“April, wake up.” I knew it was my mother from the second she walked in. My mother always had a sense of urgency in her voice. She tried to hide her this by smiling and adding a silky softness to her tone, but nothing could hide the underlining stress that was eminent to all of us. I pretended not to hear her as she came up to my bed. Only my mother would wake me up at the crack of dawn during school holidays, the one time I could sleep in. “April, you have to get up. I told Jenny we would meet her at the Patisserie in an hour.” Jenny was my mother’s closest friend. She was beautiful and smart, but seemed to be a bit of a weight on the shoulders. Her punctuality could not possible have been considered a strength. Her life was far to organised, which led my mother to feel obliged to keep up with her obsessions. I felt her cold hand touch my back and flinched. I slowly turned around and shut my eyes tightly to block out the brilliant light of the sun. “Mom, I’m going to Kate’s house now. I’m going to have to miss breakfast with Jenny.” My mother sighed, trying to make me feel guilty about my decision. It never worked. “Very well then,” she said. “Just be sure to clean your room before she fetches you, okay?” We both knew that was never going to happen but I nodded convincingly, trying to comfort her and take away some of the worry in her eyes. She smiled slightly, sighed and gracefully walked out of my room. Her steps were so gentle on my wooden floor that it was hard to be sure that she had left, but by the time I turned to look, she was gone.
When I got downstairs my mother had left for a meeting. I heard the office door screech open as my father walked out with an ominous expression upon his face. I looked away quickly pretending not to notice his presence. As usual he did not acknowledge mine either. My father and I had not said a decent word to each other for just over a year. He disgusted me, just as he disgusted most of the people who had the dismay of meeting him. He was a tall man with strong features, and black, greying hair. He was someone who was easily feared. He always enjoyed the power he felt by seeing the fear portrayed in others. There was a sudden uncomfortable stillness between us. I looked his way and saw the back of his neck stiffen as he slowly stirred his cup of coffee. I felt anger grow within me as I continued to look his way. It often happened that when his presence was bestowed upon me I felt a sort of uncontrollable rage. Tears welled in my eyes. The pain I felt within me was seeping through my skin. I slowly drew in a breath and closed my eyes, but by the time I had opened them again, he was gone. A chill ran down my spine and I jumped as I heard the office door slam shut. I wiped the one tear from my face that had managed to escape and slowly headed upstairs to my room to pack for my weekend with Kate.
Kate and I had been friends for years now, ever since we had been placed next to each other in the bus for a third grade outing. We were like two peas in a pod. Her family was my family, and the best part was we lived just up the road from each other. Kate was the one person who truly knew me for me. We always had the best times together, eating junk food, talking about our latest crushes and laughing uncontrollably just because we could. I knew this weekend would get my mind off the stresses at home.
I had just finished packing my bag for Kate’s house when my phone rang. I picked it up only to hear the voice that always made me smile, “Hey! Are you hibernating or something? I’ve been ringing on your doorbell for the last twenty minutes!” I laughed slightly and said, “Sorry, I’ll be right out.” When I walked out I saw Ellie, Kate’s mom, and Kate waiting in the car. Kate had a dazzling smile running across her face. Just seeing her made me feel happy. In my eyes, she was beautiful. She was pale skinned, with striking light blue eyes and faded blonde hair. She had freckles on her cheeks and always presented herself with envious confidence. I climbed into the car and felt sudden warmth fill my soul. I smiled and asked, “So, how are you two doing?” Ellie looked at Kate then smiled, “Lovely thanks April, and you?” Ellie seemed to be herself, but Kate was hiding something. I could tell by the held back laughter that was- clearly evident in her expression. “Alright spit it out,” I said as we approached the stop street. “What?” She said protectively, but I could clearly tell she wanted me to know. I kept quiet for a good ten seconds before she couldn’t hold it in much longer.”Calvin likes me, and we’re kind of like... a thing!!!” In our language, “a thing” meant you were dating, but without the tags of “boyfriend” or girlfriend”, or more correctly, without commitment. Kate had like Calvin for a while now; I knew this even though she never admitted it. I, on the other hand, hardly knew Calvin and was still a little bit sceptic, however, she seemed happy and that was all that mattered. So, enthusiastically I said, “Wow Kate. That’s wonderful. You two have such chemistry, its crazy!” She gave me another wide smile and I knew, or rather, hoped it would last.
