Sunday, April 12, 2020

Be Gentle by Leanne Dyck (short story)

How do you express strength?


photo by ldyck

Be Gentle


We sat around the supper table and before Mom passed the potatoes, we said our prayer to God. When I unfolded my hands, unbowed my head, and opened my eyes, Dad held me in his stern gaze, "Remember, Penny, be nice, be kind, be gentle."

Each night, after my prayers, I recited, "Be nice, be kind, be gentle."

Each morning, before I opened my eyes, "Be nice, be kind, be gentle."

But, at school, she waited for me in the girls' bathroom. She stood hidden from the teachers on the other side of the door. "Where do you think you're going?" She demanded. "You. You can pee in your pants."

"Please," I begged.

"No." Hard. "Unless..." Softer. 

My need grew.

She held out her hand. "A quarter."

I gave her money day after day after--. Be nice, be kind, be--.

I closed my eyes. And it was there. I could no longer contain it. The bully was pushed to the floor. Blood dripped from her nose. After that day the bathroom was always free.

I walked home from school every day. He waited for me maybe behind a tree, maybe... It doesn't matter. Wherever. All that is important was that he was suddenly there. Him and I were alone. Was school... Was home... Was life hard for him? He took it out on me. He threw my school books in the bushes, my pencil case in the ditch. Day after day after--. Be nice, be kind, be--. I could no longer contain it. The bully got scared and ran away. He never waited for me again after that day. 

But at home, Dad looked at me with such disappointment. "Be nice. Be kind," he said with sad eyes. "Be gentle."

I knew he knew what I'd done. I knew word had spread.

"Why?" It wasn't a question. It was an accusation. "I tried to teach you a better way, but you didn't listen. Strength. Real strength isn't in letting it out. It's in finding a peaceful solution to your problems." He held me in his arms. "And now we  have no other choice," he told me. "We have to move. We have to start all over again somewhere else."

It was my fault. I'd been weak. I'd let it out.

If we'd stayed they would have come for us with torches, with pitchforks. And so we fled. We were monsters; we had no choice. 

I wrote this story too early on Tuesday, January 28. It was inspired by thoughts of Easter.

More...

Book suggestion:  


Edited by Derek Newman-Stille

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Next Sunday evening...


photo by ldyck

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Sharing my author journey...

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He read the slogan on her button, 'I practice physical distancing.'

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