Green is the theme of the day. Every imaginable shade of green can be seen in the various decorations. The streamers are green, the pictures are green, the plates and cups are green, the cordial is green, even the cake is green. Poppy is obviously in a green mood.
From the moment I enter the house, I am determined to look forward and not back. I have come so far to be here and now that I am, nothing and no one is going to ruin it for me. This green party is going to be the party of the year and I am going to make the most of it.
The music played all my favourites and I knew all the words, the others all watch me sing each song as if I own it. We were dancing like the stars, Jo is the expert dancer and soon became the expert teacher. Routine after routine we performed, song after song we sang. With nonstop laughter throughout the night, only stopping to eat something green and then back to the fun.
I forget all about my life, simply being in the moment and cherishing my time. Time captured each moment of fun until finally exhaustion settled in and it is time to hit the sleeping bags. Looking like sausages all packaged together, Poppy’s bedroom floor no longer existed.
The mood has been light with no time for seriousness, until now. When Mum dropped me off, I hesitated to leave the car, wanting to share my secret that I thought Roxie really should be here, but the right time past and, so too did my courage to say anything. Mum didn’t ask where Roxie is so I didn’t mention it.
Before I had time to say anything, squealing girls ran from the house, scooping me up amongst them and disappearing into the party zone. The darkness is nowhere to be found, the pains had left and my mind is occupied with music. As I become immersed into the conversation and the mood becomes intense, everything that had left me, quickly finds its way back in through the cracks.
“Okay, truth or dare!” Announces Poppy, clapping her hands, controlling the conversation. “I’ll go first.”
No one disagrees with the birthday girl, instead, they settle in for a game of truth or dare.
“Bella, truth or dare?” asks Poppy.
“Is it true that you still like Marcus?”
“Of course,” replies Bella confidently.
“Well, is it true he wanted to kiss you and you said no?” continued Poppy never hesitating.
“Don’t forget its truth or dare Bella” interrupts Poppy smugly.
“Well maybe, but I didn’t really feel like kissing him at the time.”
“You are scared to kiss him Bella, tell the truth,” laughs Poppy mockingly.
By reading Bella’s reaction, we all know that is the truth. She is scared to kiss Marcus or any boy for that matter, but so am I. I have never kissed a boy and a boy has never wanted to kiss me. When the time comes that kissing is required, I know I will be nervous, really nervous, maybe even shy away as Bella did.
If I can choose one boy that I want to share a ‘real’ kiss with, it will be Brendon. Even though I think he is gorgeous and to kiss him would be as exhilarating as waking up on Christmas morning, I know I would be nervous. It comes down to who I trust with the kiss. The first kiss is a huge step, a major event, I want it to be special and with someone who is really special.
Brendon has every quality I think is important in sharing that special moment with. He is older than me so he can guide the kiss, his experience is capable of making sure the moment is perfect. He would be tender in his approach, as he is naturally when placed in the right situation. His strong arms, perfect lips and beautiful looks combined with his sweet affection would make him a dreamy first kiss, one definitely worth remembering.
“I wasn’t scared,” defends Bella, clearly offended that Poppy is laughing at her.
“Yes you are. I can’t believe at our age, you’re still scared to kiss a boy,” said Poppy still laughing.
“Well what about the others,” Bella said, hoping to move the attention from herself.
Wanting to hide behind Sam or Jo so I wouldn’t be the next person up for humiliation, I sit acting as cool as possible, hoping not to attract any attention. My eyes dart between Sam and Jo and I notice they are behaving in an identical manner to me. It amazes me just how similar we all are even though these girls are so much cooler than I am.
“Okay, Jo you next. Have you ever kissed a boy?” asks Poppy.
“Well tell us more, I need to know all the details,” says Poppy excitedly, leaning into the circle so as not to miss a single word.
It doesn’t surprise me that Jo has already shared her first kiss with a boy. She is the oldest girl in our year level at school and looks it too. Jo’s parents had migrated from Italy when she was five years old and 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.
So all the children are sent 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 want Jo to strive to be the best so an extra year in school would surely give her an advantage.Jo’s looks have an Italian influence too. Her skin a deep, golden brown, soft rosy cheeks, glowing with health. Her eyes are dark too, almost black in colour to match her jet black silky straight long hair. She is exotically beautiful.
