Weeping Willow

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Chapter Six - You're Worth More

It felt odd to go to bed without writing out a diary entry to Stef. I’d written to her every night since I’d got the laptop. With no other choice though I climbed into bed and stared at the ceiling as I waited for the room to grow darker. I drifted off at some point, because when I woke, it was still dark, but downstairs I could hear the all too familiar shouting.

Mom was back.

I sat up and for a moment perched on the side of my bed, as I contemplated my next move. Quickly I remembered what had happened last time I had a second thought and leapt to my feet. I raced downstairs and found my parents in the living room. My father stood tall, all six foot 3 of him, towering over my much shorter mother. He had his hand gripped tightly around my her arm, while she stood cowering. My presence caused the yelling to stop. They both turned their heads and looked at me. My father’s face was dark and full of anger, he seemed to be barely holding it together. My mother also seemed to be struggling to keep it together, but unlike my father it was turmoil and heartbreak forcing its way to the surface.

I stood there, with my hands on my hips, feigning strength and resilience, even though I didn’t feel it.

“Let go of her.” I said slowly, keeping my voice stable and calm.

“This has nothing to do with you girl.” My father exclaimed, his voice while loud, had started to weaken.

“Actually it has everything to do with me.” I retorted. “Let go of her.”

His eyes narrowed and I watched as his anger continued to boil over. He released my mother’s arm theatrically, raising his own up in the air he shrugged and turned his lip up at me.

“I should have known you’d take her side. You’re just like her.” he scathed as he walked to the front door. As it slammed behind him, my mother jumped. She let out a small gasp and shook her head.

“Willow.” She began. “Your father was just mad because he didn’t know where I was.”

I rolled my eyes. She was terrified, and for some reason still defending him.

“I didn’t know where you were either and I’m not acting like a raving lunatic about it.” I exclaimed. “What he did the other day, and how he was just now… how he is when he’s here. Mom… you’re worth more.”

She smiled and shook her head. “We’re childhood sweethearts honey. He’s just stressed with work… things will get better. They always do. You’re a child. I don’t expect you to understand matters of the heart. When you’re older… when you first fall in love… you’ll see.”

I listened to her, and as she spoke I couldn’t help but wonder if she was trying to make herself believe what she was saying, or make me believe. It didn’t matter, I already knew that why I had spent most of my youth witnessing was not normal. I’d been through too much, stuff I hadn’t dealt with, stuff I’d pushed to the back of my mind and it had forced me to grow up, far to young. I shook my head. I didn’t want to think about that, I had shut out the thoughts since before Stefanie had left… She had been the only one who knew, and I’d told myself that secret left with her.

“You’re right, I haven’t fallen in love before.” I whispered. “And I don’t presume to understand how relationships work… but I do know that striking fear into the hearts of those you love shouldn’t be a common feature.”

Mom’s eyes glazed over and she smiled. She stepped forward and placed her arms around me. She felt frail and weak, and I wondered if she even knew it. She wasn’t the once vivacious women I’d known when I was younger. I wasn’t sure when things changed, or why… but they had and ever since then I’d been plotting how to run away from it all… but it was becoming ever clearer… I couldn’t do that, if it meant leaving her behind.

“You should get back to bed honey.” She murmured softly. “You have school tomorrow.”

I held on to the embrace a little longer before leaving and heading upstairs. I left her knowing that my father probably wouldn’t return tonight. They’d had arguments late at night before, and they all usually ended with him leaving and not coming home for a few days. It was almost hypocritical of him to lose his shit over Mom being AWOL for a few hours when I thought about it. Not that he would think about it.

I climbed into bed and forced myself to go back to sleep, even though my mind was wide awake. When I woke the next morning, I sat up and looked over at my alarm clock on my desk. Before I even took note of the time I noticed that my laptop was back. I smiled and walked over to the desk and glanced down. Mom had taped a note to the top.

