“Keeping Secrets” – Ch:18 – Good friend – Bad friend (3rd Storyline)

Good friend….Bad friend…

   It is times like today I wish school went on forever. I knew when the day ended Roxie will be waiting for me and the first of many questions will be asked, expecting an answer. An answer I won’t be able to give to her without causing distress.

Delaying the dreaded moment, I even offer to help Mrs Shore clean up after class. She is as shocked as I am when I offer as this is not something I normally do. When the bell rings I am usually one of the first to leave at such a speed, it’s like I will be rewarded for my effort.

Cleaning the white board, pushing in all the chairs, aligning each table with such perfection I feel like I have Chronic Neatness Disorder Syndrome. Time is something I have plenty of today. Unfortunately Mrs Shore is lacking in time as she kindly orders me to leave the classroom.

“Thanks Alexx but I think that is enough. I have a meeting and I am already late,” says Mrs Shore anxiously, directing me towards the door.

“I can lock up if you need me to,” I reply, pretending I can’t sense I am no longer wanted anymore.

“That’s lovely Alexx but I am not allowed to leave students in the rooms on their own. So please if you wouldn’t mind, I really need to lock up.”

Begrudgingly I leave the room and head back into the world I am trying to avoid. Looking at my bright pink watch Mum bought me from a trip to the South Melbourne market, it read 3.47. School has been out for seventeen minutes, which is definitely enough time for Roxie to ascertain that I am being held back for some reason.

Roxie would probably call me later tonight dying to know why I was held back at school. She will think I have detention for something and I can easily agree with her story. If she calls I will tell Mum I am not home, that my head is hurting after such a big day at school and I simply have no energy left to talk, even to Roxie. Perfect cover up. No one will know and I can gain precious time to decide how to handle this situation.

With a little more courage than I possess earlier in the day, knowing I will have more time to determine my fate, I head towards the school gate. Focusing straight ahead, my head glued in one position like a cheap plastic doll that doesn’t move, my eyes darting in every direction searching for Roxie.

Each step closer to the gates I start to breathe easier until I have inhaled too much cold afternoon air making me light headed. Roxie is nowhere within the school grounds so she must have gone home on her own.

The walk home is only short but long enough for me to realise I am on my own. I hear the wind twisting the leaves of the willow trees, sounding like a group of strangers talking, following me home. I shiver as goose bumps appear all over my body.

Dogs barking with severity it sounds as though they are trying to escape to savage the nearest meal – me. Cars constantly travel up and down Corule Boulevard but today there are none. No sign of life, nothing, nowhere.

Increasing my pace with each step, hoping to reach home before I scare myself silly, my imagination getting away from me.  With my house in sight and the noises growing louder, more dominant, I start to run the final hundred metres home.

Not watching where I am going, only focusing on the end result, conscious that I am over-reacting to my surroundings. By the time I see Roxie hiding in the far corner of my vision, it is too late to change my direction.

Breathing more heavily as I reach the blue letterbox with the golden sparrow, now frightened to face Roxie, forgetting all about the strange noises. Her face is blank, no emotion to determine her knowledge of any secret.

“Alexx, what happened to you after school? I waited but when you never showed I thought you must have gotten detention,” says Roxie, standing arms folded with her hands tucked into the sleeves of her hoodie to protect them from the increasing winds.

“No, no,” I huff, trying to contain my breathing to a normal rate.

“Did you run home?” laughs Roxie. “You looked buggered.

“Huh, huh, so funny,” I respond sarcastically, regaining a normal pattern of breathing.

The winds are blowing enough to gather all foreign objects lying on the ground, swirling them around. Distracting my concentration for a moment, I notice how easily the wind could control its surroundings. Something I wish I could do.

The willow trees move in the direction enforced by the winds. The beautiful light green pansies in Mrs McCormick’s yard almost appear to be lying flat on the freshly cut lawns from the force of the winds. The rubbish begins circling, creating small tornado like shape ready to attack.

If I can have one wish that will be it – to be able to control my surroundings. Secrets won’t be an issue because I will control who finds out and what the results will be. Worrying about other peoples feelings will no longer matter as I will control how they’d react. To be as strong as the wind!

“So did you?” asks Roxie again, tucking her hands deeper into the hoodie.

“Did I what?”

“Get detention? And run home?”

“No I didn’t get detention and no I didn’t run home, just walked really fast. I could see the winds coming up and I didn’t want to get caught in it,” I reply, hoping I have said enough to ease the curiosity.

“Where are you after school then?”

“Just helping out Mrs Shore clean the room after class, that’s all.”

My wavy dark blonde hair has become a distraction, a welcomed distraction blowing around in the wind. Trying to control my hair in the wind, I hold it off my face, annoyed by how out of control my hair and life is getting.

“Its getting bad out here, I’m going in,” I say.

Fire begins to burn in my belly, moving swiftly through out my body. I hate being placed in situations like this. I am angry with Roxie for not being invited. I am angry with Poppy for not inviting Roxie. I am angry they had placed me in this position.

It isn’t my fault Roxie’s not friendly enough to Poppy. That is the reason I believe she isn’t invited. The story about her Mum doesn’t sound right to me. No Mum would do that as much as I desperately want to believe it is true. Poppy is a brilliant liar but some some are too hard to believe.

“Have I done something wrong Alexx?”

“No,” I reply with my back to her unable to turn around.

“Then what? What is going on?”

“Nothing.”

“We have been friends for ages Alexx but you are behaving strangely. Why did Poppy just want to talk to you today? Not the rest of us.”

Innocently Roxie asks a simple question unaware of the enormity of my answer. The slumber party, the secret about the party, I have promised I will keep the secret but I have been fighting that decision all day.

The swirling of the winds feels like it has moved inside my body. Everything moving in all directions causing an over powering sensation of nausea. My heart is pumping, my blood is racing, my is mind pounding, my is stomach lurching, when will this all stop.

I run towards the deep purple shrubs that line the front of my house, creating the illusion of a fence. Bending over, forcing my face deep into the shrubs, attempting to hide if I throw up. As I hide my face between the shrubs, my stomach muscles tense uncontrollably trying to release its contents, unsuccessfully.

I can no longer hear the winds, the noise of my own body takes over. A firm hand is on my back, rubbing as I continue to heave behind the shrubbery.

“OMG, Alexx. Are you OK?”

Wiping my mouth on the sleeve of my school uniform, angry she is determined to put me through this, I stand up to face her. Her eyes are soft, concentrating hard on me, waiting to be given instructions. She is upset by my unnatural behaviour and unsure how to alleviate the problem.

Calmness takes over, easing the fire inside me. I will share this secret with Roxie, not because I want to, that is obvious, but because I need to for my own sake. I can’t be angry, mean or nasty. Calmness is the state required so deep breathing helps get me to that place.

“I’m fine Roxie.”

“Then why the…” Roxie couldn’t even bring herself to say the words.

“I think it’s my body’s way of telling me to let go,” I respond maturely.

It feels like I am having an outer body experience, like I have stepped outside of myself, standing next to me watching everything. I sound calm, the most calm I have been in weeks.

