“Keeping Secrets” – Ch:14 – Goodbye Darkness (2nd storyline)

Goodbye darkness….

 I wake up with my head pounding as if someone has been hitting me all night. Remembering that I have cried myself to sleep until there was no tears left. Mum sat with me until I fell asleep, stroking my hair and gently rubbing my cheek with her tender hands.

 When I said I couldn’t talk about what happened at the party, she understood, actually understood. She will be there for me when I am ready. Mum knows me, better than I know myself. Mum always said she knows everything about me, that one day I would understand what she meant. I am beginning to understand.

 Trust plays a big part in life and I haven’t trusted anyone, including myself. Mum trusted me last night when I wasn’t able to confide in her but she allowed me cry on her until I fell asleep. Roxie trusted me with our friendship, always believing I would never let her down.

I am the only one who didn’t trust, but now I will. When I left Poppy’s party, I knew I was making the right decision. I need friends as much as anyone, but I need to like me first. If I had made that call to Roxie, I wouldn’t like me and lately ‘me’ is not a person I like anyway.

The darkness has drifted up into the air fading out of sight as I sit in the car waiting for Mum to make my apology for leaving. It is like I can see again, breath again. I feel sick in my stomach, sick at ruining my friendships and being left alone. I am willing to accept that because I hope I still have one friend left.

When Poppy realised I wasn’t going to play the game with her, she screamed, screamed at me and at everyone else. She locked herself in the bathroom, shedding crocodile tears and smashing whatever was at her disposal.

Bella, forever the loyal friend, tried desperately to break into the bathroom to be at the aid of Poppy in her time of need. Jo stood along side Bella, quietly watching the situation unfold, neither helping nor interfering.

Sam took this as an opportunity to speak to me without the prying eyes. Always nervous, always agreeable, Sam never goes against the group, especially Poppy. This moment was hers for the taking and Sam grabbed it with force.

“Alexx, thank you for not calling Roxie. I am really proud of you,” she said shyly, with urgency. “I don’t think I could ever be as brave as you. I really want to be friends with you. I don’t want this to stop us being friends but I’m not as brave as you.”

“I understand Sam. Thank you for being my friend, a REAL friend,” I replied giving her a quick hug goodbye.

As I left, Jo waved goodbye while she waited by the bathroom door where Poppy still barricaded herself in. The wave symbolised that she didn’t hate me but that our friendship was never going to be the same.

Mum taps gently on my door before quietly entering. Her face lights up when she realises I am awake and no longer crying. She has a cup of hot chocolate with three marshmallows, my absolute favourite. Mum places the drink down on the bedside table, delicately kissing my head, her hand softly rubbing on my cheek while whispering how much she loves me.

No pressure to talk, no pressure to do anything other than be myself. Mum leaves the room knowing I feel love and secure. She does know everything about me, everything that is important. Except how I feel about their fighting, a secret I felt better about sharing with her.

Before I speak to Mum I need to share another secret. Roxie deserves to know everything that has been going on and she deserves to hear it from me. She may hate me for not telling her in the first place and she may hate me for going to the party but it is something I have to do. Anxiously I hope she will understand and it will only make our friendship more special.

After hanging up the phone from my friend I realise the darkness has disappeared completely. There is no haze around me, no clouds pushing me down, no feeling like I am trapped. I feel free and alive and have an inner strength I know will only grow with time. I am beginning to like myself again and this feeling makes me happy.

I can hide away and leave Roxie in the dark about what happened. Roxie may never find out that I went to Poppy’s party even though I knew she wasn’t welcome. A little voice inside me made it clear that I need to be open and honest with Roxie if our friendship is ever going to survive.

A gentle tap on my bedroom door means time to face Roxie and time to face the consequences. Mum peers into the room, smiles happily at me, showing me how proud she is. I nod to let her know I am ready to open up to Roxie and am sorry for everything.

“Hi Roxie,” I say timidly.

“Hiya,” replies Roxie. “Glad you called I was getting really bored at home. Brendon stayed at a mate’s house last night and.”

“I really need to talk to you Roxie,” I interrupt not wanting the conversation to sway too far from where I need it to be.

The small amount of courage I have I need to use before it disappears.

“Oh, cool, what is it?”

