Her name is Jane.
She is eleven - a year or two older than me and, it seems, about
two feet taller. The tallest girl in the school. Dark haired, a
ponytail secured by pink plastic bobbles that make me think of bubblegum, or
sometimes swept back off her forehead and kept in place with an Alice band.
She always seemed nice. She taught my friends and me how to do
handstands and we all like her.
It's nearing the end of dinner-time and Ruth and I have been
playing with a skipping rope by the willow trees behind the
classroom. Ruth has gone inside to the toilet and now Mrs Rumbelow, the
dinner lady, has come out and rung the big brass bell, summoning everyone
back. I'm pulling my cardigan on and gathering up the skipping
rope while the other children head to the classrooms when Jane
appears in front of me. She starts pushing me. I think she's just playing - joking - but when I look up at her face her
eyes are black. My trust evaporates. She's smiling, but it isn't a kind smile, it's cruel.
Now my back is against the slim trunk of the willow tree; I feel small, weak. It's as if she has grown even taller. She grabs the skipping rope and starts tying it around the tree, and around
me. I feel it cut into my thighs as she pulls it tight. Wraps it round one time, wraps it round again, and then again. My eyes search the playground but nobody is there. Nobody to help me. My mind is flooding. All I can think, all I can feel, is hurt and
confusion and fear. The rope hurts. And I am confused by Jane, Jane
from Mrs Barker's class, Jane with the dark hair, tall nice
Jane, doing this to me, for no reason. I've never felt endangered
before. I plead. She taunts me, ridicules me. I wonder if I am going to die. Jane is going to tie me
to the tree and kill me.
She carries on pulling at the rope, contemplating knots, tight
knots. My hands are trapped behind my back. I wriggle.
She is definitely going to kill me.
So I kick her. It's a huge gamble. I've never kicked anyone.
Never hit, punched, thumped or struck anyone. I know it might make
it worse; then again, how much worse? So.... scared out of my wits, I kick her as hard as I
can. Really, really, really hard. I strike the most powerful,
violent blow to her bare bony shin that I possibly can. She
flinches. Stops. Visibly shocked, she seems to shrink. She drops the rope, turns around and runs... runs away, leaving me to wiggle out of the rope,
free myself and race, panting, back to the classroom.
I'm trembling. I feel amazing.
At school the next day she doesn't say a word. Neither do I. Nobody ever knew.