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My New Friend
She walks into class, and everyone turns and stares. She has tawny hair that sways down her back, effulgent green eyes, and pallid skin. She introduces herself as Annabel Brown, a new student from Mississippi. She gives the teacher her pass, and heads to the seat the teacher has directed her to, right next to me. As she walks down the aisle of desks a boy named Johnny sticks his foot out and trips her. She falls, but catches herself. Her backpack is on the ground, with her belongings scattered across the floor. One which happens to be a red art book, which contained astonishing drawings. Across the room, you can hear people whispering and snickering, as if the world’s biggest loser just walked into the room. I can only imagine how she felt. Johnny seemed to already have something against her. He says “Hey loser, why don’t you go to a school where you belong? They should have a special place for freaks like you.” She makes her way to her desk, cautiously watching everyone as she passes by. As she sits down, I can see the tears start to build up in her eyes, when I say “Hey, I’m Bella. I’m sorry about Johnny; he picks on anyone who lets him. Are you okay?” All she does is smile, and whispers hello. My heart breaks a little.
The next day, Tuesday, when I come into class, Annabel is already at her desk. When I sit down, I see she is drawing inside of her red art book.
“What are you drawing?” I ask.
“Florida,” she replies.
“Oh. Do you like it here so far?”
“Not really. Florida’s too hot for me. It’s winter, and it’s only 75 degrees outside. Is it always this warm?”
“Pretty much,” I respond. “It gets a lot hotter in the summer. Just wait.”
“Hopefully I won’t be here that long.”
“Oh. Um, I’m sorry you don’t like it here. The sun is a little rough, but you get used to it. Besides that, do you like the school?
“Yeah it’s okay,” Annabel replies. “The kids here haven’t been too friendly, but it’s fine. I’m used to it.”
“Girls quit talking and get to work. Don’t make me talk to either of you again, or I’ll send you both out of the class room,” the teacher warns.
“Yes ma’am,” we both reply.
After school, I saw Annabel in the hall, sitting down with her back up against a locker. I started to walk up to her, but as I got closer, I could tell there was something wrong. She was crouched over and quietly sobbing, with tears steadily flowing down her cheeks. I was afraid to bother her, so I sat down next to her, and didn’t say a word. She looks up at me, surprised. I then see the dark bruise on her right cheek. She leans her head back and starts to cry more heavily. We sat like that for awhile, just knowing ones company was enough.
All of a sudden, she looks at me sincerely and says “Thank you, Bella. I really do appreciate you staying with me. No one else here would ever do that for me.”
“No problem,” I say. “I saw you were upset, and I wasn’t just going to leave you here like that.”
“Thanks again,” Annabel responds.
“What happened to your cheek? Did someone hurt you?” I wondered out loud.
“Yes, Bella. The kids here… they don’t really like me.”
“Oh my gosh! Did you tell a teacher or someone?”
“No, I can’t. Please don’t tell anyone, Bella.”
“But Annabel, they’ll keep hurting you if you don’t tell!” I shriek.
“Bella, promise me you won’t. Please?” She begged.
“I can’t promise you that, Annabel. I can’t stand to see you get bullied.”
“I’m fine, really. It doesn’t even hurt that much,” she promised.
“I have to go, but I’m not promising you I won’t tell.”
“Goodbye Annabel. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Um, yeah… See you tomorrow,” Annabel replies.
The following day, Annabel didn’t come to school. Maybe she didn’t want anyone to see her bruise, I thought to myself. Then the next day, still no Annabel. When Friday came, Annabel still wasn’t at school. Something was wrong.
By the time Monday came, and Annabel still wasn’t at school, I began to fill with worry. I asked my teacher if she knew where she was, but she didn’t know anything. No one did. I was bothered by this. I was concerned for her well being, but I had no way to contact her. When I got home that day, I asked my mom if she has heard of the Browns. I told her they were new to town, from Mississippi, and had a daughter named Annabel that was in my class. She automatically knew who I was talking about. They lived a few blocks away from us. My body instantly filled with relief, but I was still perturbed on why she wasn’t coming to school.
On Tuesday morning, I was walking to my bus stop, and I saw her house. It was white, with black shutters, a red door, and a white picket fence. I walked past it every day last week, and didn’t even have a clue she lived there. I decided to stop and see if she was there. As I walked up the drive way and approached the door, Annabel opened it and walked out.
“Hello Bella. What are you doing here?” Annabel asked.
“Well, you weren’t at school last week and yesterday, so I was starting to worry. I came to see if you were okay.”
“Oh, yes. I’m quite fine. Thank you for caring though.”
“Are you coming to school today?” I wondered.
“Yes, I am. Let me get my bag, and we can walk together. Okay?”
“Sure,” I reply.
