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~*~

"My school had a major problem with violence, the whole neighborhood did. There was just so much hatred and anger. The only way they could think of venting it was violence." Mary-Kate explained, she looked at the floor "There was a shooting at one of my schools.. my best friend was killed" She gulped and tried to force herself to continue "It was one of the hardest times in my life. But, things only got worse, I overheard some kids planning another shooting. I told a teacher and they were arrested, but they somehow found out I was the one who told on them. When they got out of jail, they were always threatening me and harassing me and stalking me" She shuddered "I was so freaked out I started to get sick. It got so bad, that my parents moved my family away from there... to here" She glanced up at Edith again and shrugged her shoulders not being able to say anything more.

"Oh honey" Edith sat next to her and hugged her as she cried "I'm so sorry"

~*~

With soft, even strokes, the brush covered the last post of the old rickety fence, with a new shiny, crisp peach color. Mary-Kate sat back to survey her work. Though it was only the fence the whole place looked so much better. She glanced at the house and tipped her head, it still looked hideous, it needed a new paint job, which she would do, but figured it would be a waist of time since lots of the boards needed replacing. Edith didn't have the money to do that, and neithed did Mary-Kate.

She sighed. At least she'd done what she could.

~*~

"Mary-Kate!" A voice called through the throng of teens pushing, shoving, and hurrying their way down the hall.

Mary-Kate turned around surprised, the voice wasn't Ashley's. She looked back to see a Brown haired girl waving at her. Mary-Kate recognized her from one of her classes "Hey!" She said smiling and waving at her.

"Hey" The girl said finally reaching her "I'm Nichole" She smiled.

"Hey Nichole" Mary-Kate laughed.

"I was wondering, would you like to come round to my house for dinner?"

Mary-Kate must have looked surprised cause Nichole rushed to explain "I know the people herre aren't that friendly to strangers. I moved her last year, it was really hard. I just wanted to make it easier for you"

Mary-Kate grinned "I'd love to. Where do you live?"

~*~

The next few days were a lot easier then the previous. Mary-Kate had a friend, one who she soon discovered was a true friend. One of those rarities that only come along occasionally, and a blessing that you should always treasure and appreciate.

She went from being 'the new kid' to just another invisible person in the throngs of people. She wasn't popular, but she wasn't exactly a geek. The girls had a reasonable respect for her. And the guys were interested and wanted to know her, but there was just something holding them back from approaching her.

With all she'd been through, and without even realising it, Mary-Kate had built an invisible wall around herself. You could see it in her attitude and her body language, it all oozed 'Don't approach me' 'leave me alone' but not in an agressive way. Just the way of someone who'd been hurt and didn't want it again.

"Hey" Nichole whispered. The two were sitting alone in the school cafeteria eating lunch "Tobey's staring at you again" she said with a quite giggle.

Mary-Kate didn't even glance behind her "Why does he keep doing that?" She asked, sounding a little annoyed.

Nichole grinned "He likes you"

Mary-Kate finally glanced behind her, she saw Tobey, a rather popular yet really nice guy, staring at her, but as soon as she looked at him he looked away. Mary-Kate turned around again "I don't see why" she said sadly.

Chapter 6