Flash fiction – 497 words
It Should Be Me
It should be me up there.
Brian stole my frog and now he’s getting the prize. Mrs Drinkwater called him to the stage in front of the whole school. In front of the parents who care enough to see their kids out of home hours. I look around. I can’t see Dad. I see Brian’s mum looking at her phone.
I death-glare Brian as he clumps up the stairs. I’m disappointed that he doesn’t catch fire. I hope he trips, but he makes it safely to the top.
Brian’s green frog fit into his palm. It looked like a miniature Kermit, but it didn’t sing. My frog was a two-hand frog that almost didn’t fit in the jar. My frog was brown and bumpy and slippery and sang deep and loud.
I found my frog under a log. I like how that rhymes. Maybe I’ll rhyme everything I say for the rest of the day. When Mrs Drinkwater asks what I did on the weekend, I’ll say: I found bark in the park. If she tells me to get to class, I’ll say: I’ll zoom to the room.
Brian’s squeaking across the stage in his fancy new sneakers. His mum’s still looking at her phone.
I clench my fists and shove my cold hands into my armpits. I concentrate really hard, but I can’t get the snaky microphone wire to move. Brian steps over it, unaware of how close danger is.
Brian saw my frog and wanted to swap. I said no, so he pushed me to the ground and stole my jar. He said frogs don’t belong to girls. He’s a liar. That frog belongs to me.
I sit with my legs crossed and my mouth closed and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Harder even than reading out loud in class. Harder even than waiting to be picked for team sports.
Brian’s shaking Mr Donovan’s hand with his right and taking my prize envelope with his left. Just like we’ve been taught. Mrs Drinkwater’s holding up my frog jar. Brian’s mum’s glancing up, but only for a second.
I want to let out the words that boil in my chest. I want to scream them, but I don’t. I don’t want to miss out on the morning tea after this assembly. I get to serve people and feel important, even if I know I’m really not.
Brian’s smiling and turning to face the room. Everyone’s clapping. Except me and Brian’s mum. We’re not clapping.
I serve cakes and biscuits and tiny sausage rolls that bleed tomato sauce. I’m not allowed to serve hot drinks even though I take Dad his coffee at home.
Brian’s flapping his twenty dollars in the air. I whisper to the wind, urging it to blow his prize away. But it doesn’t.
I walk past Brian with cream cake on a paper plate. Brian laughs as he reaches for it.
Brian’s not laughing now. But everyone else is.