Lucy blushed, stumbling over her words as she tried to defend herself, which the other two girls found absolutely hilarious.
“I..I do…I do..not! I mean, I won’t deny he is pretty cute, and he seems a really nice lad. But, c’mon, I’m not into all of that yucky stuff, give me some credit!”
In unison her two friends almost sang “Oooh, he’s cute is he?” Which caused the red hue rapidly creeping up Lucy’s face to deepen.
“Come on guys, knock it off will ya? Anyway, he’s coming early because he wants to talk to us before the others get here. I’m not sure what it is, but something’s eating away at him, and he seems to think that we’re going to hate him and not want him to stay once he’s told us. I’m a bit worried about him actually…and no, before you start again, not because I fancy him or anything like that! But he looked out for me the other day, when I…well, yeah when I needed him. Now I feel like he needs us to help him through whatever this is.”
Both of the other girls looked pensive for a moment, and then Em replied “Blimey Luce, he’s my cousin, but you already seem to know him so much better than I do. I hope he’s ok, and yeah whatever it is I’m sure it won’t be a problem, we’ll sort it.”
After a few moments, there came a tentative, hesitant knock on the bedroom door, which slowly opened to reveal a very nervous looking 11 year old boy standing there, hands thrust deep into his pockets and his complexion deathly pale.
“Hi girls” he managed in barely a whisper, his voice shaky and he sounded absolutely petrified.
“Hey Dan! Come on in” Lucy smiled warmly at him, and patted the space on Emily’s bed which was nearest to her, causing the other two to exchange glances and grin mischievously. “We’re just exchanging gossip before the old folks call us down for lunch.”
Perching himself nervously on the edge of the bed, Dan looked sheepishly from one girl to the next, and appeared to be on the verge of tears. He’d genuinely never been so petrified in all of his 11 years, and he had absolutely no idea whether he was doing the right thing or not. Soon he would either have the support of his friends to get through the challenges that lay ahead, or he’d be the laughing stock of the school, probably even the whole town. Oh how he hoped he’d judged the girls right.
Looking at Em, and then returning his gaze to the floor, Dan tried a couple of times to speak, but no words would come out. He almost felt that he was going to throw up, that’s how scared he was. Emily sensed his terror, and scooted across the bed to him, giving his shoulder a friendly squeeze. “Dan, mate, whatever’s the matter? Luce said you needed to talk to us about something that was bothering you. Well, spit it out. We’re all friends here, and nothing you say will go out of this room, so there’s no need to panic.”
Lucy too gave him an encouraging smile, and ignoring the looks from her friends, she took his hand and held it in hers. “Honestly Dan, whatever it is can’t be all that bad. Let us help you.”
With tears welling up, and the odd stray one beginning to roll down his cheek, Daniel turned from grey to beet red, in a garbled deluge of words sprang from him almost as if he had to say them all at once before he clammed up again.
“Well you’re probably all going to think I’m a big baby. Please don’t hate me, and please please please don’t tell anybody else. But…but, I….well, I still sometimes wet the bed. That’s why I can’t stay. I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry. I’m stupid, you don’t want me here, why would you want to be friends with a stupid little baby like me.”
Once he’d said it, Daniel sobbed loudly and left from the bed, running across the room and making a grab for the door handle. He was absolutely mortified, and just wanted to get as far away as he possibly could. He didn’t care where, just not here.
The three girls looked at each other in disbelief, none of them had expected what they’d just heard. Instinctively, however, Lucy was the first to her feet, and she launched herself across the room in front of Dan, standing in front of the door and blocking his path, with her arms outstretched.
“Get out of my way!” The young boy shrieked. “Let me go!”
Lucy’s heart absolutely melted for him. After all she had experienced over the past week, she really felt his pain and anguish, more than he could possibly know. The need to run away, the humiliation, she absolutely got it. But she knew she couldn’t let him go, not in this state. And she didn’t want to let him go either, she just wanted to comfort him.
She didn’t know what made her do it, but her outstretched arms reached around him almost automatically, pulling her new friend into a warm embrace, and she felt the fight leaving him as she did so. His crying intensified, but he no longer struggled against her, instead his body felt limp and weak.
“Dan, listen to me. It really doesn’t matter, honestly. Come on, sit back down and let’s talk, but please try to calm down. You’re not a baby, and you’re not going anywhere. We love you no matter what, and we want you to stay.” This heartfelt message was delivered just loud enough for the other girls to hear, and Lucy glanced over Dan’s shoulder as she was speaking, catching their eyes and making sure they all felt the same way. Then, moving her mouth closer to his ear she whispered so that only he could hear “I love you Dan, and I want you to stay.”4
Audio Version of Chapter