Sorry xx

I sat down at the desk and opened the lid gingerly. Dad wasn’t known for tenderness, and I was worried about the damage. Luckily the screen booted to life the moment it was full open. My chat box with G still open.

G - Hello?

G - You disappeared on me W. Are you okay?

G - W, I’m sorry forget I even mentioned prom okay. It was just an idea. Obviously not a good one.

G - I wish I had your phone number. I’d call just to make sure you’re okay.

G - I just… I felt like you were about to open up to me…

G - I sent you an email.

I frowned at the screen, I hated that I’d made him worry. I opened my emails, but there was nothing there. Dad must have intercepted.

S - Sorry. Dad took my computer last night.

S - I didn’t get the email… he must have deleted it before I could.

I went to close the screen, but before I did the chat box sounded. I opened the screen and read the reply.

G - I figured he had. S, I was really worried. Are you okay?

S - I’m okay. I’m about to get ready for school. What was in the email?

G - Oh I just asked if you were okay. Your Dad kind of told me not to talk to you anymore.

S - He talked to you? Oh god. G, I’m so sorry.

G - Don’t be, I get how parents can be. I just don’t want to get you into trouble.

S - You won’t. I’d better go. I’ll message you at school.

I closed the laptop lid and sunk into my chair. Obviously my father had replied to G’s email and then cleared my account out. I struggled not to feel embarrassed, I’d managed to keep the drama away from other people. Stefanie had known though, it had been our plan to run away to the city together after school. Her parents weren’t like my Father by any means, but this place reminded her of too much, and like me she wanted to escape… in the end she did I guess, just not to the place we’d planned on.

I closed my eyes and let out a sigh, I had to get ready for school. Using all the strength I could muster I forced myself up onto my feet and walked to my closet. I may as well have kept my eyes closed because I blindly grabbed clothing and walked from my room, into the bathroom. After a quick shower I dressed in the jeans and t-shirt I’d grabbed then went downstairs to the kitchen. Mom sat at the table in her robe, nursing a coffee. She looked up at me, her eyes hollow and sunken in, like she hadn’t slept. I forced a half smile on to my face and picked an apple out of the fruit basket.

“Off to school?” she asked softly.

I nodded. I was afraid to speak, incase I said something to upset her.

“No lunch?”

“I still have the $20 you left me yesterday. I’ll buy something.”

She smiled and turned back to her coffee, slipping her hands around the mug. “See you after school.” She replied, her voice barely more than a whisper.


I was early for school, and so I went straight to the library and sat down the computers. I signed into chat and before I could do anything else a chat box popped up.

G - You here?

S - At school? Yeah.

G - Are you sure you’re okay?

S - I promise. My dad… he can just be… strict I guess. He isn’t an issue though.

G - If you want to talk… I’m here.

S - I kind of just want to forget about home.

G - The offers always there.

S - Thanks…

S - G, I’m glad I ended up tutoring you… even if you didn’t really need it.

G - Are you kidding, I needed it. I was still behind, regardless of having the smarts. I needed you to wake me up and for what it’s worth. I’m glad you ended up tutoring me too.

S - I’d better go to my locker and sort out stuff before first period. Thanks for being a good friend G.

G - I’m the one who should be thanking you. Thank you S.

I signed out of chat and stood up. I still had most of my school books in my backpack and it was like carrying around 20 pounds of rocks. The walk to school had been bad enough, I didn’t want to have to pick it up six more times today. I made my way to my locker, and gingerly turned the lock. I hadn’t been back since the paint bomb, hence why my bag was still so heavy.

I opened it slowly and stepped out of the line of fire, almost wincing as I waited for the inevitable bang. Only, it didn’t happen. With a sigh of relief and pulled my bag around and opened it, unloading the books into the small metal compartment as quickly as I could. While I might have been lucky that there was no paint bomb in my locker, my luck ran out when it came to avoiding Tiffany and her group of goons. The moment I closed my locker and turned around, just happened to be the moment they all walked by. She stopped, turned and smirked at me before folding her arms across her chest. Like the epitome of high school cliche in every high school movie I’d ever seen, she and her friends stood in a V shape, wearing the same cheerleading outfits, standing in the same aggressively bitchy way. I frowned and went to walked away, only Tiffany stepped closer, into my personal space. Her perfectly preened eyebrows arched and she licked her lips.

