After the fight was over, I limped home.
My hands trembled as I tried to unlock the front door. I leaned on the verandah and closed my eyes. Bad idea. I saw the fists over and over again, pummelling my cheeks and abdomen.
Mum opened the door.
‘Millie! What happened to you?’ she asked.
‘Um, you know that new girl I told you about?’ I sincerely doubted that she did. Mum never remembered anything I told her, partly because she didn’t actually listen. But she nodded in a non-committal manner, and I figured now wasn’t the best time to bring up her many shortcomings, as noted by me.
‘Billie’s her name. Anyway, she’s taken an active disliking to me. As you see.’ I could only guess how bad I looked. My left eye throbbed from where her first punch landed. And my cheekbone, too.
‘I’m going to call the school.’
‘No! Mum! No way. That will only make things worse.’
‘Bullshit. There’s not much worse than this. And Billie needs to understand this is wrong. If you were both adults, the police would be called. She may even be charged.’
‘Whatever.’ I shrugged. ‘Can you let me in now?’ I just realised she was standing in the doorway.
‘Oh sorry. Yes.’
I walked inside and went straight to the bathroom. My lips were swollen and dried blood crusted around my nose. The punch to my eye had split open my eyebrow and the eye itself was already purple. No wonder it was throbbing.
‘Don’t do anything.’ Mum yelled. ‘I’m going to take some photos.’
I groaned, but I let her take them. She helped me clean up.
‘How did this start?’ Mum asked, dabbing my eye with a damp cotton pad.
‘I was walking home. She ambushed me. Like, seriously, jumped straight out of a bush.’
‘Did you hit her?’
‘I got a few punches in, but I was definitely the loser.’ Tears started to spill onto my cheeks.
‘Hey, we’ll get to the bottom of this.’ She patted my hand. ‘I think we should see the GP though. I’ll make some calls.’
I collapsed on my bed while I waited for her to phone the doctor. I could hear her voice mumbling, but wasn’t able to discern what she was saying.
Five minutes passed before she came to me. ‘Right,’ she said. ‘We’ve got a doctor’s appointment in fifteen minutes. And I’ve spoken to the school. They want to see us straight after the doctor. And the photos, too.’
‘Yes, Billie can’t get away with this.’ Mum cleared her throat. ‘For the interim though, we’ll just bide our time. We’ll be polite, play nice. I’m sure the principal will be cordial in her dealings with us, but if there’s no repercussions, serious repercussions to Billie and her family, I’ll be taking this further.’