The bear pit

The school bus is the emblem of social hierarchy in the modern world. Gap-toothed, backpack clad, Charlie had a pigeon echoes through the narrow aisles of a pocket-sized feudal system. Pack mentality. Children are really untamed beasts. And Life becomes their tamer— sucks the wildness from their calcium bones, cuts out their shining eyes, and places dead spheres in their place. Queen. Worker. Drone. The hive mind of a comprehensive school is a tragically beautiful thing to behold. Those with older brothers (or a BMX) hold the magnifying glass. The rest—the bespectacled, the anaemic, the vertically challenged—are the ants. ‘Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.’ That is: to staple a packet of Werther’s Originals to the class antagonist’s skull. At fourteen years old, every face is an open book. My eyes still looked upon the world with wonder (not dread), socks pulled up to my knees, life in the passenger seat. ‘Spread your wild oats’ my teacher said to me, before I was old enough to understand what ‘my oats’ truly were or how on earth I should go about spreading them.

Eleanor Murphy