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Chapter 1 Wednesday Tamminya Judd stormed outside, slamming the door behind her. But the giant cedar door to the Judd mansion didn't slam. It just swooshed shut. Great, Tamminya thought, as she glared at the grey cloudy sky. It's not enough that everyone in the house is against me, the house itself hates me and it’s going to pour raining. Tamminya and her mother had been arguing. Every mealtime turned into an argument. Every car trip became a race for freedom. Every evening more verbal action and drama occurred in the lounge room than on the TV. “Everything in the world’s got a voice but my voice has run out,” said Tamminya under her breath. “I spend my whole life being invisible as a person who can think for herself just visible as a puppet.” Tamminya knew how to storm out of any room. Slamming doors were her expertise. Tamminya, clutching her backpack tightly, stomped off to Phoebe's mansion. She was walking so briskly that the crisp evening air tickled her nostrils and misted her eyes. The ground echoed her mood as she stamped her frustrations against the innocent gravel. The trees swished in rhythm with her arms. The sun hid behind the clouds as if afraid to confront her. The boys were playing cricket in the cul-de-sac and dog was going mental trying to catch the ball. Phoebe Porter had created a Website, Talk to Me, where she blogged her thoughts and ideas about a better world for girls. Phoebe lived for her friends on Facebook. It was her favourite place to share her thoughts and ideas about a better world for girls, a place to vent, and a place to meet with her friends. Now, thanks to her mother, Tamminya was late arriving at Phoebe’s home. Fights with her mother were an everyday occurrence. Relentless pressure that stressed every sinew, making her blood pulsate harder and faster through her body. Her mother knew how to push her buttons, how to get a response but she had no idea when she had gone too far. Tamminya was almost at Phoebe’s house when she realised that her eyes might give her away. Crying always left her eyes red and sore. Had her mascara smudged? Will they notice? She searched in her bag for her tissues to wipe under her eyes. Good! No mascara. Tamminya did not want to tell her friends that she was at loggerheads with her mother about her eating habits, again. She knew that as soon as she verbalised her mother’s nagging about not eating enough other people would be watching her, like a hawk, each mouthful or lack of eating. Everyday! All the time! A horn honked. Tamminya jumped. She realised that she was standing in the middle of the road deep in thought. It wasn't a busy road; in fact, it was a very quiet cul-de-sac where Phoebe lived. Tamminya smiled with embarrassment. Whew! That was close! Tamminya observed the familiar island with large trees at the top end of the cul-de-sac. Phoebe's youngest brother, Michael, was throwing a Frisbee for their golden retriever to fetch. Michael was misnamed. Bart Simpson was a more suitable name. Michael was as mischievousness, bratty, and rebellious as Bart Simpson. His disrespect for authority and sharp wit was always characterised with the catchphrase, whatever dude and like Bart Simpson he appeared to take immense pride at underachieving much to his teacher and mother’s disgust. The cheeky freckled face lad would pop up with a trick that would attract a crowd to follow, getting other kids into trouble. Michael, of course, would always claim innocence beyond any degree of doubt. It was hard to remain angry with him. He had the art of getting on your good side, and wriggling out of trouble.

The neighbours had made some swings on the old Eucalyptus nicholi tree from rope and tyres. Tamminya noticed the other boys, Liam, Matt and Luke playing on the tyre swing and climbing the trees. She casually waved to the boys. “Hi guys,” Tamminya yelled as she briskly walked passed them. Phoebe's oldest brother, Ben, was considered a hottie by all the girls in Tamminya’s class even the crazy girl who asks every teacher their shoe size. Phoebe considered him an annoyance, a pain that won't go away but Tamminya had other thoughts. She wanted to get to know him, know him intimately but liking someone who doesn’t appear to like you sucks. She stared at the mansion with that overstimulated feeling. She didn’t like it very much. She hoped that he would notice her. Only one thing Tamminya considered worse than liking someone who doesn’t like you is when that person you like finds out that you like them. Living in a world of possibilities she racked her brain to find ways to hedge these hopes, to keep them safe but she guarded her feelings in cotton wool and hidden from view. Approaching the Porter mansion, Tamminya’s heart started beating faster, not from walking briskly but in anticipation of seeing and hopefully speaking to Ben. For a while, she forgot about the argument with her mother. That could wait. All she could think about was Ben. Will Ben be home? Will Ben open the door? In fact, she constantly dreamed of when they would be an item, an item forever. How do I look? She smoothed her long black hair flicking it to one side but left the other side with her silky, mahogany streak, draped around her face. Emotions Tamminya usually stored deep down came simmering to the surface causing her cheeks to flush. Embarrassed, Tamminya turned around checking that no one had noticed her flush and she fear that her thoughts were audible. She felt like smacking herself for such stupidity. Tamminya knocked on the door, waited a few seconds before walking in. Her brown, whiskey eyes scanned the interior robustly for a glimpse of Ben. Tamminya being an only child had always wished that she had an older sister to borrow clothes and makeup, go to movies and shops. Even an older brother to protect her would be acceptable, but she had to enjoy her friends’ siblings. "Anybody home?” She yelled in her best voice. Tamminya could hear laughter coming from the family room. Hearing laughter was something rare in her home. Her father worked long hours as a sports physiotherapist. As he was the Oxley Soccer Association’s physiotherapist, he attended every soccer match from Port Macquarie to Camden Haven in the south and to Stuarts Point in the north. He worked long hours even on weekends. The two story house belonged to Phoebe's mother, Catherine Alice Porter, but she spent more time at the office and going out in the evening with her friends than she did at home. Phoebe's mum was a commercial lawyer for a large firm in William Street. Tamminya wished that her mother spent more time at work and less time around the house checking on everything she did, especially what she ate. If only she volunteered every day at the Koala Hospital instead of just one day a week, I would have a life, Tamminya thought as she walked down the hallway passed the staircase to the family room where the laughter was reeling. Phoebe moved from New Zealand to this new house with her mother and two brothers after their father had left. Phoebe refused to talk about the divorce, as if it had never happened. Phoebe and Tamminya followed the blog Sarah started after Kimberley moved to Sydney with her parents, older brother and sister. The blog had become a daily ritual that was receiving a lot of hits and comments. Sarah and Phoebe shared a passion to make the world a better, safer and secure place for girls. "You're late," Phoebe mumbled.

