I couldn't speak to Deanna Macpherson at school. I wanted to tell her how much I hated her, how much I never wanted to see her again. But I couldn't speak to her. I was Den O'Derron, the social reject. How could I confront Deanna Macpherson unless we were alone? And likely that would come about in a hurry. She smiled at me once on her way to the bin to sharpen her pencil. I stared back, my eyes angry and glazed.
The smile didn't switch off, and I couldn't keep glaring like that. I nearly broke down in tears because it wasn't her fault, and it wasn't anything to do with her. She was the only person on earth to be kind to me, and she was kind even when I turned away her kindness, and it was so awful and unexpected, and I so horrible and ungrateful, I could scarcely take it.
I saw her approaching me out of the corner of my eye while I waited in the rain at the bus stop. I was too lazy to walk, but as soon as I saw her I wished I hadn't decided to be too lazy.
"Hi, Den," she said. "How are you."
I kept my head down as I growled a reply.
"My sister sends you her love," Deanna said gaily.
My head jerked up. Deanna's sister? Who was she? What did she know of me? And why on earth was she sending me her love?
"She feels sorry for you, and she wanted to give you strength," said Deanna gravely.
I stared at her, but not in malice. In amazement. "And what does your sister know about me and my affairs?"
Deanna shook her head. "I don't know. I didn't tell her about you. But she knows things. And she gives me messages sometimes."
I grunted. "Huh."
"She doesn't go to school, you know," said Deanna. "She doesn't leave the house."
I frowned, but didn't say anything.
Deanna Macpherson sighed, a great heaving sigh of mixed emotions. I wondered what emotions. "You know she's...she's..."
"Dee!" called one of Deanna's friends. "The bus is here. What're you saying to that loser?"
Deanna Macpherson dropped her lids and brought a slender-fingered hand to her mouth.
"She sends you her love," she said quickly. Then almost imperceptibly she touched my elbow, and drew her arm away. I scarcely saw the movement, and she left me standing there at the bus stop as she ran to catch the bus.
I didn't get it. I walked home in a kind of trance, my mind a vacuum.