In nursery school, Sally and I would play horses and generally be left alone. In primary school they’d call me ‘Eeyore’ but that was okay. I’m pretty sure the other kids thought I was kind of cool anyway. But as I got older, they’d call me ‘donkey dickhead’ and stick their middle fingers up. Whispers of ‘freak’ and ‘weirdo’ haunted the corridors as I shuffled from class to class, usually alone.
Day to day I could hide the tail in my trouser leg or just not leave the house, but in school, it was pretty much impossible to just be a normal kind of guy. I mean, in gym we wore shorts, so the long gray pipe-like tail would peek out of the loose linen. Even if I managed to get away with tracksuit bottoms, there was still the changing room to deal with. The other guys would make fun of one another, smacking each other’s arses with wet towels, causing a loud whack. With me they were different. With me they didn’t bother taking the piss out of the size of my cock, or comparing the size of their muscles with mine. I almost wished they would. Instead, they would tug at my tail, hold it out and call it my donkey boner.
‘When’s the last time you got laid, Timmy, huh?’
‘Where d’you put that thing while you shag?’ This was usually followed by vulgar motions, hips thrusting all around me, and the occasional donkey braying.
At this point, my tail was prone to tucking itself between my legs, spurring the guys on. They’d ‘eeyore’ all the way down to the football pitch, and I’d have to act okay with it.
So anyway, one day in early November, I’d gone home from school, and was sat in my bedroom listening to music. Logging on to Facebook, I saw that I had two friends online, and about two hundred messages.
Pin the tail on the donkey. When r u gonna grow ur ears donkey dickhead? Ass. Check out this video of a donkey – think its yr long lost brother.
I logged off and sighed. Things weren’t getting any better then. It’s not that I want a million fake friends on Facebook or anything; I just want them all to quit acting like I’m such a freak. I mean, I can’t help the way I am. If I could I’d cut the damn thing off. I actually didn’t have the full tail when I was born - it started out as a tiny tuft of hair. But as I got older, the tail got longer, and that leads me to where I am today.
That night, the village was holding a firework display in the local rugby field. Being a pretty anti-social kind of guy at the best of times, I didn’t have much intention of going, and after the Facebook messages I really wasn’t in the mood, but Sally was insistent.
‘It won’t do to sit at home all night y’know Tim.’
‘I like sitting at home.’
‘Even when everyone else is out having fun? The fireworks will be so pretty!’
‘Don’t like fireworks.’
‘Please Tim? Just come to this one? For me?’
She was only trying to help I guess. She was only ever trying to help. I looked in to her twinkling blue eyes, wide and staring, and felt a rush of love for my best friend. Even though she was so perfect, so pretty and could have been so popular, Sally had always been there; always. Now, her long blonde hair brushed her shoulders and I thought back to the time when she had played the Angel in the school’s nativity play. Naturally, I had played the donkey.
‘Tim?’ I smiled and sighed.
‘Of course I’ll come Sal.’
Sally and I first met in nursery school. I’d been sitting in a corner alone, drinking a carton of milk, when she came and sat next to me.
‘I heard you got a tail,’ she had said.
‘So what?’ I’d demanded, looking away.
‘I like tails.’ Then she had smiled and walked away.
The pitch smelt of barbeque and firewood, toffee apples and hot chocolate. All around, kids played with sparklers and torches. The chill in the air hit my cheeks like a slap of wet paint. I put my arm around Sally, and saw that her cheeks were pink too.
Autumn leaves crunched beneath our feet and I enjoyed the sensation and the crinkly sound. It was a clear night, perfect for fireworks, the stars in the sky vivid and bright. I was glad Sally had dragged me out. She was right, as always.
‘If it isn’t donkey dickhead dipstick dumdum.’ I turned to see a group of guys from school converged in a corner. I’d never had a drink before, but I was pretty sure I smelt alcohol. I turned back and carried on walking, but a thick and heavy hand pulled at my shoulder, forcing me back around. ‘Where you going Donkey Kong?’ he slurred, prompting an appreciative laugh from his cronies.
‘Isn’t Donkey Kong a gorilla?’ I asked, trying to sound nonchalant. The boys eyes darkened, and he drew towards me. His body was huge and bulky, his shoulders broad and his face hard. I tried to look him straight in the eye, despite the sweat on my forehead and the weakness in my legs. His beer-breath was making me want to gag.
