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She couldn’t look at him. Nick was grinning and making jokes and there was an admiring crowd around him, as usual. But she knew the truth.
She started to walk away. She couldn’t bear even to be near him. But then Nick called after her. He smiled, so confident and pleased with himself. ‘Everything all right Rache,’ he said.
She hated him calling her ‘Rache,’ only her friends did that. And he would never, ever be that. But she forced herself to smile back at him. ‘Oh yeah, I’m fine,’ she said.
This was like a little code between them. She was saying his secret was safe with her.
She could never dare tell anyone what she knew about Nick.
Secrets. Are they best to keep in? Or best to let out? Depends on the situation, but it’s not hers to tell, not hers to share but is it really hers to keep? If she despised him so much how could he tell her? Something so personal, something so deep.
It was a front. An act. To show people the best side of him, something which was not him. How would everyone know it was an act though? Well they couldn’t, but Rachel could. But when he called for her, she stood as still as a solider, as quiet as a mouse, hoping he could forget what he wanted and let her carry on. ‘Why couldn’t he have a memory of goldfish?’ Rachel would mumble to herself whenever he leapt out of his skin and cheered ‘Rache!’ She felt trapped from him, run from him but he’d always be that bit quicker, slip from him but he’d always have the grip firmer, catch him out but he’d always be a bit wittier.
He had no reason to panic, the words have always been on her tongue since he told her, but no sentences would come out. She wouldn’t want to speak much. She was afraid she would tell, she was afraid it would ruin him, she was afraid it would ruin her. Rachel is as loyal as a kingsman to his king, what she knew about him, what he told her would never go beyond Rachel.
Never go beyond Nick either.
What she was hiding from everyone for him, what she was doing for him, what sacrifices she had made for him, had all been for her to.
If one person knew it would suddenly turn into a game of Chinese whispers, guaranteed to be changed around, guaranteed to become worse. The sharp eyes on her, the words about her, the daggers on him, the lies about him would drag him down, would drag her down. An anchor strapped round them both, plunged into the swallowing sea, engulf them up and never let out. Jailed, prisoned, and exiled, no person to see and no person to talk. Just those two, until the lie decays them, makes them rot away. They are the pearly white gnashes, and the truth is the exquisite treacle on them, it will eat away at them, ruin them.
‘You’re not yourself Rache ’Rachel’s mother would frequently remind her, Rachel knew that, her mum knew that, nick knew that. But there was no way she could escape this without tearing her apart. But to her there was one solution, ‘if I close my eyes, if I fall asleep, for a while, when everyone finds out I won’t know, I won’t feel the pain the weigh me down, the eyes won’t cut me up when I walk past them. If I leave and never have to come back again. Ever. Easier to walk away then face. Isn’t it’
‘My beautiful girl Rachel!!!’ Screams and cries lash out of Rachels mothers mouth, from her room. But Rachel did not respond, could not respond. She just laid there in her mother’s arms, like a small baby again, being cradled. Mothers heart beat on her but no heart beat on mother.
Last time her mother could weep to Rachel, last time she would be with Rachel by herself. It had got to her so much, she had saw no escape, no light, but only darkness. This was the solution for it to end for her. It worked but the mystery of why to her family could never be answered, but only played over and over in their heads. Gone and why?
Nick knew, only he knew now...
Megan Tilby The Piggott school
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