“Keeping Secrets” – Ch:17 – Pushing Roxie Away – (3rd storyline)

Pushing Roxie away….

 Corule Boulevard is one of the longest in our neighbourhood and one of the oldest. Lined beautifully with enormous weeping willows whose elongated leaves so extensive the trunks are barely recognisable. Surrounded by perfectly manicured nature strips, street cleaners working hard at their job and house owners who respect the “keep Corule Boulevard beautiful” theme, our street could be pictured in any magazine.

 Walking to school along our street everyday always sets the mood for what lay ahead. Noises are pleasant, atmosphere is pleasant, the company is pleasant. Roxie and I would chat excitedly the entire walk to school, sadden when the two blocks came to an end.

Brendon often walks with us until he reaches the bus stop directly opposite Hevanton Primary to take him to High school. He adds to the beautiful atmosphere, simply by being there. Often with his earphones on and music blaring, never interrupting, just being in our company.

I dream one day he will realise I am actually there, maybe reaching for my hand and walking with me, the way a boyfriend would. He would drop me off at school, making sure I am safely inside before heading to his destination.

This morning I wasn’t looking forward to walking to school. I haven’t been to school for a week and spent most of the time in the security of my bedroom. Roxie visited me the next day after the fainting, concerned for me. Her face was pale and she looked like she hadn’t slept in weeks.

“OMG, you scared me yesterday,” Roxie says quietly on strict instructions from Mum.

“Yeah, I didn’t mean it. But I’m okay. Just a little sore.”

“I was so nervous you were going to die and then I wouldn’t have a best friend and…” Roxie says crying.

Normally I would be over to her, saying something to comfort her, especially as Roxie never cries. She is too tough to cry, too boy like. I cry all the time, never afraid to let it all out but maybe I am too much of a sook. Even though my heart feels her pain, I can’t bring myself to comfort her. It is easier to blame her for what is happening in my life.

“Well I am fine now Roxie, so don’t cry about it,” I snap, more defensively that I mean.

“Oh, sorry Alexx. I didn’t mean to upset you. I just…”

“Not you didn’t upset me. I am tired. Just tired, that’s all.”

“Do you want me to go?”

“I need to sleep. My head still hurts and I need to sleep.”

As Roxie turns to leave, feeling shattered from my brutal, unfair attack on her, she stops and turns to face me once again. Her aqua eyes lifeless, sadden as we stare at each other, locked together. She is trying to see into my heart, see where she has gone wrong, why I’m behaving spitefully.

“You are upset when you came over yesterday Alexx. Do you remember?”

I nod.

“Is everything okay? Is it something I did to you?”

“It’s all fine. I am just angry but everything is fine now.”

“You seem angry with me,” says Roxie, moving her eyes towards the floor unable to hold my stare.

“Well I’m not,” I reply forcefully, bored of the conversation.

My intention is to make Roxie feel guilty for not being a very good friend, but the guilt is contagious as it is affecting me. I struggle with playing the bad guy, this is normally played perfectly by Poppy. This is my life and she is ruining it.

As Roxie leaves my room I hear her whisper ‘I’m sorry’. It is as though she is talking to an invisible friend who is unable to reply. The emotion in her voice is sincere, longing to make me happy. It is me who is unable to accept it from her. I can’t allow myself to weaken and fall prey to her friendship, a friendship that is turning me into a bad person.

I leave the house, determined to be nice to Roxie as she is still my friend even though she has let me down. This is the longest time Roxie and I have ever gone without speaking to each other. I miss her. I miss her more than I care to admit but I need to move away from her and focus on other friends.

With her standard hoodie and jeans on, Roxie is waiting for me in the usual spot at the end of her driveway near the blue letterbox with a small, golden sparrow \ on top. This is the only letterbox in the street like this and it is my favourite. The sparrow looks welcoming, telling the postman this is a perfect place to drop off the mail. I begged Mum to get one as soon as I saw Roxie’s but she said we need to be ‘individuals and not copy our neighbours. I disagreed but never got my own way.

