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Page 3

Suzanne Frankham

At lunchtime she was teary. She’d had enough. The teacher took her class outside, two rows of tiny tots clutching their lunchboxes sitting on the benches under the oak tree, but when she was distracted Katie inched away until she was out of sight, hitched up her school dress, tucked it into her undies and ran as fast as she could. Out the school gates straight along Johns St, left into Bond St and home. 

Her mother was gobsmacked. ‘You can’t do a runner from school!  And on your first day. What will your Pa say?’ When Katie blurted out an explanation her mother put her hands on her hips and frowned. ‘Oh my Gawd.  It’s just words, darl.  Remember, sticks and stones can break your bones but names will never hurt you.’

Her father arrived home from work early and strode into the house. ‘What’s this nonsense I hear? Your grandfather fought in the war. People threw bombs at them, not words. Toughen up girlie.’

‘I don’t want to go to school. I don’t like it there.’

He loomed over her. ‘Lookie here, tomorrow morning you’ll be at school.’

‘No!’ She burst into tears.

‘To your room, girlie. Now. School. First thing tomorrow.’ 

She spent a miserable night clutching her teddy, wishing tomorrow would never come.

But it was when she turned thirteen, and grew out instead of up, that Jimmy really hit her for a six.

‘They say people grow into their names,’ he used to snigger. ‘See, I was right on day one. Plumpy, Plumpy, Plumpy … Hard to look at, heh. I hear even your dad pissed off. Couldn’t stand the sight of you anymore.’

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