Chapter 61 - Millie (A year and six months later)
“Come on Millie!” Kitty yelled at me. “Renate, Tabby, Denise, and Lisa are waiting for us at the food court.”
If you had told me at the start of year eleven that I would one day be close friends with Renate, Tabby, Denise, Lisa, George, and Toby, I would've laughed and told you to keep dreaming. Yet here I am, two years later.
“I'm coming Kitty!” I yelled at her as I followed her through the maze of our local shopping centre towards the food court.
Kitty and my revenge plan had begun in early July 2014, and it hadn’t didn’t finish until late September 2014. It was now February 2016. We had graduated from high school last October, completed our final exams in early November. In just a few more weeks we would be starting University. How times had changed.
Renate, Tabby, Denise, and Lisa were waiting for us by one of the tables. Renate, Denise, and Lisa didn’t look that different. Renate was still the same cute blonde French girl. Denise was still larger than the other girls, and Lisa was still small and wore a large amount of make-up.
It wasn’t what was on the outside they had changed, it was what was on the inside. The three girls were no longer bullies. They were kind. Most importantly, they were people that I was proud to call my friends.
“You took you time,” Lisa smiled at us as we sat down with them.
“Sorry, I couldn’t find a parking spot,” I told them.
“Well, at least, you're here now,” Tabby smiled.
Sometimes I forget that a year and a half ago, Tabby was suffering from depression, anorexia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. While she was still the same short, thin, and pale girl with long curly reddish-brown hair, she acted differently. She spoke more and was generally a happier person. While she was still slim, she was no longer the skeleton she was the year before. The dark marks below her eyes that had been from not sleeping probably were gone. Her skin was no longer a sickly looking colour as it was when she was anorexic.
After Xavior had been convicted as a rapist, Tabby’s mental health improved rapidly. Within seven months, she had made a complete recovery. Tabby no longer need to take therapy sessions. She did, however, still visit the clinic sometimes. Tabby had become good friends with her therapist Elizabeth. Tabby would often visit Elizabeth’s office to tell her how she was doing.
In a few weeks’ time, Tabby would be at Monash University studying to be a psychologist. She had also made the decision to become an author and write in her spare time.
“Hey guys, do you know what today is?” Lisa asked us excitedly.
“Sorry, I don’t,” I told her.
“It's the day that I have officially been sober for six months,” Lisa announced as she grinned happily.
The six of us quickly responded by cheering loudly. That earned as some weird looks from the people around us.
“I am so proud of you, Lisa,” Renate told her.
Lisa smiled at her gratefully.
Lisa's road to recovery hadn’t been an easy one. When Lisa was first sent to her grandparents' house back in late August 2014, her parents thought they could solve the problem just by keeping her away from drugs. What they hadn't realised was that the drug addict wasn’t the biggest problem. That was guilt. Lisa went almost insane in the months that followed her move to the country. The pills had been what allowed her to deal with the guilt over Maya’s death. A few months before Christmas in 2014, Lisa managed to get her hands on more drugs. After not being able to control her desire for them, she overdosed. Lisa was then sent to the hospital to recover for a month and from there to rehab. At rehab, Lisa was finally forced to admit that her addiction to drugs was caused by Maya’s suicide. Then by getting the help she needed through therapy was eventually able to fight the addiction.
I had run into Lisa in August last year where she had explained everything to me. Lisa had relapsed in September but has now managed to get her life under control. However, Lisa has to redo year twelve because she missed too many days of school to receive her VCE.
“It's been really hard,” Lisa told us. “But I finally feel like I can make a better life for myself.”
“Are you guys going to volunteer tomorrow?” Denise asked.
“I can’t come, I have school,” Lisa told her.
“I'm going,” I told Denise.
Maya's parents have finally found a way to deal with Maya’s suicide by starting a Volunteer Organization. The Maya Khalsa Suicide Prevention Organization. The aim was to make sure that no child being bullied ever felt like they were alone. We also bring support to families who have lost loved ones to suicide and help people that are feeling suicidal.
Mrs and Mr Khalsa approached Kitty, Aiden, Jonah, Blake, Jude, and me as soon as they came up with the idea. We all joined straight away. Once we were up and running, more people started to come forward to help out. When Tabby came, she brought along Renate and Denise. All three of them pulled Maya’s parents aside and apologised for not helping Maya. As Renate said to me afterwards, she couldn't change what she did to Maya, but maybe she can stop somebody else from treating another person like that. Months after that Lisa turned up to volunteer as well as did George and Toby. Even some of our classmates that barely knew Maya came and signed up. The majority of the teachers and staff at our school became volunteers as well. I never realised how many people at my school had been affected by Maya’s suicide until then.
The most surprising of all was when Alesia came. She didn’t say for long. She didn’t even talk to Maya’s parents, just Kitty and me. She told us that Maya had been her friend, and she should have stuck by her, but she didn’t. She admits that she had felt guilty about it for months. I offered her the chance to volunteer, but she refused. In her opinion, she had no right to join an organisation bearing Maya's name after what she had done.
Angelica, however, never came and I never expect her to.