I approach with caution, not knowing the reaction I will receive from Roxie. My concentration is distracted by Brendon. He is leaving the house in his denim jeans and a khaki shirt only buttoned half way. He is beautiful and looks every bit of it this morning. Never looking in my direction, he gracefully moves towards Roxie like an angel floating through the clouds, unaware of me staring at him.

Roxie keeps her eyes fixed in my direction, not noticing her brother waiting impatiently beside her. Her eyes are dull but with a glimmer of hope, hope that our friendship hasn’t been affected by recent events. A warm surge flows through my veins at Roxie’s desperation to retain my friendship.

“Hi Roxie. Hi Brendon,” I say casually.

“Hi Alexx,” replies Roxie, excitement in her voice.

“Hi,” murmurs Brendon with his head facing the opposite direction ignoring my presence.

“You are looking better. How do you feel?” says Roxie.

“Much better thanks. The doctor said it was the fall that did the damage, not the fainting itself. I wish I could be warned when I am about to faint.”

Brendon starts walking ahead of us which is unusual, causing me to panic. His actions portray anger and resentment, towards me. He knows about my argument with Roxie. He must know how I treated her and he is angry with me. My Brendon, the one who holds my first kiss is angry with me and it is my entire fault.

“Yeah I know what you mean. I was so scared when one minute you were standing there and the next you are on the floor.”

“Sorry about that. I would have warned you if I knew myself. Hey, sorry about being so angry the next day. It isn’t your fault that I got hurt. I was just sore,” I respond loud enough so Brendon can hear.

His shoulders tense and the walking motion jolts slightly. Brendon has heard what I said so hopefully that is enough to make him at least look at me again. The thought of Brendon hating me is not an option. He is my first love even if he is unaware of it.

“Oh Alexx, I was so worried that you hated me, that you blamed me for hurting yourself. You know I would never hurt you.”

“Yeah I know.”

My attention is still on Brendon. Turn around and talk me. Say something I am begging you to. Tell me you forgive me for my behaviour and that you realise how mature I have become in the past week since we haven’t seen each. Tell me that you think about me the way I think about you. Tell me something, anything.

Nothing is said, he continues to walk in front of us, slowing down his pace so we can stay close. In my perfect world, I pretend that this is a sign, a sign he has forgiven me and wants our friendship to remain. The panic leaves my body as school approaches in the distance, my two friends back by my side.

I haven’t missed school at all with the only exception of seeing Brendon every morning. The work itself is easy enough and I am pretty good inmost areas. Sport is my worst subject so I hate Thursdays the most. I am no good at it and I always feel like everyone wants to see me mess up.

I don’t even miss my other friends. I know that sounds horrible but Roxie is my best friend and the rest of the group are a lot of work. So why am I being so mean to her? Poppy is the one girl I work hardest on, she can influence people and I need her on my side. I am never sure though how much she really likes me but I don’t care. I am so confused.

Bella never leaves Poppy’s side and is her puppet in everything. If Poppy wants something, Bella will happily assist. Poppy went through a phase of hating chocolate so of course now Bella decided she hated eating chocolate too. That is wrong, who hates eating chocolate.

Jo is older than the rest of us and this is obvious. She migrated over from Italy when she is five years old but she had already started school back in her hometown of Grosseto in the region of Tuscany. An old town with a history dating back centuries, the people of Grosseto believe education is the key to life’s successes.

All the children went to school from the age of three, learning all aspects of life and its wonders. Jo had two years of schooling before she had even hit the shores of Australia and her parents still decided to hold her back another year. They wanted Jo to strive to be the best so an extra year in school would surely give her an advantage.

Jo’s appearance has an Italian influence too. Her skin is a deep golden brown, soft rosy cheeks, glowing with health. Her eyes are dark, almost black in colour to match her midnight black silky straight long hair. She is exotically beautiful.

