Chapter 24: Seeking Help. ACT III of VIII of Merry Christmas!
“THIS IS MY IPOD! IT IS A GOOD IPOD! IT HAS NO TAYLOR SWIFT ON IT! I WILL GIVE IT TO YOU IF YOU MAKE IT SNOW!” Madison bellows again to the sky, clutching in one hand her blue ipod, waving the other hand in stern defiance.
“I should be offended, I really should, Taylor Swift is a favourite of mine,” Clara explains to the girls as Madison stands off bargaining with nature, “But I don’t feel too offended, since I snuck a Taylor Swift song onto her ipod last summer and she still has no clue.”
Susan silently turns to Clara and they exchange a high five.
“Someday she shalt find out the truth and that is the day we all move far far away,” Cynthia laughs.
The rest of the girls giggle and laugh as well, with Madison still ranting several metres away, even Ilona. But her laugh comes in late, mostly because she is only half listening. Her mind is still on her conversation days ago with Collette, one filled with heartache and evil. Her friend talked about everything like a proud warrior who has survived much, but for Ilona it bothers her, all to the point of bottling it up and keeping her growing unease secret from her family and friends. To make this pain worse, Ilona feels almost no Christmas spirit anymore, with the countdown to the holidays going on all around her, she tries to ignore it all. She hopes no one notices and makes a tremendous effort to appear as jovial about the holidays as they all do. She especially puts on extra fakeness around Cynthia, knowing full well her friend would try to fix her.
And she does not want to be fixed.
Evil exists, she knows this. This fact of the universe was a part of her before she ever joined the girls at the wall, and she knew it did not vanish after all these friends entered her new life. With Mr. Micheals they had enacted revenge and now he is docile. But this, this is not an evil they could fix. This is beyond them all.
Putting on a fake face, Ilona listens as her friends continue on, with everything from Madison’s quest, to Susan and Collette setting up a playdate for their cat and dog, Copernicus and Doyle respectively, to Cynthia and Clara talking about some Timothy person, being topics of conversation. Ilona mentally thanks the universe when the bell rings and they all huddle towards the doors.
Class is the usual routine for her, with Ilona distracting herself by making an enormous effort to absorb everything Mr. Micheals is teaching. When lunch time hits, Ilona forces a smile onto her face as they all eat in the gym. Collette informs Ilona, just as they are finishing up, that Mrs. Shuster is away today for some reason, so they can not go to art class. Ilona quickly musters up an “Aww shucks,” and grabs her book, the final Harry Potter volume, and heads out with the rest of the girls to the wall.
A group high five completes lunch hour, all due to Clara finishing This Can’t Be Happening At MacDonald Hall, her first Gordon Korman book ever. As everyone congratulates her, Clara talks about the greatness of Bruno and Boots, and simultaneously updates her Goodread account using her smartphone. Ilona stands back abit and watches the conversations hovering around Clara, all her new friends encircling this wonderful girl, and realizes the distance she has moved away from them all, right after the high five. She looks down at her feet, the ones that brought her to the wall, and how they have now betrayed Ilona by putting empty space into her life with her friends. What is only a few paces is intolerable to Ilona now, and her mind races. How can she cure this funk now invading her? She needs an answer to injustice and knows not where to turn. She has leaned so much on Cynthia, to trouble her with this is unfair. Within seconds of forever, she realizes the solution exists directly in front of her, chatting away, laughing, clicking buttons on her smartphone.
Putting all her questions away in some mental crawlspace, Ilona knew to wait till afternoon recess. Her path to being better will commence then.
Classes resume and blur by. The recess bell strikes and Ilona moves quickly to reach the playground with her friends. As everyone mills about, Ilona sides up to Clara and decides to channel her inner Madison and jump off the garage roof. And she almost shouts “Geronimo” as well.
“Clara, can I talk to you for a second?” Ilona asks, more quietly then she intends. She begins to wonder if the Madison in her is leaving.
“Sure Ilona, wanna borrow my Gordon Korman book?” Clara hands it to her.
“Um, not right at the moment, probably later. I was wondering if I could ask you a rather personal question. You can say no if you want to, that is alright,” Ilona says and waves the book away.
“Sure, what is it?”
“Collette told me about what happened to her dad, about how his boss treated him, all because…”
“All because he is black. Yeah, she told us she told you. Do you wanna talk to Collette about it again or something?”
“No, no that is alright. It is just that… Collette really seems to have accepted and moved on so well from what happened. Even seems relieved. But the evil… the evil that does that, it went after her dad and it went after Susan. And for Susan it was just a guess, a good guess, that made her a target. Collette’s dad is…”
“Yes, that is a horrible way to put it, but still… accurate.”
“You okay Ilona?”
“Yes… The thing is evil tends to pick easy targets, people they can easily separate out… and identify. Cynthia, Susan and Collette have said that before. So when I thought of this, I thought of…”
“Yes, I am sorry. I did not mean to make you uncomfortable. It is just that…”
“I am fat, chunky, pudgy, heavy, roly-poly, plump. Yes, it is a fact of my life, one I have lived with for eleven years. And yes, people have in the past called me names and taunted me and went after me, but not for several years.”
“Why is that? What changed? Did people become better?”
“Ha! No, of course not. A lot of those people I ignored, even my own Aunt, if you can believe it. The rest faced the wrath of Madison. Trust me, you would not like her when she’s angry. When I finally gave her permission, back in grade three, a couple of kids got bloody noses. One was a grade fiver who cried when Madison decked him. You reap what you sow, as Cynthia would say.”
“Those people came after you, made fun of you, and they did it purely on how you look, which is so wrong in so many ways. And yet the only way to stop it was by ignoring them or hitting them?”
“Yes, Ilona I see your point, but remember we did aid and abet a flattening of a jerks tires, and that seems to have done the trick.”
“I know. But… how can we flatten the tires of every evil person in the world?”
“We can’t. We just try our best. Save one soul at a time, as Cynthia would say.”
Ilona thinks about everything Clara has said, and still, deep inside, did not feel better. Susan still faces challenges. Collette’s dad still needs a job. Clara is still called names. Her Christmas spirit is almost entirely missing, all because of these realities. She glances over at the other girls, all busy with a discussion of Rudolph versus Frosty, when her attention pulls back to Clara.
“Hey Ilona, a question for you I have wondered about.”
“We were in grade three together, I remembered when I saw our class picture recently, but I have no memories of you at all. Were you away a lot or something?”
Ilona’s mouth goes dry. What little Christmas spirit she has is now gone. And she really did not want to answer that question.
Song For This Chapter: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.
First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.