"Why would I like someone as ugly as her?"
It had been hours, and the words were still ringing in Dani's ears. Never before had she heard someone say something so awful. She felt slightly guilty for feeling relieved that it hadn't been about herself, but a cripling feeling of anxiety had gripped her as she debated whether or not to tell Jasmeet what she had heard.
If their positions were switched, she would want Jasmeet to tell her. Right? She wasn't sure, and that was the problem. Dani had almost went to Aldine for help before deciding that spreading it around wouldn't help things. It wasn't as if Dani could just forget it had happened. Jas had been crushing on this guy for the better part of a year, and Dani knew it was her recent flirting that had prompted him to make the comment to his friends. Dani had the misfortune to be digging through her locker, which was only five down from the one the jerk and his friends had gathered around. They probably hadn't even noticed her presence, and if they had, she doubted they had remembered she was one of Jas' closest friends. Now she was in this horrible position.
She knew she was going to tell Jas. There was no choice really. Dani just wished there was a way to avoid it. Maybe getting Aldine's help wouldn't be so bad after all.
Dani let out a groan and buried her face in the pillow. She was reluctant to get up and do what she knew had to be done. There was no way she could let Jas crush on someone so horrible any longer. What if he tricked her? Dani had seen another boy do something similar to one of the nicest girls in her grade. Yes, Dani had to tell her soon. It was that resolve that forced her off her bed for the first time since arriving home after school.
The fact that Jasmeet lived all the way in town didn't help Dani's determination. As she was making what felt like a much longer walk than normal from the Old Victor's Village to town, she began to doubt herself yet again. Although her footsteps got slower as she ambled along, Dani finally found herself on Jas' front step. Somehow her friend was able to hear her light knock on the door, and Dani soon found herself face-to-face with Jas.
"Hey!" Jas greeted her happily, not at all aware of Dani's inner turmoil.
"Hey," Dani's greating wasn't quite as exuberant. Ugh, why did her friends always seem to have boy troubles?
Jas quickly ushered Dani to her room, and Dani was faced with no other option but to tell her friend why she had come. Usually Jas wouldn't be the least bit suspicious, as Dani often dropped by unexpectedly, but Dani knew her discomfort was clear thanks to the questioning looks Jas kept throwing in her direction.
Jas curled her legs under her on the bed and looked at Dani expectantly, silently waiting for her to speak on her own.
"I overheard something while at my locker today," Dani finally spoke in a shaky voice. "Roland was talking to his friends. About you." It became harder and harder for Dani to go on, especially once she glanced up to see Jas' worried face.
"And?" Jas whispered after Dani had been silent for quite a while.
Dani turned towards the window and visibly cringed as she spoke the words. "They were laughing about your feelings for him. He was saying stuff about how you looked so stupid when you tried to talk to him and how he would never date you." It was getting harder and harder for Dani to go on as Jas began to cry. Dani felt tears in her own eyes and stopped speaking. Jas had heard enough.
Instead of speaking, Dani sat down on the bed next to her best friend and wrapped an arm around her. Jas rested her head on Dani's shoulder, making Dani hopeful that she'd offered at least some semblance of comfort. Still, nothing Dani could do would be powerful enough to make the tears stop.
Dani knew Jas felt miserable now. A couple days from now she would still feel horrible whenever thoughts about Roland entered her head. Then, the hurt would fade. The thought of the words might always bring a little twinge of sadness and maybe a bit of self-doubt, but Jas would move past it. The effect of Roland's words might always leave a small mark on Jas, but she could move past it. It was just take some time.