Small fists punched the air as she went down. Aisha Esme Ahuja kicked up a cloud of fine brown earth from the dirt road when she landed flat on her back.
The boys laughed as they ran away.
It was an unpaved private street, planted on either side with trees. Her family own the west side, and her grandfather had planted the trees himself when he had come out to this country.
Aisha stood up, and dusted her dress as well as she could, then continued on home.
She made it a hundred yards before the tall boy, Seth Baren Williams, punched her in the back of the head. Aisha fell face forward. He had been hiding behind a tree on the west side of the road, and circled back behind the tree as she approached, like a squirrel. The short boy, Ephraim Gulden Williams, kicked dirt into her face when she was down.
Their family owned the fields on the east side. The road belonged as much to their family as hers.
Aisha tasted dirt and spat it up. By the time she got onto her feet, they were already running ahead.
There are many hundred yards in a mile.
By the end of it, Aisha would walk up to her house, one eye swollen closed, both lips split in three places. Half her hair pulled out. Knuckles and knees raw and bleeding. Yet triumphant.
The Williams boys, she thought through a cracked smile, would not walk home that final hundred yards. They would crawl.
The next day, she would not be molested on her long walk to school and back. Nor ever again.