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Sorry often comes too late
The autum wind blew up the leaves on the sidewalk, and they slowly, peacefully floated back into place.
Sometimes Jenny wished her life would sort itself out like the leaves, able to go back to normal after every gust of wind. There had been a storm of winds on the pavements of Jenny's life lately. And none of them had floated back into place. They were still flailing madly in the wind, not ready to go down anytime soon. It wasnt like Jenny hadn't tried. If there was a grain of sand for every time Jenny had tried, she would own a beach. She approached her front door, with its glossy white paint and shining silver handle. Her mum had always liked things just so. Her mum. Her mum was one of the gusts of wind on Jenny's pavements, with her ever-unpleasable character, her air of superiority, and her distaste for anything out of the ordinary. Maybe that was why Dad had gone. Maybe seeing your wife always beat you out, treat you like a little boy and watch her try to drive your children against you is enough to want to leave. Jenny decided it was. She put her manicured hand onto the silver knocker and knocked. Dorothy, their house keeper, opened the door. She took Jenny's bag and placed it onto the shelf by the door, and proceeded to do the same with her coat, gloves and scarf. Jenny kicked off her chocolate brown uggs and sunk her toes into the fluffy beige carpet which covered most of the bottom floor of her house. She walked into the kitchen, grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from the cooling rack. She bit into the warm cookie and forgot all about all her problems for a moment, but only a moment. Then all the thoughts came rushing back, her mum, her friends, her physical problems. She ran up to her room, past the closed door of her mother's office, and slammed the door shut. She collapsed onto her bed. She tried to cry, but the tears wouldn't come. They just wouldn't, they had come too many times before, it felt as though there were none left, she needed a reason, a physical reason, Jenny knew she shouldn't be doing this, but she couldn't help it, she ran into her marble bathroom, with the walls covered with mirrors, she kneeled down in front of the toilet, she shouldn't be doing this, but she had to.
"Well i don't know what to say, because it seems like ever since I went away I lost you as friend. Every time something happens, I call you like this, and I cry on the phone and you justify what you did, I then apologize for what you did, convince myself it was my fault, throw my last shred of dignity away and buy you a present, and all you do is throw it back at me"
She hung up.
It was her fault, it just had to be. How could the best friend, the one perfect best friend have turned on her like that? Maybe she wasn't pretty enough, maybe she wasn't skiny enough, maybe she wasn't popular enough-but there was definitely something wrong with her that had triggered this. It wasn't possible for someone to simply turn on you like that, it just wasn't. There were footsteps coming up the stairs, Jenny knew that step, the tap of the heels as they climbed up the marble stairs, the sweet but harsh voice that called her name. Jenny wiped the tears off her face, and picked up a book, opening it and sitting on her bed, apparently engrossed.
"Jenny, what are you doing reading at this hour, sweetheart, you should be working, now then dear, I pay for your school fees so that you can work hard and have a good start in life, not so that you can sit at home and read"
"Im sorry, ill start it now, i just don't have very much to do tonight, okay?"
"Don't you use that tone with me sweetie, now just get to work and be a good girl"
"I will, just go now, please, Mum?"
The door closed, and Jenny was left on her silk duvet clad double bed. I guess you could say she had everything. It looked like it from the ouside. A rich family, nice clothes, a room the size of a netball court and best friends with the most popular girls in the school. But dig deeper and you found the ripped pages underneath the glossy cover.
She slid off her bed and kneeled down near her school bag, a dark blue Longchamp, and rumaged around until she found what she was looking for- a black history file. She took it out, opened it and began to write.
"Wait, she is coming guys, be quiet!" whispered Abby to the rest of them. "Hey Jenny, how are you? I'm so sorry we coulldn't wait for you at the broadway, we thought we had netball practice, sorry!" said Molly with a sly look to Abby. They giggled. Jenny sat down at her seat in between Abby and Molly, and took her phone out of her pocket, a smile on her face.
"Look what Josh sent me last night! It's so sweet, I smiled for about four hours when i got it!"
She held out her Sidekick 3 to Abby and Molly. They exchanged offhandish glances and read the text.