“Hi guys!” someone yelled from the distance. I turned to see Jonah. Behind him was Jude, Blake, George, Aiden, and Toby.
“You’re later than Millie, and I was,” Kitty told them. The six boys all found chairs from around the food court and brought them to our table. Jonah, of course, sat next to Kitty while Aiden moved beside Tabby, and Renate moved her chair closer to Denise to allow Jude to fit beside her. Toby, Blake, and George just squeezed into other places around the table.
Yeah, you did just hear me right.
Out of all the strange things that have happened over the last year, Jude and Renate dating is definitely up there. Jude was extremely impressed with Renate’s violin playing at her recital. In the weeks that followed the concert, the two would hang out and play music together. I'm pretty sure it was a ‘musician thing’. They just sort of bonded over their shared love of playing music. Even before they were officially dating, they were spending a lot of time together. Aiden and Jonah would not stop teasing Jude about it. I think that was some kind of joint payback for all the teasing they got over the years from Jude revolving the girls they had crushes on. Yet, somehow, Jude and Renate went well together.
Jude wasn’t the only one that had found someone.
In the summer holidays between year eleven and year twelve, Blake had gone on an LGBT pride camp. This was only three months after he had finally come out to his parents. The camp was his parents’ idea. They thought it would be good for him to spend time with people that have had similar experiences to him. At first, Blake hadn’t wanted to go. He preferred the idea of hanging out with us all summer holidays. That was until he actually got to the camp and met Oliver Alexander. The two have been dating ever since. Oliver is a year older than us and lives in Ballarat, so Blake barely sees him. I have met Oliver, and he is honestly one of the sweetest and nicest guys I have ever met. Blake is very lucky to have him and after everything he has gone through, he deserves to be able to be able to be happy with someone like Oliver.
I probably should mention at this point that Kitty and Jonah are still going strong. I can seem them as being one of those high school couples that end up getting married.
Aiden kept his promise to Tabby. After our year twelve exams, Tabby decided she was finally ready to be in a relationship. The two have been dating even since. Aiden makes Tabby happy which is what she still needs right now.
Lisa has sworn off relationships for the time being. Instead, she has decided to focus her attention on completing year 12 while staying clean.
Toby had a crush on Lucy Johnson last year. However, he chooses not to pursue her as he felt she still needed time to recover from being a rape victim before she started to thinking about trusting someone again. Instead, he became a supportive friend to her. I'm unsure if he still had feelings for her at this time, though.
Like Lisa, George has sworn off relationships but for an entirely different reason. He has realised that he was a useless boyfriend to Grace and doesn’t want to hurt anyone like that again. He has instead decided that he needs to figure out who he is and who he would like to be before he gets involved in a serious relationship again. That was way while he got into a course on sports management at Deakin University he has decided to defer for a year. He is going to take a gap year to travel and figure some stuff out.
Denise has had a few boyfriends here and there, but none has actually worked out.
As for me, I dated this guy called William Hewitt for about six months. We broke up not long after graduation. It was mutual. We both just wanted different things, and I understand that.
“Are you guys excited for University?” Denise asked.
“Yes and nervous at the same time,” Tabby told her.
“You'll be all right,” George reassured her.
“I'm really excited to start,” Aiden admitted.
Those of us that were going to university were scattered all over the place. Kitty was going to Monash University to study Undergraduate Medicine. Denise would be at La Trobe studying Nursing. Aiden had managed to get into Law at Deakin. Blake was doing Graphic Design at RMIT. Toby was going to study to be an electrician at Chisholm. Jonah is going into Computer Programming at Swinburne. Jude is going to study to Music at Melbourne Uni.
Unlike the rest of us, Renate isn’t staying in Melbourne for University. Instead, she is going to the USA. She was offered a full ride to Juilliard. She won’t be starting until August so she is working full time to save some money for the move.
As for me, I'm going to attend Deakin to become a Humanities teacher. I know it sounds strange me wanting to be a teacher because of how much I hated my time at high school, but maybe I can make high school better for someone else.
“Have any of you seen Angelica recently?” Lisa asked us nervously.
“Not since graduation and I don’t really want to see her again,” I told Lisa. “I don’t want that kind of drama in my life.”
“Same,” Tabby mumbled.
Angelica didn’t charge. In the months that followed in our takedown of her, she was still the same cold, manipulate person. Just now she no longer had any control over anyone. She never even tried become friends with Grace again afterwards.
Now she will never have a chance to mend the bonds between them.
Angelica didn’t even go to Grace’s funeral.
Kitty, Alesia, Renate, George, Toby, Blake, Lisa, Denise, Jonah, Jude, Aiden and I went. None of us liked her, but it seemed like the right thing to do. Tabby didn’t go. Too much had happened between her and Grace for her to bring herself to attend.
I never really understood Grace until that day. The day I went to St Josephs’ Church with the majority of my school and listened to Grace’s life story.
It was the moment that I was finally able to understand how someone so young and with their entire life ahead of them, could be filled with so much hatred the world and everyone in it.
To say that Grace’s life wasn’t easy would be an understatement. For so long I thought that the reason Grace was always wearing so much make-up was to look like Angelica.
How could I have been so wrong?