Jo likes the group but stays guarded to her emotions. It is as though she is waiting for something better to come along and in the meantime she is content with the friends she has.

Sam I like. I like her most out of the group. She is sweet and kind. Sam is quiet and never really injects much to the conversations but with so many other stronger personalities surrounding her, it is difficult. Sam never says a bad word about anyone and seems sincere in actions.

Sam is unique in her looks and her personality. Her short blonde hair cut neatly around her face, so modern and funky, just like a runway model. This daring attitude flows to her glasses, hot pink and purple that suits her pale skin and alluring green eyes. She wears simple dresses and always looks elegant.

The day went by in the usual way, nothing changed in my absence. When lunchtime arrives, Roxie is waiting for me by the lockers so we can head out together. Unenthused by the day, I don’t have much to say but Roxie doesn’t seem to notice. She is still excited that we are friends again and this obvious from her conversation.

Hevanton Primary isn’t what I would call a pretty school. Most of the play area is concrete, painted with games that required balls or bats to play. What little grass the school has is mostly dead, with no plants or trees for decoration. This is a complete contrast to the beautiful array trees and greenery that aligned my street.

The classrooms are made of a faint sickly yellow coloured brick, making the school look like an old fashioned boarding school, similar to the movie Annie. Each room blends into the next leaving nothing for the imagination, no room to dream you can be anywhere else but school.

As we approach the rest of the girls sitting on the dying grassy area, the conversation seems very intense.

“Shh, shh,” I hear Bella say as we approach not realising we can hear her.

“Oh hi girls,” says Sam, looking in our direction but over my shoulder as if expecting someone else.

Automatically I turn around to see who Sam is looking at but the only person behind me is Roxie.

I felt like we have interrupted a very private conversation. Between fighting with Roxie and then Brendon ignoring me, I am becoming suspicious of everyone.

“Hi everyone,” I say, with nothing more intelligent to add.

“So glad to have you back Alexx. We really missed you last week,” Sam replies enthusiastically.

Before I can sit, Poppy grabs my arm to pull me away from the circle. Almost falling backwards by the force of her strength, I don’t notice that it is only me Poppy wants to be alone with.

“I need to get something from the canteen,” says Poppy dragging me away. “Alexx is coming with me.”

I have no choice but to oblige and follow Poppy. Not that I mind, it is nice to be wanted for something and nice to be away from Roxie. She is by my side every possible moment and it is bothering me, making me feel trapped.

Linking her arm into mine, Poppy and I skip off towards the canteen, leaving the remainder of our friends watching us depart.

“Thank goodness your back. So much is happening and I didn’t want you to miss out,” Poppy squeals excitedly, leading me through the school grounds.

“Miss out on what?”

“Well it’s my birthday and I am having a slumber party.”

“Oh like mine,” I interrupt too soon realising my mistake.

Poppy never likes to think she copies anyone. She is an individual who starts fashion trends as opposed to following them. Her party’s are also unique, never the same as anyone else’s.

“Nothing like yours,” Poppy replies sternly letting me know how wrong I am.

“Of course not, sorry.”

“Anyway, it is this weekend and I am inviting you and Bel, Jo and Sam.”

Poppy waits for my reaction but stupidly I haven’t realised that a name is missing. Her eyes glare into mine making me feel intimidated.

“Did you hear me?” asks Poppy.

“Yes, and I would love to come to your slumber party. I will ask Mum tonight but I am sure she will say yes.”

“That’s great Alexx but just in case you didn’t quite hear me, I am not inviting Roxie to my party.”

“Why?” I ask stupidly.

“Mum said I could only have four people and I would prefer you over Roxie.”

Part of me feels warmed by the declaration of our friendship. It is wonderful to be thought of as part of the group and people wanting you around. This is what I have always wanted, to be accepted by the cool kids at school and now I am going to Poppy’s slumber party.

However the other part of me freezes, the realisation that my friend, my best friend really, is intentionally being excluded from this same group I am desperate to be a part of. Leaving one person out of the group is cruel and hurtful. A position I would never want to find myself in.

