Remember me? Leigh with the bad knee? I'm back, but this isn't my story to tell. It's my friend Eleanor's. You see, something is going on with her and that's bothering me. I head downstairs to find my mom cooking breakfast. She turns around and smiles at me when she hears me at the entrance of the kitchen.
"My little girl is all grown up. Sophomore in high school. Boy, how time flies. I feel myself about to lose my balance so I hold on to the wall. Mom smiles sadly at me. "Your dad and I have set up an appointment for the knee doctor. Please use your cane today, okay?" Mom kisses me on the forehead before exiting the kitchen to make a phone call.
My dad and I are getting along much better, but now? The problem is that he's never home and when he does come home,he has all these excuses as to why he's getting in late. I can see the stress taking a toll on mom.
The sound of a bus honking snaps me out of my thoughts. On the bus, I make my way over to Eleanor. Something is wrong. I can tell by the look on her face. "What's wrong, Ellie and don't say nothing."
"My parents kicked me out of the house last night."
"What? Where did you sleep? How come you didn't come over then?" Eleanor sighed. I know enough about Eleanor to be patient with her. She does not like being rushed into explanations. "Leigh, I have to tell you something I just don't know how to tell you."
“What is it?”
"No, not here. Meet me at Rainy Cafe after school today, okay?" I give her an I-don't understand look...
"Okay. I'll meet you there. In the meantime, you're staying with me. I don't think living with your toxic grandparents is a great idea." When we get into the school, everyone stops to stare. "If you're that interested, take a picture!" I shout angrily at them. Someone snickers. Grabbing Eleanor's hand, we make our way over to our lockers.
I gently touch Bob with the palm of my hand while Eleanor puts her hand on my shoulder. "You need him," Eleanor mumbles quietly. It wasn't a question. It was a statement.
A girl taps Eleanor on the shoulder. "What?" She snaps. By the smirk on the girl's face, I know this isn't going to be good.
"Did you tell your little freak friend here about your secret, or should I? Because I have no problem spilling the beans."
"That's why you can't keep a best friend, isn't it, Moira?"
“How dare you?”
Before we can walk away, Moira shoves Eleanor into the lockers. “I'm keeping an eye on you. Just be aware of that,” Moira vows before walking away.
“Ellie? Are you okay?”
"I'm fine. Look, I'll see you after school, okay?" I want to stop her, but I don't. So instead, I just let her walk away.
I grab Bob and head to my classes. I try my best to ignore all the comments that are being said about Eleanor, but it's hard.
“I heard she likes girls!”
Someone gasps and feigns shock. I'm so angry, I want to say something, but I don't out of fear of embarrassing my friend.
After school, I meet up with Eleanor at the cafe. She walks over slowly to me. "Okay. I've had enough anticipation. What's going on, Ellie?"
“I like girls!” Eleanor spits out.
"Okay. So the rumor's true. So? This is what you needed to talk to me about in private. It all makes sense now."
"You're not going to run away, or tell me I'm disgusting?"
“Why would I do that?”
"Moira and I used to be best friends,but when I told her I liked girls, she turned on me. She told my secret to everyone in a group chat. It wasn't her story to tell."
"No, it wasn't. Now I'm angry."
“Where are we going?”
“To confront Moira.”
"No, I don't think that's a good idea."
"Do you want her to get away with this for the rest of her life? What she did was wrong on so many levels!"
"I don't care, Leigh."
"Well, I do. I'm going to confront her. You don't have to come with, but she needs to know that she can't get away with this!" Before I know it, I'm standing in front of Moira.
"Oh? Has the little freak come out to play?"
"Enough, Moira. I'm here to talk to you about Eleanor."
"Now that I think about it, you two freaks are perfect for each other."
"Enough! How could you embarrass and humiliate Eleanor like that? It wasn't your story to tell or your secret to expose, was it?"
"What she's doing is wrong. Not to mention, sick."
“Okay. Listen. It's one thing to insult me. However, I won't have you bullying Eleanor.”
"What? Are you her bodyguard? This girl really has you fooled, doesn't she? Mark my words, Leigh Harper, you're going to regret the day you ever defended her. You'll see!"
Without saying a word, I turn on my heels and walk away. When I get home, my parents and Ellie are at the table.
"It's my parents. On their way here to get me, they got into a wreck. I have to go back to my grandparents."
"No! If you go back there, I have a bad feeling about this. I know you love them, but they're toxic people. That kind of environment can't be healthy for you. I'm going to sleep. Don't think we're not going to talk about this because we are."
Back in my room, I tap Bob on the head. I wait patiently for him to fully wake up. “It's been five million years!”
“Shh. I don't want Eleanor to know I woke you up. She'll freak out. She's having some trouble at school right now. I don't know what to do.”
"Have you tried talking to her? Look, I know it's tough. So do you, but Eleanor's world is crashing down around her the same way yours did when you found out you had knee problems, remember? You and Eleanor, don't need me and you don't need me to give you advice."
"That's just it, Bob. We both need you. Please. Stick around?" Bob sighs. After a while, he finally agrees.
The next day at school, I loop my arm through Eleanor's as we along down the hall to our classes. Some people wrinkle their noses at us. Some people make rude remarks. Moira steps in front of us.
"Well, if this isn't a shocking sight, then I don't know what is," Moira says with a bitter smile before dragging Eleanor out of the hall. Before I could stop him, Bob jumps out of my hand and hits Moira across the knee.
In my state confusion, we're back at home where Mom is yelling at me. "Did you hit that poor Moira girl with your cane, Leigh?"
"No! Bob jumped out of my hands!"
“I thought we were done with this delusion! Bob is a cane. He doesn't talk! Give the cane to me. Now!”
Knowing that I have no choice, I hand Bob to my mom with tears in my eyes, My mom picks up an ax and is about to smash Bob into pieces until my dad grabs my mom's hand.
"Lindsay, what are you doing? Have you lost your mind? Leigh needs that cane!"
"This cane has done nothing, but make her crazy! She actually believes this cane is alive, Luke!"
"That cane helped Leigh and I reconnect. That cane helped Leigh gain an A in English. That cane helped me realize we've been neglecting our daughter."
"Oh my God. She's got you believing it too! If that "Bob" is really alive, why did he hit Moira?
"He was defending Eleanor. Moira was bullying her. Also from what I can tell, Moira was going to drag her into a dangerous situation."
"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. This is dangerous. I'm taking Bob. Don't worry, you'll have something to help you walk, but it won't be Bob. Mom takes the ax and smashes Bob!
"No!" I scream while collapsing to the floor, crying.
Dad runs over to me and puts his arms around me. He looks up at my mom. “Get out of my house, Lindsay! How dare you do that to our own daughter!”
My mom slams the door behind her. "It's okay, Now explain to me why Bob was defending Eleanor."
"I think I should do that. Mr. Harper, I like girls. Especially one in particular," Eleanor speaks up looking right at me.
My dad excuses himself so we can be alone. I throw myself into Eleanor's arms. Before I know it, she's kissing me and I'm kissing her back.