Tom slid miserably down the wall as girls crowded the hall. He wished he’d not been chosen, hated this. Jen’s catty, sharp-clawed words were hard; Len pudding-pawed her face; Di rooster-crowed.
“It’s only a play,” said the teachers. “Calm down while we choose.”
But “No-one’s playing,” thought Tom and watched them bruise. Mousy Len would suit the tale perhaps, but they picked Jen.
Standing beside him with doll in arms, eyes kitten-soft and keen, “’Lo Joseph,” she preened. A feline remnant glinted in green gaze. The baby slipped. Tom reached to gentle it. Then Jen cat-laughed with cruel, sharp-clawed glee.