Irrelevant, standing in the playground watching other children playing football, or chatting. Her first day, but her last day all at the same time. Her stomach lurched forward, in a bid to stay upright. If she stayed here until the day started she could avoid conflict.
Changing schools seemed a good idea at the time, but now, amongst all these strangers, the world was spinning way too fast. What if they didn’t like her? What if there were students in this school just like Toby. Not content with making her school day a miserable thing to be in, but her home life too.
It was the reason she shied away from social media. Life had to be perfect there, and she was far from perfect. For a start, she wore glasses. Her freckles didn’t help either; that and she knew all the answers in class.
‘Hello . . .’
She wanted to ignore the other student, but there would be repercussions if she didn’t.
She shrunk into the background. ‘Hello.’
‘My name’s Laura, not seen you here before.’
‘Molly . . I . . . I just moved into the area.’
Even talking, and the bile at the back of throat burned into the lining of her stomach. Anxiety, a panic attack, she wasn’t even sure that moving was an option. Deep breathing, her mum said it would help. She counted to ten, backwards, then forwards.
‘That’s cool, I’ll show you around if you want.’
She wanted to trust this girl, but she had been fooled this way before.
‘Did you get bullied at your last school?’ Laura asked.
If she said yes, then would that mean she would be bullied again, but to finally say it. Out in the open, just like an alcoholic – My name’s Molly, and I’ve been a victim of bullying. Either way, it was like climbing out of a slippery hole.
The sun beat down, and Molly nodded. Get it over with, say something, and I can go back to being alone.
‘It’s okay, I’ve been bullied too. See my hair, ginger, I’ve had all the names. They call it banter, but it isn’t. I used to laugh with them, but Mum taught me different. She said it wasn’t acceptable. I should be able to be me without the drama.’
‘You, but you’re so confident!’ I blurt out.
‘Do you know how hard it was for me to walk over here to talk to you? I look confident, but sometimes it is the only way I can protect myself. I’ve got a packed lunch, Mum packed cheese sandwiches again, she knows I hate cheese.’
‘I’ve got beef . . . we could swap,’ Molly said.