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The Beginning

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Once upon a time there was a girl who loved to read. Her bedroom was filled with books. It looked like a library, except it didn’t have shelves and the books were in stacks so high that they either touched the ceiling or looked as though they were going to topple over at any second. There were so many stacks of books that the only section of floor you could see was a narrow path that went from the door to the girl’s bed.

            At school, instead of playing during recess, the girl would hunker down under the play structure with her book. The other kids thought she was weird. Sometimes they would tease her and call her names. Most of that stopped the day the new girl walked right up to Sam, the biggest bully in school, and slugged his square in the nose.

            That day, Sam was in a right foul mood. When he saw the girl in her usual spot at recess, he just couldn’t resist. He walked right over to her and snatched her book out of her hands. Normally the girl wouldn’t have protested, Sam did this quite often, but this was her favorite and most cherished book. The girl pleaded with Sam. Begged him to give the book back but he just laughed and walked out to the middle of the yard. When he stopped, she tried to grab the book from him but he pulled away and pushed the girl to the ground.

            The girl looked up when she heard the sound of shredding paper. Sam had started tearing pages out of her book one by one. She couldn’t stop the tears that ran down her face. By this time, the other kids had circled around her and Sam. They were pointing and laughing at her. That’s when the new girl stepped out of the crowd and decked Sam in the nose. Sam crumpled to the ground in pain as blood started pouring from his nostrils.

            It all happened so fast and the next thing the girl knew she was sitting outside the office next to the new girl, waiting for her parents to come. “Are you alright?” The new girl whispered.

            The girl didn’t say anything. She didn’t get a chance to because at that exact moment her father burst through the doors with an extremely angry look on his face. He told her to get ready to go as he stepped into the principal’s office. He came out a minute later and the girl got up immediately to follow him to the car. Once outside the girl’s dad told her that she was grounded for 2 weeks. While grounded, she was not allowed to read any books unless they were for school. The girl silently cried the whole way home.

            The next day at school, the girl had to serve detention. At recess, she went to the detention room and sat down quietly. The new girl walked in a few minutes later and sat down next to her. Five minutes in, she placed a note on the girl’s desk.

 

The girl opened it carefully and read.

Hi. I’m Helena.

The girl wrote a quick reply and carefully passed the note back to Helena.

I’m Myka.

Helena hurriedly scribbled a response and placed it back on Myka’s desk right as the bell rang. Myka opened in and read quickly.

Meet me on the front steps after school.

When Myka looked up, Helena was already gone.

            Myka spent the rest of the school day debating whether or not she should meet Helena. She didn’t want to get in trouble again but she wanted to know why Helena had helped her. No one had ever stood up to the bullies on her behalf. No one had ever come to rescue her like the knight in shining armor in so many of the books she had read. That was exactly why she decided that she had to meet Helena after school. She needed to know why.

            When the bell rang signaling the end of the school day, Myka grabbed her things and headed out to the front of the school. Once outside, she looked around for Helena. She quickly spotted her sitting on one of the cement railings with her back against the wall. Myka walked over to where she was sitting and sat down next to her.

            Both girls sat in silence for a moment. They just sat there staring at their shoes. After about two minutes, both girls looked at one another and started speaking at the same time.

            “I have some….” Helena started.

            “Why did you….” Myka began.

            They stopped talking so the other could finish. Myka waited for a few seconds for Helena to continue but she remained quiet. Myka knew if she didn’t ask now, she would never be able to.

            “Why did you help me?” Myka asked very quickly.

            Helena looked up at Myka and shrugged her shoulders. “It was the right thing to do,” She said this without hesitation.

            Myka, surprised by Helena’s elegant British accent and the fact that she hadn’t noticed it before now, only manages an “Oh….”

            “Are you ok?” Helena asked cautiously.

            “Yea. It’s just no one has ever done that before. Everyone always just laughs or makes fun of me,” explained Myka as she examined her finger nails in an attempt to avoid eye contact.

            Helena put her hand on Myka’s shoulder and said, “Well I think it’s about time that changed.”

            Myka looked up and smiled at Helena, who smiled back. Suddenly, Helena got a surprised look on her face and shouted excitedly, “Oh! I have something for you!” She turned and rummaged through her back pack. She pulled out a familiar looking book and handed it to Myka.

            Myka couldn’t believe her eyes. It was her book. The same book she thought was gone forever. The one Sam had destroyed. She ran her hand over the front cover and flipped through the pages in disbelief. “How is this possible? I thought this book was a goner!” She looked at Helena with questioning eyes, “How did you fix it?”

            “My grandfather owns a book store. I used to help him sometimes after school. He taught me how to repair books. After I punched Sam, I picked up the book and torn pages and stuffed them in my back pack. When I got home that day, I fixed it.” Helena shrugged and looked away shyly. “It seemed rather important to you.”

            “It is,” Myka said quietly, still gazing at the book on an almost dream like state. “Thank you.” Myka looked at Helena and asked, “How can I pay you back?”

            Helena laughed a little and shook her head, “You don’t have to pay me back darling. It’s just what friends do. They help each other.”

            “Friends?” Myka questioned, looking down at the book once more. She smiled, turning to face Helena again, “I think I’d like that.”