”What did you do at school today, pet?”
Angela flopped down on the chair, legs dangling, a frown spread across her face. Her mother put a glass of milk on the table in front of her. Angela looked at the glass, scowling.
Angela’s mother looked at her daughter. Ever since she had started school, she had loved it. Today was different. Angela wouldn’t look at her mum, instead staring intently at the glass on the table.
”Oh my goodness, you did nothing all day? You didn’t do any reading? Or sums? And no skipping at playtime? How did you manage to do that?“
Angels squirmed in the seat. She thought for a moment, screwing up her face and closing her eyes.
”No, I did those things.” She hesitated. “But, mum...”
”Yes?” Said her mum, smiling.
”Nothing.“ Said Angela. “Can I go and play now?
”Yes of course.” Replied Angela’s mum. “Don’t go far, your tea’s nearly ready and your dad will be home soon.”
But Angela didn’t go out to play. She wandered into the lounge and sat on the floor, flicking through a colouring book. She got up again and wandered through to the kitchen, then back again, not sure where to start.
”Are you all right, pet?” Asked Angela’s mum, when she had come into the kitchen for the umpteenth time. Angela hesitated a moment, then burst into tears.
”Mum, mum, all the girls don’t want to talk to Evie. Niamh and Clare and Flora and Carol all said that we shouldn’t talk to Evie.” Angela gasped as she tried to talk through the sobs. She hesitated. “Because she SMELLS.”
The effort of this confession was too much for the five year old, and she collapsed into floods of tears. Angela’s mum smiled. She always worried that Angela, an only child, hadn’t been exposed to the rough and tumble, scrapes and falling outs that siblings encountered every day. She dropped to her knees, put her arms round her daughter and gave her a big hug. She wiped the tears away with the sleeve of her cardigan.
”Is that why you’re so upset?”
Angela nodded, biting her lip. Angela’s mum looked her daughter in the eye.
”What do YOU want to do?”
Angela stared at her mum, wide-eyed.
”Evie’s my friend,” she sobbed. “I don’t want to not talk to her. I LIKE Evie.”
Angela’s mum smiled at her daughter.
”So, if you like Evie, what are you going to do?”
Angela sniffed, then smiled a watery smile.
”I’m going to talk to her. Even if nobody else does.”
And so, a rebel was born.