you have no idea what it’s like to be in school and watch kids eat and swallow and swallow to keep from drooling. How many of these kids have ever stole food? Mother and I did, several times. I know that Bart, Penny, and Andre steal food. They keep it in their room. The plates that Mama fixes them is not enough to kill the hunger. Andre and Bart need more calories. She had a nice purse. I’ve never owned a purse in my life but I would rather cut out my own tongue than say so. I can’t be jealous over possessions! Mother taught me better!
I walked away from her, away from the cafeteria line.
She caught up to me. Another girl was with her. “Oh, Ronni, I am so sorry. I hurt you. That is the last thing I ever wanted to do. Evangela here explained it to me. I honestly didn’t know your home situation. I didn’t know that you were…”
“Poor?” I asked angrily, then realized my mistake. “I’m sorry, that was unkind.”
“Orphaned,” she said, “I started to say orphaned. Now I know why you don’t have a purse and a brush and it was so calloused of me to say those things. I am so sorry.”
I turned and held out my arms. She hugged me hard. “It’s my fault,” I said. “Normally, I would have smiled and let it pass, but my heart is raw, torn up. Everything makes my heart hurt.”
“You’re touchy, and it understandable after a break-up with Billy,” Evangela said. Wow, I thought Monique was pretty, but Evangela was beautiful! She was Hispanic, tall and thin like a runway model. Her jet-black hair was in an angled bob and shaved at her neck in back. Her face was cover-girl perfect! She had extra-large brown ovals for eyes and a mouth that was wide, but perfect for her angular face and ultra-high cheekbones. She spoke with an Hispanic accent. “We need to help you get back to normal, get your emotions on an even keel,” she said, “we can’t have you breaking down, or breaking and running all over the place. You’re going a little bit crazy right now, but we want to help. You have to talk to us.”
Oooo, I like this Evangela! “You’re right, Evangela. I am going crazy right now. Thank you for being a friend to me. Friends are in very short supply and Monique made me realize that I need some friends.”
They both nodded. “Let’s get in and get lunch. We will sit and chat,” Monique said. She uses words like ‘chat.’ Who says chat? I smiled.
We got our plates and went to Monique and Evangela’s usual table. I glanced at my usual table and Daniel had a puzzled look on his face. Evangela sat, Monique circled around to the opposite side and I followed her. Monique turned suddenly and I stopped. Billy was behind her.
“Ronni? Can we go someplace private and talk?” Billy asked. Monique and I slowly sat.
“This is the cascade table,” Evangela said, “We are a waterfall of neglected conversations. You could start with me, who you dumped for my friend Monique. Then you could tell us why you did not explain things to her parents, but instead you dumped her for little Ronni, who sits here wounded and bleeding as we speak. Sit down and let’s talk this out. Start with me, and we will cascade down to Ronni.”
“You said that the kiss was not as it appeared. In what universe is a kiss not a kiss?” I asked.
“Ronni, dear, have you ever seen an old movie called ‘Gaslight’?” Evangela asked me. I shook my head. I haven’t seen many old movies. “In it, a husband turns down the gas lamps and when his wife wonders why the lamps are not bright, he says they work just fine and are as bright as they always have been. It is a type of psychological abuse and manipulation, convincing someone that a thing is not what you think it is.”
“Like trying to convince me that a boy who has his arm around a girl, then kisses her in front of everybody making a fool of me, isn’t really interested in her and I have it all wrong.”
“Exactly like that!” Evangela said laughing.