Bargaining April 4, 2022 – Posted in: Uncategorized

Short Story – Part 3

I argued with myself that night about sending the screen shots to Lily’s father. Emma nor I had ever seen Lily looking bruised from a beating, but we knew first hand that mental bruises aren’t always that easy to spot and are much easier to hide – to a point.

In the end, I knew that it was the only evidence that could prove that Emma had been bullied. There were no willing witnesses or cameras to show the physical stuff.

Emma had screenshots of the sleepover conversation so I bit the bullet and sent them to Lily’s father in the morning.

That afternoon I got a text from Lily’s father asking if I was available to chat now. I thought it was slightly odd that he would suddenly become polite, asking to chat and not just call. I sensed a shift. He had obviously calmed down and I was hoping this was an olive branch.

I thought I’d better take him up on his offer before he went feral again so I said ‘sure’.

It turned out that Lily had lied about the texts. She’d deleted a heap of messages from her phone. Of course she had. I knew that it was a sneaky thing to do but also it gave me a bit of hope because she obviously realised that what she had said was pretty awful and wanted to hide it from her parents.

Malcolm, Lily’s father, finally had a glimpse into his daughter’s nasty behaviour. He admitted that the messages were awful and I reminded him that there were plenty of others where that came from which was why Emma was so defeated. He even apologised for what he’d said and wanted to know how to make things better. I felt like I was talking to another person.

I admitted I didn’t know how to fix it. I said Emma was really hurt and she wanted to know why her friends had turned against her so if he could find out why, then maybe that would help. Malcolm agreed and said he’d talk to Lily and get back to me.

Lily was a hard nut to crack. Malcolm said he tried talking to her at home when they were out of ear shot of her brother and Malcolm’s girlfriend but she just kept saying, “I don’t know”.

He tried taking her for a surf at the beach. He thought surely she would open up afterwards. Malcolm said they used to catch waves together when Lily was tiny. Then he tried food. He asked if Emma knew what her favourite food was that he could make as he didn’t know. Emma said ice cream with sprinkles, cheese toasties and spaghetti bolognese with pineapple pieces. Nothing worked. 

He was doing his best but getting nowhere and I knew he was struggling so I suggested that maybe her mum could help instead. Emma said Lily was much closer to her mum, Kaho, and actually preferred her Japanese cooking over anything her dad made.

It was over a bowl of simple miso soup that Kaho found the answer. Lily was mad at her dad for leaving her mum for someone else. She felt betrayed that he’d split their family up.

Of course. Malcolm was the traitor. The original traitor. All of Lily’s bottled up feelings had exploded onto Emma when she changed classes. 

A good counsellor was their next step to fixing things with Lily.

I felt slight relief but I could see that Emma was still hurting. She needed fixing too.

By Carmen Mudie