Things eased up a bit for Charley over the next couple of years, once she looked around and noticed she wasn’t the only kid excluded from the popular group. After math one day, she saw Marzell Anderson hurry out of class just ahead of her. The poor girl was unaware the back of her skirt was blood-spotted, a nightmare Charley had always dreaded. Charley closed the gap between them, and whispered as she tapped her shoulder. “Stay in front of me and go to the gym dressing room.. Your skirt is spotted.” Marzell got a pad from the gym teacher who checked her out, changed into her gym clothes, and went home, her dignity intact
Charley dreaded lunch. She always avoided the line making, her way to a table far from the giggling groups of cute girls and athletes with the lunch Cora made her. Her nose was buried in a book, when she was surprised to hear Marzell’s low voice. “I brought you something. You saved my life yesterday.” Marzell sat, opened her lunch bag, and pushed a waxed paper wrapped fried pie across to Charley. “I never have anybody to sit with. Is it okay if I sit with you?”
“Sure,” Charley answered, looking at the lunch Marzell pulled from her bag. “I’ll take half the pie. You eat the rest.” With that, she pulled her Swiss Army knife from her skirt pocket and sliced it.
“Wow! You carry a pocket knife. I never saw a girl carry a pocket knife. That’s a pretty good idea. I might try it.” Marzell was obviously impressed. “I’ve never seen a knife like that. Can I see it?” She examined every feature as Charley explained their function.
“My dad gave it me last Christmas. I use it all the time, fixing my bike, cutting fishing line, stuff like that. I don’t know how I got by without it. Best present I ever got, except for my bike, of course.” Charley was surprised to have anyone interested in what she had to say.
“You fish? Where? I used to fish all the time before We moved, but haven’t found a place here. Can I go with you sometime?” Charley had never met another girl who fished.
“I’m going after school today. You can tag along if you want, but I’m not baiting your hook or taking your fish off for you.” Charley replied, expecting the girl to lose interest.
“And I’m not doing yours, either. I told you I used to fish all the time.” They both got a chuckle out of that.
“I have to run home and let Mama know I’m going.” Marzell told her. ” I only live a block away. Do you want to walk with me?”
Charley hadn’t expected this. “Sure, it’s on my way. Meet you out front after school.”
“We have last class together. I’ll just scratch up with you there. Don’t you ever look up?” Marzell asked.
“Not really,” answered Charley. ” I like to keep to myself.”