“Keeping Secrets” – Chapter 1

Ashlea had I have written a tween book together. Here is Chapter 1. Would love some honest feedback.

Keeping Secrets

By Natalie and Ashlea McNamara


“GO AWAY, ” I screamed throwing my khaki brown school shoe forcefully at the bedroom door.

The smack of the shoe on the door caused a ripple effect of instant silence. Before I could soak it in, a faint sound of giggling took over followed by heavy thumping as if a herd of elephants were on a rampage outside my room. As usual my sisters were in the mood to annoy me and it was working.

Bree and Ella were identical twins and most people struggled to tell them apart. With their milky blonde hair and petite button noses their outside appearance was the same. For those who close to the girls, could always tell them apart by their eyes. Bree’s eyes would draw you in, making you feel you were the most important person in the world. Ella radiated the opposite effect, avoiding eye contact and pushing you away at every opportunity.

The twins were five years younger than me but insisted on involving me in their childish games. Yeah right, I was almost a teenager and I just didn’t need this immature behaviour surrounding me all the time. All I needed in my life was music, my friends, the privacy of my bedroom and of course my thoughts.

As Bree and Ella scurried back to their own bedroom like wild field mice, satisfied with disturbing me once again, I attempted to get back to my own inner thoughts.

My absolute favourite place to be myself is my bedroom. Everything I cherished is in here. The pastel fairy floss pink walls were covered in posters of inspiring people, most I felt like I knew them on an intimate, fandom level. When I loved a book or a movie I obsessed over it until the inner fan girl could learn no more.

My other passion is animals. My dream job is to become a veterinarian. This was no secret as I would tell anyone who wanted to listen about becoming a famous vet to the stars. I often practised my veterinarian skills on our dog Koko, a pure inky black Jack Russell with a short stubby tail to match his short stubby body.

Koko often sat quietly on my pink fleecy quilt draped over my bed, his dark earthy brown eyes wide open watching my every move. He was perfectly behaved, perfectly adorable, only barking when he needed my attention.

I loved Koko especially when he licked my face with his warm tongue showing me how much he loved me too. I have a beautiful photo of us cuddling on the trampoline in the backyard sitting by my bedside. With my copper brown wavy hair, perfectly styled as always and golden skin Koko and I looked the perfect pair. I treasured this picture.

I also have three orange fish in my room – Tiger, Snowy and Doc. They were only goldfish but the way they glided through the water without a care in the world, was mesmerising. I would watch them for hours, with my music blaring whenever I needed to escape.

Music is my real passion. The sounds, the vibrations, take me away to a place I call my sanctuary. No one can annoy me there, no one can scream at me there and no one can hurt me there. I love my iPod almost as much as I love Koko – I did say almost.

Some days I would lie on my bed, close my eyes, turn up my music and drift away to where no one can make me feel anything I don’t want to feel. No one fought in my world. Everyone loves me and I love being Alexx.

There are days when I get lost in my music, with my friends plastered over the walls and forget the rest of the world even existed. When I am in the zone, in my sanctuary, no one can penetrate it. Today had to be one of these days or I will go insane and take my anger out on the twins.

The day Mum brought the twins back from the hospital was of the best and worst day of my life. They were tiny, breakable little dolls, with delicate features and angelic expressions. I was afraid to touch them in case I damaged the angels, destroying these pictures of perfection.

They were flawless, perfect little people until they began to cry – scream in fact – shattering my fascination with them. The crying, the screaming lasted almost an entire year and by then I no longer thought of them as delicate or fragile. They were noisy and demanding little people instead.

It was around this time I noticed a change in Mum and Dad. Mum always seemed tired and angry, her unhappiness directed mainly towards Dad. Dad seemed to always have an expressionless facade, never showing any emotion, even when everything around him was chaotic. It seemed to me that the twins were to blame for the changes I noticed in Mum and Dad.

