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The Return

Florence had used her cramp excuse for as long as she could, but she could tell her Mother was starting to grow suspicious after three days of pretending to be ill at home, she could have just told her, told her everything but the shame would be too much to bear, her Mum knowing what everyone thought about her made her want to curl up into a ball and die.

But she had begun her diet, the day Madison had left she’d come across a website updated weekly by a Doctor Janet Ferguson who gave tips on ′How To Shed Those Pesky Pounds Fast’ right now Florence was following her diet, no carbohydrates, no sugar and hardly any fats.

She ate carrot sticks in the morning, crunching each one like it was a punishment, which in a way it was.

But when she put on her school shirt the next morning she could still feel a tug at her waistband, she knew these things didn’t happen overnight but she would have gave up anything to not be going into school today.

As soon as she walked downstairs the sickening smell of blueberry pancakes greeted her, her mother stood at the counter, a half- strained smile on her face.

“When’s Cooper getting here love?” she asked serving up a stack of pancakes.

“She’s not coming today” Florence replied.

Her mothers eyebrows knitted with concern.

“Is there anything you need to tell me sweetie?” she strode over to her and cupped her chin “Flo, you can tell me anything you know that?”

Florence wished she was a baby again, that her mother could pick her up and hug her to her chest until the achey feeling she felt in her chest subsided, if she was a baby it would be cute to be chubby, and she wouldn’t have to go to school.

But she plastered a cheesy grin on her face “I’m fine Mum, I just decided I want to walk to school today, I still feel a bit nauseas and I want some fresh air!”

She picked up her satchel “I better get going!”

“Hold on!” her Mother grabbed her shoulder “You haven’t eaten you’re breakfast!”

“I had cornflakes Mum, I woke up early today” Florence lied, she had eaten a low-fat yogurt and her stomach was strongly protesting trying to drag her back to the inviting plate of pancakes.

“Okay” her Mother was still looking at her strangely, she had to escape her stare.

“Bye! Love you” she slammed the door behind her as she put a foot outside, she hadn’t walked to school alone in four years.

As she walked she tried to formulate a plan, a plan for how she was going to get through each and every day before she could leave for college, she debated whether ignoring people or answering back to snide comments was the way to go, she should probably just ignore them, ignore them and pray they all left her alone.

She was so preoccupied with her thoughts that she didn’t notice the boy standing in her path and bumped straight into him, sending him hurtling into a bush along with his bike.

“Oh God!” she held out her hand “I’m such a klutz! I’m so, so sorry!”

The boy took her hand, he looked familiar but wasn’t dressed in Phillipson High uniform.

“Its fine” he smiled and accepted her hand, suddenly she had turned to jelly, without his long fringe covering his face she could see the boy was classically handsome, dark tousled hair and those eyes, she couldn’t help but ogle.

“Well I better be on my way” he said looking bemused.

She shook herself out of her trance “Do I know you from somewhere?” she asked.

“I don’t think so, but you have a nice day ” he said walking away, a grin on his face.

She pulled out her phone and was halfway through typing a text to Cooper who had been especially interested in his disappearance before she remembered what her life now was, Cooper wasn’t her friend anymore, feeling tears forming in her eyes she put her phone back in her blazer pocket.

“Hey fat girl!” Donna Larsden shouted across the road, Donna had been in her tutor class since they had arrived as shiny-shoed eleven-year olds, they had never exactly been friends but both shared a love of reading and had recommended books to each other over the years, she now stood laughing snapping picture after picture of Florence.

She was really crying now, salty tears slipping into her mouth.

What had she ever done to deserve this?

The entire day was utter hell, no one would talk to her, they just talked at her, shouting various obscene remarks her way, when Lance Smith did approach her it was only to tell her he didn’t want to be Chemistry Partners anymore.

“I’m sorry Florence,” he said looking truly apologetic.

“I just don’t think we can be Chemistry Partners anymore with your... reputation”

She cried the entirety of lunch time.

She caught one glimpse of Cooper, Lauren, and Madison outside in their spot under the birch tree surrounded by a group of admirers laughing their stupid heads off, they didn’t care about her, of course, they didn’t Cooper being named prettiest girl was their invite to countless social events secured.

At the end of the day her form tutor Miss Willow cornered her as she hurriedly packed her folder into her satchel “Can I have a word Miss Clarke?” she asked.

Florence was trapped.

Miss Willow waited for the class to all leave before turning to her.

“Florence I’ve read the list, and I know people are being rather horrible to you at the moment, and I want you to know that you shouldn’t suffer in silence, you can talk to me, tell you’re parents”

Florence shook her head.

She wouldn’t be the fat girl and the snitch.

“I’m fine Miss Willow” she replied and marched out of the classroom.

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