Sweetheart

I wrote this a while ago, about a girl called Frankie who makes a big mistake...

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3. Bullies and Badness

 

"How humiliating Frankie," Jessica preened in front of the mirror the next day. I picked the wrong time to come to the loo, just after lunch time, because everyone is in there, re-touching lip- gloss or just generally gossiping.        

I don't need to be reminded from Jessica how embarrassing it was. Josh just stood up and walked off, like I was something very similar to dog sick or something unsavoury. I'd ruined a great friendship.        

 "Shut up, Jessica," I mumbled. She smiled a horrible little smile, her lips turned up at the corners, sneering. Her 3 followers cackled behind her, looking at me with pitiful smiles, ice-glacier blue eyes, and sharp, dead-straight blonde hair.         

At one time, I would have pleaded and begged Mum to let me die my hair light, Barbie doll blonde, and be allowed to wear pink miniskirts and pink, shiny lip-gloss and have blue contact lenses. I didn't really know why, I thought it was just because I wanted to have a change. But now, I realise it was because I wanted to look like Jessica, Maisy, Lauren and Eve- and Jessica and Lauren were the worst.        

I washed my hands with the pink, foamy soap quickly and dried my hands with paper towels because everyone was hogging the dryer. I leant forward towards the door, but a hand grabbed to stop me. It was Eve's, with Maisy and Lauren's along with it, and Jessica standing behind me, blocking the door.      

 "Right then, Frankie," Jessica started, "Let’s get one thing straight. Josh is mine now. He never wanted you in the first place. So quit acting like a desperate bimbo and hands off him. Alright? Now we'll live you alone, just after you give us that BlackBerry of yours."        

"But, Mum gave me that for Christmas. She worked most of Christmas Day just so she could afford it and even then she had to buy a second hand one. She worked hard for it."      

 "Oooh, Mummy did, did she?" Lauren piped up. "We don't care. Now give us the phone." Maisy and Eve pulled back a little, perfect white teeth nibbling at their lower lip.        

"But you have your own BlackBerry's!" I said indignantly. "I've seen you with them."        

Jessica and Lauren rolled their mascaraed eyes as if it was completely obvious.  "It's broke. And yours is Limited Edition Frosty Blue. We want it. Give it, or you'd wish you had."        

"NO!" I screamed, losing my temper. I flung wet toilet paper at their stupid, grinning faces knocking them flat screaming in stupid, girly voices. "You all think you can be big bullies to everyone who isn't a bleached, blonde, bitchy bimbo, but you can't!"          

Maisy and Eve stared down at Jessica and Lauren, shocked. They backed away and, gently touching my arm, flew out of the loo, silent. I took my chance and ran too.        

I knocked into Kerrie as I flew out the main doors towards the cafeteria. She grabbed my arm and I reluctantly pulled back towards her, eyeing the door nervously, preparing to see Jessica and '<3Ev3iblondie<3' (as was Eve's name on BBM) come out, with a teacher in tow.        

"Where have you been?" Kerrie asked, eyebrow raised, offering me a Lindt chocolate truffle from her chocolate box. I took one and put it in my mouth, crunching down to its soft, praline centre.         

 "Toilet. Come on, let's go in the cafe." Kerrie followed me down the path towards the cafe doors. On entrance, I smelt the smell of baking cookies and pasta. We headed towards the long snaking queue.      

Kerrie glanced at her watch.  "You've been in the toilet for 45 minutes?" she asked doubtfully.        

I shrugged. "I went to the library after to catch up on some maths homework. Square roots, I got some help from a sixth former. Anyway!" I plastered a smile on my face, "What you getting?"      

 "Pasta. You?"

"Cookies, of course. They're to die for." She nodded and walked ahead, as the line inched forward; the girl at the front had finally settled on a macaroni wrap, deciding it had the least calories and that suited her fine. She walked off, wobbling in high heels.        

Yesterday, her hair had been brown, she had ordinary flats, she'd order a mousse not giving a damn what anyone thought. Now she was a paranoid blonde bimbo wearing too high heels. I didn't feel bad for socking Jessica and Eve with wet tissues anymore.      

We reached the front of the queue. I grabbed some cookies; Kerrie grabbed her pasta with cheese. I put my finger on the scanner and waited for Kerrie to come over to my table. But she headed in the other direction.      

"Kerrie!" I shouted.

"Francesca!" Mrs Herolwhite glared at me. "Our cafeteria is a place of peace and a time to sit down and eat. It is not a place to shout at your friends who quite clearly have gone in the opposite direction. You can now sit next to me and eat those delicious cookies in my company and help me with these folders."      

I shuffled behind her towards the table, sighing. I pulled my skirt down a little so it was just above my knee and sat down next to her, opening my cookies and biting into one. I'd lost my appetite.          

