The bell for class rang loud and cold that morning. Students gathered their books and their bags and ran off to class, but all Sally could do as she watched them fly past was sit and wonder why she wasn’t doing the same. Moments became minutes and she realised it was time to move, but yet the want to do so was still not there, and had not been there any other morning so far this term. Perhaps things just weren’t meant to be like this, but then again perhaps they were and Sally was just yet to realise it. There was no point worrying about things like that now though, she was already late to class.
“Sally?” called the teacher as her tired eyes scanned the room for her favorite student. It wasn’t like Sally to be late.
“Sorry Miss, I’m here.” mumbled Sally lamely as she stepped in the class room that was already filled up.
“Oh, sally, you are here. I was about to mark you absent. Sit down now and take out your books please, there’s a spare seat at the back there” she gestured towards Daniel Linton, a poorer student of her class.
Sally shut the door behind her and made her way through the rows of desks passing the other kids that seemed to stare up at her for some reason she was unaware of. She sat next to Daniel as the teacher instructed, but did so with a nervous feeling that she herself did not understand.
“Hey Sal, you’re late! That’s not like you honey.” giggled Daniel as he smiled at his best friend, watching her search through her backpack.
Sally smiled back at him, but felt a type of yearning not to be doing so. Why did he have to call me honey and smile like he did? Why does he treat me the way he does when he had a girlfriend? Why does he talk to me like this when we’re just friends’ She thought sadly, somewhat irritated.
“You okay?” Daniel asked, some what concerned at Sally’s silence to his greeting but still smiling kindly.
“Yeah, I’m always okay… I just can’t find my text book.”
“You always have your text book! Oh no! The best student of the class! Dux of the year! And she’s forgotten her maths text book!” he teased, “just share with me Sal, it’ll be my honor.”
“Thanks Dan, I um…thanks”
Sally looked away from her friends happy eyes dumbly and started to rule up her page, but she found it hard to concentrate. Feeling nothing but a strong desire to run her hands through Dan’s messy dark hair and take him in her arms, it was all Sally could do to hold a pen to paper, let alone concentrate. Why couldn’t she just be happy with having him close to her as a friend? Why did she have these stupid feelings that she knew he didn’t have in return? Why did she have to always question everything?
The bell sounded, signifying the end of first period. Sally stared down at the blank white page in front of her, head hung limply. She hadn’t done a single sum. Everyone around her packed up their books and rushed out of the room, eager to escape. But Sally was lost in her own lonely thoughts and couldn’t help but feel the tension of her hands as they longed to touch the boy beside her.
“Sal darling, we’ve gotta go. You my dear have art class and I have computers” Daniel stood up and kicked his chair back, “Come on pack up darling, I’ll walk you.”
Daniel felt a strange concern for his friend; she was normally the first in class and the first out. But today she had come late and sat detached from everyone through out the lesson, even him. Daniel watched Sally as she stuffed her book back into her usually neatly packed bag and stand up beside him. He held out his big strong hands to her, gesturing for her to hold them.
“You don’t have to walk me every week you know.” She said strangely, almost regretting she had said it at all.
“Don’t be silly angel, it’s my pleasure. Now come on.” Daniel smiled, and took Sally’s hands in his own as he turned to walk out of the room.
Sally followed him sadly, keeping her boney hand limp in his tight masculine hold. Everything should have seemed perfect, but yet it all felt so broken. Sally’s life was exactly what most would dream for. She was dux of the year and had been since primary, she had a group of great friends and all the teachers liked her, her parents weren’t divorced and things were fine at home, and she was pretty as could be. But yet Sally felt empty and alone. Everything in her life was nothing compared to the feelings that she seemed to now drown in everyday. She may have seemed perfect but her soul felt imperfect and incomplete to her. Despite what anybody thought or said, she was still alone inside.
As they made their way to the art rooms hand in hand Sally stared detachedly at the dull asphalt below her polished school shoes. Suddenly Daniel stopped walking. He moved to face her front on.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, removing his hands from hers and instead resting them on her shoulders caringly.
Sally looked away from his deep blue eyes. She didn’t need to fall even more in love with him than she already had.
“Nothing…we’re going to be late” was all she could mutter as she tried not to look at him.
“I don’t care if I’m late. I care about you. I can tell something’s wrong, please tell me what it is. Please?”
‘I’m in love with you, Dan’ was all Sally could hear repeating inside her head. But the silence between them grew larger as she imagined saying these words, and Daniel became worried.
“Skip class with me?” he asked, already knowing she wouldn’t.
