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The Curse of Giants

Jose Iriarte is a Cuban-American writer and high school math teacher living in EPCOT with his wife Lisa and their two teenage kids. He writes because he can't afford therapy. His fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Grantville Gazette, Fireside Fiction, and other venues. Learn more at his website: labrynthrat.com.

The curse of giants is to never fit in.
At school the other kids try to make me lose control, because they know I'll put on a show for them. They call me Dumbass Danny. They laugh when I lose my breath and can't keep up at phys ed. They kick me when nobody's looking. They don't let me sit with them at lunch.
I try to ignore them like the teachers tell me, but they keep going and eventually I give in and go on a rampage. I knock over chairs and tables, pull books off the shelves, kick the globe. Giant stuff.
"I think Danny's acting out," the teacher tells my parents, later, when we're all in the principal's office. "But why?"
I feel the walls closing in as everybody stares down at me, looking for answers. If I don't get out soon, I will be crushed.
"The boy's just never fit in," my father says. "No reason for it."
The curse of giants is to be clumsy.
I try to walk lightly, make no noise, but I'm easily startled. I hear a TV switch off or a door close somewhere in the house and I jump. Things break when a giant jumps. Things like a glass of milk, lying on the floor now, tiny shards glinting like diamonds amid white liquid.
"Goddamnit boy!" my father roars, and my stomach lurches. I throw myself into the cleanup and hope it's enough.
The curse of giants is to not know why.
Mom winces when I ask if I was born this way, stupid and clumsy. She hugs me and kisses the top of my head and tells me there's nothing wrong with me, but that's obviously not true.
She looks sad afterward, and I think about how painful it must be to give birth to a giant. That was a dumb question to ask. I'm sorry for making her unhappy, but I don't know what to say to make it better, so I say nothing at all.
Giants always make things worse when they open their mouths.
The curse of giants is nothing works.
I think maybe bigger clothes will help. I wear baggy things. I wear long sleeves. I always wear pants, never shorts. Even for phys ed, I never take off my clothes.
I try to be small when I sit. I try to be invisible. I hunch over, arms crossed, and don't make a peep. It doesn't work at school: sooner or later someone leans over and flicks my ear or hits me with a spitball or passes me a note with DOUCHEBAG scrawled on it in thick black lead.
It doesn't work at home, either.
The curse of giants is you can't hold back the fire.
I have to get an agenda signed by my teacher every day saying whether I was good or not. Today Max Connors bumps me hard in the hallway. I see it coming, see the hate in his eyes as he angles toward me. I try to avoid it but I can't because I'm a giant and when you're a giant you can't avoid things no matter how hard you try. He rams his shoulder into my already bruised chest and mutters "Pussy" and I rampage again.
For the rest of the day my insides quake. I think about losing the note on the way home, but that will only make it worse. And so in the end I simply give the sheet to my father when he demands it.
The tendons in his neck stick out like ropes. "Jesus Christ, boy," he says, reaching for his belt.
The curse of giants is you can't hide from the things that hurt you, so you have no choice but to face them.
The blessing of giants is being brave.
I'm not supposed to say anything, but the next day I walk into the office and ask to speak to the principal. When she closes the door, I pull up my shirt.
I think: you don't scare me anymore, Dad.
I'm a goddamn giant.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, March 7th, 2016

Author Comments

"The Curse of Giants" was written for a Codex Writers Group flash fiction contest, where the prompt was to choose a very typical Big Fat Fantasy Novel title and write a story that took it in an unexpected direction. I had been struggling for days to write a story for a different prompt, changed to this one at the last minute, and this story came pouring out in no time. I'm starting to realize that the only stories that are worth writing are the ones that get me fired up.

- Jose Pablo Iriarte
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