Mrs Herolwhite frowned.  "Our chefs take a long section of their time making those cookies. And, look! Your wasting them already. If you wanted them, eat them! And if you don't, then sort out the folders with me, please- oh no. Your not on another stupid diet are you Francesca?" she rambled on and on, going on about how I'm a stick as it is, which is true...I'm 14 and can still fit it into 12 year old clothes for goodness sake. Mum puts me on protein shakes every day after school but they look like vomit with a drop of strawberry in, so I scrap that and have a Nesquik instead.      

 I reluctantly ate the cookies to keep her quiet, even though they tasted cold, hard and the chocolate chips tasted more like cardboard pieces embedded in paper. I swilled it down with water and strained my head over Miss Herolwhite's to see Kerrie sitting with Rob, Dan and Kyle, laughing and giggling. That's not the Kerrie I know.        

I stood up. "Bye, Miss. I'm gonna go to Maths now-"

"It's not even 11.00 yet-"          

I'm out the door before she can go on anymore. I flooded out the doors and into the outbuilding across the field, and stood outside the doors, quickly scribbling down some answers for my homework. I wish what I said to Kerrie was true, that I went to the library and did my Maths homework.        

Mr Birkett stomped down the hallway sharply muttering underneath his breath when his laptop cable tripped him up. He had a pile of test booklets underneath his arm, and a box of protractors, rubbers and pencils.        

Great. "Francesca," he said, staring at me in shock and relief, "Hold these boxes for me while I go and put these papers out, there's a good girl."      

I took the boxes and waited outside the door until he beckoned me in.  "Hand out one protractor, pencil and rubber on each desk please." He sat down in front of his laptop, squinting at the screen. I obediently went in and out of the rows stopping by my desk and thinking of how I have to sit next to him (the boy who hates my guts)- again. How convenient, no rubbers left for Josh.        

I took my seat and pushed my bag underneath my chair, and when Mr Birkett is engrossed in looking for the other students I pulled out my BlackBerry and slid my fingers onto BBM. I scrolled down my Contacts list and find Kerrie's name which I'm so used to Pinging and chatting to- Kerrie&Frankie:*. My eyes welled with tears. Kerrie was the only one who'd ever understood me. She stood with me through thick and thin, holding my hand through the hardest times. She put up with my tantrums and giggled with me over crushes.      

Kerrie always did say she'd never be friends with a 'boy-grabber.' Or words to that extent.       

Crap.  

Kez, I typed, Im so sorry for upsetting you. I know I nver shud have kissed josh, ino boy grabbers are bitches, and ino that now im one. ino ive maybe ruined our friendship forever, ino i havent been truthful about wot ive dun in the toilets, and now i c ive broken one of our truces: always tell each other the truth. whether you speak to me again or not i just want you to know you'll always b the best friend in the whole world to me and ill never find anyone like you, ever. nobody understands me better than you do, nobody treats me better than you do- ive been lucky to have you as my best friend. they say true friends are hard to find and even harder to keep- now i get that saying. sorry. <3 xxxxxxxxxxxxx

I closed BBM and rocked back in my chair and sat up again, just as everyone came in the classroom, noisily, spitefully whispering right in front of me, making it blatantly obvious that they're talking about me. I'd never been incredibly popular, but I had never been the point of conversation; at the point of the 'hate dagger'.         

The 'hate dagger' is a Year 9 tradition. Some kid started it off on BBM, made a sword out of dashes and sent it to a girl who stole her boyfriend. Thus, the dagger was born.       

I ignored the vibrating of my phone, yet another hate dagger, I know. If its Kerrie...tough. I couldn't risk another detention, I couldn't stand another day after school, surviving torrents of abuse from kids going on and on and on about me and Josh.  Josh slid into his chair next to me, eyes fixed on the board. Mr Birkett scraped a whiteboard pen across the board, refusing to use the interactive whiteboard. Moving him on from blackboards was a bloody struggle.      

"So," he concluded. "After that explanation, you should be able to answer every question in the booklet. I am aware that it was a little hasty, but thanks to the snow last week I could not teach you any types of 'shape' numbers, let alone cubed..."      I closed my eyes for a moment. I hadn't been listening to a word of what he was saying. I didn't know anything about cube roots or cube sequences... squared numbers are just as bad.        

Mr Birkett sat back down into his chair. I picked up the booklet and gazed at the pages in horror. Page after page of cube sequences ('fill in the blanks...') and all sorts of other questions I didn't know the answer to.        

Before long, Mr Birkett fell asleep in his chair. I abandoned the test and unzipped my inside blazer pocket to see one message from Kerrie on the home screen and a ping.       

frankie, im not cross with you becus of wot you did with josh, im angry cuz your holding secrets from me- u even sed so jst now in yur last message. what was you really doing in the toilet if you werent innocently peeing? i dont even know you anymore. kez.x

I swore underneath my breath and replaced my phone. If I told her what happened in the loo, there would be 50 % chance that she would have a new found respect for me. There was also a 50 % chance she would think me a total cow.         

