Bambi Brown

June 18, 2012
By , St Peter Port, Guernsey
“Bambi Brown,” the teacher sighed that morning, much to the amusement of the fellow students. “Late again. You’ll have to sit at the back.”

Bambi kept her head down as she walked to her allocated desk, ignoring the titters that followed her as she went. She slumped down in her seat, pulling a folder from her bag and placing it down in front of her. Even if everyone hated her for it, she could still be a good student. She pretended to not notice as someone chucked a paper arrow at her, but she could feel her eyes prickling with tears. She noticed that no one was sitting next to her, as usual.

Bambi doodled in the margin of her notepaper and waited for the lesson to begin. Just as she was contemplating feigning a headache to get her out of class, the door opened and an audible gasp echoed around the room. Bambi looked up, surprised at the universal reaction, and her breath caught in her throat. The boy standing at the front of the class was unlike any other she’d ever seen.

He was tall, but well-built and definitely not lanky. As her eyes roamed his angular features, he reached up a hand and pushed his messy, chestnut hair from his eyes, which were a soft, cornflower blue colour. His skin was deeply tanned, freckled from summer sunlight, Bambi imagined. She smiled to herself, looking down to sketch that angelic face over and over again on her notebook and wondering who the lucky girl was that he’d be sat by. Probably Sacha Honey, Bambi thought sadly.

“Class.” Mr Thompson cleared his throat to attract attention, although all the female students were mysteriously silent. “This is our new student, Will Wilkinson. He’s moved all the way from England, so I hope you’ll all make him feel very welcome today.” The teacher turned to Will. “Will, why don’t you sit in that spare seat at the back?”

There was a splutter of disbelief from Sacha and her posse in the middle desks. “I can’t believe old Tommy is putting a boy like him next to a girl like her!” Sacha said, her cheeks turning an outraged shade of rouge. She shot a glare at Bambi, who felt a lump in her throat for all the trouble she was going to get at lunchtime. First, they would insult her, pinch her maybe. Then they would trash her stuff, steal her lunch money... Bambi burned with shame.

“Hey,” a soft voice whispered above her, and Bambi’s heart did a somersault. Will Wilkinson flopped down on the stool beside her, his old beat-up leather bag spewing books all over the floor. “Oops,” he laughed, reaching down to pick them up, and she couldn’t help but notice his large, masculine hands.

Bambi passed him the pencil case that had rolled down by her seat. “Hi, Will,” she said, her voice quivering. “Welcome to Oakley.” She tried for a friendly grin.

“Thanks…” Will paused. “I’m sorry, I don’t believe I know your name,” he apologised, opening his textbook to the English script they were working on.

“It’s really horrid,” Bambi mumbled. “Sacha thinks it’s…” She stopped, in order not to say something completely pathetic.

“Sacha?” Will raised an eyebrow. “Is that the blonde Barbie girl sitting in the middle? I prefer non-plastic girls myself.” He shot her another heart-melting smile.

“Well, if you must know,” Bambi sighed, admitting defeat, “my name’s Bambi Brown.”

Will’s eyes widened, but he didn’t laugh, crack a joke or smirk at her. “Bambi,” he mused. “Bambi Brown. I think that’s a beautiful name.”

“Thank you,” Bambi said, unsure of whether he was kidding with her. No one, apart from her parents, had said they liked her name before. “My mom liked the Disney movie,” she said lamely, by way of explanation.

“You’re a bit like Bambi, I guess,” Will glanced at her from the corner of his eye. “Delicate, shy… striking.”

Bambi felt her palms become clammy. “Thanks,” she whispered, because there was nothing else she could think to say. “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever told me.”

“Really?” Will looked genuinely surprised. “I can’t think why.”

They both smiled shyly at each other before returning their gazes to the whiteboard before them. Bambi felt a familiar flutter of butterflies in her stomach as she noted down information without really seeing the sentences.

You've done it now, Bambi, she chided herself. You've fallen for a guy like Will Wilkinson. There’s no hope for you now, my girl.

