Ruby by Didi Wood


At recess Hunter cried, “Release the hounds!” and a pack of boys charged after Ruby, which was fun for a bit and then not so fun, as she rounded the slide for the seventh time. Fingers grasped at her sleeves, caught in her hair, and then she stumbled and her palms skidded across the pavement and they were on her, bumping and shoving and pinching and grabbing. Her hands were aflame and she kept trying to stand but there were so many of them and they dragged her down and where was Mrs. Carney? Why wasn’t Mrs. Carney helping?

And then Hunter was in front of her, cackling, his t-shirt pushed up and his pants sagging, and before she knew what she was doing, Ruby bit him on the ass.

To be honest, it wasn’t really on the ass – more the fleshy part of his back, just above his waistband – but she liked saying “on the ass” and that’s what she did, every time she recounted the story to a new audience, ten, twenty, thirty years later. It always got a laugh and that’s why she told it, even though it wasn’t all that funny. It left her with a peculiar feeling in her mouth, a reminiscent twangy tang that made her run her tongue over her teeth and gulp another swallow of wine or whatever happened to be in her glass.

Ruby bit Hunter – in the vicinity of if not actually on the ass, and hard – and he shrieked and scrambled away, howling. Mrs. Carney rushed over. She pulled up Hunter’s shirt, and they all stared, enthralled, at the marks Ruby’s teeth had left in his pale, downy skin. There I am, she thought, hugging her shredded palms to her chest, as Mrs. Carney yanked her up and dragged her to the principal’s office. An oval of tiny impressions, glistening red and wet, a crown of fresh bright jewels, hers.




Didi Wood’s stories appear or are forthcoming in SmokeLong QuarterlyCotton XenomorphLost BalloonPidgeonholes, and elsewhere. She’s fond of the serial comma, board games, and creepy dolls. Often she is festooned with cats. Find her on Twitter @DidiWood


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