“Poppy is having a party Roxie, a slumber party this week end. That is what she wanted to tell me.”

“Oh, sounds like fun, but I don’t understand why…”

“Please Roxie, let me finish. She pulled me aside because everyone else knows about it but you. She is not inviting you to the party.”

Roxie stands, tilting her head to the side, analysing the information I have thrown at her. Like a lost child searching for her mother, Roxie’s expression is that of confused sorrow.

“You can blame her Mum Roxie,” I quickly add. “She said only four could be invited and Poppy needed to make a decision.”

“What have I ever done to her?” asks Roxie.

“Nothing, you have never done anything. It’s just numbers, I am sure it is just numbers.”

The pain I am causing my friend makes my stomach ache once more. Still trying to recover from before, I wrap my arms around my waist in an attempt to control the spasms. She is hurting, this emotion now expelling from her eyes rapidly.

“I knew she never liked me. I told you that but you didn’t believe me.”

“She does like you, it’s just…”

“NO,” screams Roxie making me jump from her unexpected out burst. “NO. She doesn’t like me and you know it. She is mean. I am not mean to her but she is always mean to me. You just refuse to see it.”

I stand in stunned silence, still wrapped in my arms afraid to move. Roxie’s sadness had evaporated into the winds, blown away rapidly. She is determined to let me know exactly how she feels.

“What did you say to Poppy when she said I wasn’t invited?”

“I told her is being mean and that she should invite you.”

Roxie replies only with a look, a look that tells me to continue talking.

“She said she couldn’t and that it is best to keep it a secret from you so you wouldn’t get hurt. I needed to tell you because you’re my friend and I knew you would find out sometime. I thought finding out later would be worse.”

“Are you going?” she asked.

Without thinking of the consequences, I automatically reply ‘yes’.

The anger and emotions roaring all around stop. The wind stops blowing making an eerie silence. The trees are no longer rustling, the rubbish lay quietly still on the ground, Mrs McCormick’s pansies sit bolt upright frozen back into position.

Roxie starred further into my eyes, searching for our friendship, a friendship that has been so important to both of us until recently. Secrets are tearing our friendship apart but I am unable to stop it, control it. With our eyes locked together, I try looking away but I no longer have the strength.

Her words are quiet and spoken with such dignity and such strength they are barely auditable.

“Thank you for being honest with me Alexx. I think it has been along time since you were honest with me. I would never treat my friends the way you have treated me.”

Roxie turns on her heels and walks away.

“But…”

Roxie stops and turns to face me with a look I have never seen before.

“I thought we are best friends, but you have made it very clear who you want to be friends with Alexx, and it’s not me. I hope you enjoy the party.”

With that Roxie disappears inside her house, leaving me standing on the front lawn still hugging my body. I am unable to move or comprehend what has just happened. Roxie knows the secret and she blames me for everything. All I want to do is go to a slumber party.

I want to expand my friendships and I had done that successfully. I want to move away from Roxie, just a little and I have managed that too. So I should actually be happy. I have everything I want.

However I’m not happy. Not even close. I feel empty inside as though I have lost more than I have gained. There is a gap inside me, a hole has been carved out and I ‘m not sure how to fill it.

“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…

 

 

 

“Keeping Secrets” – Family secrets boxed securely – 3rd storyline

Family secrets boxed securely….

 

The good times came flooding back to me. Mum, Dad and I, even Ella and Bree. Mum used to hold my hand all the time. It made me feel safe and special, the most important person in her life.

When I was scared mum would hold my hands lightly to warn the bad thoughts to leave. When I was happy, Mum would rock my hands back and forth as if dancing in the wind. When I was sad, Mum would gently cradle my little hands in hers, creating a protective force around me. When I was worried, Mum would caress each finger tenderly, removing the bad, angry, anxious feelings building in my mind.

At this moment it isn’t Mum holding my hand it is my friend, Roxie. Not just any old friend but my best friend. Roxie is there for me, always there for me. I shouldn’t be scared of keeping secrets from her. She will understand. Roxie always understands me, she is my best friend.

Best friends don’t always understand. When I told her about Ella and Bree, she didn’t understand. She always picks their side, not mine. She has a wonderful and gorgeous brother, not two annoying sisters, how could she understand?

My two annoying sisters are always ganging up on me and out to break my spirit. There is two of them. If Ella is in the mood to be a pain, Bree will usually follow suit. Then when Bree wants to annoy me, Ella copies.

I wake up and it all begins. At breakfast they argue over who is first to pick the cereal. It’s like they believe they must have exactly the same in everything they do. There is no choice in what each other may want.

“It’s my turn this morning Bree,” shouts Ella as she races to the pantry grabbing a box of corn flakes, knocking over the rice bubbles spilling its contents.

“No you picked yesterday,” replies Ella reaching for the fallen rice bubble box but never considering cleaning up the spillage.

“It is not you turn,” shouts Ella for the second time.

“Is too.”

“Is not.”

“Is too.”

“Is not.”

“Is too.”

“Mum,” screams Ella down the hall, “It’s my turn this morning but Bree won’t let me pick.”

“You’re such a baby,” responds Bree folding her arms pulling letting the rice bubbles fall to the ground once again.

“I am not a baby,” said Ella.

“Am too.”

“Am not.”

“Am too.”

“STOP, ” I shout with my hands over my ears hating my day already.

Every morning they do the same thing, say the same thing and fight over the same thing. It is like being in a bad movie and pushing rewind again and again and again.

When I tell Roxie about it as we walk to school, she nods her head but never understands. I know she thinks I am being a sook but she doesn’t live with them. It never stops. Between the twins and Mum and Dad arguing, it never stops in my house. I HATE IT.

Normally Mum drives the twins to school, my school. She says they’re too young to walk and also too slow. We will never get to school on time. Every now and then, when Mum has an appointment or something, they have to come with me. It is hell.

“Please girls,” said Mum in her most calm, controlling voice. “You need to listen to your sister this morning and follow her every instruction.”

“I can’t believe I have to take them to school,” I whinge dreading the walk to school.

“Oh Alexx, they are only little. Stop complaining. You know I have to be at the dentist early today.”

Focusing her attention once again on the twins, Mum kneels down in front of them, straightening their school uniforms. She always babies them and gives in to their annoying tantrums.

Mum never did this with me. I know she loves me but she loves the twins more. She needs me to help her all the time, do stuff and I always do it. Usually I don’t mind helping out but it feels like I am always helping and they never are.

“Listen girls, your sister is being kind enough to walk you two to school. I can’t have you misbehaving with her,” she says ignoring my complaints as usual.

“I will behave,” said Bree innocently smiling at Mum.

Bree always agrees with everything Mum says while Mum is there. As soon as she leaves the room, Bree turns from a beautiful angel to a horrible devil.

“So will I Mummy,” chimes in Ella, not wanting to be out done by her twin.

“Thank you my darlings. I knew I could rely on you two.”

“But Mum…” I begin until she raises her hand telling me in her own special way the discussion is over.

