Acheron — Chapter 5

The Challenge

Steve Fendt


Trouble Ahead | author image

The thought of anyone laying hands on Áine, doing violence to her, wasn’t just unbearable to me, it was inconceivable. A monstrosity that could not, must not exist in this universe.

Roddy Grady’s girlfriend was Aurora Morgan, a tall, voluptuous girl with proud Maori features and long black tresses.

Quite apart from the fact that she was Roddy’s girlfriend, I had always found Aurora and her pouty, preening sidekicks terrifying, and tried to keep out of their way. Fortunately I doubt they even noticed the runty, blushing Greek boy.

Now, however, we had a problem.

Aurora had taken a dislike to Áine. I don’t know whether it was anything to do with Roddy; more likely it was a simple personality clash. Áine had a low tolerance for conceited behaviour and as she put it: ‘That big Kiwi chick is so far up herself she’s practically feckin’ inside out.’

Her distain had not gone unnoticed — and now a challenge had been issued. Aurora was going to bash Áine. At lunchtime the very next day, on the school oval.

My girlfriend didn’t seem to realise the gravity of the situation. She had been home-schooled for most of her life, and had a poor understanding of peer dynamics. She stood up to attempts at intimidation fearlessly — simply because she had never encountered real bullying and had no idea how vicious it could get.

Aurora’s last victim, in summer term of the previous year, had lost two front teeth and ended up in hospital overnight with a cracked rib and concussion. Aurora had only been suspended for a week. Her dad being a copper might have had something to do with that.

Áine was oblivious to the danger. ‘Fight? Ridiculous! I’m not going to fight anyone. Why should I? We’ll talk it through, settle our differences like grown-ups.’

I tried to make her see reason; to no avail.

I spent a sleepless night, fretting over how to save the love of my life from the hideous beating she wouldn’t or couldn’t see coming. By the time Áine sat next to me on the school bus the next morning, my mind was made up. ‘I’m going to fight Roddy Grady, on the condition that he calls off Aurora.’



Steve Fendt Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.