Breaking Fences

Brad runs because it’s the one thing in his life he can do right.

And what makes it better is he can see Beauty, the white pony he’s befriended, every day.

But when Beauty goes missing after a storm, can Brad find her?

Or will his past behaviour put the pony’s safety – and her life – in danger?

Formats: ebook $0.99

Genre/s: contemporary, disability

Series: The Kids of Welles Bend

Audience: middle grade

Length: short story

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Excerpt:

Brad Colson pushed his bike into the bushes by the farm gate and stepped back, eyeing the bushes critically. Yup, his bike was hidden. No one driving along Shore Road, not that anyone did except people who lived there, would see it. He couldn’t afford for it to get stolen. He needed it to get around town. And because it was so old and no one else had one like it, every kid at Welles Bend State High knew it was his.

And he might be stupid, but he was smart enough to know that, if they found it out here, some kids would steal it and probably wreck it just because they hated him.

The dawn wind gusted in cold off the ocean, even though it was supposed to be the tail-end of summer. Three more summers of school. Four more autumns and winters and springs and he would be out of school for good. Dad had already said he wouldn’t be paying the school levy for him to go on to Year Eleven and Twelve, even though it was only fifty dollars. ‘No point,’ he’d said, cracking the tab on another beer. ‘Kid stupid as you’s gonna end up on the dole anyway. Better you bringing money in than me forking it out to school.’

Brad ground his teeth at the memory, then yanked his hood over his head so his face was hidden. The material was thin, the hoodie tight; he’d grown about ten centimetres since Dad had bought it for him two years ago. He was into adult sizes now, which Dad hated; it meant he had to pay more for clothes for him.

Well, stuff him. If Dad worked like everyone else instead of holding up the bar at Paddy’s half the night and existing on welfare, they’d have money for clothes. And food. And a new bike.

Brad turned away from the gate and started to jog along Shore Road. The road was a narrow strip of asphalt barely wide enough for two cars to pass and bordered by wet dirt and soggy grass. Beyond that to the left were fences; most people who lived out here owned acreage and had hobby farms, or else they let the bush take over. To the right was tussocky grass, then rocks and sand, then the sea, the breakers rolling in grey and chilly. The sky was the same. There’d been a storm last night. He’d had to get up and put the tins under the leaks in the roof because no way Dad would bother, even if he wasn’t drunk. His snores had echoed through the house as Brad looked out the kitchen window, seeing lightning stripe the sky and hearing the rumble of thunder and the splat of raindrops on the dirty glass.

Forget Dad. Just run. Feet hitting the asphalt, arms pumping, legs tingling, face freezing off from the wind, breathing steady. Nothing else mattered now. Nothing but the rhythm and the run.

Except for Beauty.

Beauty definitely mattered.