Annoyed and agitated, I leave the house, twins closely behind and wait for Roxie out the front. Even the waiting is infuriating. The twins constant bickering, play fighting, noises, they never stop. I am going insane and the day had only begun.

The twins hold hands with Roxie the entire way to school, listening to her every word and treating her like a Queen. Not once did they misbehave or need to be told off. They are being manipulative and it is grating on my nerves. Constantly looking back at me, as I am a pace behind the three of them, all the while giving me the look. The look that says ‘we have your friend and she is our friend now, hahaha.’

Roxie never sees any of it so when I complain to her she thinks I am crazy. She never agrees with me and never understands how devious the twins are. This disappoints me and affects our friendship.

If Roxie can’t understand just how painful it is to live with the twins, how is she ever going to understand my heart is breaking over Mum and Dad? Her parents are perfect, never fight, never argue. They are supportive with everything Roxie choses to do, never question her decisions.

Roxie is given the option to make her own decisions about her life. To show that she is grown up and can decide which direction her life heads. Mum doesn’t give me the same freedom but wants me to be grown up enough to baby-sit the twins. Life just isn’t fair sometimes.

 

“Alexx, Alexx,” says Roxie interrupting my thoughts. ‘Are you OK?”

Standing there in Roxie’s room, I feel exposed. I have no protection from the world, from my life. My life that is horrible and no one around me will ever understand or be able to fix it, including Roxie. I would be crazy to share my secret, to let Roxie in on my horrible little secret. As I glance around her room, I realise she won’t understand what I am going through, she can’t understand.

“I’m okay, I just..”

“What’s happened? You look awful, I mean really awful,” she said her concern is touching but now unnecessary.

“Oh thanks Roxie. That makes me feel even better,” I snap angrily.

“I didn’t mean to…”

“I know, I know you didn’t but you did and it doesn’t make me feel any better.”

“Well if you just tell me what’s wrong. Maybe I can help,” she says patiently.

“You wouldn’t understand,” I reply, trying to stall for time to come up with a better excuse.

I look around Roxie’s room all covered in pictures of football players and I know it is a big mistake to think Roxie will understand. Her life is so different to mine, how can she understand. She likes everything I don’t. Even the way she chose to decorate her room is complete opposite to mine.

She is a football fanatic and I hate the sport. Even her doona cover is football, with her team’s colours and logo. Yuk! There is nothing pink at all in this room, including in her closet. Roxie and I can never swap clothes because she often likes to dress in boy like stuff.

This never bothered me until now, right now when I am deciding to share my secret. Looking around I realise this is the wrong person to share my secret with, even if she is my best friend.

“I can’t try to understand if you don’t tell me what’s wrong,” says Roxie. “Did you fight with the twins again?”

“Umm, yes, that’s it,” I quickly reply. I knew then I couldn’t share my secret.

“What did they do now?” Roxie responds mockingly.

“Just the usual but I didn’t sleep very well last night so I am tired and grumpy and, well you know,” I say to cover myself with any viable excuse.

“I’ve told you, you need to learn to ignore them.”

Realising I have made a big mistake coming here to confide in Roxie, I tune out on everything she says. I could see her lips moving and know there are words coming out but I don’t hear anything. I don’t want to hear anything.

As Roxie talks, the pains in my stomach slowly developed from a dull ache to unbearable. My stomach is twisting and turning, pulling every part in opposite directions. The intensity of the pain makes me perspire everywhere, drops rolling down my forehead. Clutching my stomach, I scream with the intensity until I can’t take the pain anymore.

Nothing. Silence. Blackness. In Roxie’s room I have fainted.

The comfort of my own bed, my own bedroom, my possessions. My head is sore, intensely throbbing. Barely able to open my eyes, a soft delicate shadow is towering over me, protecting me. A cool face washer on my head, Mum’s comforting voice whispering in my ear. Unable to move, I lay in bed confused with everything around me still hazy.

“Hi darling, you’re back with us.”

Struggling to keep my eyes open, I can barely make out Mum’s silhouette but the voice is undeniably hers. It is like lying on a bed of clouds with the beautiful angels flying around whispering words of comfort and guidance. Dream like atmosphere, very gentle as I drift back off to sleep.

Hours later I wake again but this time not as heavenly. Voices surrounding me, all talking, screeching, pounding into my head. The throbbing inside hasn’t eased, only intensified. A light penetrating my eyes causes me to squint as I try rolling over to my stomach to get away from the light.

“Alexx, its Mum. Wake up darling.”

“Alexx, its Dr Haine. I need you to try to open your eyes for me.”

Both are rolling me over to be on my back. Confused at the invasion of my sleep, I fight to stay on my stomach, facing the pillow, stopping any invasion.

“Leave me alone. Go away,” I scream angrily.

“Alexx, the doctor is here because he needs to check you are alright. You fainted at Roxie’s house.”

Still struggling between where I want to be and where they need me to be until the words actually sank into my head – I had fainted at Roxie’s house. Taking my mind back, all I could recall was the immense pain I had felt. The stabbing pain in my stomach felt like I was being carved into little pieces.

Fainting isn’t too uncommon for me. I have low blood pressure and this can make my body simply shut down when it needs to protect itself. The worse part about fainting isn’t actually my mind blacking out, I never remember that part. It is the fall. That is when I have really hurt myself and suffer for days.

It began not long after the twins were born, so I must have been around five years old when Mum went out the backyard and found me lying there on the grass. I had been playing around the babies, trying to make them laugh at me, trying to gain some attention. When BANG… I recall Mum screaming at me with such fiery anger shocking back to life.

All of a sudden I had all the attention I wanted. Doctors came and went, desperately trying to diagnose my condition. Specialists were seen, some I can’t even pronounce what their jobs were. Mum was by my side constantly and Dad pampering his little, now girl.

This began the period when I fainted often and for no real reason. I wasn’t sick, I wasn’t unhealthy but I fainted. Finally doctors told my parents I had low blood pressure but they also believed I was able to faint whenever it suited me. The specialists informed them that I did this for attention and recommended I see another specialist.

I remember loving the attention I got when I fainted. I was willing to put up with the pain in order to be the centre of everyone’s world, even for moment. The worse part was hitting my head when I fell. The extreme pain lasted for days like your head is being squashed by a vice and about to explode.

Allowing Mum to lead me, I move to where I can be checked for injuries. Reaching up to protect my head from the intense noise, I scream at the pain. The pain is not only in my head, it had travelled to my stomach, ripping me in two.

My fainting had happened from the pain, the agony Mum and Dad’s fighting was causing. There is no one around to protect me from the hurt, I am drowning in it. No one can understand it intensity and no one ever will. This secret is deep inside and that is where it will remain locked away.

“Is she alright doctor?” Mum enquires with trepidation as it had been awhile since I had placed her in this situation.

“Let me check her over properly before I comment but she appears to be fine,” replies Dr Haine.

“I’m here baby,” whispers Mum, leaning down as close to me as the doctor will allow.

When the personal invasion past and the doctor finally gave the all clear that I will be fine, silence falls upon my world. The penetrating lights are removed, the voices cease and calmness falls again. Only external calmness as internally my world is distressed. Nothing is as it should be and no one can get me back to where I want to be. Free of all the anger, all the hate, all the anxiety.

