Ashley Russo had a strange reputation. She was bullied for a short time by Alice Price, until they had a fight and Ashley won. After that she and her friends were left alone. Everybody respected Ashley, and they moved out of the way for her in the corridors, but nobody was allowed to have a crush on her. In the toilets once she had heard Alice giving a warning to a boy who had said he liked Ashley. She somehow got him in the girls toilets, and she pushed him against the wall, saying nobody was allowed to touch Ashley.
“I can’t do anything about her, but I can make sure she doesn’t have anyone like her in that way, you got it?” She’d hissed. Ashley heard the boy cry out in pain. After she left, Ashley emerged from the cubicle and found the boy examining nasty scratches on his arm, presumably from Alice’s pretty nails. He looked up at Ashley and his eyes widened, but she walked out before he spoke. She’d heard enough. After that, no boys even looked at her. It made her angry, and she was remembering, and reflecting on ways to get revenge, when Tracy interrupted her musings.
“You alright, Ley-Ley?” She asked, reaching for her hand.
“I’m fine.” Ashley smiled back. “Just thinking about Alice.” She added, looking at her feet.
“Don’t waste brain power on that bitch, Ley-Ley. She’s not worth it.”
“I was plotting her untimely downfall.”
“Like you do.” Tracy laughed. “But come on, don’t think about her. Let’s have fun, yeah?”
“Don’t think about who?” Penny asked, tuning in on their conversation.
“Alice Price, bitch from hell.” Tracy replied smoothly.
“Oh, that… there’s no name good enough for that bitch.” Penny almost snarled, her voice filled with venom. Alice hadn’t exactly been pleasant to Penny in the past either.
“I was plotting about how to ruin her life.” Ashley grinned.
“Nice! Spread a rumour about her?”
“GUYS!!!!” Tracy yelled. The others jumped.
“Chill, Trace. What’s up?” Tank came over and mussed her hair up, flopping down next to them.
“What are you doing to Trace?” Riana asked.
“They are talking about bad things, on Ley-Ley’s birthday!!!” Tracy glared at them.
“Guys, come quick. I found a video of a stoned cat.” Jock called, and they all went over to him. There was a second of bemused silence… and then they all burst out laughing at the cat’s face.
“Hey guys, I’m home!” Ashley called, putting her coat on the hook and walking through to the living room.
“Tiger-Lily! We missed youuu,” Lauren grinned. She and Anneka were curled up on the sofa, watching what looked like a documentary.
“Are you hungry?” Anneka asked, standing up and hugging her. She was a hugger.
“Not very, the guys made me a mutant cupcake.” She sat on the sofa next to Lauren. “What you watching?”
“You’d love it actually, Tiger-Lily! It’s this documentary about a girl who goes backpacking across Europe on her own, with just a tent.”
“Sounds awesome! Can I watch with you?”
“Sure” Anneka smiled and sat down again
The girl on screen was seventeen, fierce yet slight with a blue bob and a heavy backpack on her shoulders. She had a camera, a tent and a destination. She lived in Glasgow, and was hitchhiking to Lisbon, going along the coast of England and going through France, Germany, and Spain. Watching the girl talk, and seeing the people she interviewed on the way, an idea slowly bloomed in Ashley’s mind, unfurling like an elaborate flower…