Alley tries to help her friend, but she is not always successful.
“Hey Abel,” she said her smile transformed into a frown, “What’s wrong?” I coughed trying to cover up the sob welling up. My eyes felt wet. I did not want to cry in public. Especially not in a mall where there weren’t many people or stores, but I felt eyes all around anyways.
“I just don’t feel right.”
“Are you sick?”
“I don’t feel okay,” I continued, “I feel ugly and I feel—”
“I feel, I just don’t feel comfortable—”
She took both of my hands in hers and looked me in the eyes. Her lips were pursed in a line and her brows slightly raised.
“You are beautiful just the way you are,” she said. I knew that she meant well, but it didn’t help. I felt tears rolling down my face. I turned away; I knew my face was red. She squeezed my hands.
“I think that you are handsome.”
“I don’t think I want to be—I think I need some alone time.”
“Okay, you don’t have to tell me twice. I’m going.” She got up and walked away. She didn’t look back. Then I heard something else. There were footsteps. They were heavy like the person was trying to kick through the floor with each step. I knew them. I wiped my face on my shirt. I wanted to run, freeze and fight all at the same time.
When I first heard those footsteps I was much younger. It was amazing how someone so young could put so much force into walking. I was coloring a picture of a unicorn in a field of flowers. The footsteps came up behind me and stopped. My head was slammed into the table. I looked down and there was blood all over my drawing. My nose was bleeding. Then I looked up. I saw short curly hair, then two eyes glaring at me, then a mouth curled up in a smile of glee.
“That is a girls coloring book,” she said loud enough so everyone could hear.
I was brought back when the footsteps stopped.
“Look what I found, Abel crying like a little girl.” I ran. She put out her foot and I tripped. The whole world dropped out around me. My outstretched hand stayed my fall. And, I got up. I made a lurch and almost fell over again. I saw Alley watching. I ran down the hall, past all the empty rooms, not looking back. Alley caught up with me.
“I should have supported you when Martha attacked you, but I couldn’t reach you in time. I was being stupid earlier,” she said, “I should have listened to you and talked less. I support you no matter what.”
“Thank you! You're a good friend,” I said trying not to cry.