“It was last year when my cousins from Italy came over to stay with us,” says Jo, elated by the attention she had captured. “My cousin Anton had bought one of his friends over too, do you remember Rocco?”
Everyone simply nods whether they remembered Rocco or not. No one wanted to disrupt the story by commenting on such incidentals, it was too interesting and we need to know more.
“Cool, well when I first saw Rocco I thought he is gorgeous but said nothing. I mean what could I say? Rocco is so nice and sweet but he is older than me. He mainly spoke Italian. I know a little bit but I couldn’t understand most of what he is saying. So we had to help each other with the language and stuff.”
Nothing could be heard, no one dared move, Jo has captured our attention and imaginations with her story.
“I thought he liked me too cause we just clicked. It was so easy being around him and he made me feel special. Like I am the only girl around, the centre of all his attention. Then on the last day before they flew home, we kissed.”
“And..?.” Asks Sam, more enthralled than I thought possible.
“And what? ”Laughs Jo teasingly. “And well it was everything I had dreamed it would be. He is gentle, sweet and his lips were experienced lips. They had done this before but I trusted him to show me what to do. And he did, he is a wonderful kisser.”
“Aw”, every one sighed in sync with each one another.
“Do you miss him?” said Sam still captivated by the love story.
“Yeah I do. Lots…..we email all the time but I miss him. It would have been so cool if he could have stayed but maybe one day I will go to Italy and see him.”
“Yeah well enough of that,” injects Poppy, agitated that Jo has taken too much attention from her. “We need more truth and dare. Okay, you next Alexx Truth or dare?”
This is a hard question, more difficult than I had expected. Truth is always the easier way to go, it is simply answering a question. But the line of questioning is around boys and I wasn’t prepared to tell anyone who I liked. I am happy to say that I have never kissed a boy, that doesn’t bother me. However, if anyone wants to know who I would kiss if given the chance, that is for me and me only.
Then the dare part comes into play. Poppy is always a step or two ahead of everyone else and I am a little scared of what her dare might be. I have never done a dare before and I wonder if I would have the courage to.
Truth or dare, truth or dare? Brendon is my secret, and my secret only. That left me with no option but to play the dare card.
“Dare,” I say with confidence.
“Yeah about time we had a dare.,” says Poppy, clapping her hands in excitement.
As soon as Poppy says this, I regret my decision. She has a dare already planned and that meant I am going to be the one to do it. Panic sets in as I try to think of an escape route. I need an intelligent excuse to get out of whatever dare Poppy wants me to perform.
“No, no, I mean truth!” I say quickly before anyone has a chance to realise I am panicking.
“Bad luck Alexx,” says Poppy, now rubbing her hands together with a menacing look on her face. “You only get one chance and you picked dare. So dare it is.”
“But it’s not your turn to pick someone Poppy. You have to take it in turns,” I reply, panic taking over entirely.
“It is my party Alexx and I will say whose turn it is and I say it is still my turn and you picked dare so you must do as I say.”
Poppy scans the room, determining who is on her side and who is on my side. No one wants to argue with Poppy, maybe because it is her birthday or maybe because they are truly scared to be at the other end of her anger. I am on my own with a dare challenge waiting to be completed.
“See everyone agrees with me Alexx, now you picked dare, let me see, we need to think of a dare. Any ideas?” Poppy says, looking around but paying little attention to what she sees. Poppy already has a dare in mind but doesn’t want to make it obvious that she haw planned this all along. “Looks like it’s up to me. I dare you to call Roxie and tell her you are at my slumber party and that she is not invited,” says Poppy casually.
“What?” I choke, alarm bells ringing in my head, confused whether or not I heard Poppy correctly.
“You heard me, call Roxie. I would love to hear what she says.”
Searching the faces of the girls for guidance, for help, for anything. Blank stares planted on their faces, telling me nothing, helping me in no way. Thoughts raced through my head. Thoughts of Roxie and our friendship. Thoughts of Poppy, Bella, Jo and Sam. Thoughts of life at school without either of them. Thoughts of Mum and her advice.
