SHORT STORY: Oh, what respect a fist brings!

Friday April 3 2020

The bully’s lips were curled, her nostrils

The bully’s lips were curled, her nostrils flared with every breath, her hands were balled into fists and immediately, Bri dropped any notion she had of trying to reason with her. They were going to fight. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGA | NMG 

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Bri’s eyes fluttered open as a sneaky ray of sunlight broke through her curtains that were being slightly lifted by a gentle breeze, landing squarely on her face. She nuzzled her pillow, arching her body this way and that, then sat up, a huge yawn distorting her elfishly pretty features.

“Huh,” she sighed, more excited than nervous as she stretched her arms out wide, “Well, today’s…”

She was cut off by her alarm going off, and she swung herself off her bed to switch it off. Putting her alarm over on the other side of her room was one sure way to never over-sleep, and she couldn’t today, it was her…

“Bri, honey are you up?” her mum was at her door, knocking softly.

“Yes, morning!”

“Good, you don’t want to be late today…I’ll get your breakfast.”


Bri quickly got herself ready, nibbled at her breakfast what with the butterflies doing a crazy dance in her tummy, then they were off. The drive there was slow with morning traffic, but they’d had an early start and weren’t pressed for time, so her mum leafed through the day’s newspaper and Bri indulged in her favourite pastime, people watching.

There were a good deal of interesting characters this morning, and she especially enjoyed the antics of one bus tout who seemed to have started his morning off with something a bit....strong for breakfast. Her spirits were high as they pulled up in front of a dull looking, grey, squat building with a large, dusty courtyard stretching into the distance on the left.

“Well,” her mum shut off the car and turned to her, a worried look in her eyes that she was trying unsuccessfully to mask with a shaky smile, “Do you want me to come in?”

“No mum, I’ll be fine,” Bri’s voice was steady, and her gaze held her mothers, reassuring her, “I’m not scared at all.”

That was a bit of a lie, she was mortified as she walked through the imposing double doors and found herself staring down a large, currently empty corridor with countless doors on either side. Slipping her diary out of her bag to confirm where she was going, she set off down the corridor, found her destination, inhaled deeply and knocked on the door.

“Ah, you must be Brianna,” a kindly face met her as the door swung open and she was ushered into the bright room, “Class, this is Brianna, she’s the new student I was telling you about. Let’s all make her feel welcome, alright?” The teacher smiled down at Bri and parked her in a vacant spot.

The morning flew by, the lessons were so simple Bri wondered if this was the right class. A sharp, naturally quick mind had allowed her to skip two years ahead, but even now as she sat here amongst older students, she still felt out of place.

Trying hard not to show off, though she’d been picked several times by the teachers to answer questions, and she’d been right every time.

fter lunch, there were more classes then to end the day, an hour of quiet study time; supervised by a balding and slightly overweight teacher who dozed off immediately he sat down. “Psst, hey!” a girl sitting two rows away threw Bri a note, a nasty smile, more a sneer, on her face.

The note read simply, ‘Are you a chicken? Yes/No’ and Bri was perplexed only for a moment, quickly deciding this was some sort of foolish joke and pointedly ignored the girl’s sneer. Ticking ‘No’ and adding a smiley emoji to try defuse the situation, if there even was one, she tossed the paper back and continued with her work until the bell rang.

Grabbing her bag, Bri found herself moved along with the masses that spilled suddenly, like a torrential downpour on a quiet summer evening, out into the corridor and onto the courtyard. The day was waning now, golden sunlight painting the sparse tufts of grass on the ground, a bright, effervescent green. Bri smiled inwardly, ‘that wasn’t so bad now was it?’ she thought as she skipped off to find somewhere to wait for her mum.

“Wrong answer smarty pants!”

Bri found herself sprawled on the dusty courtyard, tripped mid-skip by the girl who’d thrown her the note.

“Wrong answer! You are a chicken!”

The bully dived at her, aiming a vicious kick but Bri had already recovered herself enough to roll away. Leaping to her feet and discarding her bag in one swoop, Bri shook herself and faced the mean faced girl. The bully’s lips were curled, her nostrils flared with every breath, her hands were balled into fists and immediately, Bri dropped any notion she had of trying to reason with her. They were going to fight.

Already, a circle had formed around them, the tension and excitement so intense it was as if the wind stilled, as the kids jostled silently for a better look at what was about to happen. Suddenly, the bully came at Bri, grabbing for her with one arm, a fist raised high to pummel her. Bri was no fighter, but she was quick.

Ducking, feinting left then right, darting this way and that, she was managing to evade all the bully’s attacks but she was getting irritated. What was this all about anyway? That she was smarter than most of them? Well, if this was the only way she’d earn their respect...Bri flexed her fingers, waited for the bully to come at her again, then swung her fist and using the other girls own momentum, knocked her down and left her dazed in the dust.


“Bri! What happened to your hand?” her mum’s eyes were round and full of alarm.

Bri looked down at her purple knuckles, remembering how the other students had whistled and clapped her on the back after the fight. At least now she’d not be bothered anymore. However, right now she had her mother to contend with.

“Brianna (full name meant trouble), answer me right now.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes, dreaming up scenarios and explanations which all fell short. She was smart, but she wasn’t smart enough to get out of this one.