I phoned Shelby to ask if I could pick her up. She gave me the address. It's a nice house and no mistake - wrought-iron gates, gravel driveway. There were two cars parked in the driveway, which confused me a little. I honked the horn and she came out to meet me, looking surprisingly less skinny than when I first saw her. Maybe it's a good thing that's she's eating more, although I hope she's not overeating. I've seen what overeating does to a person.

She seemed a bit gloomy when we got there and she'd only let me buy her a cranberry juice. I had to confront her a little about the car thing - it seemed a bit peculiar that someone living in such a nice house couldn't use at least one of the cars. Maybe she just couldn't drive, but there were other signs too. Her clothes had holes here and there and generally looked a bit old and worn. And her father hadn't let her use the phone.

Once I'd said it, she started crying. And it all came out. Her parents were being horrible to her. Ever since she'd started her working life they'd been having the money sent straight to their own accounts, and if she needed to buy anything she had to ask them for it. They wouldn't let her pay for driving lessons. If they ever caught her stealing money or eating more than her share of the food in the house, they used to beat her. It all kept coming out, and I had to dash to the toilets for bog roll twice. I can deal with my mum fine when she's crying, but not so well with ordinary women. 

Anyway, after ten minutes she calmed down a little bit. She said it had been a bit hard on her because Dylan was never treated like this at all - although he'd never noticed what was happening to her. It was terrible. I offered to lend her some money until I could figure some plan out, but she refused almost angrily. They'd find out and she'd be punished, of course. I should have known it wouldn't work. Stupid.

She was still crying a bit when she told me she wanted to talk privately. I followed her into the girl's toilets, which is for some reason nicer than the men's toilets - probably because most drunk men have no control over where their urine goes. I was still feeling confused as hell - she's six years older than me and I know nothing about women, so how was I supposed to comfort her or handle the situation? Then she started to say weird things. She asked if I find her attractive, and had I been looking at her? She sort of demanded to know, her tone of voice. So I said, 'I dunno.' Smooth, I know. She said, 'You don't know. Well, have you been looking? Have you been looking at my arse?' I shook  my head. She said it again -  'Have. You. Been. Looking. At. My. ARSE?' And I admitted, 'Yes, sometimes!' I shouldn't have said that because she was grieving and obviously distressed. She could have been having a nervous breakdown for all I know, and what did I say to her? I told her I've been looking at her arse. I can't believe it.

Anyway now I'd answered her question. Then suddenly she took hold of my face and kissed me. It was a proper snog; I was very surprised. Then she said she had to go, so I dropped her off home. I do not understand women.

The End

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