Perfect Secrets

July 26, 2011
I’d known Angela Lawrence since the second grade. And somehow, she’d always managed to outshine me. We’d grown up in the same small part of Queens. We had gone to the same schools, but she was different. Different than me or the other teenagers in my school or anyone I’d ever met really. Maybe it was in the way she conducted herself with an air of subtle grandeur, like she was destined for something better. Or maybe it was her looks that set her apart, her gold locks, eyes as mesmerizing as a spring day, and her way of looking as though she was walking on air. I’d always stood in her shadow, in grades, looks, abilities, talent. In being different, special. But none of that made me dislike her, how could I? Not only was she perfect, she was also nice. Never arrogant or entitled she always treated everyone as a friend, complimenting them on hidden details, or simply gracing them with a smile. She never raised her voice and had a peculiar laugh that made everyone smile. She never bragged about anything at all and when people mentioned her new shoes, or her shinny laptop, she blushed crimson. I already mentioned that I did not dislike her but whenever I saw her, the green monster reared its ugly head. Making me doubt her angelic qualities and question her sincerity. Twisting my insides until I became sick, disgusted by her and everything about her. I was so jealous; it scared me.

She woke up in her dingy room, earlier than usual, her hair in a tangled mess. She got up right away not wasting a second. She had so much to do, so much to think about, she often wondered how her brain still functioned properly. She walked to the light switched and flicked it open, nothing happened. She repeated the action multiple times, but still the light bulbs stayed dark.

“Great.” She thought sarcastically. “Dad forgot again.” Deep down she had a feeling that he might not have been able to pay the electric bill. She picked up stray articles of clothing from the floor and dumped them onto her chair. She then ran into the bathroom, brushed her teeth and started running water for a shower. She stood on the cracked bathroom tiles waiting for the water to turn hot. She passed her fingertips underneath the droplets of water and flinched as the stone cold water grazed them. She looked at her watch, 7:15 it read.
“I’ll just take my shower later” she thought hurriedly. She ran a brush through her hair, with a lot of effort. And splashed some cold water on her face.
“I guess this will have to do.” She murmured to herself.
She walked back into her room, the door creaking as she opened it. The walls were painted a faded khaki, the paint was peeling and yellowish streaks could be seen beneath it. She’d tried to cover them with posters of the Rolling Stones and The Beatles. She loved the era they lived in and everything they stood for, or at least part of what they represented. She felt it was a simpler time, where you were allowed to truly be whom you were. She pulled on a pair of jeans and a scoop neck warm gray sweater. She looked at herself in her mirror, the dark circles under her eyes didn’t diminish their brightness, and her continuously messy locks complimented her heart-shaped face. She dabbed some lip-gloss over her perfectly drawn lips, grabbed her bag, and there she was, ready to face the world.

I lay down on my bed flipping through a magazine, my friend Scarlet sat on the plush carpet next to my bed, reading the latest tabloid.

“Hey! Oh-My-G-d, look at this,” she jumped, showing me a glossy page.

“What?” I grabbed the magazine, turning it,

“Doesn’t that look exactly like Angela Lawrence?” she pointed to an airbrushed celebrity.

“Um… no it doesn’t” I raised my eyebrows at Scarlet and turned back to my magazine.

“Oh come on, you know they sort of do look alike, Angie really looks like she should be in this magazine. And she’s so nice, yesterday I needed a spoon and she went all the way down to the cafeteria to get it for me, I mean it’s not such a big thing but who else would do that? She’s totally getting elected class president, everyone loves her.” Scarlett added jumping onto my bed. I looked at her feeling annoyed, I had wanted to run for class president and I would have to if Angela hadn’t been nominated.

“Why can’t Sam win? He’s a good candidate too, Angela already does so much at school, do you really think she can handle being class president too?” I asked. Scarlet stared at me in surprise,

“Why wouldn’t you want her to win? Aren’t you guys friends?”

“We are” I mumbled, “I mean we were, I don’t really know what happened, we’ve known each other for so long but I guess when we started growing apart once we got to high school.” I thought back to all those sleepovers in this very same room, days at the mall trying on shoes too big for us, playing in my backyard, and painting our toenails bright red.
“For some reason once we got to high school she’d stopped coming to my house, and it felt like she avoided my calls.” I continued. “Maybe she felt I wasn’t ‘cool’ enough for her.” I shrugged.
“Wow, I didn’t know that.” Scarlet replied, turning back to her magazine.

