Fifth grade, two kids would hold each other’s hands and the stronger would twist the weaker’s wrist until he cried Mercy, and even though I was bigger than the boys whose voices hadn’t yet cracked, even though I could’ve taken Vince Biagetti’s skinny arm and twisted it until he shrieked, I was learning to get hurt was holy; to cry Mercy was to be like Christ, who Mrs. McKinley said died so we could live, and during Lent we knelt and prayed, Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. In truth, I wanted to be not like Christ so much as like Mrs. McKinley, with her kind eyes and soft voice and beautiful cheekbones; who kept a photograph from the wedding on her desk: him, looking down at her and smiling; her, leaning into his arms, her lips parted in laughter, and that photograph was a small window into a life that I could only begin to glimpse, that seemed more sacred for my not knowing. And so the week Mrs. McKinley was out sick, I did not know what she was doing when I saw her in the supermarket, standing in front of the glass doors with chrome handles that opened to shelves of milk, doors like portals that reflected the store’s fluorescent lights and waxed linoleum, or why she was wearing sunglasses, but when I tapped her arm, and she turned, a deep violet ringed in yellow spread past the edges of her glasses, eye to temple. When I asked my mother what I had done to make her leave like that, what illness made an eye bruise so badly, she shook her head and patted my shoulder and asked what I wanted for dinner. Mercy, I said, but Vince Biagetti did not let go; Mercy, I said, but he only tightened his grip until the pain shot through my wrist and I screamed, Mercy, and the world went white with agony, and I heard a voice from somewhere far off scream, Stop!— and then he stopped, and released my hand, and stepped back, his face blank with shock, and I realized then that the voice had been my own voice, and Vince Biagetti held his hands suspended in the air, as though he had just realized they were his, as though he didn’t believe himself capable of doing what he’d already done.