Look, Louisa, I say, watching Fingers drool run from his downhill cheek. Youve got to start looking out for yourself. Theres a lot of boys out there who are not nice boys.
Her face darkens. Like the boys who yell at me at the bus stop. Mummy says they arent nice.
You know what I call them? Creeps. And then I ask her, What did Mum tell you to do about them?
Louisa answers ambivalently, and I can tell that despite their terrors the bus stop boys still glitter. Mummy said just ignore them. She said for me to pretend their voices are the wind. This she demonstrates by blowing our cocktail napkins off the table.
Goodbye, creeps! Louisa whooshes.
Reprinted from Happiness is a Chemical in the Brain: Stories. Copyright © 2012 by Lucia Perillo. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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