“Umm, well, I have a secret that I should have told you all along but I didn’t. I just want to say sorry now and hope you will still want to be friends with me.”

Roxie stands motionless, not knowing where this is leading, looking confused. Seeing my friend innocently look at me, unaware how much I am about to hurt her and how much I need to fix everything.

I lower my head so I can avoid the penetrating stare I receive from Roxie. Twisting my hands together nervously, trying to delay my words and keep my body occupied.

“I’m confused Alexx, what is so bad?”

Silence, a deep breath…

“Poppy did have a slumber party last night and I went to it with the rest of the group. You, you are the only one not invited to go,” I finally manage to say.

Silence, my eyes slowly look up to meet her gaze. Nothing, there is no reaction, only silence.

“I can blame Poppy because it was her decision not to invite you, but we are friends and I should have told you about the party. That’s what friends do.”

More silence, then Roxie began to cry, the tears slowly roll down her cheek. I can’t reach for her, she hates that. I want to reach for her but I need to tell her the entire story hoping she will understand.

“I desperately wanted to be part of the cool group and when Poppy asked me to her slumber, it felt perfect for a minute. Until she said you weren’t invited. She said something about her Mum and numbers but deep down I knew the truth. She didn’t want you there.”

Roxie remains silent with more and more tears now streaming down her cheeks. My heart breaks for what I am doing to my best friend. My decision to treat a friend badly has caused this pain, this hurt. It is my fault and I deserve to lose her as a friend.

“Is that it?” splutters Roxie through the tears.

Shaking my head, sharing in the tears I continue, “I went to the party last night. We played truth or dare and I picked dare. Poppy gave me something I didn’t want to do because it involved you. I realised then that I was being a horrible friend and I had forgotten that you are my best friend. I am so selfish. I called Mum and left the party.”

Roxie leaps towards me, forcing me to the ground, banging my head on the leg of the chair. Allowing my body to be treated in any way Roxie needs, knowing I deserve it. She hates me, really hates me and now she wants to hurt me. I understand and I will not fight back.

The pain never arrives. There is no fighting, no screaming, no angry taunts. Roxie hugs me with all she had in her. Roxie never hugs anyone as she hates to show such emotions. As stunned as I feel, I absorb her affection, crying in her arms.

Roxie is meant to hate me like I had hated myself. She is meant to be angry and shout how much I have hurt her. She is meant to do anything but what she is doing. I don’t deserve a friend like Roxie. I don’t deserve any friends at all.

“Thank you so much Alexx,” says Roxie, her tears easing as she pulls away from me.

“For what?” I reply, crying hysterically, my emotions out of control.

“For what?? You stood up for me and that makes for a great friend.”

“But I lied to you about the party and going to the party.”

“And you then stuck up for me and even came home from the party. I never expected you to leave.”

Between the noise of my tears and the emotional relief of finally sharing my secret, I think I must’ve misheard Roxie. What did she mean that she never expected me to leave! Confused and a little disoriented from my fall to the ground, I need confirmation.

“You never expected me to leave, does that mean you knew I is at the party?”

Roxie nods without elaborating, leaving me to continue on my own.

“But if you knew, why didn’t you say anything?” I ask desperate to know. Trying to put myself in her shoes, I know I would have said something to her. My hurt and anger would have gotten the better of me and I probably would have exploded. So why didn’t Roxie treat me the way I have treated her?

“I tried to but you made it clear that you weren’t going to say anything, remember when I over heard the girls in the toilets. They mentioned you were going. I was angry and hurt, really hurt, so much I actually felt sick.”

Silently I wait for her to continue, remembering that moment and how I felt sick not telling her. There we are best friends but neither of us comfortable to share a secret that needs to be shared.

“When I got home, I talked to Mum and she reminded me that it wasn’t your fault I wasn’t invited, so I shouldn’t get angry with you. I was hurt you didn’t trust me and upset you knew it would hurt my feelings to be left out.”

“I am sorry, I am sorry,” I say, the tears beginning once again with the realisation of how much I have hurt my friend. If I told her in the first place, she would have understood and maybe I could have stayed friends with everyone.

Roxie gently reaches for me again to share in a hug. A simple hug that makes me feel special and important in her life. The friendship we share has changed. We are closer than before and I have learnt a wonderful lesson.

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