Chapter 42 - Tabby
“Tabitha, one of your friends, is here to see you!” my mother yelled from downstairs.
I was lying on my bed, exhausted after the long school day. I groaned in annoyance as I climb to my feet and left my room.
“What do you want this time Kitty?” I called as I walked down the stairs.
I stopped in surprise at the foot of the stairs. It wasn’t Kitty that was waiting for me as I had expected, it was Renate.
The blonde French girl smiled at me. “Long time no see, Tabitha.”
“What are you going here?” I asked in a tone a lot colder than I intended. “I heard that you had collapsed at school. I wanted to make sure you were alright.” Renate told me. “And to give some advice.”
“We'll go to my room,” I told her. “We can talk privately there.”
Renate nodded as she followed me up the stairs to my room.
“Your room is so cute,” she told me as she entered. I looked at Renate in surprise. “Why are you staring at me like that?” she asked.
“Your accent,” I told her. “I was sure that it used to be stronger.
“It was,” Renate told me. “I used to enhance it.
“How is the new school?” I asked.
“Awesome,” Renate told me. “I actually haven’t made anyone cry.” I laughed at her comment. “I'm serious, Tabitha. I'm no longer being a bully to people or sleeping with other peoples' boyfriends.”
“I see you are taking this new start seriously,” I told her.
Renate smiled widely. “I’m becoming a better person. Which was one of the reasons why I’m here. You need to get away from Angelica.”
“I can’t,” I told Renate, I turned to look at her. “Angelica is blackmailing me.”
“I know,” Renate said.
“You do?” I said surprised. “How?”
“I may be blonde, but I am not stupid.” Renate told me. “Alesia, Angelica, Grace, Lisa, Denise, and I were all the same. We wanted respect, fear, and popularity but you were always different. You never wanted to be popular. I also know that you preferred being friends with Katarina and Amelia, so I realised the only reason you would have ditched them is if Angelica was blackmailing you.”
“So you figured it out,” I said, still surprise. “I underestimated you.”
Renate grinned. “Everyone does. Whatever Angelica has on you Tabitha, it is not worth destroying your mental health over it.”
“You knew my eating disorder was caused by stress?” I said just as surprised as before.
“I had a strong feeling about it,” Renate told me.
“I have dyslexia, Renate,” I told her. “That is my big secret.”
Renate looked at me surprised. She was silent for a few minutes before bursting into laughter. “That is it?” she asked.
“What so funny?” I asked Renate.
Renate stopped laughing. “I’m sorry. It's just that I was expecting something a lot worse.”
“What can be worse than everyone thinking you are stupid?” I asked her quietly.
“I don’t think you're an idiot, Tabitha,” she told me. “I believe that you are a genius.”
“Did you hear me properly?” I asked Renate. “I have dyslexia. I can’t read.”
“I know what dyslexia means,” Renate told me. “Tabitha, you are dyslexic yet, you are still the best English student in our year level. If that doesn’t make you a genius what does.”
“You mean it?” I asked.
“I know what it is like to be ashamed of who you are,” Renate told me. “When in reality, it's not worth being ashamed of it.”
“Really?” I asked. “How?”
“I’m a prodigy,” Renate told me.
“So you are some kind of genius at mathematics and science?” I asked.
“No, I have an extreme talent in music,” Renate told me. “And I’m a prodigy, not a genius.”
“How extreme?” I asked
“I can play any song perfectly after hearing it once,” Renate told me.
“A lot of musicians can do that,” I told her.
“Were they all also self-taught violin players?” Renate asked in a slightly mocking tone.
“You’re a self-taught violin player?” I asked in surprise. “How long did it take to learn violin?”
“I mastered it within a week when I was seven,” she told me. “That was a fun week.”
“How did you find out you were a musical genius?” I asked.
“Prodigy, a musical prodigy,” Renate corrected me. “Geniuses create. As for me, I haven’t created anything extraordinary yet. So I’m still just a prodigy.”
“Sorry, when did you find out you were a musical prodigy?” I asked again.
“When I was six,” Renate told me. “My parent took me to see Les Miserables, I still love that musical. Well, the next day, I was able to play and sing every song from the musical perfectly on piano. Not to mention that the only actual piano lesson I had was when my mum taught me how to play Mary had a Little Lamb.”
“They must have been proud,” I told her.
Renate smiled. “They were.”
“I just don’t get why you were so ashamed to tell people you're a musical prodigy,” I told her.
