Saturday, 9 June 2007
09:07:21 AM (GMT)
It was a cold Thursday afternoon, and Opal was sat in her classroom, trying hard to
ignore the pokes in the back from Rianna. Mrs Song had given up telling her, and just
left Opal to put up with it, which no one cared about. Rianna was the most popular
girl in the class, maybe even the school. Suddenly, the headteacher, Miss Barker,
walked into the classroom.
"Hello, Miss Barker," said Mrs Song, putting down her whiteboard pen and then looking
sternly at the class, a look that said
behave-when-the-headteachers-here-or-I'm-gonna-get-it. "What are you doing here?"
"I just wanted to let you know that we will have a new student starting in your class
tomorrow," Miss Barker said. "It is the end of the week but it was very last-minute.
I've only just had a phonecall."
"Ok, what is their name?" asked Mrs Song.
Opal's heart leapt. Her name wasn't cool or fancy like Rianna, so maybe she could be
"Oh she sounds so lame," said Rianna, banging the table. "Tomorrow's gonna be such a
"Now, now, Rianna," said Mrs Song. "Thank you, Miss Barker. Now, class get back to
Opal was very excited as she rushed to school that Friday morning. She ran across the
playground and straight into school, looking around.
"What's the matter, geek?" asked Rianna. "Have you got, like, galloping diarrohea?"
She cackled with laughter.
Opal blushed. "I...oh, it doesn't matter."
Ruth didn't come until the middle of the lesson. Miss Barker said it was traffic, but
everyone had doubts. She stepped aside, revealing a small, skinny girl with lightish
brown hair in plaits and glasses. She wore ankle socks that were pulled up and little
black school shoes. Her crumpled shirt matched Opal's, and it seemed like destiny
that they were going to be friends. Opal gave a small smile, but Ruth wasn't looking.
She was hiding behind Miss Barker, looking nervously around.
"Would anyone like to volunteer to look after Ruth?" asked Mrs Song.
Opal's hand shot up. "Ok, Opal."
"Why her?" Rianna said disgustedly. "She's nothing special."
For once, this didn't hurt Opal. She merely kept smiling at Ruth, gazing past her
glasses and into her eyes.
"Go and sit down next to Opal then," said Mrs Song. She smiled at Miss Barker and the
Ruth shuffled nervously over to the desk by Opal and then started to unpack her
things. Opal so badly wanted to be friends, but they weren't allowed to talk during
lessons. At breaktime, Ruth followed Opal outside.
"Hi," she breathed.
"Hey," Opal didn't know what to say, even though she had been planning it for
"Are we friends?" asked Opal finally.
"I guess so," said Ruth. "I don't have any other friends."
"Me neither, and I get horribly bullied. My mum doesn't care anymore - she's on
drugs. I have to look after myself. It's so awful." Opal suddenly found she was
spilling out all her secrets to this new friend. Ruth gazed at her, fascinated.
"That's just like me."
Opal stared. "Really?"
They sat down, leaning against the wall. "I found this diary," said Opal. "I've got
it. It's about my past."
"Can I have a look?" asked Ruth.
"Ok, but it's really horrible. I got smacked just for wetting." She handed Ruth the
diary, and Ruth opened it, starting to read. Opal watched her and read paragraphs
over her shoulder. After a few minutes, Ruth looked at Opal.
"This is horrible. Haven't you told anyone?"
"Who have I got to tell?" Opal wiped tears from her eyes. "I've got no one."
"Neither have I."
For one moment, Opal and Ruth stared. And the same thing ran through their minds.
This was going to be a long, long road...