A Secret Friend Part 27

Previous a secret friend part 26.

Adrien said stiffly, “Well, if you think she’s so mean you don’t have to be her friend.”
“I know,” said Barbara, “I don’t really like the things she says and the way she’s always making fun of other kids. I don’t really like it.”
“Well,” said Adrien, moving a little closer, “one day she’ll turn on you.”
“I know,” said Barbara.
The two of them touched their lockets and considered.

“If you were smart you wouldn’t wait until something awful happened like with me. Just look at me. I haven’t got any friends. I’m a mess.”
“You’ve got A.S.F.”
“Yes, but…”
“Barbara!” shrieked Bella from the tether ball court.
“If I were you,” said Adrien, “I’d get out while I could. You’re not such a mean kid, I guess. Probably there would be lots of kids tn the class who could like you.”

“Who, for instance?”
“Well, maybe Anastasia Ross.”
“She’s stupid!”
“Anastasia Ross is stupid! How can you say such a thing? She read all the time.”
“I know, but she’s stupid. Did you ever tyy talking to her?”
“Yes, but she reads… yes… you know, I think you’re right. She is stupid but I don’t think anybody knows that except us.”

They siled at each other. “But don’t tell anyone,” said Barbara, “because it would be mean to make fun of her. After all, she can’t help herself being stupid. That’s why she reads all the time.”

“Well, I guess I better go. She’s been calling me.”
“You don’t have to go.”
“I know, but…”

Barbara suddenly leaped up, and began hurrying off. “Just remember what I said about her,” she yelled over her shoulder, “and watch out!”

Adrien leaned back against the wall, and watched her go. Bella was waiting for her on the tether-ball court. Bella began talking hard and fast when Barbara rushed up, and Barbara just stood there, listening. Big mouth Bella! Look at that dope, Barbara, standing there, just taking it the way she used to take it. What a turkey that Barbara was! At least nobody was picking on her any more.

She looked around the yard. Jeff, Alex, and Lori Chu were playing volleyball with Susie, Ben Pepper, and Alan. Other kids were running, talking, laughing, joking. She was sitting all alone. Even though nobody was picking on her, she was sitting all alone. It was terrible.

She worked on a new note and tucked it into her art folder. It was right there on top when she opened it. This time the writing was round and thick, and had been done with yellow and purple ink pens.

I have other friends, but I like you the best.
PS, I am not Bella.

There now! She considered showing the note to Barbara, but an opportunity never arose. Her lonely feeling persisted, and even reading the note over a few times did not help. She forgot to check out Ben Pepper, Lori Chu, and Paula Petrakis.

During afternoon gym, Barbara was one of the team captains for kickball. She picked Bella first, Alex Jackson, second, and Adrien third.

“Why did you pick her?” she could hear Bella hiss.
“She’s a pretty fast runner,” Barbara said weakly.
“Are you kidding? She never even manages to kick the ball.
“Shh! Ahe’ll hear.”
“Who cares?”

The first time Adrien was up she kicked a weak little fly ball right into Karen Yve’s arms. The next time, she could hear Bella groaning behind her. There were two players on base Barbara at second and Alan at third. Bella kept groaning. Adrien took a deep breath, and when the ball came toward her, she thought thal ball is Bella, and she kicked as hard as she could. The ball shot out right between the pitcher and first base.

“Run, run!” she could hear her teammates shout as she touched first.
“Keep going!”

She scrambled into second, just in time to see the ball whizzing home. Barbara was coming in from third, and she had to duck down to keep from getting tagged. She slipped and fell but managed to touch home safe. When she stood up, her sweater and pants were dirty from the fall.
Alex Jackson was up next, and he kicked a double, bringing Adrien home.
“Nice work,” Barbara said enthusiastically.

As Adrien walked toward her teammates, she suddenly noticed it on the ground, about ten feet to the side, away from home. She looked quickly at Barbara. The locket was not around her neck. Evidently it had become unfastened during her fall, and lay there now, glinting in the sun. any minute, somebody else would spot it. Any minute, Barbara would miss her locket. Carefully, she began moving. Nobody noticed. She put her foot right on it, lightly, and then bent down and pretended to tie her shoe. She slipped her fingers carefully under her shoe, and let them close over the locket. When she stood up, nobody was ooking at her, and she was able to slide the locket into her pocket.

“My locket,” Barbara yelled suddenly when they were back in the classroom. “I lost my locket.”

Next a secret friend part 28.