“Not so blue today then?” She outstretched a hand and lifted the corner of my t-shirt sleeve up and laughed as she spoke again. “Although, I’m sure it would improve this ensemble.”

“Move.” I replied, my voice devoid of feeling. She couldn’t know that she was getting to me, that with every second she stood in front of me looking down on me, she filed away at what little resolve I had. I could feel my throat begin to close with anxiety, my palms grew clammy and my heart pounded. I was inches away from a full out panic attack, but I couldn’t let her know.

“You look like you’re about to cry Sasquatch.” She laughed again.

I felt like it too, like the tears were on the verge of forming and falling from my eyes within a split second. But I couldn’t… I couldn’t let her win.

“You think too much of yourself.” I retorted.

Her smiled curled into a cruel smirk once more. She moved closer, and stared down at me. At 5”11 she had 6 inches on me and in that moment it was intimidating.

“A friend mentioned you and my boyfriend are partnered in music.” her voice was low and threatening. “You will make sure that the teacher separates you.”

All the fear within me continued to course, but curiosity grew. Was Tiffany, all 5”11 beautiful blonde bombshell of her really threatened by me? 5’5, curvy… a bookish nerd with no style.

I let out a laugh, which clearly did not go down well because the almost jovial look in Tiffany’s face fell away, leaving only anger. “You mean ex.” I said, against my better judgment.

“You’d best be careful Willow.” She whispered. “I can be a nasty bitch if you cross me.”

I shook my head, a stroke of faux strength came from within me and I pushed her aside. “As opposed to what exactly.”

I walked off, away from the group of pathetic girls who for some mind boggling reason saw me as a threat. By the time I made it to music class, I already regretted my decision to ‘fight back’. It seemed the rumour of what had happened had spread as I made my way down the corridor. By the time I walked through the doors and sat down I’d been congratulated four times for not bowing down to great and powerful Tiffany.

Kalen walked into class and made a beeline for me. I glanced around the room to see if any of the other kids already there were watching. There was a mole in the class, a minion for Tiffany and I needed to know who it was.

“Hey, so I heard what Tif…” Kalen began to speak but I held up my hand.

“Kalen, honestly. It’s nothing. I want to forget it happened.”

“Okay, Consider it forgotten.” He paused and then leaned against the tiered seating level behind us. “So, are you going to ask to be put in another duo?”

I shook my head. “You heard Mrs Cleaver… I don’t think it’s an option.”

“In that case. I was thinking that after school today you could come and work on the assignment with me? I know you don’t want to do the show, but I still want to get the best mark possible.” He smiled. “I kind of need it.”

I hadn’t been to Kalen’s house since we the beginning of Middle school. I remember the last time vividly, which surprised me. Stefanie had gone over to see if he wanted to go to the movies with us, only when he answered the door he had his new friends behind him. He laughed and shook his head, calling us losers as he closed the door. His eyes betrayed his actions, I remembered the sadness in them, because for a couple of months afterwards I’d thought that sadness meant he’d realise it was a mistake to push us away.

“Your house.” I repeated. “You’re still at the same place?”

Kalen nodded. “I’ve got the basement room now, since Jade left home. But everything else is pretty much the same.”

The lure of staying away from home for longer was more enticement than I could handle. So Kalen and I weren’t friends… we hadn’t been for years, but this was school work, this was educational. I nodded without thinking much more about it.

“Yeah. Sounds good.”

Kalen sat up straight and his eyes widened. “I didn’t expect you to say yes.

“I can take it back.” I said with a smile.

“No. don’t. I’ll uh, I’ll meet you in the parking lot after school and we’ll go to my place.”

“Okay Kalen.”

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