The girl sat at her desk in the balmy summer night and started writing.

"Dear Lizzie,

I've always adored you. You're such a beautiful person I'm enthralled. I spend every waking second thinking about you.

I love everything about you. I love the way your hair's so thick and shiny; I love your intelligent green eyes. I love the way you're not too tall or short; you're just the right height for a hug. I love the way your teeth are a bit crooked; I love the way you smile with such sweetness.

You're such a caring person; so innocent and pure, you refuse to see the bad in anyone. Your fragile soul is so delicate I just want to shelter and protect you. I love the way you hate pink and pop. I love the way you always act as though there's a special spotlight on you, even though no-one ever seems to look your way.

I love your voice, and the way it's deeper than some girls'. I love the way you're always singing to yourself before lessons start.

You seem such a mysterious person, I just want to get to know you more. The reason I haven't said anything before is because I was petrified you wouldn't like me too. If you'll let me, I'll love you forever.

With much love

Your secret admirer."

She read it through and sighed. Slipping it into her schoolbag, she turned and collapsed on the bed. Disturbed, flickering dreams of confused longing and emptiness made her wake several times, gasping and clutching at the bedclothes in desperation. The letter was supposed to help, but it only made her feel worse, filled with a bitter nausea, a pain-filled despair that pressed the words upon her again and again: Never will that happen. Never.

The morning found her at school yet again. Alone, she shuffled through the corridors. People jostled and pushed at her; the letter fell from her bag and lay on the ground, unnoticed. During the course of the day the letter was kicked aside, to the edge of the corridor. Dusty footprints marred the creamy whiteness of the envelope, one corner bent out of shape. The girl didn't even notice it as she walked past a few hours later.

Someone else did, though.

A thin girl with perfectly-straightened blonde hair paused in her jabbered conversation into her cell phone. Curiously, she bent down and retrieved the innocent-looking envelope. Expensively-manicured fingernails broke the seal, smoothed the page.

Her eyes grew wide.

Then she hurried off to find her friends.

The sniggers were so loud, she was getting annoyed.

Another amusing joke she couldn't grasp.

The girl sighed and half-heartedly wondered if she could fit in a song or two before the teacher came to open the classroom. No. So she tilted her head against the wall and started singing softly.

The giggles intensified.

She ignored them.

".....there's no accounting for taste...."

"What a freak."

"Can you even imagine it?"

"Ew, gross!"

More laughter.

At last, the girl sighed and turned round.

"What's so funny?" she asked hesitantly, wondering what they would do.

This, for some reason, they found hilarious.

"Oh, nothing, nothing...." Melissa's blue eyes glinted with malice. "Nothing at all."

The girl felt a sinking sensation in her stomach. Half-heartedly she wondered what she would find in her locker today.

She couldn't even summon up the emotion to feel upset. She changed song instead.

"...should we tell her?"

"Well, I didn't know there were like any blind guys in our school...."

"Hahahahah!"

She wanted to punch their fat faces. Hit them again and again. So hard they would spurt blood from every inch of their perfect bodies. Rip their dyed-blonde hair out. Snatch their mobiles and trample them.

The teacher came at last.

She hurried and managed to get her favourite desk. Last one to the back, furthest away from the desk. Feeling pretty pleased, she slammed her books down, then cautiously took out her sketch pad.

Thirty minutes later and the teacher got called out to talk to the principle. Chaos erupted. A couple of guys stole another guy's sneakers and started throwing them around. A hysterical girlfriend had a screaming match with her boyfriend. Barbie-dolls started comparing ringtones.

She sighed, then got out her CD player.

Half way through her favourite song, she noticed that Amanda was standing at the front and screaming for quiet, her cronies grinning at each other. That she was waving a crumpled piece of paper around.

Faintly curious, the girl pulled out one headphone.

".......found it in the corridor, so of course we had to see what it was." She was grinning satanically. "It seems that somebody's got really bad taste......."

Not everyone found her words riveting. The guys shrugged, then the sneakers were back in the air.

The girl, however, sat frozen, her heart thumping painfully.

".......I have here, my friends......." Amanda was relishing it. She waved her arm dramatically. "Here, in front of you.......a..........love letter...."

That had gotten the girls' attention all right. Even the ringtones were hushed.

The girl closed her eyes in mortification.

She didn't notice the way a black-haired boy's head jerked up.

Gratified by the silence, Amanda went on theatrically. "Not just any love letter. A love letter to...none other than...."

The girl braced herself.

".........our very own freak show escapee.........

........Lizzie Hedgehood."

The whispers were scandalized. Heads whipped around to stare at the girl, who sat frozen, open sketchbook on her lap, headphones blaring.

"Her?!"

"No way!"

Lizzie groaned aloud.

Amanda had gone on. "It's so ridiculous, really." She said conversationally. "I mean, we don't know even who it's from. But he's completely besotted, whoever he is. Over her!"

Shrieks of laughter.

And all the while Lizzie sat there, wishing she was dead. No, not dead. That she had never been born.

Amanda turned her way. "Sorry, hon, but I thought people would be interested." Another fake smile.

Lizzie mumbled something and fiddled with her hoodie.

"You know what." A new voice forced its way into the jabbering mess. A tall guy with messy black hair falling in front of his face had gotten to his feet. "Amanda...you're a bitch."

Amanda blinked. Then she started squealing. He ignored her and went on. "Sticking your nose into everyone's business, spreading lies and truths everywhere....you make me sick."

Her posse rallied for an attack.

"How dare you talk to me like that!!!"

"How dare I? Cause I know you for the heartless bitch you are. It's not gossip if it's the truth, right?" he paused, angry eyes fixed on the cringing blonde. "You want to know who wrote that letter?" he demanded. "You really want to know?" for the first time, his eyes darted in Lizzie's direction. She felt herself shiver. "Alright, then. It was me. I wrote the goddamn letter."

Shocked silence.

Lizzie stared at him. "But...no, you couldn't have!"

He blinked. Then he hunched his shoulders defensively. "I did. I was gonna slip it under your desk. You know, the one next to the window? Where you sit every time. But I couldn't. So I threw it in the trash. It must've blow out of something."

Lizzie gaped at him. He made a funny gesture, half-lifting a hand in a apologetic, humorous sign. "Of course, I didn't really plan on you finding out like this...."

She caught her breath in sharp. "But....you don't know me....you've only spoken to me once..."

He grinned. "Yeah. But I've been watching you. Whoa, that sounded kinda creepy, didn't it? I mean, I've been....noticing you. If that makes any sense."

She stood up, her hands dropping limply to her sides. "Yes, yes it does." She breathed.

Another smile. "I knew you would understand. You're different from everyone else here. I've known that since I got here."

A tenuous smile, scared but hopeful, twisted her mouth up. "I knew you couldn't be from around here."

He smiled with her.

The bell rang. The clatter of desks and bags filled the air. They stood still, watching each other.

Lizzie smiled again. A pure celebration of complete joy, beautiful to feel and to behold. She turned to him.

"Can I have my letter now?"