*

Lunchtime was as torturous as Bambi had expected it to be. News of Will talking to her had spread like wildfire amongst the female students, and now Bambi was garnering glares even from the nerdish girls who liked to sit and read in the library. She had spent the entire break hiding in one of the toilet cubicles for fear of being ambushed by Sacha and her followers. This time, Bambi couldn’t stop the tears flooding from her eyes.

She glanced at her watch. Ten minutes until the end of lunch, just enough time to grab her books from her locker. Quietly she unlocked the toilet door and slipped out the bathroom, hurrying along the corridor with her head down to discourage any attention from herself. Just as she thought she’d made it to safety, Bambi felt herself slam into someone. Her bag dropped and the contents scattered all over the floor.

“Oh, my God,” she mumbled, “I’m so sorry!” She fell to her knees and began scooping up the books that had fallen out of her rucksack.

“Bambi?” a familiar voice asked. Bambi looked up in horror to see Will staring down at her with a concerned expression.

“Will,” she greeted weakly. “Hi.”

“Bambi!” Will exclaimed, holding out his hand to help her up. Bambi stuffed the last of her possessions back into her bag and accepted gratefully, tottering back onto her feet unsteadily. “I was looking for you all lunchtime!” Will continued. “I wanted to eat lunch with you, but I couldn’t find you anywhere!”

“Oh,” Bambi stumbled, “I had… book club.”

Will looked disappointed. “Shame, I wanted to hang out,” he said easily. Bambi held her breath as he leaned forward and swept a stray hair from her face. His hand was warm as it brushed against her skin. “You’re really cute, Bambi,” he smiled. “Real. Not like half the girls at this school. I hope you know that.”

“Thanks.” Bambi bit her lip.

“So, what lessons do you have this afternoon?” Will asked, breaking out into a lazy walk along the corridor. Bambi had no choice but to reluctantly follow.

“Um…” She closed her eyes briefly. “Advanced calculus and chemistry.”

“Hey, me too,” Will said, sounding pleased. “I hate calculus,” he added.

Bambi laughed tersely, and Will gave her a little side-glance. “Are you okay?” he asked. “You seem a little… twitchy.”

“Twitchy?” Bambi replied, much too quickly. She let her bangs fall into her face to hide her eyes, which were full of fear. “I’m not twitchy. I’m just… School stresses me out?” It sounded more like a question than a statement, even to her own ears.

“Don’t let Sacha win, Bambi,” Will said seriously. Bambi stopped dead and stared at him incredulously.

“Sacha doesn’t hate me.” Bambi tried to look incredulous. “Where would you get an idea like that from?” She smiled innocently, trying to make the very notion seem utterly ridiculous.

Will regarded her from under his long lashes. “Just an inkling,” he said finally. He didn’t crack a smile.

They walked the rest of the corridor in silence. Bambi paused as they reached their classroom door. “So…” she said awkwardly, leaning her weight onto one foot to lessen the ache of her bag on her shoulders.

“Do you want to hang out after school?” Will offered suddenly. “We could go to that coffee place in town.”

That was where Sacha and her crew always went, Bambi reflected miserably. She could imagine the taunting text messages she’d receive afterwards. Was it worth it? she wondered. She really liked Will, more than anyone she’d ever liked before. And, for once in Bambi’s life, he actually seemed to be interested in her too. But she couldn’t…

“I’m sorry,” Bambi apologised, not meeting his eyes. “I have piano practice after school.”

Will frowned, seeing straight through the lie. “No, you don’t,” he said simply, before turning and walking into the classroom.

Bambi watched him go, feeling any happiness in her heart rapidly evaporate. At that moment Sacha Honey looked up; and, seeing the Will’s cold stare at Bambi, whispered to the group. Bambi swallowed hard, refusing to meet their amused gazes. Instead she walked into the room, which immediately hushed itself in her presence, and sat down at the farthest place away from Will, from Sacha, from everyone. She could pretend not to care for a few more hours, at least.

*

Will sighed, sick of the pouring rain outside. Everyone back home had told him America was supposed to be much hotter than England, but yet it was still chucking it down. He shut his locker door and shrugged on his raincoat. He could catch the bus home, he supposed, but that soul-sucking Barbie b**** – what was her name? Sacha someone? – would probably start stalking him again, along with her little collection of equally bleach blonde followers. Will frowned with distaste.

