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Short Story 40

Little Mother

Today is the day I’ll finally know what brick tastes like. The ground was coming too fast for me to buffer my fall. When I hit, my hands were the first to make contact followed quickly by my face. Sure enough, I was able to confirm what suspicion would have told anyone it didn’t taste good.

I lay there quite defeated. The palms of my hands were oozing blood, and thanks to a miss placed gap in my teeth, I had managed to bite into my cheek which added that last thread of insult to injury.

The boys who did this didn’t look back, they said nothing. Six-year-old me looked up from the brick lane with not a word to express my utter dejection at being treated like a ball in a game of keep away and then thrown to the ground no better than a meaningless sphere of rubber.

It was a long walk home that afternoon. Mom was supposed to be shopping and dad was at work. It was summer, the sky and surrounding environment reminded me of that the whole way home. Streamers of blood trickled down into my socks from my knees, which had received their own brutal gashes in my tremulous descent.

I reached the house without noticing, my sore body finding its way of its own accord. I was in a word, demoralized and beyond recognition. It is difficult for a boy of six to rationalize such extreme maltreatment, especially with such limited 20/20 vision on how things might have happened differently. How my little person might have prevented or supplanted the situation altogether.

It was the porch door that told me where I was and that loud screaming call of my sister from the top of the steps, “What happened to you?”

She was ten, with long fair hair and palpable gray-blue eyes. I don’t know why but the moment I laid eyes on her tears began to squirt from my eyes. A small second mother, she bounded down the steps wrapping her arms around my shoulders.

“Tell me right now who did this to you.”

Her voice was a wrathful flame against my suffering. I couldn’t think of telling her. Rudolph Atherton was a huge child of eight. He was a bully and had the weight to throw around to keep other kids from doing a thing against him. I had this horrible feeling that if I told her she would go and confront him, and if she did, that he would leave black and blue marks all around her eyes. He was also known for pulling out chunks of hair from the girls who dare stand up to him. He functioned completely on a policy of gender equality.

“I fell.” Was my pathetic and unconvincing answer.

“You fell indeed,” She always talked like our mother when she was upset, “You tell me who hurt you right now Harry and don’t you lie to me. Lying is a sin you know.”

That thought choked my small boyhood heart. A sin. I hadn’t realized. I had been so lost in trying to keep my sister from going that coming to the knowledge that I was doing something so terrible was more excruciating than my drying gashes.

She extended me at arm’s length and looked down in my tear smudged face, “Now you tell me right now, was it Rudy Atherton who did this?”

I don’t know what possessed me, I felt my eyes go to the size of silver dollars and my head nod, gigantic crocodile tears joining the streaks all along my cheeks.

“Now, now, Harry no more crying.” Like the little mother that she was, she sopped up my tears with a handkerchief she just so happened to have in the front pockets of her overalls, “You wipe your face now and go inside.”

“Aren’t you coming, Maggy?”

“I’ll come in a minute, you go inside, now and wash your hands.”

Fifteen minutes passed before I saw my sister again. Her hair, which had been in pretty braids was rustled and disorganized. There was some dirt on her face, but the intense expression of satisfaction that had burrowed itself into her cheeks exuding from her eyes was something of a mystery.

Before our mother returned, she had all my wounds cleaned. Upon seeing me, our mother had asked what happened. My sister was the one to answer that someone had been picking on me, but she took care of it. I didn’t know what that meant until the next day when I so happened to run into Rudolph. He looked as if he had a run in with a rabid racoon. There were scratches all over his face and bruises, even small patches of hair had been ripped out and quite noticeably so. When he saw me he turned and went as quickly the other way as his legs could take him. I was left in a cloud of dust produced by his stocky legs.

Maggy was smug when I told her about this later on at supper. She wouldn’t say what had happened, her lips were as sealed as those of Rudolph. No boy of almost nine wanted to admit they were beaten up by a girl smaller than them, at least not at the time. As for her, her victory in and of itself was the most sumptuous blackmail to keep him from ever going near her younger brother again.

It was all quite fantastic to me at the time. What was even more so was that my parents, after hearing the story, presented my sister with an extra slice of pie for desert that night. A victory slice well earned.


Thank you so much for reading everyone!!

Prompt Sentence: Today is the day I’ll finally know what brick tastes like.

Word Count: 952

©DecemberKnight 2023

Special thanks to Volodymyr Hryshchenko from Unsplash for the use of the image!

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