Amelie Wins The Battle: Part Three
As the Christmas holidays approached, Lizzie announced that a few pets had done so well that they would be moved to one of her more advanced classes during the week. As Lizzie shook each pet’s hand, Amelie bit back tears of shame. She hadn’t even gone up one level! As the weeks went by, slowly, all the pets she knew and liked filtered through into the harder courses. Hanna, however, remained a grasshopper; she was excellent at a lot of things, but she had also had trouble with the confidence stage and so was having much trouble with the moves. New little pets started on the courses, and Amelie was shocked to find that all of them were far better than she could even hope of being, on their first try! Amelie begged Molly to let her stop, but Molly was firm. Molly still believed that Amelie had it in her, yet on the last day of term, when she brought her Battledome report home, that was when Molly’s confidence in Amelie wavered. Amelie had sullenly passed the paper to her, and as she scanned it, Amelie saw Molly’s face fall, and in that moment felt her heart break. Her owner didn’t believe in her! Molly, the optimist, had lost hope! Seeing Amelie’s expression of utter dismay, Molly hitched her face back into an unconvincing smile, but Amelie wasn’t fooled. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she ran up to her room, lay back on her bed and cried.
The holidays were a temporary relief, and Amelie could almost forget the horrors of Saturdays, and she had fun for the first time in months. She sang carols along with Gerry, played endless games of chess with Alex, fed Christmas pudding to Kingpin and helped Soko with Christmas dinner. It was just like the old days, when all she’d had to worry about was homework and whether Missy was going to put another note in her locker. However, the holidays passed alarmingly fast, and soon, she was back in the Battledome hall, fidgeting and waiting for Lizzie to arrive. Hanna wasn’t there, she noticed, but Amelie reckoned she was ill or something. Halfway through the class, Hanna came sprinting into the hall, muttered a quick “sorry” to a reproving Lizzie and then joined Amelie at the back.
“How come you’re so late?” Amelie hissed.
Hanna turned her huge brown eyes on her and Amelie was shocked to discover that they were full of tears. “We’re moving,” she whispered, and the world seemed to freeze. Amelie paid no attention to the moves Lizzie was teaching them. She simply stared at Hanna, and it was about a minute and a half before she trusted herself to speak.
“You’re moving?” Amelie said, aghast.
“I know, I know,” Hanna muttered bitterly, kicking the floor in a frustrated fashion. “It’s my stupid parents. They say it’ll do me and Emily and Robin and Charlie some good, to have a change in scenery.”
“Where are you moving to?” Amelie asked, carefully keeping her voice level
“Meridell. I’m so sorry, Amelie. I tried and tried to make them change their minds, but they were firm. Oh, I can’t stand this. I’m going to miss you so!!! I’ve been in this place all my life, and you’ve been my first proper friend. And now everything’s ruined. Ruined, ruined, ruined!!!” Tears started to stream down her cheeks, and Amelie put her arm around her comfortingly.
“Hey, don’t cry. We can still be friends; we’ll write, and call each other, and nothing will change. I promise.”
Hanna smiled blearily. “You think?”
“I’m positive. Now, when are you leaving? That is to say, how long have you got left?”
“I’m leaving tomorrow.”
After the class, Amelie and Hanna exchanged neomail addresses and hugs, before departing on their separate ways. Amelie trailed home, because Molly had been ill, and had got Soko to do the shopping and Amelie to walk home by herself. As she turned the corner, it started to drizzle lightly, and Amelie walked on, swinging her arms, wondering if her day could get any worse. Just then, she looked up and saw a group in the distance. For one heart-stopping moment, she thought it might be Missy and her gang, but then she recognised the grey-green fatigue and realised that it must have been Soko on his way back from shopping. As she drew closer, Amelie almost yelled his name to get him to notice her, but as the group came into sight, she sensed something was wrong, and held her tongue. For one thing, the group was jostling Soko, and calling in mocking voices; and secondly, she recognised the three Quiggles that had laughed during Lizzie’s speech on her first day. Amelie reckoned that if they were around, nothing could be good, and sure enough, as she came close enough to hear what they were saying, she felt a thrill of indignation shudder up her spine.
“Aww, dummy boy, why don’t you talk?” mocked the largest of the Quiggles, (whose name Amelie now knew to be Jared), pulling on Soko’s wings.