"Yeah, well maybe next time try and go out with a boy who doesn't have such bad taste and so much spare time" spat Abby
Jenny squirmed in her seat. Everything she did was always so wrong, nothing about her was ever enough. But she contained the anger.
"Its not like I like him or anything like that guys, its only the text was so sweet!" she lied through her teeth. She seemed to have to do this quite a lot these days. It was the same with everything, her opinion was always branded pathetic, or even verging on embarassing.
"Yeah, anyways, Jenny, move up one, I want to tell you a secret Abby"
It was the same everyday. Jenny would promise herself to try and win her friends back, and they would always throw it right back at her. She hadn't smiled for four hours yesterday. She had been to busy making herself sick in her bathroom. But who would understand why she did it? Who would understand that it gave her a physical reason to cry, a reason for all the pain. No one. She thought about the muffin she had eaten today, the smoothie she had had on the way to school, the calories flashing across her mind; 300, 200-500.
"I need the loo, be right back!" she said to her friends, with a smile on her face. They didnt answer. She rushed down the stairs to the toilets, and stopped in front of the full length mirror. She looked at herself. Why had she eaten that muffin, the smoothie-couldn't she almost already see a bulge in her stomach, and sooner or later she would be fat, fat, fat. Or was she already? She looked at herself.
"Im fat. Im fat. Im fat" she whimpered. "I am a fat, ugly girl. I'm pathetic" and with that she rushed into the cubicle in the far corner of the loo.
It was four o'clock and Jenny was in the school loos, putting on make-up in the cubicle, not wanting anyone to realize how much she cared about how she looked when she went to the broadway after school. Her friends would probably disown her if they knew. If they knew that her heart raced everytime she saw that one boy, the boy who she had so horribly turned down. Maybe one day she might pluck up the courage to tell them how she felt, but not now. For Jenny knew that it was better to be "in" and hating life then to be "out". She came out wearing that sparkling white gold "Midnight Cowboy" eyeshadow she loved, and looked at herself in the mirror, and for once she thought that she looked quite pretty. But this moment was broken, as it always was, by Julia.
"Jenny, what have you done to your eyes, they look scary, hope your not aiming to impress anyone today because all you will do is make them run away with that face"
iJenny felt as though Julia had just slapped her in the face. She had thought she looked pretty, not scary, but she must have been wrong, she wasn't pretty. She looked tentatively at the mirror again, wondering if what she saw really was that bad. She walked silently on the way to the Broadway, listenting to her "friends" discuss High School Musical 3". They arrived in the Broadway and Abby and Molly left to get home quickly. She Julia and Katie then went to Pret, where they ordered a hot chocolate between the three of them. Jenny watched the St. Pauls Boys walk by, waiting, hoping, to see the face she longed to see. And she saw it, walking along, laughing, she saw it look around and spot her, she saw it smile hopefully. She raised a hand and waved, smiling, he waved back, and the smile streched even wider across his face.
"Who are you talking to, wait, you are speaking to Nick Robert? God Jenny, do you never learn, you can't speak to him"
Jenny had had enough, and decided to stand up for herself for once:
"Well actually I can, thank you very much, and he isn't that bad you know"
Julia and Katie sniggered. Jenny wished she hadn't said that now. She looked down at the hot chocolate and sucked on her straw, slowly watching the the cup empty, wondering what she had done to deserve this.
"Oi, stop drinking it all, I paid for it"
She slapped Jennys hand away, and spilt the drink, all over Jenny's brand new white cashmere scarf. Jenny turned on Julia
"Why did you do that? You completely ruined it, my dad got it for me on my birthday-i loved it! Your so stupid sometimes"
"Well, I'm sorry, well to be honest-"
"To be honest what?"
"Doesnt matter..." said Julia with a sly look at Katie
"What, tell me-"
"Well it's not even a very nice scarf at all, is it?"
For the second time this afternoon, Jenny felt like Julia had slapped her in the face. How could her best friends do this to her. It wasn't like Jenny had ever done anything wrong. She had always been perfect, well as close to perfect as you can get- she never blew Julia off, always listened to her problems, took public bullets for her, put up with so much bitchiness, but apprently it was all in vain. There was nothingleft for Julia with her friends, and she left, using the excuse
"I have to get home, I have an art project to do."
