Little deceptions (2): circling

Will Saddler sidled up to Alec. ‘D’you reckon you can win?’

‘Win what?’

‘The fight. You and Shane.’

A fight? Maybe Alec had said some stupid things. But Shane had stolen Maeve—that’s how it felt. It hurt worse than he could explain.

Lenora leant across. ‘No one ever fights over me.’ She handed him the note.

After school, behind the art room. Unless you’re chicken.

‘I hope you win,’ said Lenora.

Maeve’ll go with whoever wins,’ said Will.

‘Yeah. How can I beat Shane Penrose.’ Alec kicked at the dust.

They paced circles within the circling crowd until someone yelled ‘get on with it,’ and Shane charged. Smack. The first punch split Alec’s lip. The next cut his cheek. Shane kneed him in the guts. All Alec could do was stay standing. If he fell he’d be murdered. As his head swung from the next strike he caught sight of Maeve, screaming in the middle of a group of girls. He lifted his fist and swung round like a discuss thrower.

The blow caught Shane flush on his nose. He went down like a wet sack. Through the blood in his eyes Alec watched her run to his fallen rival.

‘A lucky punch,’ he heard her say. ‘Just a lucky punch.’

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (