A short story for Halloween for the Peace Novella Series celebration.
“Ow! That hurts, Mommy!”
“I’m sorry, Dexie,” Elaine McBride murmured, pulling the brush through Dexie’s long red hair. Dexie hunched her shoulders and winced as it found, yet another, thick snarl. “What were you and Dray doing today? There are twigs and leaves in your hair.”
“Brent and Jerry was buggin’ Dray and me. Brent pulled my hair and called me a sissy b’cuz I gots to wear a dumb dress so Dray pushed Brent on his butt and I punched him. Then Jerry started hittin’ Dray so I had to hit Jerry…” Dexie explained with a shrug as she scratched her freckled nose with a dirt crusted fingernail.
“Dexie, there are so many things wrong with what you just said,” Elaine sighed heavily, humor and resignation at war in her voice. “But this news of you and Dray fighting with Brent and…”
“Brent and Jerry started it!”
“Honey, I don’t care who started what. Fighting is not okay and it’s never the way to solve a problem. You know this.”
“No buts, Dexie, you know better.”
“Brent was…” Dexie tried to explain again only to be interrupted again.
“Dexie Rae McBride, that is enough!” Elaine admonished sharply. “Fighting always has been and always will be unacceptable.”
“Yes, Mommy,” Dexie relented glumly, her blue eyes downcast.
She sat in silence, her head moving with the motion of her mother’s brushing, parting, and twisting of her hair into two long ponytails that hung down on either side of her head. Elaine reached for a long blue satin ribbon, tying it around Dexie’s ponytail, then repeated the process on the other one. Dexie watched as her mother put the brush away and knelt in front of her.
“Dexie, my angel, you can’t let Brent, or anyone else, get to you. Be the bigger person and don’t give him the satisfaction of seeing you get upset.” Elaine implored gently.
“But, Mommy, I’m only five! Brent be’d five forever! And he’s already bigger than me!” Dexie argued earnestly.
“I’m not talking about age or size, my angel. What I meant is that Brent likes to tease you and Dray because he knows it makes you angry but if you don’t let him see that you’re angry, he’ll stop teasing you. Walk away and ignore him if you have to. That’s what I mean by being a bigger person.”
“So it’s okay to ignore buttheads like Brent?” Dexie questioned.
“Please don’t call people names, it is not kind and it hurts,” Elaine reminded. “And when Brent or someone else is teasing you, yes, it is okay to walk away from them and ignore them.”
“Okay. Give me a hug, my angel.” Elaine held out her arms and Dexie jumped into her mother’s embrace, hugging her tightly. They moved away from each other and Elaine smiled. “Now let’s get you into your dress.”
“Ugh! I still think I’d rather be the lion. Dresses are for sissies.” Dexie grimaced darkly.
“Well, Dexie, I think the Dray and the others would look silly in a dress,” Elaine chuckled. “You’re a girl so you get to be the star in the dress.”
Dexie stuck out her tongue and blew a loud raspberry as she scowled in disgust.
“Brent would be great in a dress,” she snorted.
As Elaine tied the apron strings on the costume dress that she’d made for her daughter, Dexie continued to mutter about being a girl and the evils of dresses. Their heads turned in unison when the doorbell rang. The sound of Dray and Brent, along with Jerry calling out “Trick or treat!” made Dexie wiggle impatiently.
“Go! I know you want to get out with your friends.” Elaine chuckled. Dexie beamed at her mother and raced from the room.
Lonnie McBride was closing the door when Dexie raced into the foyer.
Dray was dressed all in silver, an oil funnel attached to his hat and a small hand ax with a rounded head in his hand. Millie Palmer smiled brightly as she fawned over Dexie’s costume. Brent snickered, hardly recognizable in the massive, furry lion costume he was in as he lifted and pointed a fuzzy paw at Dexie. Jerry stood behind and followed Brent’s lead as bits of straw fell from his sleeves and hat.
“Dexie, you look so dumb. I told you you’d look like a sissy.” Brent taunted as he cackled.
“Brent, that is enough!” Sheila Harrington scolded her son. The woman’s grey eyes were narrowed in warning as Brent continued to ridicule Dexie. “Dexie, dear, you look like the prettiest Dorothy since Judy Garland.”
“She looks like a sissy girl!” Brent jeered. “Don’t she, Jerry?”
Jerry nodded, more of the straw of his costume fluttering to the floor. Dexie glared at Brent, her blue eyes ablaze with fury and Dray took a step forward, his silver gloved hands balled into tight fists.
“You shut up, Brent! Being a butthead always has been and always will be una'cept'ble. And I’m bigger than you!” Dexie retorted loudly in her indignation. She stuck her tongue out, blew a loud raspberry at Brent and Jerry, then grabbed Dray’s hand and walked away to the other side of the room.
Elaine’s face reddened as Lonnie gazed at his wife in curiosity. Millie Palmer coughed to hide her chuckles while Sheila gaped at the children in shock. The bit of Brent’s face that could be seen was red with anger and bewilderment and Jerry waited for Brent to react.
“Wait a minute!” Brent began to argue. “I’m bigger’n you, Dexie McBride! And I always will be, you dumb…”
“And we get to ignore you, b’cuz you’re makin’ me angry!” Dexie fired off one last barb. Dray grinned at her and she nodded smugly.
“And, like Dorothy, she has slapped the Cowardly Lion,” a soft voice drifted through the astonished silence of the room.
Word count: 981