"Guilty," Tamminya replied. “Wassup?” said Rebecca keeping her eyes fixated on the screen. Rebecca, the technical guru, was already clicking away at the computer keys. Rebecca created the blog’s template, Phoebe’s webpage and any graphics needed by the girls for their various assignments. She knew more about the computer than anybody else in their class. She always appeared happier when she was floating in cyberspace than hanging out with the guys at Maccas. “Everything,” said Tamminya. “It’s just been a weird day.” “Want some chockie?” she asked. “No thanks,” Tamminya replied while mentally counting the enormous amount of calories ingrained in each square. She shivered at the amount of hours exercising, how many squat thrusts and ab blasts she would need to endure for the calories to disappear from the scales. Hundreds even thousands of calories preventing her from achieving her ideal weight, making her more attractive. “Hey Beck, can you help me with my English PowerPoint later?” Tamminya asked not wishing to elaborate on why it had been a weird day. “Yeah, me too. I just don’t get what she’s on about,” said Phoebe. “She expects sooooooooooo much work and she expects it finished, like yesterday.” “Yeah, she has her favourites, like you Pheebs, she always gives you good marks and always answers your questions,” said Tamminya. “Yeah, you always get the best parts in all the plays,” added Rebecca. “You’re never forced to work with that dork, Peter the Stinker,” said Tamminya. “You should give him some Brut.” “Hello, that’s only half his probs... his breath reeks of dog poo.” “Ask him to raise his arms, open his mouth and then spray as fast as you can,” said Rebecca. “Ha, ha, very funny,” Tamminya said curtly. Rebecca raised her arms and Phoebe imitated spraying her while laughing uncontrollably. Phoebe was short, very slim, and easily invisible when she was acting dramatically. Tamminya wished she had a perfect shape to her figure like Phoebe. Although Phoebe was often very quiet in deep thought, she was pretty straight-up. What you saw was what you got. Phoebe had just turned fifteen at the beginning of the school term and seemed very wise for her age. Phoebe’s soft, straight, black hair was longer than Tamminya’s. Her long eyelashes highlighted her dark green hazel eyes that melted people's hearts. Tamminya was always fascinated how Phoebe’s eye colour would sometimes change to light-brown and other times dark green depending on what colour clothes she was wearing. Her bronzed skin made everyone jealous. Well actually, she always insisted that she inherited her father’s skin toning who was part Maori. Phoebe had a cheeky grin that was contagious, her laughter was raucous. But, all too often, Phoebe was subdued, her downcast eyes nurturing her private pain, her secrets. Tamminya looked over Rebecca 's shoulder at the screen. Facebook was loaded. “Hey Beck, you’ve changed your profile pic, it’s great, cool. How’d you do that, your face in your eye?” “It’s not my eye. You can do it online. Look at this,” said Rebecca as loaded. “See, you just upload a photo and it appears in the eye. It’s quick and easy.” “Hey let’s try these,” said Phoebe pointing to the images that were displayed on the screen. “Try the Cosmopolitan.” “Cool!” Within a few clicks Rebecca was cover girl for the Cosmopolitan.

“Hey, have you got a pic of me?” asked Tamminya. No sooner had her words rolled out when Tamminya wished she could retract them, make them dissolve like a burst bubble. After several moments of scanning Phoebe’s graphics Rebecca found a photo of Tamminya. Rebecca quickly and skilfully uploaded the image. Suddenly flashing on the screen Tamminya could see the person she wanted to be, a slim, sexy and older looking girl on the cover page of the Cosmopolitan. “Cool!” “Ahh, must show Ben,” Phoebe said rolling her eyes and blowing kisses. “Uh-huh,” groans Tamminya. “Hey, are you and Ben an item?” Rebecca, with her eyes as wide as saucers asked Tamminya. “No, we’re just friends.” “Erm... I don’t think so,” said Phoebe. “C’mon, Tamm!” pleads Rebecca, grabbing Phoebe’s arm. I want all the goss, don’t miss anything out.” “What?” “Well, Tamm she’s...” “No! It’s not ... we’re just friends,” Tamminya protested. Phoebe loved to torment and tease her friends, family, teachers, well in fact anyone that appeared vulnerable. She learnt this skill from her older brother and she never missed an opportunity to demonstrate her capabilities. On the other hand, being an only child Tamminya had not yet cultivated this skill nor knew how to respond or recognise other people teasing her in a friendly manner. In fact, Tamminya had never had a boyfriend and was learning how to socialise with the opposite sex. Beck, Rebecca Shields, was in most of Tamminya 's classes at school, except art and drama. It was the first year that the girls found themselves in different classrooms. Rebecca was very good art, she could paint and sketch anything. Rebecca was torn between her love for animals and her love of Art and choosing appropriate subjects was difficult. One week she was going to be a Veterinarian and the next she was going to be the world’s next greatest artist. One required more science and mathematical related subjects and the other arts and humanities. Tamminya preferred music to art lessons and her sensitivity was heard in her pianistic skills. Her career goal was a combined university degree of Art and Music and as her heart was leaning towards Music Therapy. Phoebe was great at English and Drama. Phoebe’s drama voice and body actions were gaining momentum. The teacher would often read Phoebe’s short stories to the class. Phoebe’s funny stories would have the class in stitches. Phoebe was determined not to be a lawyer like her mother but she was entertaining the idea of a social worker or politician. Her mother often praised her argumentative skills as equal to any politician who can blame everyone else for their own blunders while making their own agenda ideal. “Well, you see, our Tamm here, bumped into the rubbish bin at school because she was so, so busy watching Ben, flirting with him,” Phoebe said while demonstrating how Tamminya batted her eyelashes at Ben and with her hand creating heart palpitations. Suddenly, she fell off her chair, “Oh Ben, my love, come to my aid,” she pleads in her flouncy, show off bimbo voice. “I didn’t say that... or even think that... I just...just...,” Tamminya pleaded. “Save me from this stinking mess. Oh, my knight in shining armour, come quickly to me, or I will die.” “It was an accident,” she pleaded. “Sure, accidentally is short for accidentally on purpose,” said Phoebe.

“No, I... just..,” Tamminya continued to plead without managing to get her words heard over Phoebe’s dramatic presentation of the event. “Just what? Wanted to show Ben your sexy red knickers?” Phoebe said cocking her head to one side in a satisfied manner. “What? No! Never! Look I just...,” spluttered Tamminya. Her voice started to trail off. As long as Tamminya could remember she had wanted to go out with Ben but he barely registered that she existed. Almost every time he noticed her she was doing something stupid. “Well, I was just too slow grabbing my iphone... what a pic I missed,” Phoebe continued flippantly. Tamminya’s rattled expression suggested otherwise. Her nostrils flared crossly, “Really?” she questioned huffily. “Yep! I you could have made it your profile pic on FaceBook... yeah, Ben could look at... uploaded in on Twitter and...” “Oh, for God’s sake, snapped Tamminya. “This is sooooo stupid. It was nothing.” “Oh, right,” jeered Phoebe. “Doesn’t sound like nothing to me,” said Rebecca Tamminya stared at the monitor and as thoughts of how Phoebe loves to post pictures of everyone all over the Internet came flooding to her mind a tear formed in the corner of her eye. Trying to swallow her feelings with a sip of water she then turned to Phoebe and stared at her with a poker face until words just flooded out like an upturned carafe of water. “Pheebs, at times you are extra-specially infuriatingly annoying. You fall in love with a different aftershave-drenched drongo every ten minutes,” Tamminya hissed. “Whoa! Hold on, let’s not...” The sound of Rebecca’s mobile, Welcome To The Black Parade, interrupted the conversation that was brewing into a heated debate between Phoebe and Tamminya. Phoebe glared at Tamminya to shut up. The girls stared at each other in silence. Phoebe was clearly fuming but trying to keep a lid on things for Rebecca’s sake. Tamminya’s bottom lip was jutting petulantly. They were each consumed by their own anger and oblivious to Rebecca’s conversation until some excitable buzz words started flying around. “Wow! ... Shut up! ... Sam did it hurt? ... where?... that big?... what colours?... how long did it take?... how much?... how did you manage that? ... I’ll come over after dinner... sure... can’t wait... bye.” “Hey guys...,” Rebecca blurted, but was interrupted with impatient pleas from Phoebe and Tamm who appeared to have forgotten their heated discussion and were focused on finding out the other side of the conversation. Voices were now raised in excitement and anticipation of some real gossip. “What is it?” “Tell us.” “Guess what? Samara’s just had a tattoo ... “What?” screamed Phoebe in her typical theatrical manner. “Yeah, a tat on her ankle... a butterfly. How cool is that!” “A tat? A TAT!” Phoebe echoed. “She’s not 18 yet... must be a temporary tat,” Tamminya added. Tamminya was always first to see things in black and white. Her logical and extremely practically nature never gave way to spontaneity. “No, it’s the real thing.” “Did she use a fake ID?” asked Phoebe. “She didn’t say. It’s her birthday present from her mum,” replied Rebecca. “My parents would kill me if I even asked for a tat,” Tamminya muttered. “Where did she have it done?” asked Phoebe.