‘Sod off Gaz,’ a voice came from behind me. For such a small girl, Sally could be pretty feisty. The fierce, determined set of her face made my stomach turn – whether from nerves or something else, I wasn’t sure. She was so sweet, always the first one to my defence, but I knew this could only make things worse. I found myself wishing she wasn’t here.
‘Just leave it Sal,’ I said, still looking Gaz in the eye. I was very aware of the long wire of brown hair which fell from behind me. ‘They’re not worth it.’
‘What’s wrong Timmy Tim? Balls not big enough to stand up for yourself eh?’
I felt my tail tucking itself between my legs, the long coarse hairs tickling at my thighs.
‘Let’s see how big his balls are G.’
‘Tie him up!’
‘Noo!’ Sally screeched from beside me.
‘To the fence.’
‘Shut up bitch.’
‘Tie him by his tail.’
They moved in on me, all four boys drawing nearer. My palms were sweating, my legs stuck to the ground. Beside me, Sally was shaking.
‘Tie him up by his tail.’ Laughter.
‘Set his tail on fire.’ More laughter.
‘Donkey bonfire!’ The chant rose in to the night as the first firework of the evening shot to the stars.
I closed my eyes and braced myself, waiting for the blow of a fist or a tug on my tail, but none came. Sally was stood in front of me, a tiny shield. The boys exchanged stupid drunken looks with each other, unsure how to react.
‘Get out of the way lesbo.’
‘Oh that’s really mature,’ Sally replied. ‘Congratulations on that fantastically well-thought out insult.’ A look of pure rage came over Gaz’s face, but Sally stood her ground.
‘I’m warning you, bitch,’ he spat, ‘get out of my way or I’ll –’
‘G, maybe this is going a bit –’ Gaz raised his fist and was bringing it down to hit Sally when I felt myself push her out of the way, pouncing on the drunken brute.
‘Do not touch her,’ I spat at him. All the fear I’d felt five minutes ago had vanished. I pinned him to the muddy ground, listening to the simultaneous crash of fireworks and the pounding of blood in my ears. Vaguely I wondered why the other boys didn’t make any moves to pull me off their friend. Behind me, I heard Sally whimper, and felt fresh rage ignite within me. Raising my fist to punch him, I felt my tail twitching in my trousers, and heard a yell of effort escape me. Right as I made contact with his fat nose, someone pulled me to my feet. Large, firm hands told me it was one of the other rugby lads.
‘Let go of me, let go!’ I struggled but he held me firmly.
‘Whoa, calm down Tim,’ he said, as Gaz rose to his feet, spitting at the ground as he got up. He came at me, hunger in his eyes, but another one of the cronies stepped between us.
‘You too, G. This is getting out of hand mate.’
‘You don’t want the little wimp to get the police involved, do you?’
Gaz brushed himself off, and turned to leave, shooting me one last threatening look. The guy who was holding me let go roughly, so that I fell to the ground. They walked away without looking back.
At this point, I remembered Sally next to me, cowering and scared. I crawled towards her, wrapping my arms tightly around her small frame. We were tucked behind some trees, alone and in shadow but still able to see the bright lights cascading in the sky. One after another they thundered, and then burnt out like parting tides.
‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,’ I began, not sure how to apologize.
‘Why are you sorry? I’m the one who made you come out. We should have just stayed in; we should have just watched a film, just the two of us. This was a stupid idea.’
A sudden urge came over me, and I pressed my lips to Sally’s, holding her even tighter. I felt her kiss in my stomach and crotch as well as on my tongue. Her warm breath tasted of coffee, always two surges, and even my tail stiffened a little. Pressing my forehead to hers, I looked down at her face, wiped the tears from her eyes and said,
‘It’s me. You know it’s me. It’s this stupid tail. We wouldn’t have any problems if I didn’t have this stupid thing. That’s why I’m sorry.’
Sally looked up at me and smiled.
‘I like tails,’ she said, before rising to her feet.
A student of English Literature and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University, I am incredibly passionate about writing both poetry and short stories. In my work, I aim to exploit difficult contemporary issues, such as mental illness, bullying and domestic abuse. The following tale is a piece of magic realism about a boy who is bullied. Previous publications include a poem in the Cheval Anthology 2012.