Florence knew that a Facebook Update shouldn’t have hit her so hard as it did when she refreshed her Facebook feed and saw Cooper’s status, for so long she had become accustomed to liking and commenting on every single one of her friend’s posts.
And seeing that Cooper seemed to have forgotten they had once been a four made her want to weep. Despite Madison’s almost bitter speech about how Cooper couldn’t get over their former friendship, Florence would beg to differ, her phone stayed silent.
She wanted to cry but she’d done enough weeping to last a lifetime this week.
She was up at 6 am, her new start time for the day, she placed her phone on her desk watching as Adrienne Dolma began stretching for her morning workout, Florence copied her movements exactly.
Once she had finished stretching she changed into her sports leggings and a loose t-shirt, she had a fifteen-minute jog to complete.
It was always better to jog in the morning when hardly anyone was around, no one to laugh at the fat girl trying to do some exercise.
But her lungs burned and her chest ached as she pushed herself further and further though she knew she was already out of breath, she could feel her thighs slapping against each other and her stomach lifting every time she took a step and that made her want to punish herself even more, she deserved this pain, every single bit of it.
She shouldn’t have let herself go, shouldn’t have let herself resemble a beached whale, only she could put this right, only she could fix this.
To her surprise when she arrived home panting and spluttering her mother was already awake, an unusual expression on her face.
“Since when do you wake up this early Flo?” she asked looking at her with concern.
Florence tried to feign a light-hearted tone.
“Oh you know Mum, the early bird catches the worm!” she said.
“And I thought you’re opening the Diner late this week?” she asked.
“I am, I just thought it would be nice for the two of us to eat breakfast together, I know until Dad gets back we can’t be a proper family, but he’ll be here before we know it!”
Florence was dreading the moment her father returned from California, he was far more eagle-eyed than her Mother and would interrogate her if he saw some of the strange habits she was beginning to develop, his little Florence didn’t run before school, didn’t turn down a plate of maple syrup pancakes for a banana, and she dreaded seeing him realise that what people had done to her had affected her so much.
“I know you’re trying to make some healthy changes love so I made you this” her mother set in front of her a plate with two grapes as eyes, a pineapple chunk as a nose and blueberries set into a wide grin, with a tub of low-fat yogurt on the side.
Florence felt tears in the corner of her eyes, she threw her arms around her nervous-looking Mum.
“Thanks, Mum” she whispered into her pink cardigan “I love you”
“I love you too Curly Mop”
Her mother used her childhood nickname and then brushed her hair away from her face.
“And Flo, I noticed you don’t get picked up by Cooper anymore, and I wanted to tell you that if those girls can’t see you’re worth after everything you’ve done for them my darling then they are severely blind and you are too good for them”
Hearing Cooper’s name felt like a dagger to the heart.
She’d thought they were so much more than this.
Florence hugged her tighter.
And for an hour all her school troubles disappeared as she and her Mother ate their fruit and talked about anything and everything except the things that kept her up at night, it was the kind of morning that would usually lead on to a wonderful day.
Except Florence could guarantee her day would not be wonderful in the slightest.
On her lonely walks to school she sometimes kept an eye out for mystery boy, he was the only person her age who had given her a kind word since the list had been published, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Cooper, Madison, and Lauren walked around arms linked every lunchtime as if flaunting their friendship in her face, they had all taken to wearing black chokers and dramatic maroon lipstick, both of which were banned at school but obviously not for the ‘It Girls’, it was as if she’d never existed, she would have ruined their image.
And as for Florence, she divided her time between hiding out in the bathrooms or sitting in abandoned corners of the library praying no one would find her, as the comments they so carelessly tossed her way were small cuts causing her to die inside slowly and painfully.
Today was different, however, in the usually abandoned girl’s bathrooms a girl sat on the sink applying black lipstick and when she looked at Florence she smiled, she actually smiled.
“Hey,” she said swinging her legs, her black boots hitting the tiles.
Florence was so shocked she simply gawped at her.
“Cat got your tongue?” the girl in black smiled.
“I used to have a cat, Dotty her name was and then she went and got herself hit by a van, I cried for weeks and organised her this really intense funeral”
“I’m Clarice by the way” the girl held out a hand.
Still bamboozled Florence took it and shook it.
“I know your name,” Clarice said
“And I also know this school of superficial egomaniac losers have been making your life a rotting hell, but me and you can look out for each other, you don’t talk much but I think we’ll be friends”
Florence was still holding on to her hand.
“You don’t care then?” she finally found her voice “You don’t care what people will think of you if they see you hanging around with me... me the fat girl”
“Number one you’re not fat, number two every week there’s a new rumour about me, I have an STD, my parents are cold-blooded killers imprisoned for life or I’m a vampire, I think I can deal with a few more, and anyway who cares what they think”
Florence didn’t believe her first point, but she was starting to believe her second.
“You Clarice are an amazing individual” she found herself saying.
Clarice winked “I know”