Marion was her name.

We went through high school together.

She didn’t have many friends – in fact, I don’t recall if she had any friends at all.

What I do remember is how Marion looked. Matted hair, dirty clothes, her school bag was torn.

And she smelled – really badly – the unmistakeable sour scent of unwashed skin and unwashed clothes.

I’m pretty sure I have blocked a lot out about Marion and what happened to her. But I am sure she was bullied.

Name calling. Pushing. People making a point of not sitting next to her in class. Ignoring her when she spoke. All of that, and possibly more, went on.

Our school was in a mixed socio-economic area, with a nod towards the lower end of the wealth scale.

My family was considered wealthy simply because Mum and Dad owned a small business, and we owned our own house (that is, they had a mortgage).

It’s ironic that I was also bullied a little too during those years, for opposite reasons.

I had nice clothes, and Mum taught me how to dress. I was considered one of the popular girls, and the fact we had a little bit of money in comparison to most of the other families in the town meant I got called names too – “rich b*%ch” is one name I remember well.

But no matter how bad the names got and how miserable I was during the school day, I knew I could escape it all, simply by walking through the door of my home.

At home I was encouraged.

At home I was given opportunities.

At home I was taught strong values.

At home I was loved.

Where are you now Marion?

I’ve been haunted by thoughts of Marion ever since I left school.

What happened to her? Is she ok? Did she escape the poverty cycle? Is she scarred through her experience at school?

Most importantly, with the benefit of maturity and growing emotional intelligence, I have wondered countless times over the years – what was going on in her life back then?  What did Marion go home to every night? Who was there to support her, encourage her?

Was there anyone there to love her?