In and out of sleep, confusion of whether it is day or night as everything around is darkened. Each time the sleep leaves, the tension arrives to attack my head,  and my body drifts back to sleep where the tension no longer finds me.

I wake to a tender touch, lovingly caressing my head. The touch eases the pounding somewhat allowing me to open my eyes. Mum is sitting by me, always sitting by me, confused at my appearance.

“Hi Alexx, how are you feeling?”

“My head still really hurts and my stomach,” I murmur in a weak voice.

“Here have some water and I will get you something small to eat.”

“I’m not hungry.”

That is the last thing I feel like doing, is putting food into the centre of the stabbing pains. It would be like mixing sweets with vegetables, they simply are not meant to play together.

“I know but the doctor said you will need lots of water when you wake and something little in your tummy.”

I groan, trying to fight her request but knowing she will follow the instructions left by the doctor.

Surprisingly, after eating a little toast with jam, the pain eases a little. My head is worse and every time I try to lift it off the soft pillow, I feel dizzy and frightened I will fall again, causing more damage.

“Do you remember what happened?”

“I was at Roxie’s.”

“Yes you were at Roxie’s and she said you are upset from something but didn’t tell her. The next thing she knew you had fainted and hit your head hard on the side of her bed.”

“Well I don’t remember that bit.”

“Of course you don’t darling but why are you upset. What has happened?”

“I can’t remember.”

Mum’s eyes search mine for the truth. She always knows when we weren’t telling the truth. It is a mother thing. I had been hiding the truth for so long now, keeping secrets from her she will never see through the lie.

“Hopefully in the morning, after you have had lots of rest, you will remember what had upset you so much.”

“Maybe. Did I say anything to Roxie?” I ask hoping I haven’t shared my secret with her and forgotten.

Roxie will never understand and neither will Mum. She will see through it all and think that maybe it is partly my fault they fight all the time. I know it is because of me that Mum and Dad hate each other. I can’t have that responsibility on my shoulders.

“No, Roxie is so upset that she let you fall. She blames herself for you hurting your head. Call her tomorrow and let her know you are going to be fine.”

I nod.

“Sleep tight. If you need anything just call.”

I nod again.

“I am here for you Alexx. If you need to talk about anything, anything. I love you.”

“I love you too Mum,” I respond automatically as I roll away from her so she can’t see the tears beginning to well up in my eyes.

I know Mum loves me but I can’t risk the love by telling her about how I feel. Roxie is to blame for my situation. If she was the friend I need, the friend I want to trust, then this would never have happened. Resenting Roxie for not understanding, I drift back into sleep determined to keep my secret.

 

 

 

“Keeping Secrets” – Ch:15 – A Fresh Start (2nd storyline)

A fresh start…..

I have heard some people say that time heals all wounds but I am lucky. I don’t need time to heal the wounds I caused Roxie. She never left my side and stayed a true friend all along. I still wonder whether I could be as caring and understanding as she is with me.

Getting ready for school, I feel a happiness I haven’t felt in a long time. The happiness stems from my friends, Roxie and Sam. Every morning I walk to school with Roxie as usual but now Sam joins us. We wait for her to catch up from further down the street and the three of us proudly go to school together as one solid friendship. I feel secure in being me, knowing it is because I have real, true friends.

There are no secrets, no hidden messages, no nasty attitudes. If Sam has something to say, we listen. If Roxie wants to play a different game at lunchtime, we agree. If I need a shoulder to cry on they are there for me.

I think I even notice a change in Brendon towards me. He will always walk with us to school but never talks to us or asks me any questions. When I watch him play football he will say ‘Hi’ but that is the extent of our relationship.

Now Brendon asks me how I am going or what is happening in my life. I have even seen him look in my direction, smiling showing his beautiful dimple and only turning away when our eyes meet. It makes my heart race and as usual my body reacts in the worst possible way. I think he likes me, really likes me.

 

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“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.

“Keeping Secrets – Ch.12 – Pain pain go away (2nd Storyline)

Pain pain go away….

“See you tomorrow Alexx,” says Bella, skipping as she leaves the school ground, heading for home to enjoy the weekend’s slumber party.

“See you Bella,” I reply, waving slowly concentrating on whether Roxie is close enough to hear the conversation.

The day has almost arrived. I only have to survive the walk home and then I can avoid Roxie for the remainder of the weekend. Every time Roxie and I are alone, there is a constant reminder that she isn’t sharing in this part of my life. We are all friends but with the obvious exclusion of Roxie I am one of them and Roxie isn’t.

I am fooling myself to believe this friendship is real, that we are all friends and that Poppy’s Mum did set the rules for the party. We are keeping this secret from Roxie to protect her from getting hurt. I want so much to believe this story but too much of this story is hard believe.

Roxie often says she isn’t really part of the group. The girls accept her most of the time and that’s only because of our friendship. This creates mixed emotions for me, both of excitement to be liked by friends so much and horror that friends could actually treat people with such contempt.

I try to decide whether to leave the school now while Roxie is nowhere to be seen, making an excuse I thought she must have already left, or behave as I if there is no conspiracy and wait by the gates as we always do.

Before I get a chance to make the decision, it is made for me when Roxie comes running out of the toilet block, heading towards me. She seems a little pale, her eyes narrow and confused, as if she has something on her mind.

“Hey, Roxie, Are you alright?”

Roxie hesitates. Maybe she is sick and can’t find the energy to speak. Some times being sick is a good thing. You get to stay in bed all day, reading books, listening to music, watching movies and eating junk. Mum never lets me stay home unless she thinks I am about to die and even then she will hesitate.

“Yeah, I’m alright, just the umm, toilets, they stink.”

“I know what you mean. I went in there when lunch ended and I thought someone had died, it’s foul,” I reply, relieved the conversation is about anything but the weekend.

“Well you would have thought boys had been in there the way it stinks. It’s just gross.”

“Yeah gross.”

“Super gross,” laughs Roxie.

As we head home, walking in silence, my head concentrates intensely on each step. With each step I am closer to home and further from sharing the secret.

“Alexx, I think something is going on with Poppy,” says Roxie disrupting my concentration. “I over heard some girls talking in the toilets before.”

Oh no, I have been caught, it is all about to unfold. Roxie knows and she is about to put me right in the centre of it.

“Huh,” is the extent of my vocal intelligence.

“When I was in the toilet before, I heard some girls saying they wished they were invited to Poppy’s slumber party and how cool it would be and stuff.”

“Ohh, not really sure, maybe Bella is sleeping over and you know how Bella can be, talk,talk,talk,” I respond so quickly I am unsure if any of it even made any sort of sense.

It feels like Roxie is looking right through me, deep into my soul. I try to blank out any thoughts I have on the party just in case she can actually read my mind.

Shrugging her shoulders, happy with my response, not concerned about Poppy and whether she is part of her social life, Roxie says, “Yeah, maybe she is just having Bella to sleep and people think it is some big party.”