As though he’d conjured her up by the power of his thoughts alone, Sacha appeared from nowhere, the flock of Barbie-clones flapping around her. Will forced a smile onto his face.

“Hi, Sacha,” he said in a monotone.

“Omigod!” Sacha squealed. “Your accent is, like, so cute. Don’t you think his accent is totally cute, girls?” She flicked a lock of poker-straight hair behind her shoulder while her cronies nodded dumbly in agreement.

“Can I help you?” Will asked.

“Aw, you’re so gentlemanly,” Sacha cooed. Her thin lips were coated in gloss, which glistened sickeningly under the harsh school lighting. Bambi didn’t wear gloss, Will mused briefly. Then he shook his head, remembering that Bambi obviously didn’t like him as much as he liked her. What was her problem anyway?

“So,” Sacha continued as Will tuned back into her babbling conversation. “Do you want to come to the coffee shop with us?” She thrust a hip forward and smiled flirtatiously.

“No, I can’t,” Will replied.

Sacha pouted in disappointment. “Like, why not?” she demanded.

“My dad’s picking me up,” Will said randomly. “We’re going to watch… a baseball game. A proper American sport.” He gave Sacha a winning smile, convincing her of his phony explanation.

It obviously worked. “That’s so adorable!” Sacha clapped her hands together in excitement. “Such a shame you can’t get to know me better…” She winked. “Well, maybe tomorrow, Will-kins! Bye bye!” She wiggled her fingers at him and strutted back down the corridor, her girlfriends clutching themselves with over-zealous enthusiasm.

Will rolled his eyes. He hated types like Sacha Honey.

He watched Sacha until he was sure she had gone. Then he set off in the opposite direction to her, strolling out the school building and across the road. He sauntered down the pavement, taking in the views of his new hometown. It was so different from London, with all the bustling crowds and honking cars. This place was just silent. Pretty and suburban, but nothing more. Will felt his spirits sink a little as he thought longingly of his parent’s penthouse that overlooked Oxford Street.

Suddenly, a startled cry broke into his thoughts. By his approximation, Will thought the sound had come from only a few streets away. He hurried towards the noise. It definitely sounded like a girl was in trouble, although he couldn’t imagine anything particularly nasty happening in such a well-to-do, quiet neighbourhood. It just didn’t seem to be somewhere were thugs would hang out. Nonetheless, he couldn’t ignore a distressed girl who needed some help.

The girl’s sobbing was becoming louder. Will jogged around the corner. He couldn’t see anyone, but he could definitely hear someone weeping softly. He paused on the corner, feeling stupid.

“Is anyone there?” he called out. Immediately, the crying stifled as though the girl had stuffed her fist in her mouth to stop it.

Will crept around the corner and a small park he’d never noticed before. There, knelt on the wet grass with her belongings scattered around her, was a small, shivering girl. Will felt his stomach lurch as he rushed forward to help her.

“Hey!” he yelled worriedly, sprinting down the path. His bag slammed into his leg with each movement, but he didn’t care. “Are you hurt?” he asked urgently, crouching down by the girl to see her. “What’s your name?”

The girl looked up at him, horror written all over her face, and Will thought he felt his heart freeze with shock. “Bambi?” he whispered in disbelief. “Oh, God, what happened?”

She looked awful. Her hair was mussed up with dirt and rain, and there were tracks of blood, mud and tears mingling down her beautiful face. Her left eye was swelling as though someone had punched her repeatedly. Will looked at Bambi’s stuff scattered around her and felt a rush of adrenaline course through his veins. He was furious, an emotion he had never felt so strongly before. How could someone do this to a sweet, delicate girl like Bambi?

“Bambi, come on,” Will said, slipping an arm around her slender waist to help her up. She weighed almost nothing to him. “We have to go a hospital. And then to the police.”

Bambi pushed weakly against his chest. “No, Will!” she cried. “No, it’s fine! Please don’t.”

Then suddenly everything began to dawn on Will. The jibes from their classmates, the strange avoidance of him, the excuses for not wanting to hang out. Her stricken face when she talked of Sacha Honey… It was so glaringly obvious. How could he not have noticed? Will felt like kicking himself for being so idiotic.