“I think it’s the tat shop in the Galleria building in William Street... what’s its name?... I’ll try and see if he has any designs online.” Rebecca started searching for the tattoo shop. For several minutes the girls searched through hundreds of tattoo designs to find an appropriate design. Then they discussed where on their body and what colours they preferred for their tattoo. Tamminya noticing Rebecca’s short funky hair that was flattering to her round shaped face asked, “Hey, Beck, could you put my hair up Friday night for me?” Knowing that Rebecca could style her hair to look sexy and sensual for evenings or perky and carefree during the day, Tamminya felt assured that at least her hair would look great despite how revoltingly fat she looked in her jeans. Her fame and glory as the cover girl for the Cosmopolitan was now a short lived memory. Rebecca was a true artist! Her short hair, soft and feminine, was contrary to her bubbly character. Rebecca always complained about her looks. She hated her brown eyes. Her ideal image was blue eyes, light long strawberry blonde-hair with a tanned skin, not her orange tan. “What’s on Friday night?” asked Phoebe. “Nothing really. Just gotta go to the Panthers with my parents, their Wedding Anniversary. You never know who you might see there,” said Tamminya. “I’ll come to your house after school, okay?” “Sure Beck, that’ll be super.” "What do you think of this?" Phoebe asked as she handed Rebecca a comic strip from the paper. Rebecca took the comic and flipped it over onto the scanner. Within seconds, it was uploaded. A few moments later, it was animated. "That rocks!" Phoebe exclaimed. “Cool! How’d you do that?” Tamminya asked. “Easy, it’s the software,” Rebecca replied, shrugging off the praise but clinging to it on the inside. Her brilliant disguise did not fool Tamminya. The praise made Rebecca feel good. Rebecca seldom received praise but when she did, she found it hard to accept. Rebecca’s parents were doctors and they expected her to be perfect. She was doomed to be a doctor before she was born. Rebecca always achieved good marks but they were never ever good enough, even when she gained the highest mark in class. Rebecca always hid the negative comments about her chubbiness and clumsiness that hurt her deeply. "Hey, Pheebs, is Sarah coming? She's late,” asked Tamminya. "No! She's gone to work with her father," Phoebe replied while she rummaged around looking for her iPod. “Want to hear my new download, Missy Higgins, On a Clear Night?” "Great! Let's hear it," said Rebecca as she reached over to Phoebe for the iPod while jiggling the mouse to awaken the screen with her other hand. Phoebe quickly moved in front of Tamminya, blocking the screen from Tamminya. Rebecca gave up her seat behind the computer. Phoebe quickly moved taking control of the mouse. The girls sang as if on stage with Missy Higgins until Tamminya’s mobile disrupted the rhythm of the music. “Hi, yeah, I’ll be home soon,” she abruptly answered. “Okay, I’ll stop at Coles. Bye. Hey guys, before I go let’s have a look at Sarah’s blog.” “Good idea,” said Phoebe as she opened Sarah’s blog. She scrolled down to the comments from Sarah’s post on boyconfusion about group dating and break-ups. There were many responses. My boyfriend is driving me crazy! When he’s with me he acts like I’m the only girl in the world. When I see him at skool he’s 2 busy flirting with other girls to talk to me. What should I do?

Confused and lonely

“What a jerk!” Tamminya blurted in a voice full of righteous indignation. She felt bad for confused and lonely. "Hey guys! What shall I write?” asked Phoebe. "Well I can see why she’s confused. He sure is a jerk, big time! Tell him to get lost," Rebecca replied. "No! Tell her that two can play that game. She needs to start flirting with other boys. And then see how he likes it. That’ll teach him a lesson," Tamminya added. Tamminya sounded so confident as if she had tried and tested this formula successfully. " Hey! I've got it. Spread rumours about him, like he’s got a STD. Then other girls won’t be bothered talking to him," said Rebecca laughingly. “Yeah Bec, you’re an expert on what to do when other kids made you feel like crap.” “Lying is good.” “Usually, I stay out of sight and avoid crappy jerks,” Tamminya replied. “You’ve gotta stand up for yourself... justice... get even,” Phoebe said emphatically. “She’s better off without him,” Tamminya concluded. “I wonder who he is... Mr Perfect?" said Rebecca. “Now what’s the comment for confused and lonely?" Phoebe mumbled trying to keep attention away from Mr Perfect Guy. She told Rebecca about her Mr Perfect Guy in confidence and her secret was in jeopardy. Tamminya was focused on this two-timing jerk that was upsetting Miss Confused and lonely to interrogate Rebecca about the meaning of Mr Perfect Guy that appeared to anger Phoebe. While Tamminya and Rebecca continued discussing the two timing jerk Phoebe started typing. “Hey Guys, what do you think?” Phoebe asked pointing to the screen and manoeuvring the cursor over her typing. Rebecca read the comment aloud. Dear confused and lonely The only solution is honesty. Do you want stay friends with the flirt? You need to tell him how you feel. You’ve got the right to tell him that you don’t like the way he’s treating you, flirting with other girls. If you are an item then you have the right to respectfully but firmly ask him stop flirting with other girls. Stand up for what you believe in. “Hey you left the word to out,” said Rebecca pointing to where the word needed to be inserted. “I never know if it is to or too, grammar is so confusing.” “Pheebs, is that so or soo?” “Haha, very funny!” “I think she should join the group of girls he’s flirting with,” Tamminya suggested. “Super, I’ll add that idea,” said Phoebe thoughtfully. A few moments later with additions and corrections completed the comment was posted. “What’s the next comment?” Rebecca asked when Phoebe had finished typing and corrected her typos. A guy texts me 2 –10 times every day – I love the way your fat spills over your jeans when you wear tight shirts. Will you be my valentine? Love ya! What will I do. I can’t stop thinking about that image, over and over again. I’ve been throwing up ever since. I can’t eat anymore. I hate myself. Everyone thinks I’m fat. I just want to die. How can I go out anywhere? Who is he? Where is he?

