Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Gang of Brothers - BlogFest

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Thanks to Dominic De Mattos; I've just written my first Young Adult (I think) short story. The rules of the blogfest and the story below. Please excuse typos, I just wrote this now.

Post a passage in which your MC (or your favourite fictional character) shows their bravery. It might be in the face of physical danger, or peer pressure or personal sacrifice. It might be epic bravery or bravery that goes unnoticed by anyone but us, your devoted readers.

I cheerfully admit that the blogfest is mis-named! Bravery is not the absence of fear - that is recklessness. Bravery is overcoming fear, or doing what is right despite the fear.

"Zube, come on, it's break time."

"I don't want to go." Twelve years old Zube shrank in his seat and looked up through the corner of his eyes at the person standing above him and gesturing. Ike was turned sideways, one leg already turned to the direction of the door. Outside waited Paul, fourteen years old and the other members of their neighborhood gang of boys. It was exams next week and Zube wanted to study. He also did not want to hang out anymore with Ike and the other boys, especially Paul.

"You're wasting time," Ike said. He'd not heard Zube and was halfway across the classroom

"I don't..." Zube dragged to his feet as he spoke and shuffled behind Ike as they walked into the bright sunshine.

"Come on," Ike yelled, sprinting forward with a glance over his shoulder.

Zube shaded his eyes with his hand and saw Paul standing in the distance with about three other boys. Sweat break out on his upper lip and he wiped at it with a balled fist as he increased his pace. He had dreamed of the day he would join that close-knit group but now, he hated them. Paul had started the group in their  secondary school as a study group, but since they all lived in th University campus where the school was located, the boys ended up meeting after school too.

Zube had asked his classmate Ike, who lived in the same building with Paul, to get him in. Last week, Paul invited him and gave him the rules. They were a gang of brothers who did everything together and never questioned orders. They studied together, helped each other in their housechores and came together if an older boy tried to harass any of them. It had seemed easy till they invited him for an outing the next day, which involved going one of the boy's house, whose mother was their English teacher. There, they had broken into her desk and took notes from the already prepared test papers.

After doing everything required of him, Zube had gone home and cried. He loved studying and felt deceived; this was not want he wanted. he almost confessed to his father, a lectuer in the university but in the end, could not go through with it. And now here was Paul again, standing with hands across his chest and glaring at him through slitted eyes. Zube stopped walking.

"Did you bring the money?" Paul demanded.

Paul's voice was already breaking and the deep tones sent shivers down Zube's spine. He scratched the suddenly itchy spot at the top of his back and looked everywhere but at the boy before him.

"I did not bring it."

"What?" All the boys crowded around Paul's loud voice.

Zube moved a step backwards, eyes wide as he shook his head.

Paul marched closer, nose flaring and mouth tight. "Where is the money? Or don't you want to be part of us again?"

His tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth so Zube shook his head again. Paul picked up the corners of his shirt collar in one hand and pulled him to the tips of his toes. Zube closed his eyes and clamped his knees together. he was not surprised at the blow that hit his jaw a moment later. Stars burst behind his closed lids and he staggered away. Two boys ran behind him and pushed him to stand before Paul again. Zube held up his throbbing jaw with a clenched fist and looked to Ike, who lounged beside the leader.

"Don't look at me. You promised to bring the money last Friday, that was the deal."

Zube's heart pounded as he shook his head, still avoiding Paul's eyes. After the last outing, he had been asked, to mark his full entry to the group, for one thousand Naira to treat everyone to ice cream and meatpies at the nearby Mr. Biggs during break. When he pointed out that he did not have so much money, Paul told him to take it from his father's wallet if necessary. He'd debated with himself all weekend long, before taking the money without his father's knowledge. The money was currently burning a hole in his backpack, but after their Moral Instruction lesson that afternoon, he made up his mind to return it.

"You coward," Paul snarled, "Make sure you don't come to us for anything, especially when the seniors target you. Idiot!"

The two boys behind him pushed him from one to the other, laughing. Zube tried to shield his face but they did not hit him. Dust rose in the air and into his mouth when he fell to the ground after a particularly vicious push. He couldn't stop the tears anymore, and they gushed down his face, soon followed by drippings from his nose. It wasn't blood, he noted after he stood and wiped at his face, but knowing how dirty he must look, made him cry harder.

"Why did we even allow this chicken into our group?" Paul asked. Turning to Ike, he said, "It's because of you o."

Ike walked up to Zube. "Did you tell anyone? Did you?"

"No." Zube answered, pleading with his eyes. Ike was supposed to be his friend. The pain in his stomach took him by surprise and he collapsed to the ground again, harsh sobs tearing past his throat. He covered his head with his hands and curled into himself, fearing more blows. None came and after a minute, the boys dispersed.

As he walked to the school tap to wash off some of the dust, Zube sighed in relief. He realized that the pain was worth it to be out of the gang. He did not want to get into the habit of stealing, not to make friends, and not to pass exams too.


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  2. Yes... I like this - especially as it addresses the issue of overcoming peer pressure.
    However, I would have liked more pressure on Zube though i.e. more requirements from the group - before he decided to opt out.

  3. There's nothing more scary than facing up to other schoolkids and refusing to be bullied by them. Zube showed great courage, particularly by not hitting back.

  4. i liked it a lot, it was really interesting to read and i felt like i was readig an actual novel. i feel the story line is a bit too cliche(obvious) though. but other than that.. its a beautiful, well scripted short story. good job :)

  5. There is nothing like the terror, pressure and humiliation that comes with school/childhood encounters like this. You've captured the misery so well. Thank you for sharing.

  6. This is so true to life among teens. They can be such monster. It's a good read.

  7. It seemed to be what he wanted until he realised what being in with the gang actually entailed. The pressure to conform and humiliation engendered by opting out again as immense. I was able to feel Zube's pain long before anyone hit him. Breaking away took great bravery. Thank you for sharing.

  8. I like!...Zube's choice was brave of him, decisions that almost an average kid have to make in the name of "friendship"...Hope to read more about these gang brothers

  9. This happens every day and it is not limited to teens alone. Yeah, even in the lower grades there are bullies. God help us.

    Thank God Zube has chosen to leave that gang!

    Nice story!

  10. This was very realistic and the sort of thing that must happen every day. Zube was so courageous!

    No Fear Blogfest

  11. Now that is one brave kid! Standing up for what he believed in. Brilliant. I love it :O)

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  14. This is so real, happens all the time. I hope he will able to stand up to them for longer.

  15. Nice story with a good message. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.


  16. This was a fantastic example of everything it means to be brave.

    We were with Zube every fearful step. A believable moving story.

    Well done and thanks for joining my blogfest


  17. loved the story myne. Zube fought his fear

  18. The interesting thing for me about this story how it showcases for me what is a different and more difficult kind of bravery to show. Most people think of bravery as doing heroic deeds, but I think it is much harder to resist peer pressure, especially when you are already halfway to being sucked into the peer group, and where the consequences of backing out are not trivial.

    Well done, Myne, for highlighting this very uncelebrated aspect of human life.

  19. I'm happy that Zube stood up for what he knew to be right. It might not have looked like bravery from the outside, but it's what's inside that counts.

  20. Thanks for all the comments, I also agree that it is that inner bravery that matters more. Of course, the story needs a lot of work I know, lol.


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