Picking the Wallflower

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Chapter 21

The sun was beginning to set, and it was a strangely cloudless day. My mom had phoned, and we had spoken at length about my dropping out, and where I could go from there. Loneliness was my constant companion, and I found myself doodling on a lot of paper to keep my mind busy. The front doorbell rang, starling me out of my thoughts.

As I opened the door, I froze when I saw who was there. MJ stood sheepishly on the other side of the door, with the last person I had expected. “Miss Partridge?”

Both of them nodded, Miss Partridge clutching what I realised was my missing laptop bag. “We are sorry we didn’t stop by sooner.” The words were soft and gentle.

My manners returned as the shock wore off, and I unlocked the security gate. “Come in. Please.”

Both of them entered, and I lead the way through to the living room.

We were settled with coffee before either of them spoke. “We didn’t think you actually had left, for real.”

“Why not?” I was legitimately confused. Had they thought I was joking?

MJ seemed to be quite uncomfortable. “They sort of thought you were just blowing off steam. The teachers, I mean.”

Miss Partridge shifted in her chair, and I looked across at her. “Something tells me you believed me.”

Her nod was almost imperceptible. “I had seen them grab you, Kyle and Sean. But I couldn’t stop them. I picked up your bag before that could go missing, kept it safe for you.” I nodded my thanks to her. “But the whole thing had gone too far before I could do anything.”

Shoving myself to my feet, I paced to the widow. “Nobody even tried to stop them. It’s been three years, and not a single person ever came to my defence.”

I glared out into the middle distance, not really seeing anything. MJ’s voice was quiet. “That changed the day after you deleted that blog of yours.”

Turning to face them, I leant on the glass. “How so?”

Miss Partridge glanced at MJ. “A fist fight broke out in the hallway outside my classroom, three cheerleaders against two of the quiet girls. Two other people stepped in to separate them, but it ended up becoming a full out bun fight.”

“What does that have to do with me?”

MJ shrugged. “Your name was mentioned a lot. Screamed, actually. People are pretty divided about the whole situation.”

“It’s not like they cared when I was there.” I pushed off the glass and sat back down. “Why now? I’ve left, and I’m never going back.”

MJ shrugged. “I guess people are guilty. They disregarded something until it became a real issue, and by the time it became a serious issue, it was too late to do anything.”

As insightful as what MJ had said was, I knew that wasn’t the whole truth. “What did you say to them that had them so mad?”

Miss Partridge scowled a little, but it was fairly good natured. “He told the football coach he would leave the team if the people who had done what they did were not punished. When that news leaked, all hell broke loose.”

While I was flattered – the stories I heard during that conversation made me realise I had made a bigger impact on everybody than I had imagined – I was adamant. “I can’t go back. I will not be treated that way. Not anymore.”

It was dark when MJ and Miss Partridge finally stood up. “We need to get going. But feel free to call us if you need anything.”

I was soon alone again, with a lot to think about. In that thinking, I found my calling.

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