“I have to go”
Sally walked off, stepped into her room, and shut the door behind her. Daniel stood staring at the path she had taken, worried. Why didn’t she tell him what was wrong?
“Your parents aren’t home yet are they Dan? I really want to be alone with you.”
Daniel smiled weakly at Melissa as he gazed off into the distance. She may have been his girlfriend for over three years, but he didn’t want to see her tonight, even if they did have plans.
“Na they’re not home…but I have to cancel for tonight Mel, Sorry.”
“What? Why?” asked Melissa, some what flustered at the idea of being blown off.
“Sal was real upset today and I was gonna try and talk to her” to justified, his voice concerned as he thought of Sally.
“You’re sweet.” smiled Melissa, resting her hand on the side of his angular face, her nail polish glinting in the rays of afternoon light.
Her blonde high lights shone in the sun. She leant forward and kissed her boyfriend passionately, trying to have an effect on him.
“Did I change your mind?” she flirted, “now come on, talk to Sally later. I wanted to be with you this afternoon.”
“Yeah I know, but I really can’t. I have to talk to Sal… I’ll call you later or something okay? Bye.” Daniel kissed her lightly on the check and walked away not looking back, maybe he could still catch up with Sally.
Walking fast, eyes fixed on the ground, Sally headed home feeling a strange sense of anger that she couldn’t understand no matter how hard she tried to. With both her headphones in it was easy to drown out the world, and luckily it meant no one would try to talk to her. Daniel jogged down the street he knew Sally took to walk home and caught sight of the girl he was chasing turn the corner sharply.
“Sally wait up” he called out.
But she didn’t hear him, and even if she had she wouldn’t have waited. All she wanted to do was go home and pretend everything else didn’t exist. She didn’t want to go to piano practice and she didn’t want to do her civics home work. All Sally wanted to do was go to sleep and wish hard that when she woke up everything would be perfect like everyone else thought it was. But Daniel sped up his step and finally caught up to her, still panting a bit. He caught her eyes and smiled in a gesture of greeting.
“Take your headphones out Sal, I gotta talk to you sweetheart.” He said, still smiling.
Sally stopped walking and held her best friends gaze. She didn’t smile back at him.
“I can’t hear you” she replied in a dull voice.
Which was true, she couldn’t hear him. All Sally could hear was a sweet melody of screams coming from her ipod. Even if she could have herd Daniel’s request though, she didn’t want to hear it. She wanted Daniel to go far away and for the first time in her life, leave her alone. But Daniel continued to talk at her, despite the fact he thought she could not hear what he was saying. Sally stared off into space but paused her music so she could hear Daniel speaking, but she did not take her headphones out.
“…and I can tell something’s wrong. Please tell me what it is, please sweetheart. Let me help you Sal. You’re my best friend and I love you so much and if you’re feeling down I want to be the one to make you happy again. Anyway… the least you can do is listen to me! Sally!”
“I am listening Dan. And you never call me Sally” Sally smiled feebly and tried to hold back her tears as she heard him call her a friend. Why were they just friends? “Anyway… I thought you and Melissa had plans? What are you doing chasing after me?”
“Yeah we did, but I needed to talk to you so I blew her off” Daniel looked away from Sally’s hazy eyes, breaking their eye contact as he did so. He hated it when she cried.
“w-why’d you blow her off? She’s your girlfriend Dan. Don’t worry about me I’m fine.” Sally felt hot tears roll down her cheeks, but she didn’t wipe them away like she would normally have. She didn’t like to cry in front of anyone, but for some reason she just couldn’t be bothered to pretend she was fine this time.
“shh it’s okay.” Daniel wiped the tears from Sallys eyes and leant forward, taking her in his arms.
She cried into his chest, staining his white school shirt with tears. Sally shut her eyes tight, squeezing them so tight it almost hurt. But she couldn’t hug him back. She wouldn’t let herself. Her arms hung limply by her sides.
A few people passed them by as time passed, averting their eyes as they did so, pretending that it wasn’t Sally they saw crying. Pretending that the most perfect girl in their grade really was perfect and pretending that they didn’t mind she wasn’t.
After awhile Daniel spoke, trying to keep his words comforting, “Darling we’ve been standing here for ages. I’ll stand here with you all night if you want but I think we should go, okay? We can go back to my house if you want. My parents are away. Come on.” Daniel continued to hold Sally close as he turned to walk down the road to his house. It wasn’t a long walk. Sally cried all the way their, and when Daniel let her out of his arms so he could find his key she watched him in silence, weeping softly as she did.
