Football is a game were grown men run around chasing an oddly shaped ball, trying to kick it through tall posts. One team loses while another wins, with the crowd acting as though they are part of the team itself. I have never understood the intensity supporters have for the game and their team.
Roxie adores football more than anyone I know, except maybe Brendon. She would cry when her team lost and celebrate when her team won. She is not a moody person but when it came to football, her moods were often determined how well her team was performing.
Whereas I don’t care for football, in fact I hate football, passionately. Hate is maybe too harsh a word because I watch it often when Roxie and Brendon play together at the park, just like today. I was invisible when football was concerned but that never bothered me. It is my time to watch Brendon, devouring his every move.
Brendon is a year older than me and he is beautiful with his dark brown hair, scruffy all over but styled to look messy. His eyes are a darker blue than Roxie’s but with the same intense stare. Brendon is tall and muscular with strong defined arms and lean legs but it is his smile that captures me every time.
My eyes never left Brendon, innocently memorising each movement he made, each muscle extending. I was unable to look away. His shirts are always unbuttoned to his chest, drawing me in as if I were under his spell.
“Nice one Rox,” shouts Brendon as he reciprocated with a clean handball straight back to her chest.
“Well I’ve been taught by the best,” laughs Roxie, catching the ball and getting her feet in position to make a short pass back.
“I can’t play long today, I have heaps of homework, then I’m out with my mates. Mum already had a go at me earlier this week for slacking off this early in the year.”
“You’re never slack,” replies Roxie, stopping the play to concentrate on what her brother is saying.
“Mum thinks so.”
Brendon was everything Roxie wanted to be, defending him constantly and hanging onto his every word. He is popular with his friends and able to handle any situation with an untimely ease. There isn’t a sport he can’t play and play well. And then came school work, he never works too hard but his grades were always excellent. Since he began high school, his life appears fantastic and Roxie envied that.
“What more does Mum want from you? Hey! Did you hear that Alexx?” Roxie shouts in my direction including me in the conversation.
I nod, raising my hand in the air, hoping I was responding correctly as I was unable to hear anything they were saying. Neither am I really interested. Watching Brendon is all that matters.
As I sat hidden away from the rest of the world, I pretended Brendon was playing for me, only me. I pretend our love for each other is a secret, treasured between our two souls. Everyday he would ask me to watch him play football at the park and everyday I would go, with Roxie as our cover up, to keep our love a secret. I would sit where only he can see me and share the romance our hearts desired while the world remained unaware.
“Don’t you worry little sis, that’s what mums are supposed to do, stress over everything to make sure they have done their job right.”
“Roxie, I better go,” Brendon said, motioning to leave.
As Roxie ran towards Brendon with the football tightly in her grip, a group of girls from school walk towards them. Huddled together like a pack of hyenas were had been watching and commenting on Roxie’s every move. These girls are our friends, a new group of friends that are the popular group and I loved being part of it.
By the time Roxie became aware she was being watched and judged by these girls, her relaxed demeanour instantly becoming on-edge, waiting for their response. I know Roxie sometimes feels uncomfortable around these girls but can’t understand why. She told me they treated her differently to the way they treated me. However I don’t see it. It simply isn’t true.
As Roxie approaches Brendon, all the while keeping her eye on the girls, he playfully puts his arm around her neck and pretends to wrestle her for the ball. Normally Roxie would join in, playfully fighting back but she instead pulls away quickly, allowing him to easily take the ball.
Brendon laughs at the ease in which he had beaten his sister.
“Hey, that was too easy Rox! Maybe we need to work on building those muscles next,” he laughs.
“Whatever! Let’s just go home.”
“What has gotten you in a stir all of a sudden? Girls are so hard to work out sometimes,” replies Brendon, annoyed by her sudden change of mood.
As the group of girls approached them, I could see Roxie looking anxious as she nervously wiped her palms along her jeans. She has not been around these girls outside of school and is always uncomfortable in new situations. It isn’t that they would do anything to her, but Roxie is nervous about what they will say, especially in front of Brendon.
Poppy is the ring leader of the group and she seems to dislike Roxie the most. Poppy is one of the popular girls, the typical cheerleader type seen in American movies. Her hair is a picture of perfection, silky straight golden hair that sits flawlessly down the middle of her back, as if styled by a hairdresser daily.
When anyone meets Poppy they are drawn to her stunning looks. Most other girls would give anything to have just one of her pretty features. Poppy has a natural flair for styling her hair, up or down, straight or curly. With matching golden eyes and naturally golden tanned skin, she looks at home as a surfie girl. Her delicate nose, pinkish soft lips and unblemished skin, Poppy took pretty to another level.
Poppy had style too. She seems to understand fashion in a way most will never understand. People are drawn to her and want to be around her. I am definitely one of these people.