As my house comes into view, each step taking me closer to the beginning of the end of this secret, I feel as though I am doing something against the law. Immense guilt floods over me, surging through my veins. The guilt pounds into my stomach like I have been punched in the belly, making me bend over in agony.

Not realising the two could possibly be related in any way, my immediate thought is that I am coming down with something. I am going to sick like I have wished for sometimes, but not on the weekend and not when I have a slumber party to attend.

“What’s wrong Alexx?” asks Roxie, with a concerned look ready to run for help.

“I don’t know, I have pains in my stomach,” I say still bending over breathing heavily to stop the sensation of vomiting.

“Do you want me to grab your Mum?”

“No, no, just wait. I’ll wait to see if it goes away,” I reply hastily, not wanting mum involved.

If Mum becomes involved then that will be the end of my weekend and that is not an option. I am going to this party even if I am really sick. I no longer care about anything  else but going to this slumber party.

“Alexx are these the same pains you get when your parents fight?” asks Roxie curiously.

“Not sure,” I manage to say.

“They seem the same. Is every thing okay at home?”

I nod, now panting a little heavier.

“If you want you can stay at my house this weekend, to get away from your parents. I will ask Mum. She won’t mind.”

With the pain still surging through me, the blood pumping hard in my head is causing a headache. Roxie has asked me over for the weekend. Normally I would love to so I can get away from the arguing or the twins. I don’t need to run away from home this time, I need to run away from Roxie. For a moment I contemplate telling Roxie about the party. A good friend would do that.

If Roxie knows then I won’t be able to go and I desperately want to go. This party is so important on the ‘social calendar’ for the year. The most popular girl is having me at her party, it would be wrong to not accept the invitation.

I am certain, well almost certain that if the roles were reversed that Roxie would go and not tell me. She knows I would understand that this is a life changing party, one not to be missed. If I understood then so too would Roxie.

“Thanks Roxie but things at home haven’t been too bad lately,” I lie.

“Oh that’s really good,” replies Roxie, genuinely elated by the news. “Did you say something to your Mum like we discussed.”

Once again I nod, feeling like a trap door will open up and swallow me into its darkness full of lies. The words continue to flow from within me, the lies, the untruths. It is never ending the amount of lies one person can tell.

With lies come secrets and with the secrets come the pains. The connection between the two I have denied, not wanting to believe the two are related, but standing outside my house with my body fighting me, my mind screaming at me and my friend consoling me, the two clearly go together like cheese and crackers.

Lying to people is not a natural behaviour of mine. Some people lie easily, the stories becoming more elaborate with each telling. I use to be afraid to lie, especially to Mum and Dad.

I remember Mum pulling me aside, talking in a soft convincing voice that if I was asked about my age, I had to say I was only 4 years old. The movies are free for kids under 5 years old but this information is something I didn’t quite understand at the time. I had only just turned five and I was extremely proud of being so old.

I wasn’t questioned on my age. No one even looked down at me or the twins who were strapped in the stroller. I remember being nervous, believing my parents would get in trouble with the police for telling a lie. I didn’t want them to be taken away to jail. I didn’t know how to look after the twins. I didn’t WANT to look after the twins.

As we walked into the movie theatre, I burst into tears, shaking all over. Dad picked me up in his strong, comforting arms to console me, confused with my reaction to a movie that hadn’t begun showing yet. I spent the entire movie huddled on Dad’s lap, not letting him out of my site for fear the police would be taking him away for lying.

The fear this instilled in me never really left but now I didn’t have the comfort of Dad’s lap. I am too old for that and I know I have to own the decisions I make, but the fear remains deep inside, the fear develops into a darkness that intensifies with each lie, each deceit.

“I gotta go,” I shout as I run towards my house leaving Roxie stunned.

“What about staying over,” I hear Roxie screaming back but I pretend not to hear her, waving my hand to hide my true feelings.

 

 

“Keeping Secrets – Ch.11 – Darkness (2nd storyline)

Darkness…

The heat is beading onto my tanned golden skin, warming each part of my body from the inside out. The soft sand sifts through my fingers, each grain falling delicately to the ground below. My eyes are closed, my thoughts are empty as my head rests sleepily on a towel, every muscle relaxed. The calmness of the waves, trickling up to the shore then back out to sea, a continuous act of nature seeping into my conscious thoughts.

Summer time is my favourite time of the year. Swimming all day, playing outside in the warmth, staying up late as the sun wants to stay out and play too. Roxie runs towards me, water dripping off her shoulder length hair making her look older and more mature than anyone our age.

I begin to laugh at the sight of her bathers, olive green board shorts with a yellow rash top entirely covered in white skull heads. As I continue to giggle, her elated expression leaves turning into anger.

A heavy dark cloud moves swiftly overhead, covering the beautiful sunlight, taking the warmth and replacing it with a terrifying chill.

Her face reddens, her eyes turn black like she is possessed by a devil like creature. She speaks only it isn’t her voice. It is the voice of hatred threatening me, scaring me by their words. I try leaping from my towel to run away from her, run from the darkness. I can’t move, my body is locked to the ground, trapping me in a helpless position.

Scream, let me scream. My voice won’t let me scream. The more I try to move the more the sand captures me, pulling me deeper down.

“Arrhhh,” I scream, as I wake from my nightmare.

My voice wavers, my hands shake, still picturing Roxie’s evil face. I am awake and safe in my sanctuary, my bedroom with my possessions and my voice. My body is soaked from the nightmare, still shaking from what it has experienced. The coolness of the night air surrounding my soaking skin makes me shiver uncontrollably.

The darkness has followed me into my dreams. As I lay awake regaining the knowledge that it is only a dream, I begin to wish this party never existed. It is haunting me, during the day I feel the anger, the darkness surround my every move and now at night, while my body relaxes, the darkness haunts me.

 

 

“Keeping Secrets” – Ch:9 -‘A new beginning’

A new beginning….

I hang up the phone feeling a warm glow inside. The conversation is a simple one with many friendly words exchanged and both sides definitely on the same side. Building a new friendship takes time and commitment from both people, with a genuine interest in each other. I am committed more than I ever thought possible.

Many times in the past it has been all about me. To play the friendship game, it needs to also be about the other person. Even though I am nearly a teenager, I am still learning how to be a friend. It is important to truly listen, trust in my friend, trust in myself and not to keep secrets. Keeping secrets can create pain, more pain than is necessary.

The doorbell rang and I hear the twins racing each to answer it first. The continual competition between them usually got on my nerves but not today.

Sam has voiced her opinion on the phone, not about anything too serious but she actually voiced her own opinion. I feel comfortable with our friendship as I think it is a true friendship, one that will grow into a forever friendship.

“Alexx, Alexx, it’s for you”, scream Bree. “It’s your boyfriend.”

By the time I am standing at the front door, face to face with Brendon, my embarrassment has peaked, resulting in hot beetroot red face, sweaty palms and a complete loss for words. Little sisters have to be the most annoying people in the entire world but I wasn’t going to make it worse by screaming like a lunatic in front of Brendon.

“Hi Alexx,” says Brendon, actually looking a little embarrassed.

