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Bullies beware: Women in ‘Mice’ fight back

August 31, 2011
By Amy Phelps
What happens when two bullied people finally fight back? That is the story behind Gordon Reece’s psychological thriller, “Mice.”

Shelley and her mother have always been the type of people who try not to get in anyone’s way — quiet, nervous, and overly obliging.

Shelley’s father recently left her mother for a much younger woman, one who is only a few years older than Shelley. Shelley and her mother not only have to move out of their house, her father doesn’t want to have to pay any kind of support, and soon moves away to Spain, cutting all contact with Shelley. Shelley’s mother, once an intelligent lawyer, whose lawyer husband wanted her to stay at home with Shelley, finds her law license outdated and must take a job at a small firm as an assistant to make ends meet. Her bosses take advantage of her knowledge, make her work extra hours and hardly pay her anything.

Shelley, meanwhile, has faced the horror of her longtime childhood friends turning on her. Her three formerly inseperable friends have now banded together to torture Shelley, going from verbal abuse quickly into physical abuse. Depressed, Shelley is rapidly becoming suicidal, and then the attacks escalate. Shelley’s face and hair are set on fire and she is hospitalized. But the attack isn’t witnessed and quickly becomes the “friends” word against hers. When the police declare there isn’t enough evidence to press charges, the school will not suspend them. Shelley is too frightened to go back to school after she gets out of the hospital, and ends up being tutored at home. She and her mother move to a cottage in the country and try to keep the address away from the girls in case of more attacks.

But one night, Shelley and her mother are preparing for Shelley’s birthday the next day when a robber breaks into their house. He ties them up and threatens them with a knife, taking their money and jewelry. He threatens to come back and rape and kill them. When he takes Shelley’s birthday present, and leaves behind the knife, something in Shelley snaps and she goes after him. She stabs him, they fight for the knife and he ends up choking her, almost to death. Until her mother seizes a marble cutting board and hits him over the head with it.

Shelley wants to go to the police, but her mother is afraid they will just be charged with murder, as Shelley had stabbed him in the back.

Fearful, the two women set about burying the body and covering up the murder. As the days past, Shelley becomes more and more jumpy, worrying about when they will be caught. But another transformation has occurred — both Shelley and her mother begin standing up to the other bullies in their lives. When someone sends an anonymous note saying they know about the death of the robber, what will Shelley and her mother do?

For anyone who’s ever been bullied, they will sympathize with Shelley and her mother’s struggles. This is a twisted book, almost reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Telltale Heart” as Shelley becomes more and more paranoid. Shelley and her mother are so put down that when they finally do rise up against someone, you can’t help but cheer.

Shelley’s transformation, from frightened schoolgirl to someone who gleefully runs after someone, yelling for her mother to kill him, is chilling. It’s at times funny, at times frightening and at all times intense.

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Contact Amy at

letters@graffitiwv.com
 
 

 

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