Rotten Egg

Lisa Korzeniowski

There is a boy at school we call Rotten Egg because that’s what he smells like. Some kids skip Rotten and just call him Egg, which he doesn’t seem to mind. Egg doesn’t believe in soap, says it strips the body of its natural oils. “Go to Europe,” Egg says, “nobody uses soap there.” None of us believe that Egg has ever even been to Europe. We squeeze our nostrils and hold our breath when Egg comes near. Look at us laughing at Egg. Look at us flicking him with our thumbs and middle fingers.

Egg says the black under his eye is from Magic marker, the bruises on his arms, from falling off his bed. “I like to jump up and down and touch the stars on my ceiling,” he says. “Sometimes I fall.” The teachers give Egg Hot Tamales and smiles and pats on the back. “Be nice to him,” they tell us, but still, we laugh at Egg’s big overalls and the food stuck in his teeth. Look at us running circles around Egg in the schoolyard, holding him back as we run towards the building, calling out, “Last one there is a rotten egg!”

Egg’s father shows up at school one day, walks right into the classroom and pulls Egg out of his seat. Egg’s father looks like Egg, only bigger with a bald head. Egg tells his father to get away from him, but Egg’s father keeps dragging Egg across the room. Some kids throw pencils, others shoot rubber bands at this man’s bald egg head. Look at us punching and kicking the face and arms and legs of the man who hurt our Egg. Look at us laughing in Egg’s father’s face as Egg tells us to knock it off already, to leave his father alone.

Lisa Korzeniowski fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, Heavy Feather Review, Maudlin House, X-R-A-Y Lit Mag, and elsewhere. She lives in Boston, MA.