As much as I wanted to, I couldn't be with Abbie all the time, every day. I had to go to school, I had to keep going, I had to have faith that everything was going to be alright. I guess that was the first time I wanted anything from Divine Providence, God, whatever...
I wanted them to save her.
And if they didn't, I would never forgive them.
My emotions switched between sadness, fear and fury on a frequent basis, sadness because of everything that happened, fear because of what could happen to her, and fury because it had happened to her.
I was also afraid for myself, Abbie was not gone completely, but school was horrendous, the only thing that drew me from my lonely bubble was talking to teachers about her, or telling the rest of the class about her. I didn't ask for friends, I'd learnt not to expect them amongst my peers, I just wanted someone.
And they came. It often angered me when the rest of the class exploited her, I remember one boy, who had never had a decent conversation with Abbie, get away with not doing his homework because the whole situation was "affecting" him. I felt my blood boil, how dare they, I thought. How dare they use her like that. But I kept my thoughts to myself, I kept my mouth shut, because that was what I did best.
Anyway, the class liked to believe that they had all loved Abbie and they were all concerned for her (though I could have argued differently.) And then, out of the blue, the popular ones, the ones that the headmistress adored because they were angels who conformed, as I liked to call it in my rebellious moments, started to talk to me. Looking back, I was an idiot. I was stupid not to realise, these girls hate you. Why would they want to talk to you? Something isn't right. But I was scared, scared of the possibility of living without my best friend, scared of being alone again. Any chance I had not to feel like that, I took it.
For about three weeks, they were nice to me. I sat with them at lunch, they talked to me in class, everything that I had wanted from them for years, but had never gotten. Now, I was the poor girl whose best friend was ill, and I needed to be pitied. I tried not to tell myself that was why they were with me, I pushed away the fact that it was just another way they were looking down on me. Pity can never be between equals, it will always be between a party who thinks they are higher and better than the other. I'd lived a lot of my school life on that lower level, and hated every second of it, but I'd made a home there.
One conversation I will always remember was at lunch time, when they were discussing the borderline of "best friends". What made two people best friends, common interests, shared memories? It was just another label to brand somebody with, but it was coveted. Everybody, no matter who they are, wants to be a best friend. It means that of all the friends out there, you are special, you will go down as special. Even when you meet up years later and say "we used to be best friends," you still were.
But I, apparently, was not worthy of being a best friend with these girls. And why? Apparently, to them, a requirement of being a best friend meant the parents had to get along, namely, the mums. I didn't have one of those.
'Sorry, Shannon. We would say you were our best friend, but it's just our mums get on really well and that makes us closer. That's just how it works.'
Ouch. Did Ella know the weight of her words when she said them? Probably not. She probably thought that because I never cried, I never seemed to feel anything about my mum, maybe even because it happened soo long ago, that it was just a casual thing that she could throw in my face. She could remind me that I was different from everybody else, that I was the poor-girl-who's-best-friend-is-ill-and-has-no-friends-and-has-a-dad-so-that's-not-a-real-family.
And, like the girl they knew I was, and expected me to be, I said nothing, and kept eating, finishing a whole bowl of custard that would make me feel ill, but did so to occupy myself.
That was when the sleepover idea cropped up. Let's have a sleepover at my house. Oh my God, it'll be soo much fun. I was invited.
Oh, the joy! A sleepover! A real one that you hear about in the films, between more than two people, with pillow fights and late night girl talk and...fun.
At least, that's what I thought it was going to be like...