“Yeah, is the ickle baby too stupid to talk?” jeered one of the cronies.
Jared pulled a grotesque impersonation of Soko, standing there with his eyes crossed and his tongue sticking out. His other friend sniggered. Soko glared silently at them.
“He’s still not talking.” Jared spat nastily, then leering at his friends. “Boys, do you think we can make him talk?”
As they advanced on Soko, Amelie burst out of her shy shell. She seemed to emanate some sort of invisible power, and as she shrieked, “Stop!!! Get off my brother!!!” the three turned around, and at the sight of her, gasped in fear. Jared was the first to recover.
“Go home, little girlie. Or you’ll get hurt, just like your freaky brother here.”
Amelie screamed in fury, and ran at him, arms flailing. He stood there calmly, his fist drawn back waiting... and then something very strange happened. Amelie didn’t plan it; all she knew was that if she carried on running she would collide with his fist. So, she launched herself into the air and landed on the one toe. Her other leg spun her round, out of the way of Jared’s punch. He staggered, furious at having missed her, when she twisted round again, still on the one toe. Her foot collided with his head, and sent him sprawling to the floor for the second time. His mates took one look at a fiercely glaring Amelie, and ran off, yelling. Jared scrambled to his feet, and with one last terrified glimpse at Amelie, followed suit.
Panting, Amelie pulled Soko to his feet, and dusted him off. “There you go, Socks. You’ll be OK. They’ll never dare try that again!!”
Then, what she had just done hit her. All her life, people had had to protect her. Gerry, and Alex, and Hanna had chased off her bullies, but she had never ever scared anyone off once!!! Amelie swelled with pride. When she got home, Soko gave her one last grateful hug, and then went upstairs to do his homework. Amelie glanced around; Alex was also upstairs and Geraldine was at a friend’s house. No one would miss her if she were gone...
After asking Molly permission, Amelie set out for the park (Molly had been being sick in the basin by her sofa at the time of her asking, so Amelie reckoned that the “Yes” she had received was more of a way of getting rid of her than an actual answer). As Amelie arrived at the park, she double-checked that nobody was in sight. Good, she didn’t want to be seen. Amelie sat down on a swing, and sighed. This was so weird. Lizzie had never taught them the Spinning Top (the move that she had just performed). Yet she had just done it, flawlessly. Also, she was terrible at Battledome!! How could she have suddenly performed a move that was actually battle standard? Then, something even more disturbing hit her. She had enjoyed herself! Battledome was torture, not fun!!!
Slowly, Amelie stood up and recalled the move Lizzie had taught them earlier that day. What was it, the Strike, the Striking, the Striker!! That was it! Amelie summoned herself into the neutral pose Lizzie had shown them that morning, then gave a strong punch with her right arm, twisted her left leg over her arm, twisting round before bringing both legs up in a swift double kick. Whoa! Amelie thought, shocked. That settled it then. She had suddenly become very good at this, and at the same time was having the time of her life. For the next half hour she performed all of the most recent moves that she had learnt, and was disappointed to be shunted home by a disgruntled park-keeper who was closing the park for the night.
From then on life took a definite upturn for Amelie. She soon became the star of the Battledome class, and when she asked Lizzie about her sudden brilliance, was told that when attacking those boys, she must have reached her confidence, thus reached her fight. And boy, was her fight powerful!!!! Amelie loved Battledome now, and was soon transferred to a harder course, though still with Lizzie. Eventually, Lizzie said that Amelie was ready to start fighting, although she still had a lot to learn and still attended classes. Amelie loved fighting, the thrill of the fight, and also meeting new people. She met a cheeky, loud-mouthed yellow Kacheek called Cathy, and they had a heart stopping fight, which Amelie won narrowly. She discovered that Cathy had just moved to her town and would be soon attending their school. Sure enough, Amelie caught sight of her in the playground the next Monday, and she, Amelie and Jon soon became thick as thieves. As for Hanna? Well, Amelie and Hanna still neomailed each other every night, and made arrangements to meet up in the holidays, so their friendship stayed as firm as ever.
Amelie hardly ever thought about Vanessa now. She had moved on with her life and she was far too happy to drag herself down by thinking about her mistreatment. It was all in the past; she had to let it go.
And she did.