A Bad Influence on Others

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Days passed, and those days turned into weeks, and I was still homeless. I was surviving, barely, on the money I earned in my measly job at the grocery store but I wasn't exactly living comfortably. At least the tunnel in the park had become a sort of home for me, I'd even written on the walls in sharpie 'Destiny Rowland lives here' to sort of claim it as my own. I'd become very attached to that tunnel, in a weird way. It protected me from the rain, the sun and any other annoying weather that might happen. Although many people came to the park to play or walk or sit, no one seemed to notice that I was there every night and morning, and I was glad of that. I'd heard stories about distressed mothers calling the police and getting people like me arrested, and I really did not want that to happen to me. 

In other affirmative news I was still bullied at school, even more so now that people were noticing my constantly dwindling happiness. I think a few people there knew about my home and parentless status, as I noticed people whispering things about me concernedly and shooting me sympathetic looks. Yeah, thanks for the help guys. 

Laura was still grounded, or at least she wasn't allowed to have me over or hang out with me outside of school. I'd noticed that her grounding didn't seem to apply to social activities not involving me, as Laura had been happily conversing with some girl about some 'rad' party they'd been to. On asking her about it, she'd looked at me guitily and apologised but I didn't have a problem with her, just her hateful parents. Anyway, I got the feeling that Laura had now fallen head over heels for that Shaun guy in her English class, as she seemed to talk about him all the time and whenever he came within a hundred metres of her she froze and stared at him longingly. This crush she has doesn't stop her from being the nicest person in the world, though, and she still does everything she can to be my best friend, even smuggling food and other supplies out of her house for me when I seem in greater need than usual (I don't ask her, she can just tell). 

On one particular day she brought me a whole box full of food, which she'd stolen out of her immensely stocked pantry. 

"Why?" was the only thing I could think to say. 

"You seem really hungry this week, that's all." she shrugged. 

She was right of course, and my stomach grumbled just at the thought of the feast I could have with this amount of food. Discarding the box, I placed the small containers of food into my backpack, keeping one out to eat now. 

"Thank you so much, Laura." I gave her a hug, trying to put into it how grateful I was. 

Laura smiled and murmured, "You're welcome." Pulling back from the hug, she walked over and picked up the cardboard box I'd carelessly thrown aside, and went to find a recycling bin. 

I sat there, on the bench in our school playground, and thought about how lucky I was to have Laura as a friend. I was grumpy, selfish, rejected, and yet she still cared for me, she still continued being my friend. If it weren't for her, I knew that being homeless would be much worse than it was. 

Eventually Laura came back, and so I questioned her on her favourite subject, Shaun. She brightened immediately and launched into a story of something that happened in English the day before. 

After school, Laura and I walked out of the gates together and prepared to part ways. Laura glanced down at the phone her parents had bought her, and saw a text from her mother. After reading it over, she handed her phone to me. I quickly read the text. 

'Laura, your father and I are attending a council party this afternoon, and so won't be there when you get home from school. Don't worry, we'll be home by seven o'clock, there's dinner in the fridge for you to heat up and your brother will be there as well. Be good! Lots of love, Mum xoxo' 

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