My brain is mush, I’m totally freaking out. Miss embarrassed

Tamminya and Phoebe stared at the screen in a state of blogstipation. Tamminya could feel her eyes misting up like the evening fog creeping over the land. The post was too close for comfort. Do people say that about me? Tamminya felt guilty for skipping her gym class before school. “What a bully!” blurted Rebecca in disgust. “Yeah, total JERK!” Phoebe and Tamminya echoed. “That’s sick-o behaviour! That would totally suck,” Rebecca said, her vocal cords were amped up so high they sounded electric. “Bizarre and twisted... a weirdo.” Phoebe knew that a wounded heart took years to heal from inflicted pain, but some pain leaves a permanent mark that can never be erased. The pain cannot just dissipate, for it is branded into your heart, pain that continues to leave a lasting impact. Phoebe was usually quick and straight to the point with her replies but she continued sitting, silently staring at the monitor. She was fixated, deep, and ever so deep in thought. Tamminya knew what it was like to feel fat, to be constantly reminded about her weight, her mother being the worst offender. Her mother was always on her case about skipping meals, having tiny portions, or refusing food because of its high calorie intake. She wished her mother would see her problems that needed solving, her problems needing as much focus and attention as her maths rather than escalating them. “Do you think he really means it? Or is he being sarcastic?” asked Phoebe. “That’s not the point. Even if she’s humungous he shouldn’t be so rude,” Tamminya said. “Mmm, I suppose she needs to find out who he is to know that,” replied Rebecca. “No, he’s bullying her. Look! 2 –10 times every day, he’s stalking her,” Tamminya replied. “Yeah, that’s an awful amount. Everywhere is freaky ‘cause people are freaky. Messed up. It’s a messed up world and...,” Rebecca agreed as she chomped away on another piece of chocolate. “How could she find out who the bogan is?” asked Tamminya hesitantly. “Doesn’t matter! What matters is she’s feeling bad about herself,” replied Phoebe. Phoebe could always see the important viewpoint. She would detect hidden meanings and motives in whatever she read. Tamminya could hear meanings and feelings in her Music. Rebecca discovered them in Art. Phoebe understood the implied meanings of words. When someone degrades you repeatedly, or makes you fell bad about yourself, it’s not a friendship. What it comes down to is this - believing in yourself. Loving yourself. Thinking that, hey, I’m a really good friend, a kind person, fun, loving, trustworthy and loyal. You have every right to ask him to stop. If he continues you’ll need to tell your parents or the police. Keep a record (including time and date). This may help you (or the police) to find out who is sending the messages. If he can’t give you his name don't reply to any of bullying messages. “What do you think?” Phoebe asked. “Perfect, just perfect,” Tamminya replied. “Yeah! Great, Pheebs, you’re so good with words,” Rebecca added. “Who wants a drink?” Phoebe asked stretching her arms and back. “Good idea! Coke, please,” said Rebecca “Water please,” Tamminya replied quietly.

"I’ll save everything and post it," said Rebecca as Phoebe left for the kitchen. “Can you block text messages like junk emails?” Tamminya asked Beck while Phoebe was in the kitchen getting their drinks. “Not sure! I’ll ring Telstra and check,” Rebecca offered. Returning with drinks and chips Phoebe asked, “What’s next?” “Hey Tamm, look what Sarah just posted on Facebook,” squealed Phoebe. I've had enough… I’m seriously mystified by the mountains of homework, 6 subjx... should be 4 max. It’s completely impossible. Insane. It can't be done! Unless you have absolutely… positively no life outside of school...more Phoebe hastily clicked on more to read the entire comment. I hate to break it to u teachers, but us students … we actually do need sleep. Time … there always seems to be so much yet so little… u can't think straight when there’s time limits… due dates… deadlines. What teachers give us is DEADlines. I've had enough. I’m totally Sleep Depraved "Way to go girl! Teachers need to get real. They live in another world. They think we’ve nothing else but homework to live for," Tamminya blurted out. "Yeah! Study robots. That’s what we’ve become. What can we do?” Rebecca asked. Within milliseconds Phoebe’s response was on FaceBook. Agree, agree, agree... school life is NOlife... just robotic study clones... devoid of REALlife. Tamminya laughed at Phoebe’s witticisms and admired her ease with words. “Oh Pheebs, we haven’t even started on the English PowerPoint,” said Tamminya. "I know what!" Phoebe exclaimed loudly, swinging excitedly around on her chair to face everyone. "We’ll get a petition against homework, an anti-homework decree." "Sounds good! And then we can take it to the principal, and… ," said Rebecca. "Why don't we get Sarah to set up a homework timetable...petition…and post it on the school’s Intranet?” Tamminya suggested. "Wow! Cool! We'll get hundreds and hundreds of responses," said Phoebe. "Hope it doesn't clog up the server," said Rebecca, the technical guru always preoccupied with technological jargon. “Why not! That would be super,” Phoebe said. "Can you do something to prevent that?” Tamminya asked. "Not really! Oh I suppose if it does we have a good reason not to upload our homework," said Rebecca grinning like a Cheshire cat. "That settles it. We must organise a petition," replied Phoebe. “But now, let’s start our PowerPoint.” “I’ll design the slides and you two can create the character profiles, okay?” said Rebecca. “Sure, I’ll jot down the current characters Tamminya and can you do the past characters?” said Phoebe. “How many slides do we need?” All afternoon, in her father’s office, Sarah had been composing her next journal entry in her head. Arriving home with her father, she raced through the back door, dropped her bag and flew into her bedroom. She turned on her computer to begin typing her thoughts about forced to choose subjects that would affect her future career. Sarah desperately wanted to tour

with the Australian Ballet Company. Dancing was all she lived for, all she understood and nothing else could compare to a lifetime of dancing regardless of her parents pleas for something that will last a life time as she grew older. As the computer was awakening, she kicked off her shoes and headed back to the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator, she found some strawberry cheesecake and a can of Coke. She quickly returned to her room with the cheesecake and Coke in hand to check for e-mails before writing up her thoughts. Sarah immediately spotted an email from Kimberly. Just a couple of clicks away, Hey Homie i moved here w/ my mum… and other personal reasons .. u know… aaah i hate living here… this place sucks … most people dont know what im talkin about if u never made a big move like i did... fwif i miss u guys ..i need friends in my life... i dont have any here.. fyi my life has slowed down period..!!!.. ahhh i dont like the feeling… i dont belong here… i try to fit in… its not working… seems like everything is jus moving around me… im jus behind...catching up… i jus want a place where i feel comfy… at home… i dont get that warm fuzzy feeling here… shid ...i dont feel like this is my home… sotmg lol kimber A mist clouded Sarah's eyes. She felt the tears in her throat and behind her eyes. She missed Kimberly heaps. The email reminded her of how much. She needed Kimberly as well. Sarah realised that you can be lonely even with people around you. She wondered if the other girls missed Kimberly as much as she did. Did they know how much Kimberly missed them? Sarah checked the time on her monitor. 5.47 pm. The girls might still be at Phoebe’s. Sarah left her strawberry cheesecake and Coke sitting on the desk and quickly slipped on her thongs. She ran out the back door quicker than she rang ran in. Suddenly, she turned around and ran back to her room. Sarah had left suddenly without turning her computer off. Fortunately! She hit the print key and waited impatiently for her Canon to print out the email. Clutching the e-mail, she darted out the back door once again and ran to the Porter mansion. As she hurried to Phoebe’s house she almost wished that she believed in God. This would be a perfect time to pray but her doubts clouded any thought of praying to God who might hear her or who might be too busy listening to other people to hear her pleas for help. Her thoughts, if only she could help Kimber, kept bouncing around in her mind with nowhere to go but into the too hard basket. Ben was just leaving for soccer training as Sarah was about to knock on the door. His mouth widened with the most infectious grin that almost sparkled like diamonds. His white teeth, white sun-bleached hair and big brown eyes beckoned her to enter. She noticed his broad shoulders were caked with dried salt and his hair stiffened with salt indicating that he had been surfing. Sarah managed to offer a quick greeting as she ran past him, into Porter's family room. Sarah was so preoccupied that she never noticed the kitchen aromas of her favourite meal, pizza. “Sup?” Tamminya asked taking one look at Sarah who was blushed and panting like a puppy. "Hey, Tamm how are you?" she said with her eyes and thoughts fixated on the A4 sheet she grasping. "Hey yourself, yeah good. Just got an e-mail from Kimber," said Sarah. "Cool! Wha-" Phoebe started to ask about the email but Sarah couldn't wait. She had to tell them how sad and lonely Kimberly was. "She’s so unhappy. She doesn't have any friends. She misses us,” Sarah blurted out in one quick breath. "Oh, no!” The girls replied in unison as if it had been rehearsed for drama.

