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.”
“How would you like this done to you?” I ask.
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.”
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” – Chapter 1 (ourparallelconnection.com)
- “Keeping Secrets” – Chapter 2 (ourparallelconnection.com)
- “Keeping Secrets” – Chapter 3 (ourparallelconnection.com)
- “Keeping Secrets” – Ch4 – Opening up the box of secrets (ourparallelconnection.com)
- “Keeping Secrets” – Ch.5 – The Secret Party (ourparallelconnection.com)
- “Keeping Secrets” – Ch.6 – ‘Mum’s Help’ (ourparallelconnection.com)
- “Keeping Secrets” – Ch:7 – ‘Facing the Consequences’ (ourparallelconnection.com)