He stood in front of the school door wondering how he could possibly open it. The knob was hopelessly out of reach and there was nothing he could use to climb. Life was not always easy when you were only two and a half feet tall.
“What’s the matter little man? Are you lost?” a young girl asked, scooping him up in her arms. He should have been used to people behaving that way, but it still annoyed him. The girl cradled him in her arms and swung him gently from left to right as if he were a baby or a doll that needed reassuring.
“I’m not lost,” he replied, struggling to seem dignified, “just little.”
The girl looked at him puzzled.
“Don’t let my size lead you astray,” he explained, making an effort to be patient, “I’m not as young as I look.”
He watched as understanding finally dawned on her oversized face which went red with embarrassment and she held him away from her. He was afraid she might drop him. It had happened before.
“Oh,” she exclaimed, confused, then she bent forward and placed him at her feet.
He retreated a couple of steps so he could see her face.
“My name is Tim Brightweather. I’m new at this school.”
“I’m Sandy,” she told him, bending down to bring her face to his height.
“Could you please open the door?” he asked.
She did, revealing a swirling mass of giant boys careening in their direction, dribbling a large round ball in front of them. He braced himself for the shock but the girl whisked him up at the last moment and ducked out of the way. The boys tore past, unheeding, letting the door slam behind them.
“I’m sorry,” she apologised, putting him down cautiously in a quieter part of the corridor beside some lockers. “I don’t think they noticed you. Boys hardly notice anything but themselves.”
A fat boy sidled up and began taking books out of one of the lockers.
“Hey! What’s that?” the boy shouted, catching sight of Tim. They had such loud voices, it hurt his ears. “You bring your dolls to school, Sandy?” he asked, grinning as he prodded Tim with a podgy finger.
“Leave him alone, Graham, you lout,” Annie said. “His name’s Tim and he’s a new pupil.”
Graham tweaked Tim’s nose with his grubby fingers. “Cool!” he said turning Tim round to look at him from all sides. “A real live dwarf.”
Tim shrugged. People had such short memories. The difference between dwarves and little people had long been forgotten. He knew there was no point in trying to enlighten the boy. Instead he opted for the unexpected and bit Graham’s finger, then pulled back in case the boy retaliated. Tim’s teeth might be little, but they were razor sharp. Graham immediately withdrew his finger and stared at the blood flowing freely for a long moment until his knees crumpled and he fell slowly to the floor.
“He’ll be OK,” Tim said once the boy could fall no further. “He’s just fainted.”
“Let’s get you to class before he goes whining to the teachers that he’s been attacked. Who’s your teacher?”
“I’m in Mr. Baxter’s class,” Tim said.
That’s my class,” she replied, apparently pleased they were in the same class. “Bad luck though. Mr. Baxter is off ill.”
“I know,” Tim told her. “I’ve come to replace him.”