By Donna L Greenwood
When the rubies come, mama tells her to sew them into her cloak, so others do not see their power. She wears her cloak to school even though mama warns her of the hyenas who prowl outside the gates looking for girls and their shiny jewels. She’s not afraid, she knows these streets well; she understands their steely greys and hard twisting ways. She walks past the graffiti-splattered half-houses and the spooling concrete giants, feeling the confidence of one who has only just discovered her rubies.
Lurking in the grim, granular morning is something with fur and teeth. It eyes her madly, drools and leaps in front of the girl who gleams with such obvious gems.
‘Let me walk you to school, cutie,’ says he.
‘Okay,’ says she and swishes her sparkle in front of his eyes.
The mist births more of these fang-toothed droolers, they slink in the fog, all cackle and gags, following the smell and the dazzle. The girl pays no attention, she is unafraid. She skips and trollops through the streets without a care.
‘Why don’t you jump in my car,’ says her companion, ‘We’ll get there quicker.’
‘Okay,’ says she and hops in his ride, not seeing the others already inside.
They drive away from the school to a place the girl does not recognise. It is a yard filled with rust and junk.
‘Why have you brought me here?’ she asks.
‘All the better to spend some time together,’ chuckles the hyena. His brothers are poised, ready to pounce. The girl smiles, ‘Good, I’m glad nobody can see us’ and jumps out of the car, laughing much louder than the hyenas.
They unfold their hairy legs and crawl out into the dusty yard, angry at the young girl’s insolence. They’ll teach her a lesson she’ll never forget. They form a snickering circle around her.
In the centre, the girl is still smiling. She twirls her red cloak and begins to spin. Around and around, she whirls, unfolding like a scarlet universe and one by one the rubies reveal themselves. They turn into a glorious, crimson liquid and gush from the girl. The sea of red pours into the eyes and ears of the monsters, clogs their nostrils and pulses into their throats until the red wet drenches their lungs and there is no more laughter.
The girl stops spinning and fastens up her cloak. She smiles and continues on her way to school. She hasn’t strayed too far from the path; she’ll soon find her way back. She skips along singing an old song about a bad wolf and doesn’t once look back at the pile of fluff and broken bones she’s left behind.