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Chapter 14: Cheers and Fears

The moment the door closed behind Tem, Mr. Schaffer yelled, “Jynx, bring this girl a new ice cream.”

Lilly accepted the super-sized sundae from a very different counter girl. “With extra gummy bears. Just the way you like it,” she added a wink.

Lilly tried to recall something appropriate from her study of teen blogs and websites, but there had never been a post about how to accept gratitude after a brawl. She settled on, “Ah, thank you very much.”

“I never asked. What is the name of our young hero?” Dishtowel slung over his shoulder, Mr. Schaffer sat down beside Lilly.

“Oh, Lilly. I mean Lillian. And I am not a hero. In the strictest sense of the word, hero means showing distinguished courage or performing noble brave deeds. The dictionary refers to men being heroes, not women. Of course, they have erred in that assumption. A hero can also be the principal character in a story…”

“I like the kid,” said Jynx giving Lilly’s arm a nudge.

“Well, Miss Lillian, tonight you are my hero and you earned free ice cream anytime you walk through my door.”

“Thank you. That is not necessary. I am rarely allowed to eat artificial ingredients, preservatives, or this much sugar.” Nervous laughter rumbled as Lilly added, “But I love your ice cream and wish I could taste each and every flavor.” Customers crushed in around her. They shook her hand. Children wanted to know where she had taken her self-defense classes so they could also kick butt.

The barrage of attention, especially the slaps on the back, made putting the spoon in her mouth messy and dangerous. Lilly did her best to smile and eat, not fully understanding why what she did was such a big deal.

Was it not everyone’s duty to stand up to bad people? That was what her father had taught her.

Lilly’s wish had come true. She had friends. It wasn’t the normal way people connected, but it was a beginning. This was the best night of her life…but the night wasn’t over.

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