Sticks and Stones – a 500-word flash fiction story

‘But, Mum. I hate it at school.’

‘Not this again, Simone. Just climb down and eat your fruit. Do you have to make such a mess?’

Simone didn’t seem bothered by the peel scattered around the breakfast table. ‘I really hate school. All the other girls tease me.’

‘What do I keep telling you: Sticks and stones …’

‘You always say that, Mum. But it’s horrible. They say nasty stuff about my arms.’

‘But you have such nice … long arms. Slender. Strong, yet very becoming of a young lady. I’m very envious.’

Simone rolled back a sleeve of her school shirt to prove Mum wrong. ‘Not when they’re covered in thick black hair, they’re not. It’s all right for you. Yours are lovely and smooth.’

‘Oh Darling, they are jealous of you too. Take all the cups you won at sports day last week. A new school running record of 28mph, and the PE mistress said she’d never had a girl so adept at climbing the wall bars. Young girls can get competitive. Just understand that you are better than them at games, and some of them won’t like it.’

‘Maybe, but I’m rubbish at everything else. The girls snigger in English lessons when the teacher shouts, ‘How am I to teach this child the joys of grammar when she cannot even hold a pen properly?‘  I do try, Mum, honest, but my fingers are so much shorter than everyone else’s.’

‘Look, Simone. It’s tough for everyone at school at times. But if you are kind when others are not, and stay true to yourself, then you will make friends and before you know it, be the most popular girl in class.’

‘But I am kind, I’d give anyone my last banana, yet all the girls pick on me.’

‘I know what, darling. Let’s invite some of them round at the weekend – to make friends?’

‘No way, Mum. That would make it worse. Dad would be so embarrassing. Even you said he was a disgrace at that tea party, and he’s bound to do his party thing as he calls it, in front of them.’

‘Hmm, maybe you’re right.’

‘Am right. God only knows what the girls would do to me at school if he spends the day going apeshit, throwing ape shit and waggling his big red bum at them.’

‘Simone!  No swearing. Where did you learn such language?’


‘You shouldn’t be so rude about your father. You know perfectly well his bottom issues are called ischial calluses and he can’t help them swelling every month.’

‘So, its poor Dad now, is it?  I don’t know what you ever saw in him, Mum. Really I don’t.’

‘Ah, your father was different from all the other boys,’ she said, and her mind wandered back to that unspoken night of passion in the zoo after she’d been inadvertently locked in the monkey house.

Then she stood up in the sink and preened herself like all self-respecting penguins do.




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