Robin pedalled as hard as she could towards the school, the green painted trailer clattering along the road behind her.
She gritted her teeth, the look on Beth's face still etched onto her mind. No, she was going to make this right; everyone said she should admit when she'd messed up, so this was her admitting it.
It was just that Kristy and Amy seemed like she would never stop. Everything either of them did became the butt of a joke or a sideways whisper. And when she found out they'd started on James in his first year of school, just for being related to her?
"Don't you think we could tone down the project a bit?"
"What?" Beth had laughed, "You're the one who said the music and balloons would be a good idea."
"I don't know. Maybe it's too much? The others' presentations won't be like this." She'd looked around at the garage at the painted props, down at the script in her hands.
"But it's good!" She looked unsure now. "We've worked so hard on all of this."
"But it's too weird!"
A heartbeat. "You mean, I'm too weird."
They'd fought then.
"Am I too, too socially dangerous to you? I didn't know you cared so much about that stupid stuff." There had been angry tears in her eyes, in Robin's too. "Maybe you should just stop being my friend then!"
"Maybe I will!"
"Fine!" said Beth, straightening up tall to rub in those extra two inches of height, and strode out of Robin's bedroom.
"Fine!" Robin yelled down the stairs as Beth went, then again as she slammed the front door without answering, "Fine!"
Then Robin had cried to her Mum for an hour.
She'd refused school this morning and stayed in bed. School was lame, always would be, no matter what Beth tried to tell her. Especially science. She didn't need it; she would become an actor or a policeman. And have adventures without Beth who would never be able to so anything because she was too shy to talk to anyone or ever ask for help or stand up for herself or make other friends...
She turned over in bed and saw the edge of a large cardboard sign down the gap between the frame and the wall. She pulled it out. It was painted brightly, stars and suns and planets messy and bright. Robin hadn't painted it.
THE END OF THE WORLD
Research, Writing, And Production By
The Amazing Robin&Beth!!!
Around the bend the school came into sight and Robin put a final burst of speed into the bike, legs burning.
Beth was already up at the front of the hall when she arrived, whispering and stammering through her speech.
"You're going to have to speak up, Beth. We can't hear you." Mr. Boey said, kindly. Kirsty and Amy snickered. Beth's eyes welled and her voice squeaked.
Robin burst through the doors at the back of the hall, panting, her tanned face red. Everyone swiveled to look but she ignored them, dragging the green painted trailer.
"Dim the lights Mr. Boey!" Beth smiled at her through tears.
They both said togehter, "Welcome to the end of the world!"
Beth emerged from the administrative building, glowing with happiness at a piece of paper in her hand. Robin jumped down from the wall and ran over.
"So what did he want you for? Something good?"
Beth handed her the paper, "Look."
It was a glossy printed leaflet with a picture of the front of an old fashioned mansion behind swirly black gates. Teenagers sat around a fountain and stood on the steps to the building, all wearing yellow blazers or jumpers. 'St. Ives Academy' was calligraphed on the top of the front page.
Robin gaped. "You mean-"
"I've been offered a scholarship at Saint Ives'." Beth could barely contain her excitement, "From September."
"That's... that's amazing!" Robin jumped to hug Beth around the neck, who staggered and giggled under her weight. "You're going to change the world, you are! I knew it, I know it!"
Then she hesitated, stood back from Beth, whose brown eyes creased in concern. "What is it, Robin?"
"It's just..." Robin sighed, "I'm not smart like you, I know that. The only reason I understand all that science stuff is because you're such a good teacher."
"And your crush on Carl Segan," Beth interrupted mischievously.
"Oh my God stop it!" Robin shrieked, "It was the first name that came into my head when Matthew asked!" She paused, then wilted. "You're going to make so many smart amazing friends at St. Ives. You wouldn't... you wouldn't forget about me, would you?"
"It's not true, you know. I think you're the smartest person I know.
There was a beep from the road. "Ah, my dad's here, I can't wait to tell him!" Beth ran away towards the brown car, and Robin's hand, raised to wave, drooped a little. But then she turned and shouted, "Come on, silly, we'll give you a ride home!"
Robin grinned and, shouldering her sack, ran after her.