2nd bit. Crab Alert! working title.
We’d about finished our happy meal, which was cheaper Dad said than him buying the makings of a meal at home, when all hell broke loose. The door of the café swung slowly open and about six people all fell through together.
Elsie got up quickly, it was Belle from school, the worst of the bully squad. In her year too. Followed by the two brothers Grim and Nasty, we’d never got any further with the names. The two parents both covered in spots and some kind of Aunty person. She was the only human!, She sometimes helped read at the school.
She winked at me as she passed. Grim, Nasty and Belle glared, their parents went past making nasty remarks casually.
“If those two poor children had proper parents like you Belle dear, they wouldn’t go out in such messy clothes.”
“Never mind Belle, it must be hard for you to have to be in the same class as her, but we think we’ve fixed it with the Head now.”
I got up. We couldn’t stay, poor Elsie was trembling. As we passed them Grim and Nasty held their noses. “Stink!” they said to each other.
“Not surprised,” I said loudly, “Like teacher said last week you two ought to eat more greens.”
“And go to the toilet more often,” said Elsie suddenly finding her voice.
Belle glared, “Bullies!” she yelled at us, “Always picking on my poor little brothers.”
That cracked me up. They were in my class. They were twins both 12 and a half. “Don’t be silly Ding Dong!”
Elsie said, “They’re larger than us both put together.”
Auntie steamed in all smiles and pushed the boys back into the queue. “Belle be quiet and let them both go.” She said smoothly, “You’re all in enough trouble already.”
Elsie laughed nervously as we went outside, “Will they get us at school?”
I shook my head. “I’m going in to talk to the Head.” I told her. “Dad isn’t good at parent’s nights and school meetings. He’s got enough to worry about.”
She nodded. “I need new clothes too. They are right. Dad always buys them wrong.”
“He doesn’t have a clue.” I replied, knowing it was true. He was good to us, really wanted to keep us nicely yet when it came to buying us clothes… Well, I guess it was embarrassing for a man to go to a girls shop to find certain clothes. He’d got the knickers for us at the supermarket, and they ranged in size from 18month baby to 18 years of age in a single packet. Made us laugh though. We played super-knicker-women all over the lounge.
We passed the school on the way home, it hadn’t been open yet there were lights inside. I took a risk. Went over to the Head’s office window and knocked on it.
A head popped out. “Yes?” she bawled.
“Mrs. Wellings,” I asked tentively, “Could you spare me and her a few minutes please.” Dad said it paid to be polite.
The head twisted around a bit. “Who is it?” she said suspiciously.
We waited curiously. “Emmy and Elsie,” I said quietly.
She sighed, “Yes, come in. Not the usual way, take the first door you come too, I’ll come out and meet you.”
We took the door, and went inside. The water hadn’t reached the school. The hallway was only wide enough for one person at a time; she led us into a large room with lots of chairs in it.
“Teacher’s rest room,” she told us smiling. “Sit down. Tell me what’s up.”
I sat down and Elsie did too. “I wanted to ask you,” I started.
Elsie said quietly, “She wanted to tell you about the bullying.”
“Who’se bullying you?” Mrs Wellings asked.
Elsie started to cry. So I took it up again.
“Belle again, and those brothers of hers.”
“And their parents,” said Elsie suddenly. “Says mean things about our Dad.”
“It’s just we could do without it like!” I told her. “I can get my own back. Elsie just can’t. It’s as if the whole class follows Belle in whatever she says.”
“Perhaps we’ll move you Elsie,” said Mrs Wellings slowly, “I’ll have to talk to your teacher about it. I can’t promise. Is your Dad at home today?”
She looked at me, I knew what I was supposed to say, course he is, he really wants to see you too. I couldn’t do it though. Dad wasn’t well again. He sometimes got so sick, Granny calls for an ambulance and Dad has to go to Hospital. We don’t see him for ages then. Granny says she can’t cope with his mood swings.
“Dad wasn’t well,” said Elsie defensively, “Again.”
The teacher nodded slowly, “Do I need to talk to your Gran again?” she asked me.
I nodded back solemnly. “You could, except…” I hesitated, trying to think, we’d about sorted it out. Did she need to talk to Gran? I mean Gran didn’t enjoy it. “We’ve sorted it out with you,” I said aloud, “I mean we’re happy if you are.”
She kind of smiled at me in a strangely sad way. “You’re too grown up by half,” she said, “I think you need to talk to someone next term.”
That sounded ominous. I shuddered. That was worse than the crab!
Elsie was telling her about the crab and the legs as we left.
“He took pictures,” I told her swiftly, I didn’t want her to think us liars.
“I’ll go down and have a look,” she said, “After I slip round to talk to your Dad and Gran.”
She passed me one envelope of school photographs from her desk.“ I heard you ask for one set only for the both of you. That was really sensible.”
I felt a warm glow. She was really okay when she wasn’t shouting at everyone.
“Take them with you, If Dad can’t afford them just bring them back.”
Money was really tight at home. Dad's illness meant he lost his job. He wanted to fish. The fishing industry was dead. Gran had told me. We had a family boat moored in the harbour. Dad kept it clean. He said it could be an Ark one day.