She didnt go home. She went outside, and rummaged in her bag-looking for a flimsy card board box-a box the contain 20 steps towards lung cancer-and took one out. She lit the cigarette and took a drag. She knew in the back of her mind that this was a bad idea, that she was going to become addicted soon and that she couldn't deny. She sometimes felt cravings for the feeling of dizzieness, the feeling that you had lost control of your limbs. Jenny needed to escape, if only for twenty seconds. And she would pay any price for that.
As the days went by, things began to get worse and worse for Jenny, everyday was an ordeal, and each time the consequences were worse. Each time someone, most generally Julia, would embarrass, insult, or hurt Jenny, she tried all the harder to cling on, to change. And it just got worse. Her self-confidence, her respect for herself, and any type of opinion she might have had was gone. No one would ever understand her. It was obvious. She had brought it upon herself- no one forced her to stick a finger down her throat, no one forced her to deprive herself of oxygen everyday after school. And then came Wednesday. It didn't seem like anything special in the morning. It wasn't anything special in the morning. But it was all but normal when Jenny got to school. She smiled at Francesca, and flinched when all she got was a blank glare. She got a lot of blank stares that morning. And it was only until she plucked up the courage to ask one of her only real friends, Juliana, if she knew why this was happening that she knew:
"Yeah, I completely failed my Maths exam you know, I probably got about 50% or something" said Juliana in a carefree manner
"Mmm, yeah" mumbeled Jenny
"Hey, are you alright, you have been acting strange all morning, what's gotten into you?"
"Well, I don't know, well, maybe you know, i don't, maybe I'm imagining it or something, but maybe its-"
"Come on, just tell what it is"
"Well, ever since I cam in this morning, everyone seems angry with me, well, not angry but just like distainful, i don't know why, but, like, do you?"
"I don't know really."
"I think you do-come on, just tell me, I won't be angry or anything, I wont mind. It isn't like i haven't had it all already"
"Well, it is just that they all know you are bulimic, don't they? And apparentley you made Julia cry yesterday by saying it was all her fault"
The moment Jenny heard the words came out of Juliana's mouth, Jenny felt her world crumble, she knew that something drastic was going to happen, now that everyone knew, she also knew something had to change. She couldn't deal with everyone knowing, the little bulimic freak, the girl who drew attention to herself, the girl who was so sad as to make her self sick because she couldn't even deal with her own lame problem.
Juliana began to speak again:
"Well, I can't say I believed them really, don't worry, I mean, you aren't really that skinny anyways are you?"
"Yeah, well, actually, it is true Juliana, so um, thanks for that."
"Oh my god, im so sorry Jenny, I didn't realize, you are skinny, you are, I just didn't want to, well, hurt you or anything"
"Yeah, it is all good, don't worry about it"
It wasn't all good though, it really wasnt. How had Julia found out? Why had she told everyone? Was it really Jenny's fault, her fault that she simply couldn't keep the food down, that she had such a bad opinion of herself, or was it?
Jenny walked down the hallway, head bent low. She didn't want to speak to anyone at the moment. All she wanted was to forget, to fall into a long dreamless sleep, just for everything to go away. Lily was walking down towards her. Lily was what Jenny would have always wanted to be. She had gorgeous flowing brown hair, which twisted into perfect ringlets. Her face was almost perfection, with an almond colour, and her blue eyes stood out from the underneath the perfectly shaped eye brows like glistening saphires, she was beautiful. She wore a royal blue high waisted skirt, with a white vest, which showed off her slim figure, she looked so perfect that you almost wanted to keep her in a glass showcase and never take her out, for fear of breaking her. Lily walked by Jenny, and she whispered to her friend Amelia's ear:
"Look, that's Jenny Miller, the bulimic one. Gosh, everyone knows she isn't actually, it is just for attention you know? That's what Molly told me, you know?"
Jenny heard this, and her horror grew even more. People weren't even going to look upon her as a disturbed little girl, they where going to think of her as an attention seeking little freak. Jenny wanted to end this now. She needed to. She began running, running towards the bathroom.
