Living a Lie‘Fliss – wait up!’
Oh hell. A bright, chirpy voice in my ear, the sort of cheerful tone I didn’t deserve – by the person I deserved as my friend even less.
Why is life so cruel?
‘Oh, hi, Summer,’ I forced a smile – luckily, Summer, who had picked up on my mood, misunderstood.
She pulled a face. ‘Was that Ms Thompson going on at you?’
I gave a non-committal shrug. ‘Not that much. She was more nosy than angry.’
‘Oh – it’s just you took ages! I decided to wait out here – but Steve went all weird on me and said he had somewhere to be,’ Summer told me, and a needle of guilt pricked in my chest.
‘Oh, how strange,’ I muttered lamely, crossing my brows.
‘You OK Fliss? It’s just, don’t take this the wrong way – but you’re going kind of weird on me too,’ Summer said in ironic concern.
I couldn’t take the guilt consuming me from all sides – I felt dizzy, sick, cold...evil. I cringed away from the word, but who else was capable of betraying such a kind-hearted, loyal, compassionate, cheerful friend?
Who else but me?
‘I feel sick,’ I whispered – and I did – sick of myself, of Steve, of my parents, and how they had shown me firsthand that love didn’t work in the real world. The second person to show me that had been Steve.
Summer started fussing immediately, enquiring about a headache, stomach ache, sore throat, maybe something I ate?
Summer had always wanted to be a nurse – she loved looking after people, tending to them, taking in loveable, injured strays that would one day turn into real-life human patients.
How she was going to hate me – if she found out. No amount of nursing would bring back the friendship, the laughter, the cheesy love films and the popcorn, the best friends’ bracelet I had given her aged five that she still wore –
Friendships are so easily broken, but not so easily fixed. I mean, if I told her, yeah, she would hate Steve, curse him, nurse a broken heart – but in time, she’d get over it, maybe even forgive him – but she would never forgive me.
Best friends are supposed to be there for each other, trust each other – and on the surface, I was all those things and more as well as Summer, sweet Summer – but on the inside, I knew I was rotten to the core.
It might sound harsh – I mean, I know it was just one kiss and I tried to avoid him and put an end to any flirtations – but I didn’t stop longing for him, not really – even though I knew friends are worth more - always.
Like I said, I was such an idiot.
‘I’m fine, Summer, honestly,’ I waved away her concerns with a bright smile that did not quite reach my eyes.
Summer scrutinised me, and I felt myself shrink a little beneath her gaze, as though my sins would rise from the surface and engulf us both in her pain and my shame.
I thought about telling her, I really did, but I just couldn’t be the one to break my best friend’s heart; of course, unknowingly to her, I already had, but I was a coward. And I still found myself falling in love with Steve – not for his fluttery lashes or warm hazel eyes or easy-going smile – those were things to be liked, adored – no, I loved the person behind the wise-cracks – the boy who came after me, time and time again, waited for me, flirted with me, even told me I looked pretty on a date with his girlfriend, who just happened to be my best friend, on the night we kissed...
It was all so complicated – but I knew one thing – that kiss had sent fireworks rocketing through my dismal state of mind, had made my heart fly like a hummingbird’s, had made the soul of my heart seep into my cheeks in the form of two pink stains – and in that one, unchangeable, irresistible, selfish moment, nothing else mattered. I loved that feeling. That I was safe, protected from the world’s troubles, and all I could see were dancing stars.
I knew it was love, then, knew it was hopeless, as I stared into the wide, concerned eyes of the girl I called my best friend, but I also knew, from one glance at the childish threaded bracelet swinging from her innocent wrist that I had to fight it.
I had vowed, time and time again, but now I had accepted my true feelings, I had to reject them almost instantly, and that made it all the more impossible – it hurt; but Summer would hurt more if I told her.
Later, at home, lying on my bed struggling to drown out the sounds of my parents screaming at each other, I wondered if that was how Summer, Steve and I would end up – full of hate and resentment and broken love for each other that just couldn’t be fixed – because there could be no happy ending, not for me, anyway – the best way to keep everyone happy was to carry on living a lie.