Excerpt from His To Keep. Draft 3.0
"I make my way upstairs to my bedroom. It’s a simple room. A room that lacks personality because it’s occupier doesn’t have one.
There’s a single bed with floral sheets, a wardrobe and a desk. The only decoration I have on the yellow walls is a wooden crucifix Gran forced me to put up. A reminder that God is always watching.
I make my way over to my desk and open the lid of my laptop. I hear the unfamiliar sound of Facebook Messenger ping and feel my forehead crease as I go to read.
Thank you for showing me around today, Ava.
Heat seeps through me. All I can do is sit very still and stare at the screen, reading the message over and over again.
This morning I was called to the office. I had just sat down in class when my name sounded with a crackle from the speakers. I never got called to the office, so I nearly had a breakdown of the thought that maybe I was in trouble.
I wasn’t in trouble.
Instead, I was to show a new pupil around school for the day. If I thought that was bad, when a boy stepped out of the principal’s office, I wanted the floor to swallow me. He was good looking. A slight tan to his skin, brown eyes and hair a mound of soft brown curls. He was much taller than me and was stood with his hands in his pockets in a casual, relaxed way.
Then, he smiled at me. It was just a normal smile and it was warm. It reminded me of Grandpa.
“Hey,” he greeted. “I’m Adam.”
“A-Ava.” We shook hands and he smiled even wider when I blushed, not in cocky way, but in a kind way. Like maybe I could trust him.
I was forced to spend the day showing him around school. I was nervous around him and barely spoke. He filled the silence with chatter, talking with ease and confidence, even to people who asked who he was in the corridors between classes. I could tell they were impressed and that was going to be instantly popular.
I even expected him to stray after a while, but he didn’t. He stayed by my side all day. As I showed him the grounds, he told me it sucked to move to a new school senior year. I felt sorry for him. I’d been in this school all my life and still felt uncomfortable, so I couldn't imagine how he must feel to start again so late.
He told me his mom got depression after she miscarried his little sister. His dad thought a change of scenery might help her recover, so he got new job and they all moved from the city into a house that was a few blocks from mine.
He told me he was finding the transition hard because Little Willow was in the middle of nowhere. It’s true, but it’s better than other towns around. It has its own shopping mall, a cinema, and just recently opened a McDonald's a year ago. But I understood—other than the crappy little shops, it’s mostly surrounded by hills and forests.
A far cry from a city.
I was surprised by his openness and found myself telling him I’d lived in a city before too. That I found it strange moving here at first. He gave me a sympathetic smile and I felt emotion clog up my throat.
I was talking to someone. Actually talking.
I hadn’t in so long and it felt good. Normal. It didn’t seem to matter that he was a guy and I was forbidden to talk to him. It didn’t seem to matter when words flowed easily and the loneliness I had inside of me started to disappear.
Adam seemed nice and not like most boys in school. He talked about all kinds of things; like his favourite music and movies. He was easy-going and his jokes made me laugh.
It was nice.
It was nice to feel that again.
Today at 17:15pm
I hit send chewing on my fingernail. My heart beats faster when I see the speech bubble appear beneath. He’s typing something back. Maybe I shouldn’t have replied…
I glance at my bedroom door, terrified in case Gran comes upstairs. But she’s old and doesn’t understand technology. She doesn’t understand that I have access to the internet and have virtual window to a world she’s closed off to me.
It’s my secret. My only sin.
Maybe you could show me around town tomorrow after school? I heard there's a place that does awesome milkshakes.
He’s talking about Joe’s, a milkshake bar on Main Street. Immediately, I start to panic. He wants me to show him around town? Have milkshake?
My first thought is why. I barely said anything to him today and he made loads of friends by the time the day was finished. Friends that would be better and more fun at showing him around than me.
I breathe out slowly.
Gran will never allow this and then Adam will know the truth. He will see how pathetic I really am. Someone who is ruled and not allowed to do anything but breathe through misery.
I can't. I’m sorry.
I close the lid of my laptop before I see his reply. I wrap my arms around my body as guilt unfurls inside of me. To try and escape it, I lay down on my bed and push my face into my pillow. I want to scream, but I can’t even do that.If God is truly watching me like Gran says he is, is he happy now? "
HIS TO KEEP