Darkness surrounds me, darkness so thick and without light, I can barely focus on the situation, which has captured me. I am in a cave with noise echoing around me penetrating every part of my body. Noises I can’t understand, can’t decipher. Confusion sets in, making my head spin, making me lost. The darkness, the noises, the loneliness, I feel trapped like a wild animal being caged at the zoo.
When I finally take a deep breath I come crashing back to the realisation I am in a situation that requires immediate attention. Poppy has planned this all along. It wasn’t that Roxie couldn’t come as she had suggested to me, it is that she didn’t want her to come and I am the one stuck to do the nasty work.
“But I thought you said it is your Mum who said she couldn’t come.”
“That’s what I said but, well I just didn’t want her here. It’s my party and I wanted my friends, not Roxie,” replied Poppy with conviction.
“But why? What’s wrong with Roxie?” I stammer.
It is like a tennis match, all heads go from facing me to facing Poppy and back again. Silence fell in between, even breathing could barely be heard. Bella is grinning as she looks my way, this secret she is obviously a part of.
Jo and Sam seem genuinely shocked, but relieved that they are not in my shoes. Sam has her hands covering her mouth, eyes peering over her glasses, unable to participate in the conversation.
“Well for starters she looks like a boy, acts like a boys and even smells like a boy,” laughs Poppy, proud at her insulting jokes.
Bella joins in with the laughing, supporting her friend all the way to the end.
“That’s not very nice,” says Jo, stunned by Poppy’s vicious words.
“Well she is boring,” snaps Poppy, annoyed with Jo. “She, she never wants to talk about the things we like, so I don’t want that kind of person here. I only hang around her because I like you Alexx but I am definitely not having her at my house.”
“I never knew,” I say quietly, reality hitting me like being hit in the head with a brick, it hurt.
“Now you do, the others put up with her too, just for you Alexx. We really like you, your one of my best friends but Roxie, well she is like a little girl. She can be such a sook sometimes, like a baby,” says Poppy, the tone in voice changing.
“I can’t call Roxie and say that. It’s mean.”
“You have to Alexx, that is why the game is called truth or dare. You chose dare so you need to do whatever the dare is.”
“Yeah Poppy’s right,” adds Bella as she reaches for the phone, placing it in my hand. “You need to call her.”
Time is against me with no excuses left and no escape. Roxie is going to be crushed and I am going to crush her. If I call and tell Roxie the truth she will hate me and I would lose my best friend. I will hate myself, even more than I did when I decided to keep all my secrets from her.
I feel I have no one to turn to, no one who will support me with my secret. Roxie would have supported me if I had given her the opportunity. Roxie wouldn’t laugh at me, think less of me because my parents fought all the time. I was wrong not to trust her and show confidence in our friendship.
I need to make a decision on my friendships right here, right now. If I play along with the dare, breaking my friend’s heart, I will no longer have her in my life. Or I could be different, an outsider and say no to Poppy. Even the thought of saying no to Poppy is more scary than facing Mum when you have been caught telling a lie.
Succumbed by friendships, I am defeated. I can no longer fight, challenge the group by standing up to be different. The fight is over, and I have lost. I have never wanted this, never asked to be placed in this situation. But I realised that didn’t matter, it isn’t my choice to be placed in this situation. Now that I it is all down to my decision, the consequences would be entirely on my shoulders.
“Sure, I will call,” I say, an air of confidence pushing though the darkness that had engulfed me.
As I dial the number, all eyes are glued on me. Poppy’s with elation. Bella’s with satisfaction. Jo with disappointment. Sam with sadness. I am the centre of attention and even the birthday girl is happy to take a back seat for this memorable moment.
“Hi,” I say, my voice piercing the silence in the room. “I need to tell you something.”
The voice on the other end replies,’yes’.
“I need you to pick me up Mum. I want to come home.”
- “Keeping Secrets” – Ch.10 – Growing Apart (2nd storyline) (ourparallelconnection.com)
- “Keeping Secrets – Ch.11 – Darkness (2nd storyline) (ourparallelconnection.com)
- “Keeping Secrets – Ch.12 – Pain pain go away (2nd Storyline) (ourparallelconnection.com)