Boj met Golda, his Golda, in their sixth grade year. She was still a head taller than he and had a much deeper voice in those days. A year or two would correct both those situations but, even as a prepubescent sixth grader, he knew at once she would be the love of his life. From this certainty Boj never wavered.
Golda served as his Amazon Protectoress at first. Boj spent too much time indoors, far too much time in his books and needed his inhaler just for his walk to school. He was near-sighted, as he would be until corrective surgery after his fortieth year of life. His thick glasses, snotty nose and diffident, bookish manner invited assault.
Boj could not run well, either. He got beaten up a lot.
In fact, one group of young miscreants committed themselves to making Boj's school term miserable. They were in his class, but older. Each of them had been held back at least once. Boj started to call them "The Left Back Gang," to himself. He allowed himself this small revenge, since the cretins knocked him down at least once a day, either on the way to or from school or on the playground. He accepted this as part of his daily routine; wake up, dress, eat breakfast, go to school, get knocked down and kicked. Somehow, it seemed to be the kind of thing that happened to bookish, myopic little geeks like Boj.
He was good, this Boj at the kind of compartmentalizing acceptance that made him the perfect victim. In fact, he became the best victim anyone ever could know; compliant, complacent, contrite. He acted, some thought, as though he deserved his fate.
One day, lying in the dust of the playground, suffering under another whipping, Boj felt the blows that were his daily lot stop early. He knew from long experience how many blows he should expect before the usual group of thugs grew tired of pummeling him. He learned to fall at the first blow, no matter how glancing, curl into a ball and roll back and forth while feet and fists sought his soft tissues. Twenty or so good kicks and two dozen hard shots at his back, chest and kidneys were about what he got. He fell, covered and rolled, not ever trying to rise or uncover until his attackers spent themselves on his prostrate form.
They usually had some parting words for him as well.
"Stay in the dirt, four-eyes," one ordered him.
"You're a nothing," another assessed.
"What a wuss," the ring-leader usually said, and laughed.
He tried not to look up at them until he was reasonably certain they were through with him. He did not trust his hearing much more than his sight. The first thing they tore off him, of course, were his glasses, which he usually found after a period of groping on his knees in the schoolyard dirt.
The Day of Days, the Day of Golda, the Huntress-Warrior, Boj's beating stopped before he quite had the wind knocked out of him. His glasses were gone, his shirt torn a bit and his pants hung somewhat lower than his overwhelming modesty would have permitted under other circumstances but he could still breathe easily when all the Left-Back Gang stopped hitting and kicking him.
Boj stayed down, covered as best he could with smallish, whited hands, but no one said a word. After a moment he opened his eyes, tentatively, and looked out past his fingers. He could not see much, of course, but Boj could tell the form standing over him was alone.
"I found your glasses," a deep, girl's voice said. "Pull your pants up a little higher."
Boj did as he she suggested. She handed him his glasses. Boj fumbled reaching for them, knocked them from her hand once and then sat still while she placed them on his head after she retrieved them the second time. Golda was very patient with Boj.
Finally, pants repositioned, breath taken, glasses set firmly on his nose, Boj squinted up at his rescuer.
For the first time ever, Boj saw Golda with the sun in her face. She had shoulder length brown-blonde hair, a thin, graceful neck, her face lightly sun freckled. She wore a sun dress, lacy socks and black, little girl, buckled, patent leather shoes. She also wore the most determined look he had ever seen on a human being.
"I don't think those punks will bother you again," she said, looking past him.
Boj followed her gaze to where the four boys who beat him almost every day stood, nursing their Golda-inflicted wounds. One had a rapidly swelling left eye, two others were scratched about the chest and necks just above their torn shirts. The leader boy was bent over, searching desperately for oxygen that did not seem available to his lungs at that moment, or for several more.
"I watched it as long as I could stand," Golda told Boj. She grabbed his hand, as he sat on still on the ground fidgeting about with his glasses and pulled him up to his feet. She straightened his shirt for him and dusted him off down to his belt, where she stopped, out of concern for his feelings. All the while she looked down into his eyes, reassuring him as best she could with her smile.
A girl never knows when she has done the right thing for a boy, or too much, or not quite the right thing yet. Boys are temperamental and their pride is easily hurt.
"Enough was enough," Golda told Boj.
"Still," she said, "until you get bigger or those punks get themselves shipped off somewhere, you better walk to school with me."
She snarled suddenly at the beaten Left-Back Gang and they jumped. Golda's snarl became a sneer. The boys had been warned.
She laughed, lightly, mockingly, just loud enough the Left Behind Gang could hear. They were told.
Boj felt a dreadful inner ache. He sincerely, desperately, intensely hoped he would never grow another inch. He prayed for his attackers, "Lord, give them long life and strong hands. Let them pursue me every day I live."
Boj really meant this prayer, his first heart-felt supplication of the Deity.
Boj, you see, was very much in love.
He was in her care.