Everyone Has A Battle

He let the rage boil up inside of him. It started in the pit of his stomach, he felt it rise up his spine until a dull ache overcame his heart. The anger clogged his throat as it traveled down his arms. It erupted in his fists bringing them down over and over again on the thick blue plastic hanging in front of him. A punching bag. His favorite new addition to the woods that surrounded his grandfather's cabin. The woods that served as his ninja training ground. Before it, he used a dummy whose eyes would light up when it was hit in the sweet spots – the ones you should aim for when you wanted to do real damage. Both his brothers used it too, until he has gotten mad at his older brother Rocky and destroyed it. Once his grandfather looked at the bits and pieces that used to be a training dummy, he got the punching bag, hoping that it would help his middle grandson take out his anger.

Colt gave the punching bag a daily beating ever since. He couldn't remember what in particular made him so mad today. But he had become addicted to the rush of anger and the satisfaction of releasing it through swift punches and kicks. Colt's mind wandered to thoughts about going back to school and having to leave the cabin. His punches quickened. Learning ninja at the cabin was what he loved to do. Going back to the city would mean he would have to fall into the same routine as most other kids – school, homework, sleep. Anytime he wanted for himself would have to fit around the three. School also meant fights and getting yelled at by teachers, both meant that he would get in trouble at home, all of which were unnecessary headaches.

Colt's mind soon became entranced with his methodic movements; he was surprised when he felt a hand on his back. His immediate reaction was to swing around and defend himself from whoever was there. Colt's mind was snapped back to reality when he saw his brother, who easily blocked his sloppy punch, standing in front of him.

"Colt, watch what you're doing," Rocky said, his voice calm despite the fact that his brother almost broke his nose. Colt quickly withdrew his outstretched arm.

"Sorry," he paused waiting for Rocky to explain why he had disrupted his fight with the punching bag. Rocky looked at his brother. Beads of sweat were rolling down his skin. His hands were still clutched in fists at his sides, his body was tense as if waiting to pounce and attack. Rocky sighed, "Grandpa wants you to pack before dinner so we can leave tomorrow morning."

Colt wiped the sweat out of his eyes before walking back to the cabin. Rocky stayed where he was, silently watching Colt walk away. He had seen his brother's face when he mentioned going back to the city. Colt dreaded the thought of going back.

Rocky wished that Colt would talk to him. Over the past few months Colt had become withdrawn. He never talked about how he was feeling. Not that anyone needed to be told. Colt was mad all the time. He never smiled, laughed, or cried. All of his feelings were poured into the punching bag he spent hours a day with. Everyone wanted to help him, but no one knew how. Rocky felt like it was his responsibility to help his little brother. Colt had always been his best friend. But how could he help someone who didn't want it?

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Colt lazily threw his backpack in the backseat of Rocky's car. He didn't want to waste his gas money when Rocky was going to the same place. He sat in the front while he waited for his brothers to finish that last of their breakfasts. His eyes drifted closed and his head fell against the seat. He tried to think of a good reason why school was so early in the morning. None came to mind. He didn't even have to wake up this early for ninja training. He heard the car start and the back door slam. Rocky looked tired, but Colt knew Tum Tum wouldn't. The kid ate so much sugar he could probably go for a week without sleep.

"Want some?" Tum Tum thrust a half eaten candy bar in Colt's face.

"How can you eat this early?" His hazel colored eyes drifted closed slowly.

"The same way I eat when it's late," was his brother's reply. Colt didn't bother with a come back, he just let his eyelids fall and layed in the seat. Tum Tum finished the rest of his candy bar and moved on to a blue tootsie pop. He missed his brother's sarcastic comments. Tum Tum couldn't help feeling mad at Colt. His new attitude change had affected everyone. The whole family was worried about him. Their ideas for helping him had amounted to nothing. Colt was silent, quick to lose his temper and no one knew how to fix him

Tum Tum's thoughts were cut short by a large brick building. Only seven hours left of the first day of school.

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Haylie turned the volume knob until she could feel the floor beneath her vibrate. She hated complete silence. She was already late to her first day back to school. Being late never bothered Haylie. Being in a hurry was what she hated. Hurrying made people worry, be sloppy, and forget things. Moving at your own pace was her solution to many problems. She threw her light brown hair into a pony tail. The loose curls flung around as she moved her head. She never bothered with make-up, so she threw on a pair of jeans, a comfortable shirt, and her boots. She grabbed her green bag and shoved a soft back purple binder in it. It was an attempt to look like she was slightly prepared for her senior year in the prison some liked to call a high school.

Her bag fell from her grasp when she reached for her ipod. Silently, she thanked her stereo for being so loud. It kept her from hearing the echo. Sadness welled up within her when ever the emptiness of the huge house carried an echo. It reminded her how alone she was. Looking at the clock, Haylie realized that second period was probably just starting. Covering her ears with head phones and dropping her ipod into her bag she walked to school. Already anxious for the last bell to ring.

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Colt's stomach growled as he tapped the end of his cheap ball point pen on the edge of his desk. The bell for lunch was about to ring. Forty-five seconds he thought. He was oblivious to anything his new teacher was saying. He had gotten bored with the first five minutes of his first teacher's speech. Twenty seconds. The teacher had stopped talking and was walking back to his desk when the bell rang. Colt grabbed his backpack as he bolted for the door.