Angela walked through the automatic sliding doors of Flushing Medical Hospital, up to the front desk. A nurse wearing polka-dotted pink scrubs smiled at her,
“Hi Angie” she said. Angela grinned back,
“Hey Lucy, can I go in to see her?”
“Of course.” Lucy answered, “You’re such a good kid, Hon, she’s lucky to have you.” Lucy added patting Angela on the shoulder. Angela grinned sadly and walked down the immaculately clean halls. She stopped at Room 310 and she pushed the heavy door open. These she was, lying on an uncomfortable looking bed. She wore a white hospital robe and the blue sheets were pulled up to her chest. Her gold hair cascaded down her shoulders, and her face looked pale as snow. She looked so frail and breakable with machines hooked up to her monitoring her every breath, waiting for it to stop. Angela took a seat next to her and grabbed her hand holding it between her own. She looked up,
“Hi Mom.” She whispered.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation I’d had with Scarlet and decided that maybe I did need to get back in touch with Angela, maybe she had an explanation. I looked through my phone for her number, I dialed it but there was no answer. I then decided to try her home number, it rang three, long unbearable rings until finally I heard a scruffy voice,

“Hello?” the voice asked.

“Hi, Mr. Lawrence, its Carly, is Angela home?”

“Who? Um no, I think she went out,” he paused, “she’s visiting her mother.”

“Her mother? Why?” I inquired feeling perplexed.

“Waddya mean why? Is this some type of sick joke? Because it’s not funny.” I heard the dial tone; he had hung up. Feeling even more confused I decided to drive to her house, maybe I had dialed the wrong number, or Mr. Lawrence was playing the joke on me, no. That didn’t seem possible there had to be an explanation, and I was going to find it.

I drove to Angela’s house; she only lived a couple of blocks away from me. I walked up the concrete steps and ran the doorbell. A woman wearing a dirty apron and holding a baking glove opened the door. She whipped some flour from her curly brown hair and smiled,

“Can I help you?” she asked

“Um… yes, I’m looking for Angela Lawrence, but I think I got the wrong house.”

“I’m sorry, she doesn’t live here” she frowned. I started turning back to my car when she called after me,

“Wait a minute, did you say Lawrence?” I quickly turned back and nodded.

“Well the previous owners were named Lawrence, terrible, its just terrible, what happened to them.” She shook her head.

“What happened?” I asked, confused.

“Didn’t you hear?” she had a sad look in her eyes, as she said, “The mother, well, she was in a car accident, never woke up, she’s in a coma. And the father he just couldn’t handle it he moved them out of this house him and that sweet girl, what’s her name?”

“Angela” I interjected.

“Yes Angela, such a pretty girl, and so polite, well anyway, he lost his job and now he works at the gas station They live on the other side of town, the poor girl works 2 jobs to pay for high school tuition and college and to help with the bills. I really don’t know how she does it.” She sighed. I turned around and walked back to my car, shell-shocked.
Angela got home late. After visiting her mother she had gone to the library to study and then to the 7-11 for her shift. She turned the key and walked into the house, her father sat on the patched up couch, watching television.

“I guess the electricity’s back on” she thought to herself. She walked behind the couch heading for the stairs, the floorboards creaking with every one of her steps.

“Angie,” he called, “someone called for you, a Cassie or Chloe” she turned back facing him,

“Carly?” she asked.

“Yeah that was it,” he mumbled turning back to the screen. Angela felt confused; she wondered why Carly was calling her. They hadn’t had a real conversation in years not since the accident. Really, she hadn’t had a real conversation with any of her friends; it was so hard being close to them without telling them, without breaking. She had always been perfect and she wanted to keep it that way no matter what the universe threw at her. It sounded extreme but why did they need to know anyhow? So they could coddle her and give her pitiful looks? Of course some people knew her principal, and guidance counselor, but none of her peers, sometimes it was so hard keeping the secret inside. They complimented her on her shoes and all she could think was “I worked for 13 hours to be able to afford these.” They asked her if she wanted a ride home, she thought, “no because I don’t want you to see my house, I’m ashamed of it, I’m ashamed of my life.” They asked her if she wanted to hang out on Sunday, she thought “on Sundays I visit my mother, she’s in the hospital, she cant see me, or talk to me, I don’t even know if she can hear me, she’s practically dead, and I don’t know how to deal with it.” She thought all these things but she never said them, maybe it was time she did. She picked up the phone and dialed.


“Hello?” I said as I picked up the phone.

“Hey Carly, it’s me, Angie” She said in a small voice.

“Oh… hi” I didn’t know how to start our long over due conversation, their was only one thing I could really say,

“Angie, why didn’t you ever tell me?”
Angela and I talked for hours she told me about her mother and how sad she was, how she wanted to keep up the image of herself that she had before it had all happened, but how now she knew that it was impossible, that no one was perfect, she had to accept that she wasn’t the same person and that had to deal with it. The next day she went to talk to the guidance counselor and finally got some of the feelings she had bottled up out. Then, Scarlet and I drove her home. The next day everyone knew that Angela Lawrence did not live in a big house with everything that she could ever want and that she wasn’t the perfect girl that they all thought she was. But no one treated her differently, and the next week, when she was elected class president, it didn’t surprise anyone except for Angela herself.

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