"I need two of you to go into town for some ingredients please" shouted Mrs Thomas the home economics teacher above the curfuffle of 5th form students scraping chairs and getting settled for the lesson. "Urm let me see, Jackie could you go down with Zoe, i just need some self raising flour and some cake cases, go straight there and back girls" Jackies heart did somersaults, the one girl she didn't want to go down town with was Zoe.
Zoe had bullied her throughout secondary school only the other week in home economics Zoe had come behind her and cut of some of her hair. Jackie had tried to pretend she wasn't bothered but back in her bedroom at home had cried and cried. Explaining the loss of hair to her parents was not easy and she had spent ages trying to make it less noticable, she was so humiliated.
Jackie did not relish the thought of 45 mins of being on her own with Zoe." captive prey" she thought and she had every intention of going straight there and back as quickly as possible. Jackies mind raced trying to think of a good excuse not to go but then she feared that if she humiliated Zoe by making it obvious that she didn't want to go with her the bullying could be worse later. Just as she was thinking all these thoughts she realised Mrs Thomas was standing right in front of her. " "I'll give you the money Jackie, this should be plenty, i want a reciept please" "No way out now" thought Jackie as she also took note that Mrs Thomas was trusting her with the money not Zoe. Zoe walked over to the door and Jackie found herself following and wondering if Zoe could smell her fear.
At first as they set off through the school grounds to the gates and out onto the footpath Zoe was unusually quiet. There was an awkward silence between them but that was ok with Jackie. Jackie strode off as fast as she could eagre to get the ordeal over with and get back to the relative safety of the school. Zoe however was not keeping up and as Jackie looked over her shoulder to see how far behind she was she noticed that Zoe looked very sad. Something made Jackie slow down to allow Zoe to catch up. After walking a bit further in silence Zoe suddenly started crying. This wasn't what Jackie was expecting this was the tough hard bully who had made her life a misery but Jackie suddenly felt a compassion for her and gently asked her what was wrong. Zoe now seemed like she was the vulnerable one and Jackies fear began to leave as Zoe poured her heart out to her. Jackie had always been a good listener and had had enough life experience to have compassion on others who were going through hard times.
The rest of the walk was spent with Zoe telling her all about her boyfriend who had died a few months earlier in a motorcycle accident. Zoe was overwhelmed with guilt that she had told him to meet her at a different place and on his way to see her he had been hit by a car who hadn't seen him. Zoe broke down as she described how much she had loved him and that it was her fault he had been in the place he was when he was hit, and that she had tried to take her own life.
After some time Jackie realised that they hadn't even got to the shops and they had been gone 30mins already. Zoe looked at Jackie pleading with her to let her carry on talking. "i havn't been able to tell anyone all this Jackie" she said through yet more tears. "i can't thank you enough for listening" Somehow at that moment all the years of abuse Jackie had suffered at her hands didn't matter as she nodded at Zoe to tell her it was ok to carry on. " I just don't know how i can live without him" Zoe continued.
Jackie knew the pain of losing someone close about the same time Zoe's boyfriend had died Jackie's mum had died, Jackie found herself talking to Zoe about her mum and how much she missed her. By the time they had managed to get to the shops and back to school, they were late very late but they had become best of friends united by their grief. Mrs Thomas gave them a right telling off but Jackie thought it was worth it. from that day on Zoe never again bullied Jackie and often stood up for her. They had gained mutual respect for each other, knowing how life had dealt them each a hard blow which only they understood. Grief had not come to thier peers yet. Maybe some good can come out of tradgedy thought Jackie to herself.