The next day schools goes by in a blur. Today, I don't pay as much attention to the name calling. My head is focused on five pm. To when I get to talk to Ava. I'm excited and nervous.
I end up leaving school during 6th period so I don't have to deal with Emma. That's the last thing I need. For a while I just drive around. But I end up going to the art studio.
Ms. Baker is busy chatting to another girl, so I just head on into the studio. Today I gravitate towards watercolor. I love how soft the colors are.
I feel as if I check my phone every five minutes. Finally, after what seems like days, it's five o' clock.
As I head out of the studio, I sprint to my car. But as I'm driving a dose of anxiety kicks in.
I've never told anyone about Emma. And telling someone scares me.
I pull into the Steak n' Shake parking lot and just sit there for a while. I debate leaving, but I don't.
I walk in and immediately Ava sees me. She whispers something to another employee and walks towards me.
"I was worried you wouldn't show up." she says as she walks towards me.
"I about left." I admit.
"Well I'm glad you didn't. Come on." She motioned for me to follow her.
"Wait you're working."
"I told them I was taking the day off. I have a surprise for you, come on."
She's taking off work for me. Why? We just met yesterday.
"Ava that's not necessary." I'm suddenly flooded with guilt about her missing work for me.
"Oh, shush and follow me." She laughs lightly and walks out the door.
She leads me to her car and opens the trunk. She pulls out a bright purple bag.
"It's nothing special, but I use to do this whenever I got bullied. Still do." She admits.
She gets bullied. How? She is the nicest person I've ever met.
She pulls out a purple journal, stickers, pens and coloring pencils.
"Every time I would feel alone, I would journal. Or whenever I needed to let out feelings I would journal. It helps. You can write whatever you feel, and you won't get judged.
Of course, you can always talk to me, but I figured there would be certain situations you didn't want to talk about."
"Th-thank you. I don't even know what to say." I stutter.
"No problem. I just brought a couple things to decorate the pages to make it more fun. I didn't know what color you would want so I just got purple, like your hair." She smiles
"Thank you, I'll definitely use all of this." I say as I hold everything to my chest.
"No problem. Anything for a friend." She smiles.
A friend. She wants to be my friend. This is such a foreign feeling to me.
"I'm still off work if you want to drive somewhere so we can talk," she offers.
"I'd like that." I answer.
We get into her car and she drives. At first, it's silent. But then she says, "How long has Emma bullied you?"
"Over a year."
That's all that's said until we pull into a park. We both get out of the car.
"Is it okay of we go to the swings?" she asks.
"Yeah that's fine."
We start walking to the swings. And I'm glad I brought my jacket. The night air is cooler than I expected.
As we're walking to the swings, I notice there is only one streetlamp, which is directly beside the swings.
"Are you okay with talking about this?" she asks as we start to swing.
"Yeah. It's scary. But I trust you."
"I wouldn't judge you."
At first, we just swing. But then I start telling the story. I tell her how Emma runs the school. And how the first day I got to the school she decided she didn't like me.
I tell her what everyone says in the hallways. And how the teachers do nothing about it. They just sit and laugh. I tell her how nobody, out of the 2,379 students in my school, sticks up for me.
I tell her what Emma has done, along with her friends.
Once I start talking, I can't shut up. For a year, I've bottled everything up inside of me. Talking to nobody. Once I've told her everything, it feels like a weight has been lifted off of me.
We both sit in silence, wiping away our tears.
"I'm so sorry. You're so strong. I don't know how you handle all of that."
My answer is simple.
"Is that it?"
"Mainly yes. I also never go to school without headphones. Art and music help me."
"That's amazing Mia."
I wipe away a few more tears and notice I'm not embarrassed to cry in front of her. I look at my phone, and I see that it's nine pm.
"Woah it's already nine o' clock."
"I better get you back then."
I honestly don't want to go. I wish we could talk more.
As we are driving it's quiet. Both of us lost in our thoughts.
She pulls in next to my car, and we both sit there.
"Whenever I was bullied. I tried to not let it get to me. But it did, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. But I found my escape, journaling and studying.
I know it's hard Mia, but one day you'll notice the comments bothering you less and less. That's called improvement. Don't expect to wake up and not care anymore. It won't happen that way.
It will take time. It wasn't until my senior year I started not caring. Don't give up. You're strong Mia. Even if you don't think you are. Keep your head up and remember it won't last forever.
And I'm here for you."
"Thank you for everything. I'll definitely try journaling. Maybe it will help me too. And I'll try to take your advice as well. I'm sorry I made you miss work."
"Girl don't feel sorry. You didn't make me do anything. I like hanging out with you." Ava smiles at me and nudges me with her elbow.
"Me too. I guess I should get going, it's getting pretty late."
"Okay well here is my cell. Text me if you need anything."
She hands me a slip of paper.
"I will. See you soon. And thank you."
We hug and I get in my car. I feel like I can face Emma. Ava is right. I can't give up. And I can't give in. I can't let her push me around anymore.