Thank you for being a friend

This is a submission  for Sunday Photo Fiction, hosted by Al Forbes,  .  It was prompted by the photo below, kindly provided by Eric Wicklund.

To view other people’s stories and add your own, please click on the link: 

Thank you for being a friend

Reading aloud from To Kill a Mockingbird, the teacher reached the part where Jem finds toys hidden by Boo Radley.

Paul whispered to Tommy, “That’s like when we were little.  Remember – we kept finding cars and stuff in the hollow tree?”

“I don’t remember,” Tommy answered.

“You do. You wouldn’t touch ‘em, but I took a toy soldier home.”

“Shut up. Miss Law’s reading.”

“When Mum saw the soldier she went mad. She marched me back to school, made me tell the headteacher everything. Toys dried up after that.”

“It was you who told?”

“She made me.”

“You screwed up my life.”

“It was only toys.”

“My toys,” Tommy shouted.

The boys didn’t notice as silence descended around them.

“What are you talking about?”

“The toys. My dad put them there.”


“Why do you think?”

“I dunno. I can’t remember him. He left.”

“He went to prison.  Eventually.”

“For taking your toys?”

“Think about it … why would a grown man want children to find toys in a tree?”

“He was a paedophile?”


“So, I did you a favour?”

“Oh yeah … with no other kids to mess with, he used me. I thought you were my friend.”

200 words



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17 Responses to Thank you for being a friend

  1. ceayr says:

    I find it difficult to click ‘Like’ here.


    • JS Brand says:

      That’s OK; there’s nothing to like about child abuse. There really was a hollow tree at the bottom of our primary school playing field, where we used to find toys (which we often kept). We never knew who left them and why, but I doubt it was a Boo Radley reaching out. I’m sorry to say none of us thought to tell an adult about our mysterious benefactor.


  2. michael1148humphris says:

    These stories need to be told, so that such beings will be recognised and stopped.


  3. Leaking Ink says:

    Heartbreaking. Particularly because these things do happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Using the language of children in this piece makes it all the more poignant. Well done.

    Please click to read my tale

    Liked by 1 person

    • JS Brand says:

      Thank you very much. I tried to make the characters sound like young teenagers, but found it hard. Thankfully I wasn’t trying to make them sound like teenagers today; that would have been really difficult. As I mentioned in another reply, at the school I attended when I was 6 or 7, someone used to leave small toys in a tree at the edge of the grounds. It was only years later, when we read To Kill a Mockingbird as teenagers, that I realised the person might have had a horrible motive for his (?) apparent acts of kindness. The prompt made me imagine a conversation I might have had then.


    • JS Brand says:

      Hi Keith, I’ve read your tale and tried to comment, but kept being knocked back. What I wanted to say is, “A lovely take on the prompt Keith. It’s not easy to put sad and uplifting into one piece but you’ve done it really well. The story seems to be about more than appears to be the case on first reading.”


  5. James says:

    That was remarkably grim, but to be fair, how could he have known?


    • JS Brand says:

      I think Tommy would have known Paul wasn’t to blame for what happened to him, but it’s not surprising he lashed out. I hope the friendship would have survived.


  6. Danny James says:

    Easy to read; hard to fathom.



  7. Ouch. Poor kid. A shame Tommy couldn’t speak out sooner. A very difficult subject to approach, but well written.


  8. JS Brand says:

    Thank you. It seems thousands of others like Tommy have tried to speak out, but not been heard. The stream of revelations about abuse by the clergy, celebrities, sports coaches and now military cadet leaders seems never-ending. It always seems the “authorities” were aware, but failed to act or even participated in cover-ups. Years ago I read a short story (by Martin Amis I think), in which child abuse was “normal”. It seemed fanciful at the the time, but now it looks prophetic.


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