"Hey, watch it."
Violet felt herself collide with someone.
"I'm sorry," Violet mumbled quickly before turning to run again. Without her glasses on, Violet was uncertain about whom she had just assaulted, but whoever it was, they didn't need to watch as she turned into a weeping mess.
Violet speed away and kept running until she was gasping for air. Almost subconsciously, she had come to the park, where maybe she could find some time alone to compose herself. The park had always been her refuge. As a child, as an adolescent, she could always trust the trees to hide her from tormentors, or to provide a quiet sanctuary from the problems in her life. Today though, all Violet could see was the happiness of other people: children playing, families picnicking, and most heart wrenching of all, couples from school, wandering aimlessly, hand in hand.
Violet slumped onto a secluded park bench, gasping from the exertion her running trip had caused. She felt slightly calmer, but still the image of Billy's cold face burned in her mind. Violet mentally replayed the scene in the youth center, the tears running down her cheeks as the hurt and humiliation came flooding back...
Billy had been working out at the bench press for awhile now. Violet stood at the Juice Bar, near the table where the rest of Billy's group sat. Kimberly had turned to look at her a couple of times, giving encouraging smiles and knowing winks. Violet had felt her heart flutter when Billy replaced the weights and headed towards her. "Hi Billy," she had said just a bit too eagerly. He just gave her a disgusted look. "Billy?" Violet had repeated, hurt by the sudden change in attitude. Billy pointedly turned his back on her. Violet had stared open mouthed for a moment, then, struggling to maintain her composure, left the Youth Center...
"Hey Violet," said a soft voice from behind. The sorrowful girl quickly looked over her shoulder. Absorbed in her daydream, Violet hadn't noticed the arrival of her English classmate, Laura.
"Oh, hi," Violet replied, her voice slightly shaky. She quickly wiped her face while Laura took a seat on the bench.
"Maybe you should try out for the football team," Laura began lightly. "I saw that tackle you tried on Richie in the car park."
Violet blushed. "That was him?"
Laura nodded, her face sympathetic. "He asked me if you were okay. Are you?"
Violet fiddled with the hem of her denim dress. "I'm fine," she lied.
"I was at the Youth Center before, but I don't think you saw me," Laura pressed gently. "I guess you were busy looking at someone else." Violet sat quietly, still rearranging the skirt over her knees. "I saw what happened with you and Billy," Laura continued.
"It was nothing," Violet said softly. "I was just being silly."
"No, Billy was the one being an idiot," Laura corrected firmly. "I've never seen him act like that before."
"I know," agreed Violet. "He's normally so gentle and friendly."
The two girls sat in silence for a moment.
"I saw that sculpture you did of him," Laura said finally. "It's really good."
"Do you think so?" Violet shrugged. "It was stupid of me to do it, maybe it was the sculpture that made him act like that, maybe he was embarrassed by it..."
"Hold on there." Laura interrupted the tirade of suggestions. "Billy liked the sculpture. He told me so himself."
"Yeah, he has Science with me after art class. I asked if you had shown it to him yet, and he said it was, and I quote, 'an incredible piece of art'."
Violet smiled modestly. "Did he really say that?"
"Oh yeah," said Laura. She leant back against the bench and folded her arms behind her head. "Everyone has a bad day once in a while. Maybe you should give Billy another chance."
"I suppose you're right," Violet said thoughtfully. She looked at her friend carefully. "Why are you so sure that I should forgive Billy?"
"Like I said, everyone can have a bad day, and everyone can make a mistake." Laura sighed somewhat regretfully. "I've known Billy for awhile, and I know a lot about him."
"You two were dating a few months ago, weren't you," Violet interrupted, remembering some school gossip she'd overheard.
Laura shook her head. "No, not that I wasn't trying to get his attention". She laughed ruefully. "I gave up after the Vice Versa dance though."
"Because it was the wrong time. I spent a lot of that night hearing about how much fun Trini was having in Switzerland."
"Trini?" Violet vaguely recognised the name.
"She was one of Billy's friends. You know, she and Jason and Zack were the delegates for the peace conference."
"Oh, I remember now." Violet frowned in concentration. "Asian, long hair..."
"That's the one, exotic and beautiful." Laura tried to control the bitter note in her voice. "I don't know if Billy realised he was in love with her, but I think the rest of us knew."
"Us?" Violet looked confused.
"Sorry, personal joke. Trini, Billy and I were in the school Science Club, and the whole group noticed how depressed Billy was after Trini left."
"Oh," said Violet softly.
"But," added Laura, perking up. "That was ages ago. And I think you would be the perfect girl for him."
"But what about you, are you positive you don't still like him?" Violet asked.
Laura smiled. "He's a good friend, but to be honest, there's someone else in my life now."
"Well..." Laura grinned, "Let's just say Trini's leaving had one good result for me."
"You're going out with RICHIE!" Violet's knowledge of the school dating cycles was finally paying off.
"The same one that you tried to give concussion to in the car park," said Laura good humouredly.
"I have to apologise to him for that," said Violet, blushing again.
Laura put an arm around her friend's shoulder and gave a quick hug. "So you're feeling better?"
Violet returned the hug. "Much better, thanks to you."
"Anytime." The two smiled at each other.
A shout of "Hey, you!" suddenly came thundering through the park. Violet and Laura turned to see Bulk and Skull come jogging up.
"Excuse me?" said Laura, surprised at the intrusion.
"Not you, you." Bulk pointed at Violet. "You're in our art class right."
"Yes," Violet said slowly, wondering what the point was.
"We want YOU to do a sculpture of the Power Rangers," Bulk explained.
"You two still trying to find out their 'secret identity'?" Laura asked dryly.
"Shut up dweeb." Bulk replied tersely
Laura raised an eyebrow at the boy, her mouth twitching as she controlled a laugh. Bulk and Skull's 'hobby' was a standard joke at Angel Grove High.
A police officer came jogging along the path. "Come on kids," she ordered. "Time to clear the area."
"What for?" protested Skull.
The officer looked at the two punks. "There is a monster alert on. The Power Rangers are fighting on the other side of the park." She grabbed Bulk and Skull by the shirts. "And I've heard about you boys. I think the Power Rangers will prefer to finish this battle without you getting underfoot trying to rip their helmets off."
"But, but..." Bulk's protests echoed back as he was dragged away from the bench. Laura and Violet giggled as they too started towards a safer location.
"You want to hang out at the Juice Bar?" Laura asked.
Violet pursed her lips. "Actually, I think I'll go to the High School. There's something I want to do in the art rooms."
Laura stopped to stare at her companion. "You're not seriously going to make a sculpture for those two clowns are you."
"Yes I am," Violet said happily as she ran ahead. She turned to see Laura with her arms folded disapprovingly. "All this talk of Power Rangers and Billy has given me a great idea for another 'incredible piece of art'."