Emily noticed the new girl at school early in the week. It wasn’t often that new students came to Pemblebury Grammar. Mostly it was just the children of rich parents who had attended the school themselves when they had been children.
Although she normally kept to herself there was something about this girl that drew Emily to her. She didn’t need friends, she told herself, but she couldn’t help watching this girl and the way she nervously flicked her curly red hair out of her eyes. Or the way she moved, like as if every step might draw unwanted attention. Emily noticed the girl always had a book in her hand. Maybe that was it.
Whatever it was Emily couldn’t stop watching her. The only thing she had learnt so far was that the girl caught the Nangle bus to school each day.
That’s why Emily was standing behind the bus shelter, waiting for the school bus to come in.
But then Anar and Heather walked into view, giggling and walking arm in arm. Emily grimaced as the crowd of school girls magically parted as they walked past. She drew further back into the shadows so she wouldn’t be spotted. The last thing she needed was for Anar to see her hiding behind the bus shelter. It was bad enough they had to share the same classes.
Emily’s attention was drawn back to the road as an old bus pulled up with a squeal of brakes and a cloud of diesel smoke.
A group of middle school kids got off first and then there was a gap.
Maybe she’s not coming today. Emily felt a twinge of disappointment.
But then there she was, stepping off the bus and right into the path of Anar and Heather.
‘Oh, sorry.’ Anar deliberately bumped the girl with her shoulder.
Emily fumed as the girl bent down to pick up her book. Anar and Heather had already walked away laughing.
The girl brushed some dirt from her book and then moved toward the classrooms. She held the book close to her chest with her arms folded as though she were protecting it.
Emily waited until the girl had walked past and then followed her to her locker. She seemed to be just as out of place as Emily. Maybe she did want a friend. The trouble was that Emily was too shy to make the first move toward friendship. Instead, she sat near the girl during class and hoped the other girl would make the first move—but nothing happened.
Later Emily sat in the school library at lunchtime and thought about the new girl. She didn’t know her name yet but in her mind she constructed elaborate stories about how they would meet. Each time it would finish with the girl with red hair reaching her hand out to touch Emily’s arm. Maybe if she tried a spell. Emily took the green book from her bag and opened the booklet hidden inside. She quickly checked that nobody was watching before flicking the pages until she found what looked like a friendship spell. Emily began repeating the words over and over.