Sowing and Reaping.
She perched on the kerb waiting. The minutes stretched, ticking into what seemed to her, an eternity. Cars whizzed past. With each car that emerged around the corner, the hope—her mum’s car. That battered blue FJ Holden, had suffered many knocks in its fifteen years of life. Like me, same age and having suffered hard knocks, she thought. But cars with anonymous drivers passed by and so did her hope…until she just sat…waiting…expectations drained…waiting.
A mixture of gloom and uneasiness haunted her. It had shadowed her all day. Ever since the first period, home class, when Emm, yes, that’s right, Emm, her arch enemy, had slimed up to her and hissed, ‘He’s mine, Lillie. He’s mine. He never liked you. He likes me.’
Emm slithered into her seat, pink lips pursed in a smile. She flicked her brown mane, and then glancing at Lillie, she smirked and then rubbed her hands together. ‘Mine!’ she mimed. ‘All mine.’
Lillie imagined Emm at that moment morphing from the budding model she was into a female form of Gollum, bent on possessing the ring offered by her latest conquest—Danny. Why else was Emm gloating?
Lillie’s heart plummeted to the pit of her stomach. A drop of rain plopped on the pavement and sizzled. Lillie sighed. She’d seen him—Danny—that morning. Lofty, blonde hair tousled, framing his high cheek-bones, strong jaw and his face all tanned. But Danny hadn’t seen her. He never saw her.
On the way back from chapel, Danny had been walking behind her and she’d worried about her uniform. Was her dress hitched up in her regulation stockings? Autumn and the school demanded girls wear the winter uniform with the awful scratchy woollen skirt. The month of May in Australia, that day, hot and all steamed up, clouds billowing with purple bellies, threatening a storm, but not before all the students at College were fried having to wear their blazers as well as their uniforms woven in wool. The principal threatened suspension if they shed any part of their school attire.
Plop! Another drop. A rumble of thunder.
During the day, her usual foes added to her discomfort. She was already hot, sweaty, and itchy, and then they had to weigh in. On the way to English class, Emm and her clutch of fiends attacked from behind. They threw verbal abuse; the usual “stones” of “loser”, “dog” and “no one wants you, Lil”.
Lillie fixed her eyes ahead even as the heat rose to her cheeks. She trod up the stairs to Emm chanting, ‘Poor Lil, poor Lil, what a dill.’
As Lillie turned the corner of the stairs, she glanced down. Danny leaned against the rail. Emm sidled up to him and pointed. ‘Hey look! She’s got a hole in her stocking. Poor Lil, poor Lil. Too poor to buy new stockings, Lil.’
Emm laughed and her gang joined in.
Lillie turned and continued plodding up the stairs.
‘Charge!’ Emm yelled.
At her command, Lillie quickened her pace. She knew what was coming. The thudding, the cries and the horde as her foes surged upon her. They crowded in and jostled her. Big beefy Twisty jammed her into the lockers and then bumbled down the corridor.
As Lillie straightened herself, Emm strode up to her and poked her. ‘He’s mine, understand?’ She then waved her hand in front of her nose. ‘Phew! You stink! B.O.!’
Danny lingered an arm’s length from Emm, and as she minced into English class, she blew him a kiss. Lillie’s stomach churned, and with her gaze riveted to the floor, she followed Emm into class. Her scalp prickled with the sense that the eyes of every class member had set upon her. Her orthodontic braces took on astronomical proportions and her pig-tails drooped like greasy strips of seaweed.
Then Scripture class. Just her luck! Lillie picked Emm’s name out of the Encouragement Box. So she had to find a verse from the Bible to encourage Emm. Emm? What sort of blessing could Lillie bestow on her worst enemy? The girl who had everything—popularity, beauty and a boyfriend.
Lillie opened up her Bible and picked out the first verse that caught her attention. She wrote down the verse from Galatians 6:7: “…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” She plopped the note for Emm back into the box. From what she could tell, Emm seemed happy with her note, if not mildly miffed by the message.
As she sat on the kerb waiting, Lillie reflected on the verse she received. Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” She nodded and mused, That’d be right, Emm had me. Still, it does say I’m blessed.
A flash of lightning. A crack of thunder. Fat dollops of rain splatted on the footpath. Lillie sighed and muttered, ‘I’ll just have to risk getting laughed at. My mum’s car. What a relic! How embarrassing!’
She shrugged her bag full of books over her shoulder and sauntered to the chapel. Rain pelted down on her and she sought refuge in an alcove hidden behind a diosma bush. There, she drew her knees up to her chin and sniffed. The rain and then the tears had melted her mascara. Her vision blurred. She drew a soggy tissue from her blazer pocket and wiped her eyes.
The downpour stopped. Fellow students emerged from shelter and straggled along the road to the car-park where their cars or parents in their shining white Commodores awaited them.
Lillie examined her calloused knees that had broken through the holes in her stockings. When would mum be able to afford new stockings? Dad and mum barely scraped together the school fees. ‘We go without for your education,’ mum says. Lillie had begun to understand how that worked in a posh school like this one. No friends, no choice but to study and get good grades.
A car screeched. Lillie looked up. She saw them. Emm and Danny. They held hands. Emm nestled into Danny’s side as he held an umbrella over her, even though the sun now shone casting an eerie golden glow over the gum trees and oval. Lillie winced.
The couple perched on the chain fence where they swung back and forth and whispered into each other’s ears. Lillie parted the diosma bush. She watched and cursed them as wrapped in each other’s arms they consumed each other’s lips.
‘Ugh! How could they? In public!’ Lillie muttered. ‘I hope the principal catches them and puts them on detention.’
Lillie heard a familiar roar. She stepped from the bush and strode towards the car-park.
The FJ Holden raced up the driveway, it’s wheels crushing the car-park’s gravel in its rush to meet Lillie. Emm and Danny remained oblivious in their passion on the chain fence. Mum’s car cut through a large puddle. Water flew high in the air and then dumped on the couple.
Emm shrieked. They stood like two drenched rats, their legs and arms spread in their sodden clothes.
Now Emm really does look like Gollum, Lillie thought. Her nemesis’ mascara streamed down her face and made her eyes look like a panda’s and her hair was pasted on her head.
The couple glared at the FJ Holden as it screeched to a stop in front of Lillie. She smirked as she jerked open the white door of the mostly blue car and then scrambled in.
‘How was your day, dear?’ Mum asked.
‘You’re late,’ Lillie snapped.
As the FJ Holden with Lillie and her mum merged with the crowd of cars on the main road, Lillie glanced back and smiled.