I was always very sceptic about relationships. I loved boys, but hated the idea of forever. I was afraid of commitment. To me, marriage seemed like an instantaneous death sentence. I guess that was why none of my relationships lasted very long. As soon as a relationship began to get “serious” my mind filled with trepidation and doubt, so I escaped it before I was trapped.
We pulled into the driveway of Kate’s house. It was a charming place, with a beautifully finished garden surrounding the entrance. I was in my element from the second I walked in. The scent of vanilla incense lingered in the air. Her house was warm and homey, it made me feel safe. I heard voices upstairs. Then a sudden scream echoed in the house and silence fell around us. By the cheers that were heard after this I realised that a Bull’s rugby match must have been in progress. “Does Josh have friends over?” I asked. Josh was Kate’s brother. He had striking blond hair, a big build and a reddened freckled face. He was a wonderful, down to earth guy. The big brother I never had. Weekends, in Josh’s vocabulary, meant party time, so it was only natural that Kate answered with a conspicuous monotone, “Yes... he does.” We stood in an uncomfortable silence for a good couple of minutes, I knew she knew what I was thinking as she soon broke the silence saying, “Oh come on, lets go say hello.”
Kate new I had a bit of a weakness for cute boys. I never took action but I loved to look and well, flirt. She pulled open the sliding door and we headed upstairs. The- first person I saw was Josh, who immediately came to say hello and gave me a hug. “Here to see the Bulls thrash the Lions are we?” Josh teased. In rugby I was a Lions supporter. As for Kate and Josh however, it was Bulls all the way. Truth be told, they were thrashing us- a whopping 36-6. I smiled and giggled slightly, “Can’t say I’m not surprised.” I sighed. The Lions hadn’t won a match against the Bulls for a decent 6 years. Just then Kate coughed slightly, looking worried. I looked to my left and there on the couch he was sitting, looking attentively at me. “You remember Luke, right?” Josh said. Of coarse I did. The last time I saw Luke he was drunk out of his mind and slurring on about who knows what. But, that was three years ago, we had changed since then, I hoped. “Yes, I do.” I answered, lifting my hand in a sign of greeting in his direction. Luke was built; he had blonde hair and blue grey eyes and was average in height. But he had a sort of secrecy in his eyes, which was hard to finger-point at first. He nodded in my direction and I smiled slightly. Josh then broke the silence, “Kate please go and ask mom if we’re going out tonight.” Kate snorted faintly. “Yeah right. You go ask her! Get off your lazy butt for once in your life.” Josh and Kate continued to quarrel on in their usual manner, but I still hadn’t taken my eyes off of Luke, who was now looking at the TV again and casting the occasional glance in my direction.
Luke and I had met a couple of times before. He lived a good five hours drive from the city, and was therefore only an occasional addition to the Anderson household. Josh and Luke had known each other since they were in diapers and were best buds. Their parents had been varsity friends, and therefore Luke was considered family. Kate was rather sceptic of him, and they had never really gotten along. It was for that reason that my initial opinion of Luke was fundamentally negative.
It was then that Ellie walked in, breaking up the bickering between Kate and Josh, and the tension between Luke and I. Ellie was a truly amazing person. She had lived a life of hardships, but always believed that you could learn more from hardships then let them bring you down. She had battled cancer a few years before and had still managed to face everyday as a strong willed optimist. She was down to earth and always had a positive attitude about everything. Ellie was never afraid to live her life. She loved to drink and party, and wanted to stay young forever. She had short, spiky, bleach blond hair; brown eyes and a slim figure. I loved Ellie for all she was and more.
“If any of you get hungry you can just order takeaways, there’s money on the kitchen table.” The score for the rugby had now advanced to 48-9. “Too bad your team sucks.” Luke said jokingly. I looked at him, amazed that he had spoken to me. Luke was generally a very loud person, but to me, I was lucky if he’d even give me the time of day. “Too bad.” I said half smiling, but still unable to hide my shocked expression, these were after all the first words Luke had spoken to me in three years.
When the game was over, and the Bulls had won a whopping 64-23, Josh and Luke had downed a decent 4 beers each. I looked at Josh and Luke arm in arm, screaming “BULLE”. Their shouts of victory made me laugh and I turned to show Kate the clear disappointment that my team had won, but when I looked to my side I did not see my friend as a dark shadow was covering her once conspicuous smile.
PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF MY FIRST CHAPTER=) let me know if you want to read more of How to Say Goodbye=) thanks