I rolled over on my bed, the loud music pounding through my mind acting as a distraction from the twins. Now Taylor’s music started to take over, controlling my thoughts, calming my mind. Up until this moment my thoughts had been on my parents and their never ending arguments but as I drifted away with the music, so did my thoughts.

The following morning began in the usual way with the twins fighting over who has what bowl and what spoon and who was going to have what cereal. I sat quietly at the table pushing my food around the bowl, pretending to eat, trying to block out all the noise.

I notice Mum giving Dad one of her looks. A look that says ‘I am not in the mood for your rubbish’. This look happens all the time and they don’t realise I notice. Dad was arguing with Mum but I can’t hear a thing over the continuous bickering from the twins.

As Dad reached across the bench, apologising for something he has apparently done wrong, Mum jerked backwards, as if his touch is poisonous. He slammed down his coffee mug, spilling its contents onto the bench, coffee running down the cupboard and onto the floor. Dad then stormed out of the kitchen.

“That’s right David, just walk away in a bad mood again,” Mum shouts after him before turning to leave in the opposite direction.

The instant silence rips through me, interrupted only by the sound of coffee dripping onto the floor. The twins explore my eyes for an answer, which I can’t give them. I don’t know what the answer is. With my appetite gone, I push the untouched food away, feeling bitter toward the twins, my family and my whole life.

I head back to the sanctuary of my bedroom, the one place I can be myself and forget that everyone else exists. Just being in my room makes the bitterness slowly evaporate.

As Taylor blasted out of the iPod, I could hear banging on my door again. Why won’t they leave me alone? I start to believe the twins really are the reason our parents are fighting so much. Maybe they are fed up with the stupid games and their childish behaviour just like I am. Agitated by another interruption from my music, I leap towards the door ripping it open with so much force that one of the posters of my beloved stars blew right off the wall, floating to the floor.

“GO AWAY NOW,” I scream angrily my face turning a deep shade of red.

Stunned by the fury and attitude in my voice, Roxie stood frozen like a snowman staring at me, not sure whether to scream back or laugh at my embarrassing behaviour. Before my friend has a chance to react either way, I yank her into my room, slamming the door behind me, throwing my arms around her neck.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry, Rox. I didn’t know it was you,” I said ashamed for being caught looking so childish.

“Ummm, it’s OK,” chokes Roxie.

Pulling away from my firm grip, Roxie mumbles something about it all being cool. She hates being hugged or kissed. She says it makes her feel weird and a little nervous, even with me – her best friend.

Roxie isn’t normal. I mean more like a typical twelve year old girl kind of normal. She hates most girlie things. She hates wearing make-up, hates going shopping and hates dancing.  Roxie hates talking about girl stuff, hates gossiping and wearing dresses. All the things I love.

Today she has on her usual boy cut Regour jeans, a bright red hoodie and sneakers. Roxie is pretty but not in a model sort of way. Her dark blonde hair is always pulled back in a messy pony tail with hair falling out all over the place. Her heart-shaped face and piercing aqua eyes make me feel as though she sees deep into my mind. I wish I had her full naturally rosy lips instead of my thin strips on my face.

The one thing I like most about my best friend is she lets me be myself. With Roxie what you see is what you get – no secrets.

“The twins have been even more annoying than usual, if that’s possible. I thought it was them again at the door,” I said as I jump back onto my bed, motioning for Roxie to join me.

“You guys are always fighting”, replies Roxie, standing near the door, reluctant to move, recovering from my hug.

“They’re painful. What can I say? Don’t you fight with Brendon?”

Brendan is Roxie’s older brother by a year and I never see them argue or stir each other up. Brendon is different; he really understands Roxie and never judges her. For a brother and sister, they get on really well, hanging out often. He always asks Roxie to join in when his friends come over to play football. The two of them sometimes hang out together. Roxie secretly idolises her brother, but it’s no secret to me.

I also care for Brendon more than I can ever let on. He is my dream boyfriend, I think about him every night and every morning. I have never kissed a boy, so Brendon is just a dream, a wonderful beautiful dream.

“Not really. I like my brother.”