"Here! I’ll read it," said Sarah. The girls sat with their eyes fixed on Sarah as she read the e-mail. There was silence. But not for long. A sniffle interrupted the silence. “Oh my God! What can we do?” Sarah asked. "I really miss her too," said Phoebe while wiping her eyes and keeping her head down. Rebecca asked, "Should we text her or phone?" “What does she really need?” Sarah asked. “Is that a rhetorical question? She needs her friends.” “We need to comfort her... help her to look forward... to make life as good as she possibly can and not to look back anymore... it only hurts,” Sarah said reassuringly. "Good idea Beck. How about the chat room?” Tamminya suggested. “It’s hard to be hopeful,” Phoebe said clearing her throat. “You can waste a lot of energy on it and life, well it just stands still in a bubble, twirling around ready to bust.” "Oh yer! I'll check to see if she has a WebCam. I can setup my WebCam and then we can all talk and see each other," said Rebecca while she was busy texting Kimberly. Rebecca could text quicker than she talked. FROM: Rebecca TIME: 16.51 Hey, we miss u @ pheebs it sucks u in Sydney... made some cool friends yet? Any hot boys? I have to go on account of a little English homework torture by chief freak fluff head.. .if that dude was an emoticon, she would be the blank one... vacant. Tamminya opened her iphone and started texting. "Sarah, have you started the English homework? What topic did you choose?” asked Phoebe popping some chocolate in her mouth. "Well, I was planning to write about dating in different countries," replied Sarah. "Cool! Sounds great. Phong can tell us about dating in Thailand,” Tamminya said. "Yeah, but after reading Kimber's e-mail I was thinking on the way over here that I should write something about loneliness… or, perhaps friendships. You know, how important your friends are …their feelings …how to show your friends that you care about them. I've been too busy that I never sent Kimber an e-mail or text or even phoned her. Well, that's a poor excuse. I should’ve made time,” Sarah replied. Her voice and her paper white face, showed how downhearted and disappointed she was with herself. Tamminya’s mobile rang. "Cool song Tamm. Is that welcome to the black parade?”asked Rebecca. "Yeah! Gotta go guys. See ya tomorrow," Tamminya said as she gathered her belongings. "Yeah, I'd better go to," said Sarah looking at her watch. "Let's meet at Maccas before school tomorrow," Phoebe suggested. "Cool, we’ll talk about how we can help Kimber. That’ll give me some time to think about friendships," replied Sarah. "Slate. See you at Maccas," said Rebecca. "Hey Sarah, we’ll chat about our new ideas too, an anti-homework petition. We get too much homework especially from Fluff Head. We’re gonna write our own homework timetable," said Phoebe as she walked with Sarah and Tamminya to the front door. “Zero homework, that’s my motto,” Rebecca quickly added. "Wow! Good idea! So, we've got lots to talk about. See you tomorrow," said Sarah. "Bye," said Tamminya. "See you, bye," said Phoebe. "Wait guys, I’ll walk to the corner with you," said Beck rushing past Phoebe.

Storm clouds were darkening as Tamminya walked home via Coles. She felt bad for not being a worthier friend to Kimberly. Thoughts about the argument earlier with her mother started pounding. The smell of dinner hit her stomach like a tornado as she opened the door. Food was the last thing she wanted. “Hi, Pumpkin,” Tamminya’s father cheerily greeted her without raising his head from his crossword puzzle. “Hi Paddy,” she grunted back. “Where have you been, Pumpkin? Your mother’s been waiting for you. I’m famished,” her father said. Tamminya considered neither the question nor the answer. “At Pheebs,” she replied curtly while wondering how she could escape the greasy feast laden with fat and calories her mother always prepared. “I could eat a horse. I’m starving,” her father replied without taking his nose out of the paper. Tamminya’s father, Robert James Judd, affectionately known by his close friends as RJ, and Tamminya as Paddy always scanned the sports section very carefully looking for hidden treasure. He was acquainted with all the athletes, especially in the Hastings area. At sometime he had cared for their injuries, aches and pains. RJ was a typical bronzed Aussie guy 6’2”, sun bleached hair with some visible receding signs, and speckled grey tinges daring to spoil his image. He loved BBQ’s, surfing, water skiing, wake boarding, and most importantly soccer. He boasted of being an expert in every position on the field. “Oh dear, good, you’re back! Five minutes before dinner,” her mother cheerily greeted her as she entered the lounge room. “Good, you got the cream, thanks dear. Why did you get light cream, you know it’s always runny, never thick.” “I didn’t notice,” said Tamminya hoping that her excuse was acceptable. Emtios skittered across Tammina’s face. Life sucks. As blond as RJ was Tamminya’s mother, Tamara Rosa Maria Judd had black hair like all the Moretti family. Her parents migrated to Sydney when she was only two years old from the small North-Italian town of Pordenone. Tamara held her Italian heritage very dear to her heart. She had taught Tamminya her native language since she could remember. Tamminya was annoyed that Italian was not an elective at school. The only language taught at school was Japanese. “Occhiataccia?” asked Tamara. “No! I didn’t give you a dirty look,” replied Tamminya as she stormed out of the lounge. “Hurry back, dinner’s ready.” Tamminya did not require a reminder about dinner the smell of it wafted throughout the entire house. Tamara was short and extremely well built. She lived for her family and her new family of possums. Tamara was a qualified possum carer. She loved caring for hurt, sick or orphaned possums that often required two hourly feeds throughout the day and night. Each possum received a special name, an Italian name for an Australian animal, which added to Tamminya’s embarrassment. The Judd’s mansion was built on the edge of a rainforest close to Lighthouse Beach. The backyard was a jungle, full of trees, bangalay palms, ferns, shrubs and sightings of various native fauna were common. From Tamminya’s bedroom she often saw glossy black cockatoos, an occasional red-necked wallaby, bats, possums, and brush turkeys. Koala’s grunting like pigs would awaken Tamminya during the mating season. From the other bedroom window she could scan the Pacific Ocean and watch the lighthouse flicker away unceasingly to whoever needed guidance.

