Drew slept fitfully, thoughts of Helen and of Japan kept him from sleep and it was sheer exhaustion which finally took him into the land of nod.
"You getting up , spud?" Dave called up.
"It's nearly seven."
He was late, like very late. No time to be picky Drew just grabbed the first stuff that came to hand and headed into the bathroom. Ablutions complete he dressed on automatic and pausing only to grab his school bag and launched himself downstairs.
"There you are, sleep well?"
"Like shite." Drew admitted.
"Yeah and other stuff."
"Well take care; I don't want you riding under a bus because you aren't concentrating."
Shoes on, grab a slice of Dad's toast and Drew was off.
Dave was more than a little concerned, Drew, well Gaby never wore dresses to school and this morning he was wearing a sun dress. On Jules it would have been nice if unusual but Drew - stuff really was playing on his mind if he hadn't even noticed what he'd put on.
Drew hopped off his mount and with practised ease flipped the side stand into place and rushed into the Backerie.
"Heya Gab, whoa major stud magnet!" Pia greeted her friend.
"Gott Gabs, leave some for us." Steff added.
"What are you guys on about?"
"It's worse than I thought, she doesn't even know." Brid offered.
"Know what? Come on spill."
"Nice." Anna cooed joining us with a tray of coffees and pastries.
"Oh come on guys, stop mucking about."
"Now I'm scared," Nena noted, "really scared."
"Morning Gabs, whoa nice dress!" Con opined joining us with our lunches.
"Dress?" he looked down at himself, bum, what on earth had possessed him to put on a dress, especially to go to school. "Sugar!"
"Yeah the shoes don't really go; I've got some you can borrow." Con agreed.
"So what's the occasion?" Steff asked.
"Look I overslept and just grabbed the first thing to hand alright."
"Good job it wasn't your new frock." Con noted.
"I want to talk to you about that."
"I'll get you those shoes." Con did a swift one eighty and nearly sprinted out of the shop.
"What's that about?" P enquired.
"You aren't going all girly on us are you, we have trouble competing already." Brid put in.
"The dress is between me and Connie and - look I was distracted this morning okay."
"Oh how is your friend?" Anna asked the question that was hanging around them.
"Not great, they've put her in a coma."
"Shitza." Nena let out.
The shoes actually turned out to be some brown flat soled ankle boots; a look which Anna agreed was 'in', Drew couldn't see how some clumpy boots went with the dress better than his school shoes but there again, he never had claimed to be a student of women's fashion.
Now you know I've ridden in a dress before but this took things to a new level as the swirling skirts plastered themselves to my legs but the lightweight material felt like I was pretty much naked below the waist. The banter on the ride down to school was as banal as usual, no further comments on my clothing were made for which I was grateful!
Of course once we got to school that all changed as I found myself the recipient of a range of comments which on the whole would have delighted most teenage girls , although there were a couple of catty remarks made , I guess from some misplaced jealousy.
“Er yes , Miss?”
It was old Boxxy herself.
“A moment please, in my office.”
Sugar, what have I done now?
“Yes Miss,” I replied with a sigh, “see you guys in a bit.” I advised the gang.
I followed Frau Boxberg into her office and took the seat she offered.
“You look nice today, it's a pretty dress.”
“Thank you Miss.”
“Your father called, he's a bit concerned for you.”
“ L ook Gaby, I won't beat about the bush, he told me what happened to your friend in England at the weekend and when you left the house in a dress this morning he knew something was up.”
“I can wear a dress if I want to.”
“There is no disputing that Gaby, the point is that you don't. Not usually and on the odd occasion I've seen you in anything but trousers it's been a plain skirt. Even that stunt on the trip to Bonn you wore a plain suit. So when you arrive at school looking like you've just come from a photo shoot from Vogue © it gets noticed, the call from your father confirmed that.”
“You want to talk about it? You don't have to do this on your own.”
“No Miss.” Drew's resolve was faltering and a tear started its slow course across his cheek.
“ H ere.” The Headmistress passed a box of tissues over.
Drew took one and dabbed at his face, “I'm not very good at keeping my friends a m I?”
“What makes you say that?”
“Bernie's gone home and straight to prison and now Helen's almost died.” He let out a whimper.
Sylvie Boxberg was around the desk and holding the teen before the second wet sob.
“Hey, hey, it's alright.”
“ It's (sniff) not Miss (sniff).
“Gaby, Drew you are an intelligent young lady, neither of these things are your fault. We all knew that Bernie's time with us here was only a temporary reprieve, you showed through your actions and friendship a compassion that I know impressed some very hard line members of staff. You, your friends too, gave Bernie some stability in her life which I'm sure will stand her in good stead when she leaves custody.”
“But nothing , Drew Bond, you have, almost since the day you started here shown yourself to be a dedicated, compassionate and thoughtful student that I'm sure many of your peers secretly admire.”
“My grades are terrible.”
“Okay, I'll admit that you aren't at the top of the class academically but neither are you at the bottom, in fact you are in the top twenty students in your year which considering German isn't your first language is pretty impressive.”
He was shocked to hear such praise.
“Over the last year or so I've seen you blossom, not just in yourself but as someone I'm proud to know.”
“All I do is ride my bikes.”
“ A ll she says, look Gaby I try to keep tabs on all my students, offer advice when I can and I can honestly say that if ‘all' you do is ride bikes then I'm poorly advised. Let's see now,” she started ticking off her fingers, “Weinkönigin with all the charity work that involved, stand in dancer for the garde, organiser of the dance.”
“I only helped.”
“Organiser of the dance,” she continued, “waitress at the backerie and your father informs me the de facto under 18 cycling champion not just of this area but all of Germany, that Gaby Bond is not just riding your bike.”
Drew blushed like a traffic light.
“Bernie's fate was beyond your control and this latest incident also is something you could do nothing about.”
“Uh huh, but I feel so helpless , Miss, I don't want to lose her.”
Sylvie gripped Drew's shoulders and turned him to face her. “Look Gaby, I'm not going to say it'll be alright, that things will return to how they were before. What I will say is that with you on her side,” she paused.
“Yes Helen is very lucky.”
“But I feel so useless.”
“Gaby Bond , useless? Must be some other girl ; not the one at my school.”
“Thank you , Miss.”
“I told you before, if you need to talk come and see me.”
“Go and tidy yourself up, you should just make Herr Ansbacher's class.”
Drew gathered himself and his belongings and headed for the door.
“Oh and Gaby?”
He turned, “ Y es Miss?”
“You really do look very nice in that dress.”
“So what did Boxxy want you for?” Steff enquired as her friend slipped into the desk next to her.
“Hmm, ‘nothing much' doesn't normally keep you out of class for an hour.”
“It was just stuff alright.”
Steff knew it wasn't ‘just stuff' either but decided to not pursue it.
to be continued....
Maddy Bell 14.09.11 © 2011