The road was empty and quiet, there was no one there, apart from a black figure, hardly visible in the distance. She took out her packet, there where only eight left now. She momentarily stopped to light the end of the cigarette and took a drag. After about five seconds, her head began to feel heavy, she took another drag, she felt like there was a hot water bottle in her lungs. She took another, and another. The more she took, the more she became immune to the outside world, to her feelings. Soon enough, there was only a filter left, and Jenny took another one out. She was begining to feel as though she wasn't in her body, like she was looking at it from above. She was getting closer to the figure, she could almost see it's face now-it looked familiar, very familiar, and then it hit her, it was Nick. Her Nick. She knew she needed to speak to him, she increased her pace. She was ten meters away, five, four, three, two, one.
"Nick. I dont know how to say this.Look, this is going to sound so strange, but listen, four months ago, I made a massive mistake. I turned down just about the nicest boy I have ever met. And I have regretted it ever since. So I was wondering wether that boy would consider maybe, just maybe, asking himself if his feelings are still the same. Because that girl knows what she wants now. And she really, really, really means it"
"Jenny, you hurt me so much. And if you had told me this anytime before today, my answer would have definitley been a straight yes. I love you, I have for a long time, and probably still will for a very long time as well. But I know you don't. I know that you don't. And I know why you are doing this now. Julia told me. I know. And to be honest, I take back what I said before. I don't love you anymore. Being sad is one thing, but pretending to have an eating disorder and blaming it on your best friend is another thing. Now that everyone has seen through the act and sees you in your true colours, you come running to me. Expecting open arms were you? Well don't. Because you are going to fight this one alone. You brought it upon yourself"
"No, Nick, please, no. Listen! I'm not the liar, I'm not, I promise you. I do love you, I promise you. It was Julia, she made me say no, she told me I couldn't. And I listened to her. Im sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so, so, so sorry. I never should have done that, it was my fault, please, come back, please" Jenny cried, but the tears wouldn't come, they just wouldn't.
"I can't believe that you would sink so low as to blame this all on your friend. She was the one who tried to save your friendship, and you blew it apart. And now you are lying to me. You think that now maybe I am at your level, that you aren't superior to me, that I will be there for you. Maybe you think that now that all your old friends can't look at you in the same way as they did before, that they can't stand you. Wellif you do that means at least you have an inch of common sense. Because they won't. And I won't. You don't lie about eating disorders, and you certainetly dont blame them on others. I'm done Jenny, I'm done." and with that he walked away, leaving Jenny a heaving mess, and still the tears wouldn't come. She walked silently to her bus stop, stopping only at the local drug store:
"Sorry, I need to pick up some sleeping pills for my mum, they come in a blue box I think, just a pack of twenty four please" she lied through her teeth faking yet another smile.
the store assistant handed her a dark blue box, containg 24 little white pills. Jenny paid for them and walked out of the shop, clutching the bag tightly to her chest. She waited for her bus, and after exactly four minutes, it came. She clambered on, and found a seat at the back of the bus. She plugged her headphones in and looked outside, out onto the busy road, watching the passerbys hurry past, lulled by the sound of her music.
Jenny walked through her front door ten minutes later, and hid the plastic bag in her sweatshirt. She clambered up the stairs to her room, and locked the door. She changed into her black leggings and her checkered white jumper. She put on that scarf she loved so dearly, with it's coffee stains and all, and tied her hair back into a ponytail. She unlocked her door and went out to her bathroom, the bathroom with the mirrors, taking a small glass from the tray and filling it up halfway with water. She came back into her room. Jenny sat her self down at her desk and began writing. She wrote a few, simple sentences, they were enough. And at the end, in her small, neat script, she wrote "I still love you Nick, I always have and I always will".
And for the first time, the tears came, they came easily, they came of their own free will. Jenny opened the dark blue box, and took out all twenty four of the pills. She put them into her hand popped them all into her mouth at once. She took a gulp of water and swallowed. She finished her glass, and lay down on the bed, curled up, holding that teddy bear she and Julia had bough together. She was going to sleep now, and she wasn't going to have to wake up, ever.