Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Reclaiming Words By Vicky Ward

“Getting angry,” Her sister Marigold says, “Is a waste of time.” She folds her small white hands on her lap, and chews at the corner of her lip with her small white teeth.

The pigeons stalk for crumbs in front of them, a jogger somewhere up ahead on the path and a seagull spiraling above the children’s play area. The park on a Sunday. Em raises her head from her hands, frown creasing her brow. “Wouldn’t it make you angry?”

“Anger is such an ugly emotion,” Marigold says, and punctuates it with an uncomfortable smile.

Emma looks down at her hands, shaking. The knuckles torn and bloody. Toes of her shoes scuffed. Her sister’s calm is cooling, distant. Despite her closeness, she feels so far away.

The word is thrown by a kid at school, and her anger claws its way out of her throat with screams and battle cries and hot tears.

It’s said by a friend of her dad, cursing when they think the children won’t hear. Said by a comedian. Said by a man on the street when she ignores his catcall. Said by a man sat behind her on the bus in dangerous proximity. The word stalks her, predator-like, lurks in shadowy mouth-caverns and bright-lit on the TV.

“Anger is such an ugly emotion,” Marigold tells her and she feels it fizz up twice as hard, like soda-water.

Still, the metronome ticks. The anger is a fizzing sensation, carbonated blood in her veins.

Said by a politician. He is tried in the court of public opinion and found innocent, easily forgiven. No harm, no foul. An attack on their morals launches an attack on our humanity, she thinks; an eye for an eye. And in the pit of her stomach, the anger squirms but she pushes it down. Anger is such an ugly emotion.

The word is dug from the mouth of a body, glassy eyed and hot-turned-cold. That godforsaken word leaves the shape on the floor, the girl on the carpet, empty and shattered. A victim, a hate crime against herself and the word echoes in the background, tuneful. The ugly anger becomes a blanket of smothering exhaustion. Tiredness leaks from every part of Emma, like blood.

It is said by a protester, a declaration of power. It feels powerless. Pride comes round and it’s a party, not a protest, because anger is an ugly emotion and these people are beautiful.

Said by a friend. Em bites her cheek until it bleeds and laughs with bloodstained teeth.

In the park, the dandy-lion flowers have risen around their bench and the pigeons are growing fat. Em sits with a friend, a girl. The red hot anger peels off her skin like sunburn. Em holds her head, strokes her hair. “It’s not fair!”

Emma swallows bitten nails, and broken teeth, and opens her mouth, parrot-like. “There’s no use getting angry,” she says. “Anger is such an ugly emotion.”

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