“That’s far too easy!” I moaned, as Jake Richards whispered into my ear. Anyone could hunker down under the broken fence behind Miss Burton’s classroom, run out of the school grounds, and buy a few sweets at Jenson’s shop across the road.
“I like her - She’s funny, and if we give her something simple, she’ll agree to be part of the gang straight away.”
The Dare Initiations into the gang were usually a little more challenging than this one. For example, Laura Gallagher had to creep into Year Seven boys’ changing area, take all their swimming kits which they planned to use later in the day, then replace them two days later. Laura had completed the manoeuvre in a series of stages. It had taken her seven runs back and forth during Lunch break, as she dumped the kits hidden under her jumper, onto the grass behind the classroom at the gang’s meeting place. When wanting to become a member, I myself had to tell Andrew Simpson, the chubby class clown that I loved him. That was the way the Dare Initiations should be. Utterly embarrassing. We had all been through them, and now new girl, Rachael Strong stood looking at us in confusion, as we decided her fate.
“So, what’s happening?” She asked, with a nervous laugh. “You look like you’re plotting something scary.”
“Oh, nothin’ to worry about.” answered Jake, with a mischievous look in his eye.
“How would you like to be part of our gang?” invited Sarah Graham, in a friendly manner.
“What does being a member involve?” asked Rachael inquisitively.
“Oh, we just play games, visit each others’ houses, sometimes share secrets.” I replied. “But only certain people can be a part of it. We wouldn’t let any of those’uns join in.” I turned my nose up at the other members of our year group, who were playing a game of tag nearby.
“Why not?” asked Rachael, as she watched the other children. “They seem fine to me.”
“ Well, if you’re with us, you’ll be special. We play better games, and know some secrets too.” explained Jake, who had recently become gang leader.
We watched Rachael, as a sad look cast over her face. Sighing, she smiled serenely at the six children sitting in front of her. “Look, it sounds like your gang is great fun.” She began. “Though I know that I am special already, before even joining. When I read the Bible, God tells me I am worth more than all the grains of sand in the world.”
There was silence for a while, as noone knew quite what to say. Perhaps Rachael wasn’t the bundle of fun I had thought she would be. Despite this talk of God, I decided to give her a chance.
“You can join us if you like.” I suggested. “All you have to do is one little thing.”
Jake grinned now, as he studied Rachael’s face. As he outlined the dare in full detail, her brown eyes widened. She tried to compose herself, looking above, then relaxed as a new calm took over.
“ Thanks so much for inviting me.” She sighed. “Though I just couldn’t break the rules by escaping from school.”
“It would only take two seconds.” I argued, inspecting the short distance between the school and the shop.
“Well, it’s not the time that it would take, nor the fact that I might get caught that bothers me.” she spoke coolly. “It’s the fact that I would be turning against my Father, God. As a Christian, I believe I should walk in the way God wants me to. That involves turning against bad stuff. So sorry. I’d still like to be friends though.”
Jake and Stewart were already turning their backs to walk off into the playground, while Sarah stared at Rachael in disgust. “Well, it’s your loss!” she mocked, before following the others. I was the last to leave. I felt pity for the girl. She had taken a stand for something I was unsure of, though felt intrigued by. Why had she turned down the chance to be popular, in order to do what was right? Curious, though afraid, I walked away with the others, feeling a strange sense of shame for my actions. As I walked, I glanced back quickly, only to see the same, calm expression on the new girl’s face, and a mirrored look of pity as she observed me.
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