Ocean Girl

When Toby meets a mysterious girl on a trip to the beach, he is facinated by her. Years later he has almost forgotten about this girl until he gets a chance to meet her once more . . .

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5. Tears

Toby walked home sadly. He was used to being ignored by all the pupils and most the teachers at school, but it had never hit him as hard as Angelica acting like he didn’t exist. He knew that by the time she found out who he was, she would have her own friends and he would be just another boy in the class. He realised that the moment she had stepped into the classroom that morning and he had fully recognised her, he had hoped that they would become friends and he would have someone to spend his break times with. But it seemed like this wouldn’t be the case now . . .

He glanced up at the pavement on the other side of the road and saw someone with a sheet of dark hair hurrying ahead of him. Toby’s heart leapt – it was Angelica.

Without really thinking about it and without really meaning to, he found himself running after her. He was faster than most people gave him credit for and soon caught up with her.

‘Angelica,’ he gasped, out of breath, ‘what are you running so fast for?’

She looked up at him briefly then carried on running even faster. Toby sprinted to keep up with her. He looked at her face and was startled to see tears streaming down her cheeks and her eyes screwed up in a vain attempt to keep her emotions in.

‘What’s the matter?’ Toby asked, trying to put on a soothing voice, but he was panting from running so fast that he didn’t think it made any difference. ‘Why are you crying, Angelica?’

‘G-g-go a-away,’ she said between sobs.

Toby was struggling now to keep up with her. She streaked ahead of him, her school bag bouncing on her hip. He had never seen someone so upset and a wave of protectiveness washed over him. He wanted to know why she was distressed and do something about it. Toby kept on running.

Angelica, whose eyes were still almost shut, suddenly tripped over a stray tree root from someone’s garden and she went sprawling across the pavement. Her bag flew off her shoulder and its contents scattered all over the ground. Toby managed to catch up with her and he held out a hand to help her up. She ignored him and made the way to her feet by herself.

‘Are you alright?’ he asked, staring at the blood leaking out her grazed hands and knees.

Angelica didn’t reply. She bent down to pick up her things and Toby instantly began helping her. When everything had been packed away safely inside her bag, he picked it up and handed it to her.

‘Thanks,’ Angelica said shyly. She rubbed away the tears from her eyes.

‘Do you want to tell me why you’re crying?’ Toby asked softly.

She took a deep breath. ‘It will probably sound stupid,’ she said.

‘I’m sure it won’t.’ Toby tried to smile at her encouragingly.

‘It’s just . . . it’s just . . . well . . .’ She seemed to be struggling to find the right words. ‘I didn’t want to leave my old school, but I had to because my stepdad got a new job. I feel like I’m unwanted here and, well, everything has just piled up on top of each other. Do you know what I mean?’

‘Yeah, yeah, I do.’ Toby realised that they had started walking again. He had a strange feeling that she wasn’t telling him everything, but he didn’t want to mention it.

‘I’m sorry. You probably don’t want to listen to me moaning.’

‘No, it’s fine.’

She smiled and looked up at him.

‘Just a quick question – why did you keep staring at me at school today?’

So she had noticed him! A triumphant feeling washed through him, before he realised exactly what she had said and turned bright red.

‘Oh, I was just, err . . .’ How could he explain that? He decided to change the subject. ‘I have to turn here, Angelica.’ Toby started walking down the street curving towards their left. ‘See you tomorrow!’

‘See you tomorrow too,’ Angelica called, looking a lot happier. ‘Sorry, you didn’t tell me your name.’

‘Toby.’

‘Well, bye, Toby!’

They walked away from each other in different directions and Toby felt himself being filled with delight.

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