Tamminya threw her bag on her bed and kicked off her shoes. She could smell the storm. The air was eerie, heavy with humidity. She changed out of her daggy school uniform into her favourite shorts and black T-shirt. “Tamm, honey, dinner’s ready,” called her mother. A few moments later Tamminya winced as she heard her mother impatiently yell, “Tamm, we’re waiting for you.” “Hurry up Pumpkin,” her father called. “Tamminya... min…ya, what are you doing? Hurry, we’re waiting.” Her mother’s voice shook the room. Slowly Tamminya walked down the stairs to the dining room. Her parents were sitting at the table trying to disguise their impatient scowls with a smile. The Judd’s routine was every evening meal they would sit at the dining room table as a family. Tamara’s days were focused on her special meal time with the family, learning about their day and planning special occasions. “Good, you’re here. Let’s start. I’m famished,” her father said. “RJ, pass me your plate, honey.” Her mother started placing spoonful after spoonful on RJ’s plate. There was no doubt that Tamara could win Master Chef with her eyes closed. “Honey, you’ve outdone yourself. This is scrumptious,” said RJ with his mouth full of lasagne. Tamminya carefully eyed the table contents and thought, Lasagne! Fatty, greasy, horrible lasagne! I’m not eating it! She can’t make me. Salad! Bet she’s put heaps of salad dressing on it! “Tamm, pass your plate please, love?” her mother asked. “Oh, I’ll just have salad tonight,” Tamminya cautiously replied while handing her plate to her mother. “You’ll need more than that dear,” her mother said, emphatically, giving Tamminya one of her looks: don’t mess with me. “I’m not hungry,” she said apologetically. Do you even know who I am? Do you even care how I feel? “Well thanks Pumpkin, that’s more for me,” RJ said scraping his plate, eating as if this was the last food in the universe he would ever eat. Tamminya reached for the salad bowl and placed a small spoonful of salad on her plate. She chased the lettuce and carrots around the plate. Each minute mouthful was masticated carefully, slowly. “Come on Pumpkin, eat your food or you’ll wake up in the middle of the night hungry,” her father pleaded. “But, Paddy, I’m not hungry,” she said batting her long black eyelashes at her father. She knew her father could not resist her baby pleas or her lifelong endearment of Paddy rather than Daddy. “Look how skinny she is, RJ! A growing girl needs her food,” Tamara pouted. “But love, she’s not hungry.” “All girls are hungry.” “You can’t force her to eat,” said RJ while reaching for another serving of lasagne. “But mum, I’ve got a headache. I just want a drink of water and go to bed,” Tamminya whinged. She shrugged her shoulders and took a sip of water. “Oh, Pumpkin, are you coming down with something?” her father asked just as the first clap of thunder rumbled through the house. “Looks like we’re in for a good storm tonight, honey, got the candles ready?” RJ asked Tamara. “Over on the kitchen bench.” “I’m going to bed. I’ll sleep off my headache,” Tamminya said, quickly taking advantage of the thunder to avoid another stormy confrontation. As she climbed the stairs, she could hear her mother arguing with her father about her eating, not eating. “She’ll make herself really sick if she keeps this up,” Tamara empathically stated.

“It’s just the age. She’ll grow out of it. Stop worrying. She’ll eat when she’s hungry,” RJ assured Tamara. In the sanctuary of her bedroom, Tamminya splayed across her bed. She was exhausted. Tamminya felt that she had become a specimen in jar for her mother’s penetrating eyes to feast upon critically. She imagined pressing a fast-forward button and living in her own home, making her own decisions. Arguing with her mother, constantly, made Tamminya feel sad, angry, stressed, and fed up. Her mother had no idea how to chill-out. Tamminya was convinced that her mother had not comprehension of what overindulgence in food causes. Tamminya listened to the storm. The lightening lit up her room like a Christmas tree blinking. Rain bucketed down noisily on the colour-bond roof attempting to drown out her thoughts. In desperation to escape her thoughts she reached for a magazine. Tamminya flipped through the pages of her latest Dolly magazine and decided to attempt The Secret You Quiz. Question #1 turned her stomach: Mars bar, ice-cream, can of coke and M & M’s. What would she choose? After considerable thought, she decided on the ice-cream. The result read … You’re super-sweet and sensitive. You shower your friends with hugs and kisses, and you’re the first person they turn to when they need a shoulder to cry on. “Yeah, that’ll be right, hey Elvis,” said Tamminya, ruffling Elvis’s head. Elvis remained motionless and his purring intensified. Elvis was a part chinchilla female cat that lived mainly in Tamminya’s room. Regardless of her noisy collar she was not allowed outside because of the wildlife. Test number #2 results read … You hate confrontation –“Yeah that’s for sure,” she uttered and kept reading … you just don’t understand why people can’t get along. “Got that one right,” she said … Your sensitivity and gentle manner is a constant source of inspiration to others. After completing the test, she flipped through the pages. The article about Cutting, Starvation, Violence, Suicide: When You’re On The Edge caught Tamminya’s eyes. She thought of Phoebe and her scars on her arms and legs as she read self harm may be used as a way to cope: providing a way to express feelings; acting as a cry for help or giving a feeling of control. welcome to the black parade. A message thought Tamminya reaching for her iphone. FROM: Kimberley TIME: 8.03pm Hey u want to chat? online K Tamminya quickly turned on her PC but after several attempts failed to activate the server. REPLY: Tamminya TIME: 20.06 hey K, network is down...storm... i try later xx Frustrated Tamminya returned to Dolly. The story about a girl aged 14, who was sexually abused and raped as a child and had attempted suicide eight times turned Tamminya’s thoughts again towards Phoebe. Phoebe had scars on her arms. The scars were so thin and short that Tamminya believed nobody ever noticed them, except her, but to Tamminya, the scars said everything. It symbolised a pain inside of Phoebe. Tamminya understood how much hidden pain hurts; a burning deep within that just won’t go away. Tamminya wondered if Phoebe’s pain was caused by her parent’s divorce, when her dad had left. Perhaps she missed her friends and relatives in New Zealand. Each scar seemed to have healed over, more or less. When Tamminya had asked Phoebe about her scars, Phoebe