Roxie believes she always has an ulterior motive to her actions and we can’t trust her. I simply can’t understand what Roxie has against Poppy. I desperately want to be part of her group.
“Oh hi Roxie,” Poppy says in a soft, welcoming tone. “We knew it was you when we saw that, that red hoodie you always wear.”
“Hi Poppy, hi girls,” Roxie replies quietly looking towards the ground.
“This must be your brother Rox. Well, aren’t you going to introduce us?” Poppy continued.
The girls start to giggle.
“Yeah, I suppose so. This is Brendon. Brendon this is Poppy, Jo, Bella and Sam.”
Before Brendon has a chance to speak, Poppy leapt forward and gave him a peck on the cheek like they are long lost friends. She gently touches his arm, staring directly into his eyes, flashing her sweetest smile to draw him in.
“Hi Brendon, Roxie has told us so much about you and how wonderful you are at just about everything. She thinks you are awesome and I can see why now.
Brendon is speechless, instantaneously turning a deep shade of red, unable to string words together. The girls continue to giggle from the boldness of their friend. Poppy stood confidently in front of Brendon, ignoring her friends, waiting for his reaction.
Roxie looked nauseated, as if she desperately wants to run and hide. This is the first time I have witnessed this behaviour in Poppy and I am shocked. The girls can’t see me from where they are standing. Poppy has actually kissed Brendon, the boy I want desperately to just notice me.
Poppy knows how to twist things around to make you look like the fool. She has managed to do this to Roxie. There is nothing wrong with talking about your brother, telling people how great he is, but Poppy has a way of turning it around to make her look good.
“Hey girls, umm great to meet some of Roxie’s friends,” stammered Brendon still embarrassed by the kiss but pleased to be the centre of attention.
Turning his attention to Roxie, he continued, “Rox you stay here with your friends if you want, but I really need to get going.”
“No, I’m coming home too. Heaps of homework to do,” replies Roxie swiftly.
“Cool, see ya girls”, said Brendon weaving his way through the group and heading towards home.
“Yeah, see ya,” Roxie says, sticking close to her brother in fear of what else her so-called friends might say.
Roxie has been against these friends since the moment I introduced them to her. Poppy and I had established a friendship within the classroom and not long after Poppy had asked me to join her and her friends at lunch time. Naturally I had brought along my best friend, but something never really clicked between all of them.
Our friendship started when Poppy came up to me as I was walking into school by myself as Roxie was away sick. I was elated that the most popular girl at school actually wanted to talk to me. I had always been afraid to speak to Poppy in class as she had a reputation of only speaking to the cool kids in school.
“Hi, I’m Poppy. You’re in my class right?”
Bewildered by Poppy’s approach, I simply nodded in response, afraid to say something stupid. Of course I knew we were in the same class. I also knew who she sat next too, Bella to the left and Simon to the right. How uncool is that?
“Thought so. I saw you talking to Simon yesterday in class.”
Confused why Poppy was still talking to me and not quite understanding what about, I stood like an idiot without saying anything.
“He was at your desk and both of you were laughing,” she continued drawing the words out slowly.
“Oh yeah,” I finally managed to get the words out. “I was helping him with the maths work.” Maths work, could I think of anything lamer to say.
“Is that all? Just about maths? Hey, maybe you can help me one day,” Poppy proposed, her face radiating with a smile. “Simon and I are sort of going out with each other you see.”
So our friendship began from there. I have so much in common with Poppy and her friend Jo and I couldn’t wait to catch up and get advice about fashion and boys. Another girl in the group Sam loves music just like me. It is only Bella that I don’t share a common interest with but we manage to talk about day-to-day things instead.
Roxie told me she fells left out when they are around, not only by me but by everyone. No one starts a conversation with her but she doesn’t put much effort into getting to know the girls either. Everything we gossip about at lunch time Roxie says is boring. It confuses me because I fell comfortable around Poppy and the girls but I also love being with Roxie. If I can get along with everyone, why can’t they?
I hope time will sort out their issues and we can all be one big group of best friends.
As Brendon and Roxie walk away from the girls, heading towards me, the soft giggling developed into sniggering and finally into enormous laughter. I suspect they are laughing at Roxie, making fun of her choice in fashion and the fact she is playing football with her brother. But that is normal to laugh, isn’t it, if you didn’t blend in with the group?
I wait for Brendon and Roxie to meet up with me, all the while watching the girls walk away. They are unaware I am there watching everything as they couldn’t see me from where I am sitting. Poppy raises her hand and waves but her expression doesn’t say ‘See ya friend’, it clearly said, ‘I don’t know why we even bother with her, she is such a tomboy’.
- “Keeping Secrets” – Chapter 1 (ourparallelconnection.com)