“Come on honey, give me your bag.” Daniel took Sally’s backpack and walked into the house, shutting the big wooden door behind them.
He dropped their bags in the foyer, almost knocking the umbrellas that rested in a bucked by the hat stand as he did. Then he took Sally’s hand in his again and walked down the silent corridor to his bedroom. Sally kept crying and kept her hand loose in his tight hold. When they got to his room, Daniel shut the door behind them gently and pulled his dooner over the unmade bed. He sat calmly and gestured for Sally to sit beside him. She did. He put his arm around her, and asked her what was wrong. But Sally didn’t answer. How could she? Why was she even here? She didn’t know, but she did know it felt nice to be close to the boy she loved.
“Come on sweetheart tell me what’s wrong. Please?” he asked softly, stroking her alburn hair and pulling her even closer towards him through the dappled sunlight that peered in through the half drawn blinds.
Sally took a deep breath and looked up at him through the pale light. Their eyes met and she felt an overwhelming desire to reach up and press her lips against his. But she didn’t.
“I have to go” Sally spoke through shallow breathes as she pulled herself from her friends loving hold, and stood up from the bed.
“No please don’t go, please Sal come on, talk to me?” Daniel stood up too, his words were still gentle but flooded with concern.
“I…I...I lov—“ Sally’s words stuttered as she tried to pull away.
But she didn’t walk away like common sense was begging her to. Instead Sally put her arms around Daniels broad shoulders and pressed herself against him, feeling his head rest on top of hers as he embraced her tightly.
“It’s okay Sal, it’s okay I promise.”
“No its not” she whispered.
“Because I… because you…you have a girlfriend”
There was a pause, Daniels hold of Sally loosened as she tried to keep him close.
“What? Sally what?” Daniel moved back shocked at her words and stood away, confused.
Tears started to stream down Sally’s face again, and she turned to leave the room. Almost waiting for Daniel to stop her, she moved with little force. She wrapped her clammy hands around the door knob and stepped out of the room. Daniel didn’t stop her. She walked down the empty hall way and picked up her school bag. Daniel didn’t stop her. She pushed the front door open and stepped outside into the cool evening breeze. Daniel didn’t stop her. She walked down the street and cried somewhat hysterically with her hands covering her face, waiting for Daniel to come after her the way he always did. But he didn’t. Daniel stood glued to his bedroom floor, eyes fixed on the spot where Sally had been standing. Had he been what was making her cry?
“Hey baby, you know I’ve decided I don’t really care if you ditched me this arvo. You were just trying to be nice to your friend… or whatever. Anyway, I think that was really sweet of you. Can I come over?” Melissa chewed on gum as she talked into her mobile phone, making a type of odd slurping noise as she did.
“Hi Mel, honey, I kinda feel like being alone tonight. Can we do something another time? What about the weekend?” Daniel felt frustrated and found it hard to get the words out his mouth. He couldn’t take his mind off Sally and the last thing he wanted right now was to see Melissa.
“Aw come on Dan, I really want to see you” Melissa stressed her words trying to sound nice. “can’t I see you for just a little bit? We always said that next time your parents are over seas that we’d…you know. I was thinking that maybe we could tonight? I really want to. We’ve been together forever! Isn’t it time?” Melissa felt frustrated. She was the only girl she knew of that had to be the one asking her boyfriend for sex.
“I think I had a fight with Sal, and I just want to be alone and have time to figure stuff out tonight okay? I’m sorry…”
“Oh my god! Daniel are you trying to break up with me or are you just gay or something?”
“What? I just, I want to be alone.”
“Daniel! Talk to me!” she demanded.
“I gotta go, ill see you tomorrow. Bye.” Daniel hung up his phone and threw it beside him where it got caught in his bed sheets.
Resting his face in his hands Daniel felt as though everything was coming apart. He didn’t want to talk to his girlfriend, and he felt like he couldn’t talk to his best friend. He was all alone in his big empty house and he was drowning in his thoughts that were so confusing he couldn’t even recognize them.
Sally slammed the door shut and collapsed onto the floor. She was still crying and had been the entire walk home. It was a good thing her parents weren’t home from work yet because she didn’t want to talk to them. She didn’t want to have to explain why she was so upset. Why didn’t Dan come after her? He always did. But this time he hadn’t. She shouldn’t have said what she said. She shouldn’t have let him seen her cry. She shouldn’t have let him hold her. There were so many things she thought she shouldn’t have done and so many things she wanted to do. But all Sally could do as sat in heap on the hard wooden floor was burry her face in her knees and wish that she’d stop crying.
