I saw her coming in the other direction, from some distance away, a seventeen-year-old with the orange hair that she gets from trying to bleach her black mop blonde, make-up an inch thick, skirt half-way up her arse, ridiculously high heels, red bra under a none-too-clean white top. All around her, younger kids, idolising this wild child.

Too much traffic to cross the road.

So, I passed her on the street. My eyes straight ahead, trying to keep the disgust she engenders in me off my face.

As I passed, she spat at me. And quietly, but not so quietly I couldn't hear, she muttered "Fuck you, bitch." The other kids huddled round and giggled, nervously.

Oh, of course, fuck me. As original as ever.

She's hissed it down the phone at me. She's daubed it on my walls, "Fuck you."

Why does she hate me so much? Long story.

She was my daughter's friend, once.

Well, I say friend -- she ate at our house, she came out with us, I paid for her to go to the movies or swimming because her family was broke and my daughter worshipped her and wanted to go round with her. If I felt that she was using a much younger child to get what she wanted out of her, I kept my mouth shut, but my eyes open.

Little incidents happened. Lies, small things going missing. I started to lock things away when she was around. Then, one evening, I got a phone call. She had disappeared from home, taking my then eleven-year-old daughter, and, of course, my daughter's birthday money, with her.

We hunted all night. Reported it to the police. Called all my daughter's friends, then all hers. The following morning, parents of one of this other girl's friends rang -- people we'd called the night before, saying the girls had shown up at 10pm, but they "hadn't wanted to bother us so late".

I'd had enough. I put my foot down and said my daughter wasn't to see her anymore.

Stupid of me, I guess. I underestimated the glamour a rebellious older girl can hold for a young one. I didn't know at the time, but they kept meeting, behind my back

Fast forward a year or so. I'd had a fall, broken my back and was laid up, and couldn't move at all without extreme pain. My husband was working all the hours in the day to make ends meet, because I couldn't. My daughter had to take responsibility for the shopping, and of course had to have my cashcard and PIN to do it.

I called the bank to transfer some money from the savings account to the cheque account to pay the monthly bills. The savings account was empty, when a couple of weeks earlier there had been nearly $4000 in it.

Long discussion ensued with my daughter. She swore she hadn't had it. I asked for the card and... "I don't have it." I looked at her. "I gave it to Shannon last week when she was at her grans, to buy me a birthday present for Stephen, because I couldn't get into town."

I exploded. I checked all my bank accounts. All empty.

So, I got on my crutches and went to the police. I gave them the girls name and address.

She didn't even bother to deny it. She told them the money was gone -- spent on drugs.

She got a three month curfew and 20 hours community service -- not a bad rate of pay, $200 per hour, I thought. After all she was a juvenile.

But at the court hearing, she heard something that shocked her, and that's why she hates me. "Because you were over sixteen when you committed this theft, it will not be expunged from your record at the end of your juvenile period. If you are convicted of another offence, you will go to prison."

So, she has the threat of prison hanging over her, and of course it's all my fault.

Anyway, she spat, she swore. I'm not particularly proud of my reaction, but I have to say, it was satisfying. I turned to see her looking after me, I looked her right in the eyes, and said calmly "Fuck me? I'm flattered Shannon, but I'm afraid that unlike all your other partners, I'm just a little discriminating."

I turned my back on her and walked away. And I hope to all the gods I never see her again.

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