Last day of junior high school. He had waited for it. He had made some solemn vows over the course of three years, not the least of which concerned his lunch box. His mind traveled back to the sunny summer afternoon before seventh grade. He had admired his masterwork in the light coming through the window: a flying pig, a seal with a propeller for a tail. One end had a bullet shaped man with drooping eyes and enormous hands. His name swirled across the front. It was his lunch box.
He had used enamel paint, and almost three years later, even with daily insertion and removal from his backpack the graphics remained sharp and intact. So did the memories of abuse. After the first day of ridicule, he could have left it at home, but he promised himself then that he would carry his lunch in that bucket every day of his junior high career. He was called a retard, a baby, a fairy, a nerd, a geek. That rolled off. He rarely flinched when the bigger kids pulled their punches - still he invariably got "two for flinching." It made his resolve stronger.
By eighth grade he made the wrestling team (B-mat), and track (shot put and discus). The lunch box followed him on this adventure, and in ninth grade he was on the football team too - a three sport man. He still played in the band. And he carried a lunch box. He had a close circle of friends - none of whom carried their lunch to school.
That last day, as lunch was ending and his friends heading inside for yearbook distribution, he paused at the end of the soccer field. The sun came down through a cloudless sky to remind him of summer's approach. He set the lunch box down, carefully removing the thermos bottle and setting it aside. Closing the lid and flipping the latches shut, he closed his eyes and turned his face to the sun. He jumped in the air and landed squarely, both feet on the lunch box, flattening it. The bell rang as he opened his eyes. He was alone with the black metal pancake that had held his food for three years. Picking up the thermos with one hand and peeling the lunch box from the grass with the other, he walked a few steps to the trash can at the end of the bike rack and pitched the hunk of painted metal. He hurried into the building carrying his thermos, on his way to get his ninth grade yearbook.