shrugged it off as a minor skateboard accident when she was racing with her brother Ben down the hill. Was she abused by her father? Is that why Phoebe’s parents divorced? Is that why they left New Zealand? Is her father in gaol? Is he shacked up with his secretary? Is he in a mental institution? Has he joined a cult? Questions ricocheted around in her mind like bullets from a machine gun in a small tin shed. While Tamminya pondered on how she could help Phoebe, she noticed at the bottom of the page, a small column with an orange background, Finding Help. Great, a www she thought. Tamminya quickly turned on her computer again and found that the Internet was still down. “Tamm honey, your father and I are going for a walk along the beach. Do you want to come?” Tamminya’s mother called from downstairs. “No thanks,” Tamminya replied without taking her nose out of her Dolly magazine. “Won’t be long.” Tamminya went back to her monitor. To her relief access to the Internet was working. Quickly she went to the chat room but Kimberley was not there. Picking up her iphone she sent her a message. While waiting for a response she carefully typed … clicked on What’s in your head? To her surprise, the first article talked about a Miss Embarrassed who was experiencing constant cyberbullying due to her bulimia. She read the article, and then clicked on the fact sheet. Wow, she thought, and read aloud you can contact your phone or Internet service provider and report what is happening. They can help you block messages or calls from certain senders. What a great idea. She picked up the phone to ring Phoebe but stopped. How can I tell her about the help for abused people? What if I’m wrong? A survey about feelings caught her attention. Tamminya started responding to the questions. She paused over question 5 unsure of her true feelings. #5 I feel hopeful about the future: Rarely or none of the time (less than 1 day) Some or a little of the time (1-2 days) Occasionally or a moderate amount of the time (3-4 days) or Most or all of the time (5-7 days) The survey finished, one click, the results. You’ve scored in the same range as many people who have been diagnosed with depression, which means you could be experiencing some significant depressive symptoms. What, me, she thought. I’m not depressed. It’s just the stupid fight with my mother. Dismissing the results as temporary feelings, she continued exploring the site. Tamminya checked her emails. “Hey Elvis, I have mail, from Phong.” Tamminya informed her cat like a brother or sister that she always dreamed would be the solutions to all her problems.

From: phonsak[] To: Tamm [] Subject: back home Hey Tamm,

คุณเป็ นสะบัด (means you're a jerk in Thai)... I said not 2 cry @ the airport... u made me sad.

Want to go back to Oz for uni. I got 2 fess up... I had some tears 2... thats 2 more years b4 uni. been back 2 weeks now and have not seen the blue sky or the sun like u have in Port... just smog, smog, smog... back to wearing a mask found out Rean can't go on a d8 with me 2morrow :-( She got 2 go out with her father. .. last night we talked again. She knew that I was sad and kept saying sorry. I said it's okaay don't worry about it, we still have next time.

I talked to her until 3 o'clock in the morning. After she hung up, I couldn't get to sleep till 4.30 in the morning. I couldn't sleep last night. I was a bit disappointed because I really liked "her" but she’s found some1 else while I was overseas. I went through my list of girls... Yui - got a new boyfriend Nook - maybe Kwang - moved to Phuket Da – gets 2 silly Kratae - maybe who will I choose. OMG, headache... its not the same... every1 has changed. .. really weird being back here... check out the pic... had some fun riding an elephant. which 1 of us has bigger ears? I told u I was well hung :P the elephant show starts every half an hour there were about five elephants doing some tricks like walking on a rope... riding a tricycle ...dancing they asked for brave people to come down + lie on the ground + let the elephant walk over them I was really scared ... but I went down ... I thought the elephant would tread on me but it didn't That girl is Kanya the one my uncle wants me to go out with I prefer the elephant to that bitch she spreads rumours that my pa hits my ma.. cant stand that bitch about time some1 taught her a lesson no what I did, I walked by her + crop dusted. .. awesome... every1 thought it was her Got anything else I can piss her off with ... Im glad u got my back love that I can tell u things and u don’t tell anyone else I know. IM me l8er

The MSN icon was blinking at her from the corner of the screen. Kimberley? Tamminya wondered. She gripped the mouse and hovered over the icon. It was Phong. Just as she clicked on it her Iphone rang. She flipped open the handset. “Hey Tamm,” she heard Kimberley say. “Hey you, what’s up?” “I got your message homie but I’m out shopping with mum. Don’t think I’ll be home for an hour or so.” “Okay” replied Tamminya. “Hope to take home a box of Krispy Kremes” Tamminya shuttered at the thought of those high calorie doughnuts. “Tamm how are you? I was stoked to hear from you. I’ve been checking your status on FaceBook but you haven’t posted anything for ages. Why?” said Kimberley. “I’m great. I never have anything interesting or funny to say,” Tamminya replied. “Sure you do. I hear you and Ben are an item now.” “No we’re not, we’re just friends. Who told you that? Bet it was Pheebs.” “No I haven’t spoken with Pheebs.” “Who, Beck who?” “Sorry have to go, mum is calling me. We’ll chat later. Bye.” “Bye.”

Tamminya frustratingly threw her phone on the bed. “Elvis, everyone is talking about me and Ben. It’s just not fair. What am I going to do? It’s all Pheeb’s fault.” Returning her attention to the sleepy computer Tamminya reread Phong’s email. Suddenly she realised what crop dusting referred to and her uncontrollable laughter filled the room. Phong was still on chat. Tamm: hey u got ur email... crop dusting? ...wot a blast! Phong: hey u2... r u ok? Tamm: why do u hav to go out wit that bitch? Phong: think they want me 2 marry her Tamm: wot? Phong: my family loves her Tamm: keep crop dusting? ...wot a blast! Phong: pretty lame Tamm: no gr8 ... jake on 2 ½ men for farting says air biscuits Tamm: haha Phong: she’s from a good family... i want to live in australia Tamm: yeah, if my parents picked my husband i’d leave the country 2 Phong: it makes me feel like im going to explode Tamm: + crop dust her and evry1 pushing u2 2gether Phong: haha Tamm: that’s a good trick... i’ll try it lol... especially on pheebs Phong: Wot has she done? Tamm: she’s spreading gos about me Phong: wot gos Tamm: her brother ben and i as an item Phong: r u? Tamm: no... i like him... maybe I wish we were but no Phong: talk 2 her... tell her it hurts u Tamm: all they care about is what they look like and how many friends they have on fb... not my feelings Phong: u must try... u2 been friends for a long time Tamm: wot does ur mum think ... about the bitch Phong: i spoke to my mum... she went silent... wouldn’t talk... like i was invisible, not there... it was like i never spoke... it was really weird Tamm: talk 2 ur dad Phong: my dad is going mental ... being me sucks  Tamm: no wot u mean... my mum goes mental heaps 2 Phong: maybe i’ll go the middle way of the Buddha... become a Bhikkhu  Tamm: u’d make a lousy monk ... ☺ Tamm: hey do monks marry? christian monks don’t marry Phong: no sex... big prob. I’d only be allowed to eat between dawn and midday  Tamm: no sex ... no food ... wot is left? Lol Tamm: I don't know what religion to believe in Phong: yeah and no sleeping in... up every day at 4.00am Tamm: wot? she really must be a bitch to want to join that mob... lol Phong: she sure is Tamm: u got a prob and u try to think of a movie or tv show with same prob + u try their solution out Phong: does it work? Tamm: sometimes...