Mr Birkett stumbled awake, jolting up in his chair and knocking his bald head against the shelf above him. He cleared his throat and barked for us to put down our pencils, and rubbers and any other equipment and went round collecting the tests. When he came to mine, he stopped and frowned at the one answer I had filled in.      

 "Francesca. At break, come in see me at the Leadership Office. Sharpish," he said quietly. He turned back towards his desk, shaking his head, a hint of red in his cheeks. I began to worry, but I made a plan not to go to the office at break. I couldn't stand it. I'd played truant before, and it had been horrible- the police issued me a warning and I felt terrible. Mum was so ashamed.       

I couldn't do it again. I'd just have to hide from Mr Birkett and hope for the best.  

 At break, I sneaked out the doors with the other kids before anyone could notice. As soon as I was outside in the cool air, I took deep breaths and sat on a shaded bench, letting the sun beat down on my back.      

"Well, well, well. If it isn’t our BFF Frankie!" Lauren and Jessica howled with laughter, licking their lips which were encrusted with sugar crystals and pale pink lip-gloss. They were so plastic, but so perfect in that plastic sense. Perfect white capped teeth, perfect pouting lips and smooth milky skin. I had thin, blistering lips and my skin had turned red with the embarrassment and the sun.      

 Lauren pulled out a packet of Love Hearts, popping one in her mouth and turning it round and round on her tongue while swigging a bottle of water. She offered one to Jess and she took one, still standing in front of me, staring at me.      

"Do you want something?" I asked, sighing and pulling out a packet of Superdrug Vaseline and smearing it over my lips for a long time whilst waiting for Lauren and Jess to reply.

"Do you want a vajazzle?" Lauren asked simply. 

"Not really."  I'd heard about these vajazzles. Just because this was Essex, Bromford to be exact, I didn't want stupid jewels very near to my Hello Kitty hot-pants. Lauren lifted up her top and showed me hers, a little rabbit encrusted out of pink jewels. Jess had a simple little heart in white and black.

"Just go away! I don't want a flippin' vajazzle."

"Well," said Lauren, "Considering you shoved us over in the toilet earlier, I think we deserve an apology, at least. And look, we're offering you a free vajazzle in return..."      

I didn't trust them one bit. I stood up and stalked off before they could say anymore to me, crashing into some boys, but not caring.        

Tears of anger welled up in my eyes at the unfairness of it all. If Lauren and Jess shoved me, they'd be an army behind them sticking up for them, making it seem as though I was in the wrong.       

I sounded like a moody cow, I realised in my head as the words 'its not fair, its not fair' swam around my head as I leant across the door of the bikeshed. As I leant back across the plastic, I saw a bald head out of the corner of my eye.     

Mr Birkett.

I swore under my breath and rattled the heavy padlock on the bikeshed door. When it refused to budge, I ran round to the other side and, seeing a pile of heavy bricks in the corner, pushed them with all my might up to the side of the shed. I hoisted myself up onto them, pushed one leg through the plastic slide-up window, my other leg following until only my head stuck outside.    

 Hooking my feet onto a bike wheel inside, I pulled myself fully inside, just as Mr Birkett's footsteps stomped past, along with a series of heavy breathing. I held my breath until he passed and then sank down to the floor next to a green BMX, and started to cry.    

 I couldn't live like this. I couldn't go round in fear of Lauren and her crew, and failing all my exams. I just got distracted all the time in lessons and didn't understand anything. The teachers never understood and everyone either mocked me or pitied me for it. Mum would kill me if she knew how many times I'd failed practice tests and exams. I wanted it all to go away.    

My hand reached inside my pocket on its own accord and brought out a lighter. It flickered with a warm orange glow and I was so cold that I kept it on and propped it up on the floor, its heat warming me up and calming me down. I closed my eyes for a second, it was only a second or two, I know so. But I awoke to an orange glow before my eyelids. My chest felt tight and I couldn't open my eyes to the intense heat in front of me for a few seconds. When my eyes finally forced themselves open the only thing I could see was the flickering of yellow, orange and red, a carnival of harsh colours burning me.       

The smoke felt as though it had formed a hand and was slowly squeezing my throat. It took me another 30 seconds to realise the situation I was in. I was in a fire. I'm about to die.      

I coughed and screamed out the window, but they had jammed shut. "Help me!" I spluttered, tears streaming down my face as yet more flames licked my feet. My shoes began to look as though they were melting. My Hollister bag had already been taken up in the flames and was no where to be seen.      

A huge bang crashed down above me, and I screamed as the roof began to fall as if in slow motion, the fire crackling. I shielded my head with my arms as if it would make a difference, as the weight hit me and took my breath away, plummeting me down into darkness before everything had gone.          

 

 

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