“At first, I loved being a prodigy. It was something that I was better than everyone else at. At primary school during every assembly, I would be asked to play a piece. At first, I loved that as well. Until all the other kids got annoyed with it. They called me a show-off and stuck up. After a while, this gift that I loved started to seem like a curse. I was different, and they never let me forget it. Eventually, I stopped playing at assemblies. Not long after that I stopped playing altogether.” Renate told me. “When I started high school, I decided I was done being an outsider. I become the person everyone wanted me to be: the cute, blonde, boy crazy, French girl. I decided that everyone else would suffer because they would know the real me. They didn’t suffer, though, I did.”
“So you hid the truth because you were scared of what everyone else would think of you?” I asked, making sure I understood her story correctly.
Renate nodded, “It's the exact same reason you hid the fact that you're dyslexic,” she told me,
“So you think I should just tell everyone the truth?” I asked her.
“It is your decision if you want to tell everyone,” she told me. “I also come to tell you to stop beating yourself up over what happened to Maya.”
“How did you know I was guilty about that?” I asked.
“We all feel terrible about it,” Renate told me.
“Really?” I asked. “No one else showed it.”
“Just because we didn’t talk about it doesn’t mean we didn’t feel guilty,” Renate told me.
“I’m sorry for doubting you,” I told her.
“We all had different ways to deal with the pain we felt.” Renate informed me. “You stopped eating, Lisa got into drugs, Denise started partying more, Alesia denied everything, and I started sleeping with guys.”
“Is that why you did it?” I asked. “Why you slept with George.”
Renate nodded. “As well as all the others. Sex helped me forgot, it made me feel something other than guilt and self-hate. It was a stupid way to deal with the guilt.”
“Angelica doesn’t even care about Maya.” I told Renate.
“She will eventually,” Renate told me. “The person I feel most sorry for is Alesia.”
“Why her?” I asked.
“Alesia was friends with Maya long before Angelica came along. Eventually, she'll have to stop denying her role in Maya’s death, and I fear it will destroy her.” Renate told me.
“Like it almost killed me?” I asked.
Renate nodded. “You need to get out of Angelica’s group now. Go back to being friends with Katarina. She was your real friend, not us.”
“What if Katarina rejects me when she learns the truth?” I asked.
“Then she was never your real friend in the first place.” Renate told me. “And you should have better friends. Actually, let me rephrase that better, you deserve better friends.”
“Thank you,” I told her.
“What for?” Renate asked.
“For being my real friend and making me believe I was worth more than I thought.” I told her. “You should start playing music again and tell people that you play violin and piano.”
Renate smiled. “I already have started again. Take your own advice Tabitha, tell people the truth about yourself.”
“I will,” I told her. I looked at Renate curiously, “How many instruments can you actually play.”
“Fifty-two,” Renate answered.
“Now that is impressive,” I told her.
“I have to leave now,” Renate told me. “I have homework due tomorrow.”
“That’s okay,” I told her. “I have something I have to do anyway.”
I led Renate downstairs and watch her leave the house. I then returned upstairs to find my shoes and jacket.
“Mum, I’m going out,” I told her.
“Be home before dark,” my mother replied.
I walked out of the front door. I’m not sure when it was that I decided where I was going. I just knew.
It was a fifteen-minute drive to Elizabeth’s office, and it took me three-quarters of an hour to walk there. Along the way, I debated on what I would say once I got there.
The waiting room was empty when I entered. I walked up to the reception desk. “The women behind the desk name tag read Taliyah. “I don’t have an apportionment,” I told her. “But I was wondering if I could see Elizabeth.”
“Tabitha,” I heard someone say from behind me. I turned to see Elizabeth. “I didn’t expect to see you,” she told me.
“I'm ready to tell you everything,” I told her. “If you're not busy with someone else.”
Elizabeth smiled at me. “I'm free for the rest of the afternoon. Come in.”
I followed Elizabeth into her office.
“What changed your mind?” she asked.
“A visit from an old friend.” I told her. “I'm ready to take your advice. It is time I stood up for myself and didn’t allow Angelica to push me around.”
Elizabeth smiled wider. “I am happy to hear that. Yet, I need you to understand that while removing Angelica from your life will fix a lot of your problem, it won’t fix all of them. There is still a long way to go.”
“I know,” I told her. I took a deep breath. “What I say to you doesn’t leave this room, right?”
Elizabeth nodded. “Not unless you have committed illegal acts or I believe that you will hurt yourself or other people.”
“I was raped,” I told her as I looked at the floor, not able to meet Elizabeth's eyes. “I was raped at a party about four months ago.”
Elizabeth placed a comforting hand on my shoulders. “I had a feeling you had been sexually abused.” She told me. “I was just hoping I was wrong.”
I nodded, my eyes still on the floor.
“Do you know who your rapist was?” Elizabeth asked me.
I looked up to meet her eyes and nodded. “Xavior Norton.”