Tamminya noticed Pheebs come online and decided to get off as she was not in any frame of mind to tackle her about her gossiping. Tamm: oh must go... bye ♥

Phong: cya

Walking down the stairs Tamminya revisited her childhood dream of a slide to reach the bottom. She heard her parents watching TV as she headed to the piano in the family room. Without thinking she started playing Bartok’s Bulgarian rhythms so viscously as if the piano had caused her harm and she need to take revenge. The 2 + 2 + 2 + 3 beat rocked the room. As she rhythmically struck the keys she thought about Pong and how she missed him. She was upset that he was so far away and unhappy. Then she thought of Phoebe who was the biggest prankster she had ever known. Through her fingertips the piano keys drew her pain, anger and frustration and Tamminya found herself in a much better, more relaxed state of mind. Music always worked like a charm casting a tranquil spell around her. Tamminya decided while changing into her PJ’s that she would suggest looking at the ReachOut site when the girls get together next. She was convinced that using the ReachOut website would help Phoebe and once she was aware of the site she could explore it privately. As she turned her light off a hopeful light illuminated her thoughts, help for Phoebe despite the fact the Phoebe loves to gossip and tease everyone Tamminya really cared for her and wanted their friendship to last. Tamminya was so very tired but sleep, as usual, eluded her. The intensity of the storm had ceased. Distance small rumbles were scarcely audible. The rain stopped pounding the house. The air was heavy. Tamminya hated the humidity that hung around like a ball and chain choking and dragging life out of your body. As she lay staring into the black space of her room thoughts about Miss Embarrassed filled the empty room to the beat of drip, drip, drip from the downpipe. Tamminya identified with Miss Embarrassed and in her mind, she became Miss Embarrassed. She plotted revenge. In her mind’s eye she played the scenario of meeting the bully at Port Central. She would arrange for him to stand underneath the balcony at a certain time, wearing a particular colour t-shirt and jeans. She would be lurking above in the food court, ready to pounce on the unsuspecting jerk while he waited eagerly for her. Then at the perfect time, she would drop a plastic bag full of water, putrid smelling water, on his head. Drown the jerk, yeah, drown that bully, that’ll teach him, she thought. Tamminya’s thoughts turned inwards, she was still in pain. Why do I have to be fat, ugly and unlovable? Why can I be thin and then Ben would want to be my boyfriend? “Elvis, Beck has heaps of hot boys sniffing around her all the time. She gets personal invites to all the best parties in Port. I don’t! It’s just not fair. I have to lose some weight. Then Ben will ask me out,” Tamminya confided to her purring confidant. Tamminya jumped out of bed to close the window. Passing her dressing table she paused and began starring into the mirror at all her waves rippling over her body like a day at the beach. She started to image what surgery could do: Liposuction? Bring it on! New nose? Yes, please without any bumps. Fuller lips? Mmmm... lips that would make me a great kisser. Smaller boobs? Yes, then I can run without them hitting me in the face. Abs? Tight and tanned. Petit bum? Most definitely shaped to attract and not distract hot guys. Tamminya pivoted around for the umpteenth time examining her butt cheeks. Thunder thighs? What could surgeons do? Chop them in half? Her thoughts floated back to the argument she had with her mother before she stormed out of the house. She remembered the meal table pressure and it felt like the world

was designed to keep her in place, to torment her thoughts and dreams. Tamminya could not understand why her mother made her eat when fat people are ridiculed. The media was inundated with negativity about the great Australian obesity epidemic and her mother was making her eat, and eat and eat, all the wrong foods, all the time. Tamminya wanted the freedom to exercise her self-control. She was not a binger like the obese people. She could control her eating, if she was allowed. Tamminya was 167 cms and weighed 46 kgs and her ambition was to get down to 40 Ks. Food arguments turned over and over in her mind like clothes in the tumble dryer. “Pumpkin,” calls her father through the door. “Pumpkin, sweetie, are you still awake?” “Yeah... Dad,” Tamminya replies. Tamminya’s father entered the room and sat carefully down on her red armchair. He was wearing his fake grin and a long silence hovered around the room like dark storm clouds. He had a question in his eyes. One that Tamminya never wanted asked. “Err, Pumpkin, listen, I need to talk to you.” Tamminya felt that no conversation starting with that word, listen, was ever going to finish well unless you were waiting for the fish to bite. Sitting up she expected the cloud to burst heavily upon her as he sat very quietly, looking at her. Something about his manner made her very uncomfortable. “How’s your headache?” “Better thanks.” “Feel like eating your dinner now?” “No, I’m fine.” “Pumpkin, your mother is very worried about your eating. She’s afraid you’ll make yourself very sick.” “But Dad, I am. She’s...” Tamminya frowned knowing that this tone of voice meant serious talk. “Do you know what this is doing to me? Seeing you get thinner and thinner and your poor mother worrying her heart and soul, day and night over you,” her father pleaded. “How about you come down and have something to eat? Look, if you improve with your eating I’ll buy you an LCD for your bedroom.” “But Dad, I do eat. It’s just, just that I have a headache tonight. That’s why I didn’t eat my dinner.” “Oh, Pumpkin it’s not just tonight, you do it every night and your mother says you never get up in time for breakfast.” “But...,” “Can’t you have a piece of toast before you leave for school? It would make your mother and me a lot happier knowing that you’re starting the day off with something in your stomach.” “Sure.” “Pumpkin, you look perfect as you are. You don’t need to lose any weight. But you need to keep up with protein and vitamins or you’ll get very, very sick. Maybe end up in hospital.” “I’m fine,” she winced. “Well Pumpkin, think about what I’ve said,” he said gently while walking over to the door. “Nite, nite Pumpkin.” The door closed but the atmosphere remained murky. Tamminya reached for her iPhone. Scrolling through her music list she stopped at Silverchair. I love Ana's song....The words are so true. The song makes me feel better … Silverchair’s songs help me through bad

times…I can relate to the words... Tamminya thought as she placed her earplugs securely in her ears and turned up the volume. Tamminya closed her eyes and listened to Across the night. Across the night, was the moon that stole my slumber Across the night I fell in love with people sleeping I fell tired, asleep in a golden ocean She could hear the roar of the Pacific Ocean pounding the beach mercilessly after the storm. The crashing waves were as deafening as her mother’s and now her father’s pleas trying to force her to eat all wrong foods, all the fatty foods. Eyes perspired, a spark in my fascination I don't mean to make you cry But this feeling wander through the night I'll only make you cry with these feelings Mortality rubbed its icy finger along her spine. It had nothing to offer but the unanswerable. Why did the world have to change? Why do people hurt each other? A well of tears rose up like a volcano as Tamminya’s thoughts of Miss Embarrassed erupted once again. Tamminya was crying. Not proper crying, just her eyes leaking from the sides. Were those tears for Miss Embarrassed or someone else? Herself perhaps? She never bothered to wipe the tears. She wanted to meet her, tell her she understood, and be a friend. How could she find out who she was? Miss Embarrassed needed someone who could identify with her innermost pain and turmoil just as much as Tamminya needed someone. The tears were dropping down and making dark blotches on her pillow. Tamminya curled up with Elvis and tried to shut out her demons. She waited for the night to cloak her in a kinder light than the brash strident day and its cruel illumination. Just as Tamminya was dozing she wondered why some people had to move on and others die? Why were some left behind? What use was any of it? Tamminya thought, if only I could press the delete button ridding the world of all pain. Tamminya watched the shadows dancing in the wall and dreaded the morning. She yawned and drifted away.  

Three weeks of a teenager's life where she experinces cybberbullying.

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