His face wasn’t as red as mine, more like a soft peach colour. He stands with his arms folded in front of his body as if protecting himself against my manic little sisters, who are watching.

“Go away girls,” I demand as nicely as possible. Silently we stand in front of each other until the twins finally leave us alone.

“Umm, hi Brendon,” I say, looking towards the ground at my foot, making a figure eight trying to talk my body into relaxing just a little.

“I wanted to come over to say thank you,” he says, unfolding his arms, obviously relaxing now that the twins have left and it’s only us.

“For what?” I ask curiously, finally lifting my head to connect with his dark brown eyes.

“You have been so cool with Roxie. She told me everything. How you stuck up for her and how great she thinks you are.”

“Oh….well she is my friend.”

“Yeah I know but I know what girls like Poppy are like and I just wanted to thank you. I think you’re pretty cool too.”

His hands pull me towards him, strong but delicate. With such urgency his lips met mine, lock with mine for the first time. I allow him to lead me, direct me in my first kiss. His lips are so tender as they touch mine. So sweet his scent, a smell I have never experienced and will never forget. As swiftly as the kiss began, the kiss ends. I am mesmerised, lost in the moment, feeling dizzy from overwhelming excitement I am experiencing.

The boy I have wanted to share my first kiss with has given me my wish. I stare at him as he turns to leave, nothing else to say, no words could invade my thoughts at this moment. The moment has passed in reality but I stand, waiting by the door, waiting for the moment to pass from my body.

Every hair is electrified, standing on end causing my body to tingle. Every thought racing through my mind is happy, wonderful, in a place I want to remain forever. I am growing up and my life is being controlled by me. The decisions I have made are my own decisions – good or bad and I am beginning to realise I have to own them. This is the best consequence from my decision to be a true and loyal friend.

The time has presented itself without my controlling. I know now is the perfect time to open up to Mum and Dad with my inner thoughts. I can’t keep up the act anymore that their arguing is okay. It isn’t okay with me and I need to have this matter sorted out and now is a perfect time.

As my mind floats back from the clouds where Brendon has left me, my body goes in to automatic mode. My courage is stable, my confidence restored and my ability in always being the person I want to be at its peak, the time is now.

“Mum”, I shout down the hallway, “I need to talk to you. It’s very important.”

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“Keeping Secrets” – Ch:8 -‘Accepting my words’

Accepting my words…

 It feels like the first day at school, surrounded by nervous energy, heading into the unknown, unsure whether I will be liked at school, afraid of everything. Afraid whether I have a good teacher or a horrible teacher. Afraid if I have anyone in my class I actually know enough to ask if I can sit next to them. Afraid to ask to go to the toilet and then afraid I wont be able to find them.

Even with this anticipation, I loved my first day at school. I had woken early and dressed in my school uniform, waiting for breakfast before the sun had even decided to come up to shine.

It wasn’t until I had been at school for some time that I began to lose my confidence and my ability to tackle any challenge thrown in my direction. I started to doubt who my friends were, who liked me and who didn’t. I began to watch what I said just in case it sounded stupid and everyone would laugh at me.

The confusion between right and wrong was often blurred until I only saw what I wanted to see and I only showed people what I wanted them to see. The realisation of the type of person I had become was recent, some parts I liked, others I disliked. It was not too late to change what I disliked as I had to live with myself forever. I deserve to be the REAL me.

I avoid everyone for first half of the day, staying away from my locker and hanging out at the library at recess. No one except Roxie will suspect anything, even though it appears obvious to me.

Secretly I am hoping that everything will work out and we can all remain great friends. I will talk to Poppy about her party; she will agree enthusiastically she was wrong to not include Roxie. Poppy will announce that she has been immature and behaved poorly and will apologise to Roxie in front of everyone. Group hugs, laughing, giggling, crying between friends, and the slumber would happen but with the six of us, all happy and closer than ever.

I was kidding myself, I know that but there is no harm in dreaming, wishing for a happy ending. If I don’t believe it can never come true. As much as I wish, believe, even pray for this happy ending, I am also a realist. Life isn’t like a fairy tale with a happy ending. Life isn’t like the books I love to read where everything always turned out okay.

Sometimes in life hard decisions need to made, even when the ending isn’t going to be a good one, but it is going to be the right one.

As the lunchtime bell sounds, echoing in my mind I have no choice but to be ready. I have built myself up into a nervous wreck all day now it is time to let it out. I’d planned to meet Roxie first near the grade six classrooms around the back of school rather than the lockers so we could walk over to the group together. If I don’t have Roxie with me I will have crumbled.

“Are you sure you want to do this here?” asks Roxie, seeing the stress I am under.

I nod, unable to get the words out, preparing carefully what I want to say. I have thought about calling Poppy after school instead of facing her, but my conscious insists I need to do it face to face. I need to prove to Roxie just how much her friendship means to me.

In the distance I can see Poppy laughing with Bella, flicking her perfect golden hair back unaware of my impending attack. As the distance between us decreases, I hear Jo telling the girls to be quiet as Roxie is coming. This only makes Poppy laugh with even more enthusiasm, clearly enjoying the game she is playing. The only person who appears uncomfortable about this situation is Sam, neither joining in nor standing out.

“Hi girls,” I say nervously, butterflies racing around inside.

“Hey..Hi…Hello…” replies the girls talking over each other.

“What’s happening?” I ask to ease into the conversation.

“Not much,” says Bella with a little giggle.

“Absolutely nothing,” says Jo, following Bella with a giggle.

Sam says nothing, not wanting to be involved.

“Yeah, pretty boring around here,” chimes in Poppy, not giggling but glaring directly at me, sensing something is wrong.

I catch my breathe from the intensity of her gaze, catching me off guard. She is ascertaining what the situation is, trying to see if I am still on her side or whether I have broken my promise to her. Fear begins growing in the pit of my stomach, a fear of getting on the wrong side of this girl.

Taking a deep breath, I turn my attention to Roxie for encouragement, my mouth open and I can’t stop what is flowing out.

“Poppy, I wont be coming to your slumber party on the weekend.”

“What party are you talking about Alexx?” Poppy replies innocently, terrifyingly calm.

“You don’t have to hide it anymore Poppy, I have told Roxie all about it. I don’t like what you are doing to Roxie. She is our friend and I think you have been mean not to invite her.”

Roxie stands close by my side so I can feel her arm trembling. She is not nervous, more petrified of Poppy. Feeling this reaction and the trauma Roxie is going through actually gives me strength, concreting my decision is the right one.

“It is my party Alexx and I will invite who I want to invite. Plus, I told you, it is my Mum who said I couldn’t have her to my house,” says Poppy, standing up to face me eye to eye.

The rest of the group also stand to attention, like soldiers heading off to war. One by one, the girls stand behind their leader, facing the enemy, the enemy being Roxie and I.

“I don’t believe you Poppy, your Mum would have allowed you to have one more if you asked,” I reply with conviction in my voice.

“Who do you think you are Alexx, ” hisses Poppy.