Daniels alarm sounded sharply throughout the empty house, pulling him from a distressed sleep. He hadn’t been able to think of anything but Sally all night. He would have to try and talk to her at school. They needed to sort things out. They had to.
Daniel made an effort to walk quicker than his normally dazed pace and arrived at school early. His eyes scanned the grounds for the girl he needed. But he didn’t see her. The bell rang and everyone moved off to class after a few more moments of talking. Daniel walked sadly to his first lesson, slowly moving in hope that he’d see Sally. He wished hard that Sally did come to school today, but he wasn’t sure if she would.
Daniel wasn’t able to read a word of the text his class was given or answer any questions the teacher had written on the white board. His mind was on other things. After English he made his way quickly to the main quad and searched madly with his deep blue eyes for Sally. If she was at school she’d have to cross the quad to get to her next class. Sure enough, off in the distance walking slowly through the crowds of students, who seemed to push as they passed by each other, was Sally. Her normally neatly platted hair seemed to smother her delicate face and she looked down at the ground. Daniel made his way quickly through the people, pushing back at them as he did.
“Sally” he gasped, unintentionally dramatic.
She looked up at him and brushed the hair from her eyes, but she didn’t speak. He never called her Sally.
“Sal I’m so sorry about yesterday, I just…” he paused, “…I didn’t know what to say. Can we please talk?” Daniel looked at her longingly and waited for an answer.
But he didn’t get one. Sally moved past him gently breathing him in, and continued to walk to class hunched in a lonely figure. Daniel stood frozen, his eyes filled up with tears. ‘Fuck’ was all that went through his head. And the funny thing was, Daniel never swore.
Days turned into weeks and even though Daniel tried to talk to Sally she refused to speak a word to him. All Sally wanted was for everything to fade away and turn into dust. She wanted Daniel to disappear and she wanted everything to stop. It felt as though she were stuck in a moment and couldn’t press play but the rest of the world around her was moving. Thinking only of the night that Daniel had held her tight in his strong arms and she had messed things up so badly, Sally found it hard to focus on anything except the want to go back in time and change everything.
Daniel sat in silence with Melissa and stroked her hand slowly as he wondered how she had turned into what she did. She used to be so sweet. But now she smiled at him strangely. He frowned slightly, big eyes closed, mind fixed on Sally and the change in his relationship with Melissa that seemed to be creeping on without her realising.
“Dan, honey, what are you thinking?” she asked softly, looking at him lustfully as she played with his hair.
“Nothing, I just…nothing. Why?”
“No reason.” she replied dully, slightly annoyed, “When do your parents come home?” she asked with slightly strained words.
“They came home the other week, but they’re gone again for a few more nights. They’re in America or something for dad’s work I think.” Daniel spoke flatly, not really thinking.
“So were alone?”
“Yeah, why? Does it matter?” he opened his eyes and looked at her. He knew what she was thinking, he didn’t have to ask.
Melissa took her hand from his, and unbuttoned her school shirt, keeping their eye contact as she did.
“Mel…” Dan’s words trailed off as Melissa pressed her lips against his.
Her hands ran up under his shirt and rubbed his back. He kissed her back gently, but in the back of his mind he knew he didn’t want to. He wanted to be kissing Sally. He couldn’t do this with Melissa. But he couldn’t pull away from her. Her soft pale skin caressed his as she pulled off his shirt forcefully and pressed her breasts against his chest, still kissing him hard despite the fact he tried to kiss back tenderly. Daniel knew he had to stop her, but a part of him wouldn’t let himself. He wanted to feel the closeness, he wanted to be loved, but not by Melissa…
But Melissa slid her hands down his grey school trousers. Daniel tried to take her hands away but found himself unbuckling his belt instead. He tried not to look at Melissa’s face as he imagined it was Sally he felt pulling down his grey boxers. Knowing it was wrong, and knowing he needed to stop her, Daniel tried not to enjoy the feelings he was having over take him. But as he pushed up Melissa’s checkered skirt and realised she had already taken off her underpants that lay on the floor beside them, he couldn’t help but feel intoxicated with the fantasy he played out in his mind. Holding her closely, they now both lay as one naked on his bed. But as Daniel felt himself move, he imagined it was Sally he felt himself inside of.
“I love you” he whispered.
“I love you too” Melissa replied, breathing heavily.
Hearing her voice made Daniel freeze. For a moment he had convinced himself it was Sally he felt below him. But it wasn’t. It was Melissa.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, still breathing jagged breaths as felt him tense up.
