Kate Hood was one of five writers with disability who received an inaugural Writeability Fellowship in 2013.
The Fellowships, a joint initiative of Writers Victoria and Arts Access Victoria, enabled Kate from regional Victoria to work with mentor Antoinette Eklund.
Following is an extract from Kate Hood’s play, ‘Ruthie’.
When I was thirteen, before I got MS, there was this boy at school. He was…weird, you know? Sometimes he used to follow me around like a little dog. I think that was because I’d been nice to him once or twice. Everyone used to laugh at him, because his socks never matched, and he always used to wear shorts, no matter how cold it got, and he was knock-kneed. He had these awful scars on the insides of his legs, where he’d had operations to make them straight. But it didn’t work, and his knees still knocked together, so he used to kind of wobble when he walked. But he could run! He used to get bullied all the time, and he had this way of just disappearing when he needed to…he must have known every hiding place in the school.
One day I was sitting with my girlfriends at lunchtime – there were about six of us sitting together under a tree. I remember we were laughing about something or other – and I looked up and saw him coming towards us. I thought, ‘Oh no!’ and moved into the middle of the group so he couldn’t come right up to me, you know? And my best friend Susan started calling out ‘Rodney’s a dickhead, Rodney’s a dickhead!’ and all the others joined in. And then I joined in. And he just kept on coming, holding out a sandwich in a paper bag. And he walked right through the group, stepping over people and came all the way up to me. The chanting had stopped by this stage and everyone was looking at us. ‘You wanna swap?’ he said. He held out the paper bag and it looked like it had been used a dozen times – it was really crumpled and kind of dirty. ‘No’, I said, and the chanting started up again. I was sitting cross-legged, like everyone else, and I was really embarrassed, so I was looking at the ground. And he put his hand on my shoulder and when I looked up our noses were almost touching. The chanting was getting louder and louder.
‘Rodney’s a dickhead, Rodney’s a dickhead!’
He said ‘I think you’re beautiful’. I didn’t think anyone had heard it, but I couldn’t be sure, so I pushed him hard….
© Kate Hood 2012
Writers Victoria acknowledges the generous support of the Grace Marion Wilson Trust for this program. The Writeability program is a partnership between Writers Victoria and Arts Access Victoria made possible by the generous support of the City of Melbourne and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. Writeability is grateful for the previous support of the Copyright Agency Ltd, the Ian Potter Foundation and the Victorian Government.