“I know who I am and I’m not a mean person. I don’t like leaving my friends out and I don’t like being nasty. That’s why I told Roxie.”

“Well you are being mean and nasty to me and the rest of your friends,” says Poppy looking around to Bella and Jo for support. As good soldiers are trained to do, they nod their heads never once taking their focus off me.

“No I disagree; I am being a good friend to Roxie. If you girls are being good friends you would agree with me and stick up for Roxie.”

Silence.

“How would you like this done to you?” I ask.

Silence.

On one side Roxie and I stand, banning together trying to stand strong, supporting each other. Size doesn’t count but it certainly makes you feel like it counts when your size is much smaller. On the other side stands Poppy – front and centre as expected with her obedient soldiers Bella, Jo and Sam backing her up by simply being there.

“Huh, it would never happen to me, surely you know that,” Poppy states folding her arms across her chest. “Everyone loves me you see. I would have to be the most popular girl at school and to be friends with me makes you popular too. Everyone wants to be popular, don’t they?”

Poppy can read my thoughts and my secrets. She has known all along my desire to be like her, an identical version of Poppy.

“I use to think that but now all I want is good friends. I am hoping we can still be friends,” I say, wishing on a dream that never really exists.

Poppy burst out laughing, catching the attention of a group of boys passing by kicking a soccer ball. The three boys stop their game to focus on the scene happening in the playground.

“Friends, you really want to be friends Alexx?” shouts Poppy, excited by the attention, trying to embarrass me in front of more people.

“Of course we still want to be friends. We could say this is simply a misunderstanding,” I reply, trying desperately to sound confident and stand my ground.

“The only way we could still be friends is if you are no longer friends with her,” hisses Poppy, pointing viciously towards Roxie. ‘I don’t like tomboys Alexx and that is exactly what Roxie is, a boy. She should be playing with boys not us. We are girls, pretty girls and she is, an ugly looking boy.”

Poppy’s true feelings have finally been released. She doesn’t like Roxie and apparently never had. Roxie had told me this but I always ignored her saying how silly and untrue the comments were. They were true. Frozen on the spot and lost for words, I have nothing to say in return.

If I join in the name calling, I will look as bad, if not worse than Poppy. However saying nothing and looking like a stunned rabbit frozen in place by the headlights on a car will look worse. Poppy will come out of this even more popular and I will be banished to loserville.

“From an ugly boy”, interrupts Roxie, surprisingly calm, “I wouldn’t change anything about me. I have a wonderful friend in Alexx and she likes me for who I am. Not for who she wants me to be.”

Silence.

I look towards Roxie grinning, impressed by her confidence, instinctively throwing up my hand in the air to high five. I don’t care if we have won the fight. All that matters is that we have kept our dignity and our friendship. I feel like a mother duck, proud and so protective of her little ducklings. We manage to defend ourselves against the enemy – our friends – and still come out alive.

The atmosphere is electric and contagious. The three boys come over to join in on the high fiving, only attracting more and more kids into the circle. Roxie and I are now centre stage, exactly where we should be while Poppy, Sam, Bella and Jo are pushed further and further to the outer.

Poppy turns on her heels to leave, huffing at the overwhelming scene of support against her. Automatically Bella and Jo follow like well trained puppy dogs never leaving the side of their owner. As the three moved further away, Sam waits on the side, watching the commotion surrounding Roxie and I while constantly checking if Poppy or Jo or Bella have noticed she is yet to move.

Sam isn’t like the others in looks or personality. Sam has a sweetness in her appearance and attitude. Her short blonde hair cut neatly around her face is perfect for fashion magazines and way too daring for me. This daring attitude flows through to her glasses, hot pink and purple, which suited her pale skin and alluring green eyes. She wore simple dresses and always looks elegant.

Sam rarely made a stand against anyone, especially her circle of friends. She is the type of person who can easily get lost in the crowd simply because she never allows herself to stand out of the group. If everyone says YES, she would say yes. If everyone wants to wear red, she will wear red. If there are two different choices, often Sam stays neutral, neither agreeing nor disagreeing until the choices merge into one decision.

As Roxie and I celebrate our small victory with everyone, I notice Sam has not joined Poppy and the rest of the group. Watching Sam taking in the festive scene, she shows neither a willingness to congregate with us or a desire to distance herself further. Pushing my way through the madness that has evolved like a soccer world cup series has just been won by the underdog, I approach Sam with trepidation.

“I’m sorry if I have ruined everything we all had,” I speak loudly trying to be heard over the noise.

‘No, please don’t be sorry. I think what you have done is wonderful. You are so brave,” replies Sam.

“Thanks Sam but I’m not brave. I was so scared actually.”

“Scared, you. No way. I could never stick up for myself in front of Poppy. I would be afraid of her hating me, or worse still telling everyone what a nerd I am.”

“Well I am exactly like you but then I realised what I was doing to Roxie, she is my friend, my best friend. I just did it. Roxie would have stuck up for me if the roles are reversed.”

“You’re right Alexx, but I still could never do it,” Sam responds looking around to see if she is being watched. “I better go and find the others.”

Reaching out I touch Sam’s arm, hoping to tell her without words that I am her friend, always. In so many ways Sam is exactly like me. Scared to be who she really wants to be and desperately trying to fit in to a crowd she thinks are her friends.

“If you ever want to hang out with us, Roxie and I, we will never say no,” I say as she moves away heading back to the comfort of what she had always known.

With the crowd slowly dispersing, the festivities fading away, Roxie and I remain there standing where it had all began. The unknown is surrounding me with a new chapter in my life about to begin. I don’t know what to expect with school, friends, happiness but all I know is the only common factor is Roxie. We will move in the same direction with each other as support.

 

 

“Keeping Secrets” – Ch:7 – ‘Facing the Consequences’

Facing the consequences..

As I hang up the phone to Roxie, the butterflies are back in my stomach. To say I am nervous doesn’t even come close. I haven’t been this nervous since the day I was dared to go up to a group of boys at school and kiss Tommy McLinde on the cheek. I thought I was brave when I accepted the dare but once I reached Tommy, whose shorter than me and he was looking up innocently unaware, the nervous butterflies arrived in the thousands. I almost ran away but when I turned around to see if my friends were watching, all I could see was Poppy with hands on her hips saying there is no way I would go through with it.

I kissed Tommy then ran away from everyone. My face was beetroot red, the butterflies had multiplied further and I thought I was going to be sick from nerves. So I ran to hide my embarrassment while trying to gain my composure back.

We often played truth or dare at school, laughing the entire time at the silly requests put forward. Most times truth was chosen but the answer had to remain a secret between us. The dares were mainly saying something to someone, playing a funny trick on someone in the playground but the kiss, well that was the first time and I had to get it. Never again would I pick dare.

Roxie is on her way over unaware of what she is walking into. It is a shame to ruin such a good day I had with Mum and the twins, but this needs to be done. All day Roxie was on my mind, through-out the movie while eating popcorn, over cheesy nachos, even when I tried on a lilac and white top with embedded fake diamonds around the collar, I thought of Roxie.

