#248 Members of the Same Club

by Julie Lees

The first blow came as a shock. The second less so as my arms shot up arching over a beleaguered head: a shield to protect my face.

‘Stop it!’

A shout broke free of the crowd, the attacker momentarily distracted.

Enough time to escape?

A school bag fell from troubled fingers: red, grazed, swelling. I crouched to retrieve it and felt the first kick. Then a white flash of a trainer; the stench of rancid milk; liquid like tooth fillings on my tongue.

Drifting high above the curled dot of flesh writhing on the playground tarmac, I watched the blue bruises form on my skin like our planet’s isolated lakes, as viewed from space. Girls gathered around my broken frame: screaming, chanting, laughing.

Hold on a little longer. It will be over soon.

My ears filled with white noise. My brain throbbed. No time for weeping.

I climbed inside my protective, invisible shell and travelled to that special place: impervious, restorative, redemptive.


The menace in the threat gave me courage. Prising open a hooded eye, I looked in to the face of my assailant and saw something familiar... fear. Our common bond.

‘Coming, dad.’

I watched them go. The bully and her bully.

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