“That seems mean. Does your Mum know that there is one more person in the group,” I ask nervously.

I have never stood up to Poppy or questioned anything she says. The words simply flowed out of my mouth without a thought as to what the consequence will be.

“Who do you think you are saying that I am mean?” demands Poppy, pulling her arm away from mine, standing her ground, facing me directly.

“I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Then what did you mean Alexx?”

“I just thought maybe your Mum didn’t understand, that’s all.”

“Well she does and it is her rule.”

“Sorry Pop, I am really sorry,” I beg feeling as if any moment I will burst into tears only to have more people staring at us than the ones whose attention we already have.

Poppy’s anger has created unwanted attention for me but Poppy seems to thrive on it. She is in her element and I can see it in her eyes, they are sparkling from the attention.

She takes the moment the way an actress does when on the stage. Her voice loud and confident, her stance overwhelming, showing the audience she is the bigger person and she will sort out the argument. My shoulders slump as I sigh heavily, feeling defeated.

“It’s okay Alexx, I know you’re sorry. I shouldn’t have shouted at you, but you must understand this is not my fault.”

Looking towards the ground, unable to hold the piercing stare from Poppy any longer, I slowly nod.

“I know, I know.”

“Good, now that is clear I need to talk about my party,”

“Obviously this has to be a secret, I would HATE to hurt Roxie’s feelings.”

“Oh, yes a secret,” I say automatically, not thinking about the severity of the situation.

“So the rest of the girls know about it and you can talk to them but just not Roxie. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“Now you will need to bring a sleeping bag…”

Poppy continues to talk about her party and I nod where necessary and respond with a few ‘Ohh’ and “ahh” where required. I wasn’t really listening to anything she said. My mind was reeling over the situation I have been placed in.

Roxie has let me down recently by not understanding the secrets about my family. I still like her and I still want to be friends. I will never leave Roxie out, intentionally or not. I hate it when I am left out in any circumstance so why would I do the same thing to a friend.

When the twins came along, that is when I first experienced the feelings of being left out. It was difficult to compete against two little babies who are cute and noisy and demanding all at the same time.

Just when I would get Mum alone and we would snuggle together on the couch, book in hand for Mum to read to me, one of them would scream out. Mum never hesitated to leave me alone, stranded on the couch, the book thrown next to me, unloved, unread. Time passed and I would wait patiently for her to return. Some days she returned quickly with a sympathetic expression on her face, ready to attempt the storybook once again.

Other times I waited and waited for her to return but she never did. The screaming would continue, then stop, then start up again. When the noise finally subsided, Mum would forget I was waiting for her on the couch, still with the book, craving for some attention. I felt left out of the family, left alone to fend for myself while my sisters got everything they asked for.

Now at school the feelings of insecurity flow to the surface causing me to feel anxious. My body is reacting to the dilemma I find myself in, heart racing as if about to leap out of my chest. My hands begin to shake uncontrollably like I am standing naked in the ice cold snow. The blood is flowing around my body, pounding into my head, pounding into my stomach, pounding into my heart.

With the frantic chaos inside my body, I am like a duck floating on a pond. From the outside, everything seems calm, natural, without a care in the world. However under the surface it’s like a ducks webbed feet, frantically moving through the water, in chaotic motions.

This is making me feel out of control and I know I need to control my situation once again. I am going to go to Poppy’s slumber party as this is going to be the party of the year. I need to go to Poppy’s party for all the right reasons and perhaps some of the wrong reasons.

Roxie is my friend and I have to decide whether to tell her about Poppy’s party or not. I try to find a place deep within me, a place that can open me up and the answer comes flooding out.

 

If you want Alexx to tell Roxie about Poppy’s party, go to page 164.. 

Good friend….Bad friend…

 If you want Alexx to keep the secret about Poppy’s party, go to page 206…

Never tell the secret…

 

 

 

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