“Moutainview” by James Russell from Saints and Sinners 2013: New Fiction from the Festival (Bold Strokes Books).

Full disclosure: I have a story in this anthology.

Nick has just started eighth grade, and it’s going to be another long year because of Kyle, the bully who seems intent on making Nick’s life hell. He calls him names, throws things at him on the bus, and generally shoves him around. With one exception the adults in Nick’s world are either clueless, absent or indifferent. Nick wishes he could just stay within the safety of his bedroom all the time, playing video games and reading.

The day on which the story takes place starts of no differently than any other. On the bus Kyle assaults him with a rude drawing; a little later Nick overhears the guy in the bathroom, going off to his best friend Paul about exactly why he despises Nick. Nick’s very surprised when he hears Paul try to reason with the brute, and defend him. That’s only the first of several surprising events the day holds, however. I won’t give away what those other things are, but because of them Nick’s perspective starts to shift from that of a self-centered adolescent to one of an adult.