Moments passed awkwardly and she felt him go limp and slide himself out of her. Daniel sat on the edge of his bed, naked and crying. He looked so pathetic. Melissa lay next to him confused, still panting.
“I’m sorry Mel, I don’t…I don’t love you…” he sobbed harshly, his voice muffled under his big hands that held his face.
“But you just said…”
“I thought you were Sally” Daniel turned to face his girlfriend, crying lonely tears and feeling ashamed.
“What? Oh my god. Daniel, are you serious? We were having sex! Why were you thinking about—” Melissa stopped mid sentence, out ragged at what she had just realised.
“I’m so sorry, I…fuck I’m sorry Melissa. I’m sorry. I’m so stupid…”
“Yeah you’re right, you are stupid. Go tell god damn Sally that you want her then. I’ll see ya.” Melissa grabbed at her clothes that were scattered around the room and started to dress herself with force as she walked away mildly uncoordinated.
Daniel heard the front door slam, and just like that she was gone. He slumped over his knees, tears streaming. ‘How could that have just happened?’ Was all he could think.
Sally walked slowly through the evening breeze and felt the cold wind kiss her pale face. The outside world seemed so quiet. Everything was peaceful. Sally continued to walk down the road as she scuffed the gravel with this tip of her shoes. She couldn’t stop thinking of Daniel. ‘Why didn’t I just talk to him when he tried?’ she questioned herself angrily. Drawing in a deep breath sally turned the corner of the street and passed an elderly couple that was holding hands smiling as they walked past her. The scene of their love made her heart sink. Why did she have to feel this way? Sally’s thoughts were broken though as she noticed a messy girl that looked like Melissa storming down the street making distressed noises as she did.
“Mel?” Sally asked some what confused.
Melissa always looked so composed and here she was almost running as she made the sounds of a two year old having a tantrum.
“What was your stupid fight about with Dan, huh? Because for some reason he’s like totally in love with you now, you bitch! What the fuck did you say to him?! Oh my god! You’re such a slut, I don’t care if everyone does think your god damn perfect because I know all you are is a loser who steals boyfriends! Me and Dan have been together since primary school Sally! That’s years! YEARS! Say something you bitch!” Melissa was hysterical, her eyes glared hatefully at Sally as she screamed.
Sally stood stunned. What was Melissa talking about?
“What? Calm down Mel, I don’t know what you’re on about. What happened?” she asked, trying to understand what Melissa had said.
Melissa laughed sarcastically as she stood mouth gaping at Sally’s response, “Why don’t you fucking go ask him then you bitch” Melissa walked past Sally eyes still glaring, hitching up her skirt madly as she did.
Sally was confused and she couldn’t even remember half of what Melissa had been screeching. All she knew was that Melissa and Daniel must have had a pretty big fight, and it was something to do with her. She reached into her jeans pocket and took out her phone. She had to ask Daniel what happened.
Ringing followed ringing as no one picked up the house phone. Sally was about to hang up, but just before she did Daniel answered.
“Hello Daniel speaking” his words were detached and off key.
Sally though she even heard him sob.
“Are you okay?”
“Sally?” Daniel’s voice brightened.
“Yeah, sorry I didn’t talk to you before but I ah…are you okay? I just ran into Melissa and she was really upset.”
Daniel didn’t answer but Sally heard him whimpering through the static of her bad reception as she listened for his answer.
“I…I’m so sorry Sal, I just…I’m sorry. Can you come over? I really need to say something to you”
“Yeah sure, ill be there is a sec. Bye” Sally hung up and began to walk quickly in the direction of Daniel’s house.
Sally tried not to walk too fast, but she wanted so badly to see him. After a few steps, Sally started to run. She ran so fast she almost tripped over the fraying bottoms of her jeans, and when she saw Daniel’s house in sight and noticed he was waiting out the front, she smiled dumbly. But she didn’t care. All she cared about was Daniel, and now she knew it was up to her to make sure he was okay.
“Sally!” Daniel practically shouted it.
He ran up and threw his arms around her, almost knocking her over as he tried to get her as close to him as he could. Sally hugged him back with equal force.
“I’m so sorry I was stupid” she said, trying not to cry as she did.
“No I’m sorry, I just…I’m so god damn stupid Sal. I’m so sorry” Daniel buried his face in her hair as he talked; he wanted to be lost in her, “I love you Sal, I’m in love with you”
Daniels eyes filled up with tears again, but this time it was good.
“I love you too” she cried back.
And as they stood on the freshly cut grass of Daniel’s front lawn, for once in her life Sally knew everything really was perfect.