“Bambi,” Will said slowly, speaking more calmly than he felt. “Bambi, Sacha Honey did this to you, didn’t she?”

Bambi nodded mutely.

“Has this been going on for a long time?” he asked, leading her over to a bench and gently seating her down. He went and retrieved her rucksack from the sodden floor.

“Yes,” Bambi said quietly. “But not this bad. She just wasn’t happy today because…” She stopped.

“Because I like you?” Will guessed. Bambi was silent for a moment.

“I’m sorry for being rude to you today,” she said simply. “I really did want to hang out.” Bambi smiled ruefully. “I like you too, much more than you know. No one’s ever paid so much interest in me before.” She closed her eyes. “I just didn’t want anyone to start hating you as much as they hated me. I was trying to protect you from all their s***.” She opened her eyes again, and Will watched her pupils dilate. “You deserve better than a girl like me.”

Will gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. “No, Bambi,” he spat out, struggling with his anger. “You deserve better than them. And I’m sorry I didn’t realise how much you needed me.”

Bambi looked beseechingly at him, before reaching out and placing a small hand on top of his own trembling one. “Will, you didn’t know,” she said gently, “and that’s okay. I don’t blame you.”

Will stared intensely into Bambi’s eyes. They were a doe-like and her irises were a deep hazelnut colour, just like the original Disney character. Will smiled. Ever so slowly, he leaned forwards until he could hear Bambi’s trembling breaths and smell the light scent of cherry soap that lingered on her skin. He watched as a little droplet of rainwater trickled over her delicately parted lips. Then he tilted his head slightly and let his mouth capture hers perfectly, in a moment that seemed too good to be true.

Bambi gasped in surprise before accepting the kiss and placed her soft hands on either side of his face. Will pressed his lips harder against hers. He could taste flavoured Chapstick, and the saltiness of her former tears. Will’s arms encircled Bambi’s waist as they broke apart. Both of them were sodden from the ever persistent rain, but neither cared. Bambi giggled and rested her head against Will’s chest. They stayed like that for a few moments, perfectly still.

“You know,” Bambi mused, “I only met you this morning.”

“It’s called fate,” Will chuckled.

“Are you very superstitious in Britain then?” Bambi teased.

Will paused. “I wasn’t,” he decided, and then he smiled. “But I am now.”

*

Bambi was away from school for the whole of the next week. Despite her protests, Will had insisted she call her parents and be treated at the hospital for her injuries. He went with her, holding her hand and stroking it soothingly with his thumb the entire time. Bambi’s parents were understandably horrified as they rushed into the emergency room, and demanded to know the cause of Bambi’s wounds. Will let Bambi collapse into her mother’s arms and spill the entire sorry story. He felt only relief when her parents promised it would be all be fixed for her.

It was with satisfaction that Will watched, the very next day, as Sacha Honey was sent to the principal’s office, only to be escorted out by the police. As she thrashed against their iron grip and was bundled swiftly into a waiting police vehicle, the whole class rushed to the window and looked on in pure amazement. A couple of her friends were taken out too, and all of them were later charged with violent assault on a fellow student and expelled from Oakley school for good. Will and Bambi had celebrated with each other.

After that, changes began to take place for Bambi. Sacha’s manipulation was no longer in place, and Bambi could walk freely along the corridor without fear of being ridiculed. Now though, she was no longer alone. Will followed her from class to class, content to talk with her, kiss her and soak up the sheer happiness she now radiated. The dark shadows of worry had disappeared from under Bambi’s eyes, and she looked glowing. As beautiful and fragile as the doe Bambi, Will thought.

It was as they walked along the corridor on the last day of term that an idea struck Will.

“You know what?” he asked Bambi, grinning.

“What?” Bambi replied.

“I don’t believe we’ve had our first date yet,” he commented slyly.

Bambi laughed. “We’ve been going out for weeks!”

“That’s no reason why you couldn’t stay in England with me for the holidays, as an extended first date.”

Bambi stopped and her hands flew to her mouth. “Really?” she gasped.

“Really,” Will promised, taking her hands and interlacing his fingers with hers.

And then he leaned forward and kissed her lips, just because he loved her.





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