I knew Mum noticed my eyes in the morning, a little puffy and hazy. She reached for my hand most of the day, letting me know without words that she supports my decision. Mum let me know I was doing the right thing, I was a good friend.

“Come in Roxie,” I say without emotion as I hear her knock at my bedroom door.

I have my back to the door, knowing I have to face Roxie but still trying to control the butterflies. I pretend to be concentrating hard on re-arranging all my earrings into the right place in my jewellery box as Roxie walks, in happiness beaming out of her.

“Hi Alexx, did you have a good day with your Mum and the twins?”

“Yeah it was cool fun,” I reply, playing with the jewellery box.

“Well you’re lucky, I did nothing today. Brendon played footy but miles away and he went with friends so I couldn’t even go to that. I was glad when you called. I couldn’t get over here quick enough.”

Roxie keeps talking, most of which I barely take in. The courage I had built up all day is now breaking down. I’m not sure if I can actually go through with it. I will break Roxie’s heart. I am going to make her feel like a loser, someone who has no friends except me. Even then I haven’t been a good friend at all.

“Oh that’s good,” I respond automatically, still not paying attention.

‘Are you OK Alexx?” asks Roxie, realising the conversation had been very one sided.

“Yeah, fine.”

“OMG, did you say something to your Mum about their fighting,” asks Roxie.

As I turn around in the chair to look at Roxie standing innocently behind me, I realise she is still more concerned about me than I deserve.

“Umm, no I haven’t said anything to Mum. I’m not ready to.”

“Oh I thought you must have, you seem unhappy,” replies Roxie.

After taking a deep breath and looking directly into my friend’s eyes, the courage comes flooding back like a high priority email appearing in your inbox, needing urgent attention.

“Roxie I need to talk to you about Poppy’s party.”

“Cool a party,” responds Roxie excitedly moving to sit on the edge of my bed. “When is it?”

“Next weekend actually and it is a slumber party.”

“Oh, so soon, she hasn’t given us much time to organise our stuff.”

“Yeah well she told us a few days ago,” I reply waiting to see if Roxie will put the rest of the story together. When she looks at me blankly I know I have to tell her the full story.

“I’m sorry Roxie but Poppy hasn’t invited you,” I say nervously fingering my jewellery.

“What, what do you mean?” asks Roxie confused.

“Poppy has invited me, Sam, Bella and Jo to her slumber on Saturday night but she said she is only allowed ask four people. So she couldn’t ask you.”

“Ohh” says Roxie sadly, realising the enormity of the situation.

Roxie’s eyes stay glued on me, waiting to hear the reason why she has been left out. It is like she is looking into my soul, determining whether it is good or bad and what type of friend I am. Part of me wishes she will look away and not see the real me. I don’t want her to realise that I am not a worthy friend.

Another part of me wishes she will cry, scream, yell, and lash out. If Roxie loses it I can handle that, maybe cope with the situation and try to calm her down. That is not Roxie’s style. She simply sat, quietly, emotionless staring at me waiting patiently for me to continue to break her heart.

The butterflies I have in my stomach have left but have been replaced by nausea. I feel sick from my behaviour and how I have treated my best friend. She still sits opposite me trusting everything about I’m about to say.

“I’m so sorry Roxie, I asked her if she could talk to her Mum and tell her that there is five she needs to invite but Poppy said her Mum didn’t want anymore than four,” I say quickly the words spurting out.

“Ohh”, came the same response.

“I said I didn’t think it is very nice but Poppy said that she couldn’t do anything about it.”

“So if Poppy told you a few days ago, why didn’t you say something then?” asks Roxie shaken from the news.

“I’m so sorry Roxie, I didn’t know how to say it to you,” I respond.

“So are you going to the party?” asks Roxie unexpectedly.

“Well, umm I was going,” I murmur.

It is like I have taken a knife and cut out Roxie’s heart. I can see the immense pain on her face and she makes me feel it too. Roxie’s world has just been turned upside down with the realisation the people she thought were her friends don’t really care for her. To add to the immeasurable pain, her best friend has given the final blow by agreeing to go to this party that she is not a part of.

“You know, I never thought Poppy liked me that much,” says Roxie, anger building in her voice, finally opening up to let out her true feelings. “And that never bothered me cause Poppy is always your friend, but you Alexx are my best friend.”

“Your mine Roxie, you know that,” I interrupt.

“I use to know that, but not anymore.”

“Don’t say that,” I say my courage disappearing.

“Why would you do this to me? What have I ever done to you?”

‘Nothing, you have done nothing to me.”

“That’s right, I have done nothing but be your friend. Whenever you need help, I am there. I keep your secrets because you are my friend and I don’t like seeing my friends hurt. And for all this, this is what you do to me,” screams Roxie tears in her eyes.

In all the years I have known Roxie I have never seen her cry. I have seen Roxie break her wrist when she fell over trying to beat a group of boys to the football. She won the race to the ball tripped over along the way, landing directly on her left wrist, snapping the bone. The pain was intense, it was clear from the expression on her face but she never once cried.

I have been with her when her aunty died from cancer. Roxie doesn’t talk about her aunty much, it is too painful. But not Roxie, she is brave. Brave for her but she was being brave for her Mum and Dad too.

I have seen her fight with Brendon and I mean really argue with some horrible things said. Not one tear came. If it was me, I would be on the ground curled in a ball rolling back and forth in a mess. But not Roxie. She took it all in her stride, getting through everything without a tear to be seen.

Today is different. I am the first person to make her cry and that is nothing to be proud of. The strong spirit Roxie possesses has been crushed by her so called best friend. Roxie is like a rock, a solid rock there for everyone needing her. I am destroying this.

“I am so sorry Roxie, I will tell Poppy that I won’t be going to her party.”

“No, don’t do that for me,” replies Roxie sarcastically.

“I want to. I should have told you straight away. I should have told Poppy to go stick her party.”

“Then why didn’t you?” asks Roxie.

“I don’t know,” I lie cowardly not wanting the dirty truth to come out.

“Poppy is your friend, not mine, you should go,” said Roxie, the anger subsiding.

“No, Poppy is OUR friend, or at least that is what I thought. You are my best friend and friends don’t treat each other the way I have treated you. I’m so sorry Roxie, I really mean it. I hate that I have hurt you.”

When Roxie allows me to embrace her, to show her how much I care and how I regret the way I treated her, I know she has forgiven me. Roxie needs the hug as much as I do, as we hug for a long time, both showing the same intensity. Our friendship went to a new level of trust and respect. This is the kind of friendship most people wish for and I am lucky to have mine right next door.

“I’m going to tell Poppy that I can’t come to her party,” I state without pretence, allowing Roxie to see how serious I am to prove to her I am sorry.

“She will ask why! What are you going to say?”

“I will tell her the truth. I will say that I don’t like the way she is treating you and if you can’t come then I don’t want to come either.”

“I don’t want to go anywhere I am not wanted Alexx. She didn’t invite me for a reason, so even if she says she will invite me, I don’t want to go,” says Roxie.

“That’s cool, I don’t want to go myself now anyway,” I respond realising the damage I am about to create.

 

 

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