The sixth story in my short story collection Remember Me To The Bees is Rabbit Hunt, which tells the tale of schoolyard bullying, from the bully’s point of view.
The artwork is by Louise Boulter.
I originally wrote these scenes as part of a novel, but lifted them out to create this short story. I often find that doing this – taking scenes from a novel-in-progress and revising them to suit the short story form – tightens and strengthens them, ready to be reinserted into the longer storytelling form.
In this story, I wanted to explore the feelings of the bully faced with a new potential victim, in this case a progressive mute, and how the bully’s emotions might become confused through their interaction.
A short excerpt from Rabbit Hunt
Sue and Abi loiter nearby – ready to grab Rabbit if she tries to break away.
“Why d’you do that, Rabbit?” Letty asks, trying to sound reasonable. “Why get us in trouble like that? Didn’t I try to be your mate? Why turn on me when all I’ve been is nice?”
Letty widens her eyes reproachfully and the girl shrugs her shoulders ever so slightly. The movement shifts Letty’s palm from her arm and Letty scowls, slapping both hands onto her shoulders and knocking her backwards against the trunk of an old oak.
“Why couldn’t you just take the blame for us?” she snarls, fury crackling through her. “What harm would that have done? Worst you’d have had is a telling off. Me, I’ve got a letter for my mum that’s going to ruin her week, and Sue and Abi have the same. What’d you rat on us for? We’re in deep shit, and all because you weren’t mate enough to take the blame.”
“Smack her one, Letty,” Abi says, edging closer. “Whack her in the face and give her a nosebleed. It’s not like she’s going to tell on us, is it?”“I could do that.” Letty narrows her eyes in a way that she hopes makes the rabbit feel like she’s being sized up by a hungry cat. “Or I could do something a bit more lasting.”
She lets go of one of Rabbit’s shoulders and takes a cheap lighter from her pocket. Still eyeing the girl, she fingers the lighter, stroking her thumb over the red plastic and trying to look menacing.
Abi nods eagerly. “Oh, yes! We haven’t done a branding in ages!”
That does the trick. The girl gasps for air, body twitching as fear spikes through her.