Chapter Ten

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"Melanie, can I ask you a question?" She takes a bite of her donut and nods. "The thing is, you know I want to help you, right? And also maybe, other girls like you, girls like me. I mean, you're not big, like me, being bullied or just having problems with fitting in, that can happen to anybody, you know? You don't have anything standing out that would make you a target and it's not your fault either. Which is why it can't really be stopped but I really want to find a way to make it better." "What do you want to do?" she asks, looking at me curiously. "Well, that's what I need your help for and what my question's about. I want to know ... what would you really think would help you? What can be done? And I don't mean something that parents and teachers assume you want to make themselves feel better, I mean, what would really help you? I need your help in particular, Melanie, you know what it feels like. And I think the fact that you and me are talking about this could maybe even help others."

"Miss Nicholls, are you talking about founding a proper organisation for this? Because it's not a new idea. There's hotlines, youth clubs, all of that." "There's nothing around that I've really seen help people, there was nothing for me when I was at school. But I need something to work with. Come on, this could be great, a project." She laughs. "Will I get a better grade?" I smile. "Possibly." She rolls her eyes, then puts on a more serious face though. "I don't know ... I guess it would help to be accepted just somewhere so I know that it actually can be possible. I need something outside of school that is better than school, that doesn't focus on my problem, it should be a distraction, a part of my life that the others at school don't know about so it will make me feel like they don't know me at all so I wouldn't mind being judged by them by the little they see. I need to know that I'm okay and that it's them, not me." I nod as she speaks, understandingly. "Well, I can work with that. Thank you. Wouldn't you like to help me? That way maybe we can come up with something that actually does help and make a difference. I mean, I might know what I felt like but that's years in the past already too now. You know what other people in your position would want. I know that every teacher probably says this or feels like this but I became a teacher to really help people, some go through school like they go through twelve years of prison, some go through school like it's their way up to Hollywood, you know? And I want to help those less fortunate. Puperty is hard enough, school doesn't have to kick you when you're down already, minding the countless other problems you've already got like boys and acne and blood streaming out of areas you don't want to talk about yet."

Melanie laughs. "You're a great teacher, Miss Nicholls and I appreciate you wanting to help but do you think this could work?" "Don't you want to make a change? Maybe talk to other people who are experiencing the same thing? Distract them because you're one of the people who knows what could actually help?" She sighs, then starts to nod. "I realise that it will be hard to get people to take this seriously because most people are shy about it at your age and they don't want anything to do with things addressing the actual problem but it shouldn't be therpeutic, I want it to be a place to escape, where you can but not necessarily have to deal with the problem." Melanie smiles. "That'd be amazing." I smile too. "See. So let's make it happen. If you come up with anything, just tell me. No rush." "I'll think of something and tell you tomorrow at lunch." "Sounds great. I'm really glad you're gonna help me with this." "I want to help just as much."

On my way home, I decide to call Wes and ask him how it went with his crush. He picks up straight away. "What up, home girl?" I laugh. "How did it go with your actual home girl?" He laughs too. "I showed her the song, like you suggested and she loved it. She said she loved that it wasn't just some cheesy shit or like super gangster and we're hanging out tonight." "Really? That's amazing, I'm happy for you!" "I can't wait. I was actually about to call you, Bev and I was wondering if maybe you could give me some advice?" "As if you have not dated a girl before." He laughs again, nervously. "Yeah but Rita's different." "Is that her name?" "No, that's someone else ... of course it's her name!" I laugh again too. "I'm sorry. I don't know, do you know anything about her yet?" "She's loaded, I guess and she's polite." I sigh. "Anything else I can work with? Where are you taking her?" "She just invited me over to her place, said I should play something for her on guitar." "So she wasn't really into the rap?" He sighs. "I bet her ex-boyfriend played her some Wonderwall on guitar and now she wants to see if I can do that too. Chicks are into that, especially the girls that are like her, loaded and into Ryan Gosling and The Notebook." He doesn't sound too thrilled now. "Are you sure that's the girl for you?" "I feel like there's more to her and I want to explore that" he says. "Alright, fair enough. I guess you just have to be yourself, no matter how unoriginal that advice is. If she's not that similar to you, you don't want to pretend that she is. You should both know what you're dealing with straight away." "What if she lives at home and her parents are home?" "Is she that young?" "I don't know! Or what if she has roommates?" "How long did you talk to her for? And what kind of conversation was that?!" "Bev, stop judging. Any more advice?" "I don't think so, sorry. Call me later though and tell me how it went." "I will, thanks." "Good luck and have fun, don't worry too much about it." "Easier said than done. I'll try though." "Great, later." "Later."

As soon as I've made it home and opened the door, Daley stands in front of me very closely as if he's been waiting behind the door. "Bit close?" I ask. "I have news" he announces. "You could've told me them from the couch." "No." "O-okay..." I laugh as I put my jacket up behind the door, then turn back to Daley. "What is it?" "You know how I sent the publisher my first few chapters?" he asks and a smile spreads on his face. I can't help but smile back. "Yeah and...?" "He liked them, he said he couldn't wait to read more! And that there's no doubt about publishing it!" I swing my arms around him and hug him tightly. "That's amazing, I'm so proud of you! Have we got champagne?" I ask. He laughs. "What do you think?" "Let's go shopping then." "Together? Without having had dinner?" He looks at me doubtingly. "We're celebrating." "You know how this ends, you know ... well, us." "We're celebrating" I repeat, remaining unimpressed. And I can see Daley debating with himself in his head, the wallet in mind and the store we both love down the street and the fact that we're going shopping hunrgily. "Alright!" he agrees and the serious expression turns into a huge smile again as he grabs his leather jacket and follows me out the door.

"Just a bottle of champagne and one item of candy for each" Daley repeats as we enter the shop. I nod in agreement. "We don't have more money, we need some in case the washer needs fixing." "Word" Daley sighs and I grab a basket. "We can carry two candy bags and a bottle" he corrects me and I put the basket away. "You're right, you're right." We both grab our candy of choice and Daley goes to get the champagne. Before I can even make it to the register where we were supposed to meet, he's in front of me. "But Bev, how do you feel about making burgers tonight?" he asks and holds a pack of patties, waving them seductively and looking like he needs a hit of a drug. And before we know it, we meet on the other side of the store, me bringing pickles, bread and the basket and Daley putting onions, ketchup and oil in. No, we don't have essential things like oil and ketchup in our apartment at all times. Actually, never. Because we never actually cook. And this right here is going to cost us more than getting some McDonald's but if we make our food ourselves, it's an excuse for anything for me and Daley.

We're already at the register, when I turn to Daley. "Are we all out of Dr. Pepper?" I ask. He nods. "Yeah, if you get some, can you bring me some Camden beer?" I nod. "Sure" I reply as I go back into the middle of the store and grab our drinks, on the way I also take some Ben & Jerry's and some marshmallows to which Daley just nods and gives a thumbs up. Then he gives me a painful look and hands the cashier his credit card. 

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