Phoebe’s Party

‘Phoebe’s Party’ was first published in Blue Tattoo: A Short Story Magazine 9 (January 2012), 42-49 and now appears in Prayer at the End: Twenty-Three Stories.

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When she was eleven years old, and challenged by a friend in school to a dare, Phoebe Morris had approached a group of older girls and slapped one hard in the face. They were celebrities of the bullying world, popularly hated, and she had given them no choice but to act in defence of their reputation. Afraid to approach, but too fascinated to leave her, Ieuan had watched her endure restraint, indignities, punches, kicks, with an indifference that astonished him. She had been off-hand about it afterwards, had let him off his side of the dare as though its outcome were unimportant, and Ieuan had finally dismissed her behaviour as something to be expected of Phoebe. In play she was bold, in naughtiness reckless, and he was too studious and too young to consider what reasons she might have for wilfully seeking out pain…

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