Everyone was trying to get to the cafeteria. The pace was slow because of the congested hallways. Across the hallway Colt could see Rocky. As usual he was surrounded by his group of friends. Colt couldn't understand how Rocky could put up with all of the attention all the time. But in his head Colt thought about how it would feel to get some kind of attention. People seemed afraid of him because he was quick to lose his temper. Being feared never bothered him, but he still wanted someone to talk to. He pushed his thoughts to the back of his mind when the aroma of food reached him. The growl in his stomach reminded him how hungry he was. When he got in the lunch line a sudden depression hit him at the sight of the food. He had forgotten how bad it was. Half-heartedly he picked up a meat that looked like it was edible and dropped it onto his tray. Everything else he passed, he couldn't identify, until he got to the mashed potatoes.

"You might want to get gravy with those." Colt looked behind him to see a chubby blonde girl already eating some of the food on her tray. She continued between bites despite his silence. "Taste them."

He gave her a questioning look but his curiosity made him take a bite of the potatoes. "They're freezing," He said with disappointment.

"Gravy," she repeated. Looking at the gravy he saw the steam and drowned his mashed potatoes in it.

After paying for his lunch, Colt went to sit down not realizing that he ran straight into someone. The someone happened to be Mark Lagdon, the same guy that got Colt in trouble every year. Mark had always picked fights with Colt. He enjoyed fighting almost as much as Colt did. "Watch where you're going pony boy," Mark's unoriginal comment spurred immediate laughter with his group of followers.

"You walked right in front of me!" Colt was beginning to itch for a fight. The only fights he had been in lately were with a blue punching bag that he no longer had.

"Are you saying it's my fault you're blind?" Mark moved closer, daring Colt to hit him.

Colt didn't back down, "Do it," he said through clenched teeth, his anger apparent in his voice. The familiar feeling of adrenaline started to run through his body. Mark would fight him. He always did.

Not failing to meet his standards, Mark lunged forward knocking Colt's lunch tray out of his way. Colt thrust his arm forward to throw a punch - right before he heard a scream.

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Haylie had stopped in the school's library before she made her way to the cafeteria. Her first class and she already had a book to get through. The first page had completely confused her. She squinted at the words, trying to make sense of them as she walked. Not understanding the first paragraph Haylie moved on to the second when a burning pain seared through her arm.

"OOWW!" she cried out as she dropped the book. She grabbed her arm; her hand became covered in a thick watery substance. She quickly looked at her hand. Gravy? It was burning hot. Desperately, Haylie tried to brush the hot gravy off her smoldering arm.

Colt looked at the girl who had screamed. Her arm right above her elbow was turning bright red. He looked back at Mark. Evidently he had run back to his group of followers so all the blame would go to Colt. He couldn't help but feel bad. He meant to hurt Mark not some girl who was walking by. Colt stood frozen. He didn't know what to do.

When Haylie had wiped most of the gravy off she grabbed the burn trying to make the heat leak out of her skin. When the pain started to let go of her mind she looked around to see what had happened. There were mashed potatoes and gravy all over the floor next to an overturned lunch tray. Looking up Haylie saw a guy staring at her as if he was trying to figure out what to say.

"What happened?" the words flew out of her mouth quickly, giving them a hint of frustration. "I..uh," Colt tried to quickly think of something believable, "tripped," he finished.

"You tripped." Haylie repeated, not believing his story.

"Yeah..and the tray just flew out of my hands."

Haylie quickly looked around - the cafeteria floor was tile and they were in the middle of an aisle with no tables around. "What did you trip on?"

'Jeez why did she have to be so complicated' Colt thought. 'It wasn't like I meant to cover her with gravy – smoldering gravy.'

"It was ah…" his voice died out again and he ran his hand through his hair, but it didn't help him come up with something to say, "Let me bring you to the nurse." He quickly walked past her before she could she could say anything else, grabbed her unburned arm and pulled her along.

"I'll be fine," she tried to pull her arm away, but couldn't get it from Colt's strong hold.

"Well maybe you'll have to wait there and be late to third period," the excuse was good enough to make Colt want to go.

"But what about that," she looked behind her at the mess that was on the cafeteria floor.

"The janitors will get it."

"I don't need to go to the nurse," Haylie planted her camel colored boots in the floor and pulled back her arm. This guy was starting to scare her. The first day of school was bad enough without getting dragged around by some creepy guy.

Colt was starting to lose his temper. He hadn't meant to hurt the girl but she didn't need to get an attitude about him trying to help her. Even if he was only trying to help her because he couldn't think of a lie quick enough.

She backed away from him, aware of the fact that they were the only ones in the hallway. "I'll just go to the bathroom and wash it off," she silently begged for him to walk away and leave her alone.

"Whatever," he said rudely. His voice displayed his annoyance, despite that fact that he only said one word. He briskly walked past her back into the cafeteria.

Haylie let out a breath she had been holding. He acted like he was going to lose it and go off on her. He was the one that had hurt her! The more she thought about it the more frustrated she became. The first day of school didn't seem promising. She got to the bathroom and dropped the dark green bag to her feet. The cold water on her arm numbed the pain. The frustration she felt dissipated.

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AN: Let me know what you think! I'll continue if people are interested, so let me know if I should post another chapter.