Manuel looks at himself in the mirror after having a rough night sleeping.
His Chihuahua kept him awake with her barking. She’s still a puppy. Her name is Rosy.
Rosy’s greatest accomplishment to date is tearing up the family couch when no one was around.
She dug at the bolsters until downy feathers exploded into the air and took flight.
His uncle told him, “Be patient with her. Give her cheese.”
Manuel just started high school after barely passing middle school.
So far he likes high school since there are no food fights during lunch.
In middle school there were always food fights.
He remembers students walking out of the cafeteria with milk painting their arms white.
He remembers a donut flying through the air and smacking a girl in the face.
He remembers her standing up and screaming and throwing her milk at the boy who did it.
Milk sprayed everywhere. Some even landed on his food.
He couldn’t finish his lunch because of this splotch of milk. It grossed him out.
Manuel didn’t like middle school, but so far high school is great by comparison.
It’s hard for him to understand subjects like Algebra and English. This is expected.
Since he can remember he hasn’t learned how to read or write or add big numbers, but he has never failed a class.
While his teachers don’t seem impressed with his performance, none of them hold him back to teach him what he needs to know.
Manuel moves forward through the public school system as if he were actually learning something.
From elementary school to middle school to high school, he moves forward only to get out of his teachers’ hair.
Manuel slips through cracks.
If asked, Manuel will say he wants to eventually get a job at Game Stop.
Manuel doesn’t know what’s required to work at Game Stop, but he thinks he’d like working there.
Today in school, tired as hell, a girl says “I hate Chihuahuas” when he tells her he has a Chihuahua.
Immediately Manuel gets serious and tells her, “I don’t use that word.”
The girl looks at him.
Manuel says, “That word is like a curse word.”
The girl looks at him all bossy, her chin point to the ceiling.
Manuel says, “It’s a curse word. Don’t use that word.”
It doesn’t bother him that she hates the breed of dog he has.
It bothers him that she uses that word, hate, to express her feelings regarding anything.
Manuel is a ninth grader who doesn’t use the word hate.
He understand what it means. He can imagine it. Therefore he refuses to use it.
Manuel’s heart is bigger than his brain.
His moral compass is intact.
His intuition doesn’t tell him much about anything, but he knows what’s wrong and what’s right.
He knows not to use the word hate.
How is it that brains much more able than Manuel’s treat hate as if it were innocuous?