“Yeah so do I,” I quickly interrupt smiling sweetly.  “He is soooooo cute”

“Stop it, Alexx. He’s not cute – yuk. Cool maybe.”

“Well I think he’s cool too,” I continue, my fondness for Brendon sweeping through my mind.

Roxie and I are so different, so opposite, yet we always balance each other out. My liking of boys amuses Roxie as she prefers to play football with them. I wear make-up – she doesn’t. I adore fashion – she only likes to wear jeans. I read all the girlie magazines cover to cover every month – she only reads them if there is an article about sports.

It was Roxie’s turn to pick up the pink fluffy cushion lying near the doorway, throwing it towards me. She gets embarrassed whenever I mention how cute her brother is. I want Brendon to be my first kiss, a kiss like in the movies, but that is one secret I can never share with her.

We both start to laugh as I turn up the volume on my iPod so our voices would be drowned out from interfering ears outside my room.

Roxie and I have been best friends since the day her family moved into the small house next door. A removals truck had been parked up the driveway; people were everywhere, barking orders and screaming to be careful with the breakable items.

Roxie didn’t want to move as she hated it when things in her life changed. She was standing near the truck, holding onto her dog Tom, a big scruffy looking German Shepherd, quietly observing all the commotion surrounding her.

She hadn’t seen me watching from my house, excitedly staring at her, wondering if we would be friends. When I couldn’t contain my excitement any longer, I marched over to find out more about this person moving in next door.

“Hi, my name’s Alexx. I live there,” I said pointing towards the house next door. “Do you want to be friends?”

Roxie’s aqua eyes stared at me, giving away no secrets while she looked me over, clearly concerned by what she saw. Dressed in my pale pink ballet leotard with plastic fairy slip-on shoes and hands firmly planted on my hips, I was the complete opposite to the jeans, dark green t-shirt and thongs she wore.

Eventually she nodded her head shyly, comfortable I wasn’t some weirdo and maybe worth being friends with. As I grabbed my new friend’s hand, pulling her towards the backyard with Tom in tow, I knew then and there I had met my new best friend.

Laying back on the bed, swinging my legs in the air to the beat of the music blaring from my iPod, I try to forget about my parents. Roxie has a way of making me forget the bad things and concentrate on the good stuff without even knowing it.

“You know, I think you’re lucky Rox.”

Staring at me, unsure why she is so lucky, Roxie sat on the floor, waiting patiently to hear the rest of the story.

“Your Mum and Dad are really cool and never seem to get angry at all. And Brendon’s cool too. You guys are perfect together really, ” I start to drift away into my own world of negative thoughts once again.

“What are you talking about Al? I think your parents are cool too. You’re always allowed to go places I’m not. You’ve got a cool house and look at this bedroom.”

Roxie holds up her arms, waving them around demonstrating the excessive possessions I have scattered around my room. “I get jealous of you, not the other way around.”

“What? Jealous of me?” I reply, rolling over to look at Roxie who is staring intently at me, waiting for the conversation to continue.

She will never understand how messed up my life is becoming because her life is so perfect. My best friend will never know because I can’t tell her. I am embarrassed by all the screaming, the fighting, the intense arguments. I am starting to think that maybe it’s not all the twins fault, maybe its me too. Roxie will never understand.

“You have so much Alexx. You’re pretty and popular and everything always looks good on you. I’m just not like that, but that’s cool too.”

“Well yeah but …” I hesitate giving myself one more chance to tell her how I am feeling.

“Alexx can we come in?” shouted Bree tapping softly on the door.

“No, go away,” I reply, leaning over to turn the music up even louder, drowning her out. The moment is gone. Maybe the moment was never really there and I should just pretend nothing is really going on.



  1. Felicity Stainthorpe says:

    Hey Nat and Ashlea, I just loved reading your stories!! They are awesome and drag you in…and I can relate to them also. Well done!! Can’t wait to read more xx Felicity

  2. well written, love the descriptive and looking forward to reading more 🙂


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