer Trip! It was one of the family's most cherished sites. It hosted innumerable events and irreplaceable memories over the years. It had all a family could ask for as far as accommodations; Lots of rooms, a great deck and huge grill, a boat, a dock and a lake as clear as a blue summer sky. His entire family, friends and cousins looked forward to getting together for the summer; everyone except him.

                To him, it was a place of endless shame and personal humiliation. Each year, Summer Trip, marked the start of a new season of bullying. The vacation was one of relaxation and recreation for everyone else. For him, it was a mandatory summer sentence that subjected him to the endlessly cruel taunts and pranks of his older cousin. Every summer, with increasing viciousness, his cousin would make him the butt of jokes and the target of mischief that was becoming more spiteful every year. The worst thing was, most people often saw his cousin's deranged acts as genuine humor.

                He had begged his parents to leave him home. He could stay with friends easily. But they wouldn't consider it. He'd quickly been labeled a sissy when he complained and a liar when he had no "proof." They didn't believe him because most of what his cousin did was out of their sight.

                No matter how hard he tried to avoid his cousin's attacks, it never seemed to work. At the worst possible time and the most public moment, his cousin would strike, often with the help of his allies, his other cousins. The jokes he pulled in front of the grownups were humiliating. But the worst of them were done when only the youngest ones were around.

                The last trip was the worst. He cousin thought it would be funny to set off some fireworks as a gag and scare the hell out of someone… him of course. His cousin and friends held him down and stuffed his front pockets full of firecrackers and set them off. The hysterical laughter changed to horrific screams as his body burned. The adults came running and the horror in their eyes grew to terror as they watched him burn.

                His cousin insisted it was a freak accident. They swore that he had put the firecrackers in his own pocket and somehow they had started to go off. In the end, as he was rushed to the hospital, they believed his cousin. The other kids swore it was true.

                The massive trauma to his body didn’t nearly approach the level of damage to his psyche. The physical scars had disfigured him as a male, but he lived. However, the damage to him and his chance of ever being was a man was fatal. It finally put an end to his cousin's pranks.

                One thing the family tragedy didn't put a stop to was, Summer Trip. His family still spent summers in the same place, with the same people, just without him. He was finally allowed to stay behind. He walked with a pronounced limp and needed to wear a colostomy bag all day. Swimming was out of the question as was every other activity that made the summer special. No one seemed to notice or care. Questions about his health were rarely asked anymore. He had become a sad and forgotten character never to be spoken of during the vacation.

                He'd come to this year's gathering to say a proper good-bye.  He had stolen a car and made the long drive alone and in pain. But he knew it would be worth it just to see them all again. It would be his last Summer Trip with them.

                He parked a distance away in the dark and waited until they would all be together after dinner laughing at the events of the day. He quietly loaded and cocked his guns. His cousin was going to love this! Smiling madly, he headed into the party to set off a few fireworks of his own.

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