Annabel goes inside and doesn’t come back out for what feels like forever. I was beginning to worry we were going to miss the bus, when she finally came back out with her stuff.
“I’m sorry I took so long. I had to help my mother with my baby brother,” Annabel says.
“Oh, it’s okay. I completely understand. I have a younger sister.”
“Yeah, I always have to help get him dressed.”
“I know the feeling,” I say. “Why weren’t you at school last week?”
“My mom was sick, so I had to stay and help take care of her.”
“Well that’s nice of you. She doesn’t worry about you missing school though?”
“Oh yeah, she does, but she needed me.”
“Oh, okay,” I say, letting the subject go.
When we get to the bus stop, Johnny is there.
“Oh Bella, why’d you walk with her?” he asked.
“Because she’s my friend. Why do you have to be so mean? What did she ever do to you?”
“She exists, that’s what,” Johnny replies.
“You know, I thought you were pretty cool until now. You’ll never fit in with us now.”
“I don’t care what you think, or what you thought,” I say. “You can think I’m an elephant, ugly, a loser, whatever you want, but it doesn’t matter to me. People like you don’t deserve to have any friends. You don’t deserve to be considered popular. You bully people just to make yourself feel better. Whenever you feel threatened, or not so sure about yourself, you go and hurt someone else. That’s sick. You’re no better than anyone of us here. If anything, you’re worse. You are a terrible person inside. I feel bad for you. If anyone said I was anything like you, I would be ashamed.”
The old, rusty bus pulls up and Johnny immediately gets in, and sits in the back seat alone. No one says a word for the whole ride. When the bus stops to let us all out at school, Johnny is the first one up and runs out the door.
“Bella, you didn’t have to do that,” Annabel says.
“Stick up for me. Now he and his friends are going to bully you too.”
“I don’t care. If they do, I’m going to tell some one. You may be afraid to, but I’m not. There’s no way I’m going to let him get away with it.”
“You know, it’s a lot easier said than done,” Annabel states.
“Maybe so,” I say. “But hey, I have to get to class… I’ll see you later.”
“Okay. Thanks again. I really appreciate it,” Annabel says, as I walk away.
When the last bell rings, to dismiss us from the school day, everyone rushes out of the class room, leaving me behind. By the time I get in the hall, everyone is gone. As I walk down the hall to get to the buses, Johnny and his group come out of a classroom. They stop when the see me. “Hey Bella! Why don’t you stay with us for a minute or two?” Johnny yells. I start walking in a more rapid pace. Next thing I know, two guys come up beside me and push me onto the floor. They pin me down until Johnny catches up to where we are. “Wanna rethink what you said earlier?” Johnny says. “I’ll forgive you and let you go, if you do. But if you don’t, there will be consequences.” I knew by “consequences” he meant punch my face in, but I really didn’t regret what I had said earlier. No bully was going to intimidate me, whether I get beat up or not.
“No, Johnny. I meant what I said. I was sticking up for a friend and what I believe in. What you did was wrong, and I don’t care if you hurt me. Go ahead, punch me, it won’t change a thing. But before you do, tell me why you do this. Do you think you’re better than us?” I screamed.
“I am better than you.” Johnny says.
“Oh really? How?”
Johnny is silent and his face turns blood red.
“We are all equal. Not one of us is better than any, and you need to stop thinking you are. I am so sick and tired of it. Just because you’re immature and insecure doesn’t mean Annabel or I should have to pay for it. Grow up.” I say.
Johnny slowly steps back, still not saying a word. I get up and run away.
The next day, in school, Johnny comes up to me.
“Bella, I am really sorry for all the pain I have caused you or Annabel. You were right, I’m insecure of myself, and I learned I need to find a way to work it out rather than make someone else pay for it. I hope someday you can forgive me.” Johnny pleads.
“Of course I’ll forgive you. I’m glad you’ve finally realized what you’ve been doing, and I hope you continue to change for the better.” I reply.
On the bus later that day, I couldn’t find Annabel, so I had to walk home alone. As I was walking up my drive way, I hear Annabel calling my name.
“BELLA! Bella, wait for me!” She shrieks.
“What? What’s wrong?” I ask.
“Nothing! But if I were to tell you Johnny apologized to me, would you believe me?”
“Yeah, actually, I would. Yesterday he and his friends ganged up on me because I stuck up for you, but I told him off and actually made him think about what he’s been doing. He apologized to me too.” I say.
You did that for me? They could’ve hurt you!” Annabel yelled.
“I know, trust me. I was scared out of my mind. But what they were doing was wrong and someone had to tell them.”
“I’ve never had a friend that would do that for me, Bella. Thank you so much. I always thought friends like you only happen in stories. I never thought I could have a friend as great as you.” Annabel says.