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My secret

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I promised myself I wouldn’t tell him. I promised myself I wouldn’t tell anybody. But one night—it was a Sunday—my phone vibrated and it was him, just a short text message asking me what I was up to. I almost replied like I always did—not much, you? But I stopped short and instead told him how I wasn’t feeling well. Was it the flu, he wanted to know, because that was going around. Or I might just have that 24-hour bug. I almost didn’t correct him. I almost said that it was just a headache. Or a stomachache. Or a sore throat.

But I instead I said, no, it’s not anything like that.

Oh, he replied.

Let me go to bed now, I almost said. But I didn’t. Instead, I asked him if I could trust him with a secret. Of course he said I could. But this was a secret he might want to share and that if I told him he mustn’t tell anyone. He assured me that this secret would be safe with him.

But I couldn’t do it and I told him so. It was fine, he said, I didn’t have to talk if I didn’t want to. But, he added, I did know that he was there if I needed him, right?

I know that, and thanks, it means a lot.

I almost stopped the conversation right there. Instead, I told him that I wanted—no, needed—to share, but I couldn’t bring myself to form the words that would expel my secret into the world. Could he please guess? What are some of the worst things that could happen to you? Just list them off and you’ll probably get close.

Murder, he said. Rape. Torture.

The second one. My hands were shaking.

That’s awful. That’s terrible. I’m so sorry that happened to you. Even through the text message, I could hear his voice, the honesty, the good intention. I could imagine how he yearned to comfort me through his cell phone.

I’m sorry I told you that, I said. I shouldn’t have.

No, I’m glad you shared. You know I’m always here for you, right? That was the second time he said that, but it didn’t change its effect or its meaning. It compelled me to share.

I was ten the first time it happened, I said. It went on for months and I’ve never told anyone before and today I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to tell someone.

I’m glad you shared, he said. I bet you feel better.

It was funny he mentioned that. I didn’t feel better—worse actually. I felt shamed, dirty, feelings I hadn’t felt since I was ten. I told him so.

It wasn’t your fault, he assured me. Don’t feel ashamed. You’re not dirty.

Somehow those words comforted me.

Thanks for listening to me, I said. Goodnight.

Goodnight, he replied.

For the first time in nearly six years, I was able to fall asleep with my conscience cleared. Somehow, by telling my best friend since fourth grade what had happened to me, I was able to split the burden between myself and him. Sticks and stones can break my bones, and miraculously, a few words healed me.





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DanceAway This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 3, 2010 at 3:21 pm
Im sorry you had to go through that. This is an interesting story, and its very well written. 
 
Jordan said...
Feb. 24, 2010 at 4:27 pm
I like your writing style
 
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