The real reason she was always caked in the stuff was to hide the bruises and scars that covered her face. Her eye shadows were always dark enough to cover the black eyes.
Grace had been born to Harriet and Kim Todd. She had an older brother named Kyle. Life was fine for her until she turned five. It was then that her mother was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Harriet was then moved into a mental ward to receive proper treatment, leaving Kim to take care of both Kyle and Grace. Kim was already an unstable alcoholic. This, however, was his trigger into becoming abusive. He began to abuse his children regularly. Kyle would often try and protect his younger sister which is why even after he turned eighteen, he stuck around. However, when Kyle and Grace both began to show the symptoms of the disorder, their father become even more unstable. Not wanting to be the father of what he thought were two ‘freaks’ he made the decision to kill his children. He hid sleeping pills in their food. After the drug completely knocked them out, he carried them to the car. Then he started the car and drove it head on into a poll. Kim died instantly. Grace and Kyle were taken to the hospital. Grace died at the hospital from complications during surgery, but Kyle managed to survive. His life did come with a price, he would never walk again. Kyle told the whole story during his speech at Grace’s funeral.
I now understand why she treated us the way she did. She was just a broken little girl trying to get out anger the only way she knew how. While I understand why she did it, I don’t forgive her for it. I only give forgiveness to those who actually want it.
“Just to remind you, Blake, if anyone gives you trouble at Uni for being gay, just call me and we will deal with them,” Toby told Blake.
Blake grinned. “Thanks, Toby,”
The boys had been really protective of Blake over the last year. Whenever anyone said homophobic slur to him, they would automatically come to his rescue.
“I'm really going to miss you guys when I go to America,” Renate told us.
“We'll miss you too” Tabby grinned at her.
“We should probably head to the movie theatre now,” Lisa told us. “You know if we want to be able to all sit together, we'll need to buy tickets early.”
“You're right,” Blake said as he stood up.
We all got up from the table, pushing our chairs in and set off towards the movie theatre. I chatted happily with Renate and Denise as we walked.
Denise, Renate, Lisa, George, and Toby were not the only ones who had changed.
I have too.
I'm no longer the same stubborn girl who held grudges. I had learnt to be more forgiving. I even wore make-up on a daily basis now. Not because I was trying to impress anyone, I just loved the way it looked.
I have probably charged in other ways too. In ways, I haven’t even noticed.
What we did may not have saved Maya life, but we did change other people' lives. Mine included. Through the charity work I have done with Maya Khalsa Suicide Prevention Organisation, I now know I can’t save everyone. I can’t help every teenager that been affected by bullying. There are thousands of people all around the world who feel the exact same way Maya had before she took her life. I know I can’t save all of them, but maybe I can save a few. I know for a fact we saved Tabby’s life.
The twelve of us joined the long line for movie theatre tickets. We all managed to buy tickets, but because we had come so late, we couldn’t all sit together.
“Who wants to sit where?” Blake asked as we left the line with our purchased tickets.
“Jude and I will take the two tickets up the back,” Renate announced.
“Just keep it PG you two,” Aiden told him as he handed Jude two tickets. “There will be little kids in the theatre.”
“Shut-up!” Jude hissed as he blushed bright red.
“George, Denise, and I will take the three tickets in the middle,” Toby announced.
Aiden nodded and handed him three tickets. “Okay, that leaves three tickets in the middle and four tickets up the front.”
Lisa, Blake, Jonah, Aiden, Tabby, Kitty, and I all looked at each other; we were the seven without seats.
“I'll sit with Blake, Jonah and Aiden,” Lisa announced. She looked towards Kitty, Tabby and me. “So you three can sit together.”
Kitty wrapped her arms around Tabby and me. “It the epic trio back together again,” she cheered happily. Tabby and I both laughed at her.
After taking the tickets off Aiden, the three of us ran up the stairs of the movie theatre towards the actual viewing rooms.
We were panting and out of breath when we reached the top of the large staircase.
“That was so much easier to do when we were kids,” Tabby said through taking large gulps of air.
I laughed at her and turned towards Kitty. I suddenly remember what Angelica had said to me that day in the girls’ bathroom
“Why does everybody like her better than me?”
At the time, I didn’t understand what she meant, but I do now. Angelica was right, everyone did like Kitty better.
It was undeniable that Angelica was the most beautiful one of the two. After all, Angelica did look like something out of a fashion magazine while Kitty’s appearance was avenge and plain.
But as the old saying goes; beauty is only skin deep. Kitty had something that Angelica didn’t. She was kind. She was caring and forgiving. She had a passion for science and learning. As well as a strong desire to help people. The longer you knew her, the more these things showed. That was made her beautiful. Not her looks; her personally.
Like Angelica, I now realise that everyone will probably prefer Kitty to me, but I don’t hate her for it. Instead, I am happy that she is my best friend because I know that no matter what happens she will always be there for Tabby and me. I am grateful that I know her. It makes me sad to think that there are people out there that will never have a friend like Kitty.
“You ready Millie,” Kitty asked me.
I smiled. “Of course.”
Laughing the three of us held hands as we skipped down the long corridor of the movie theatre; just like we used to when we were children. Some of the people we passed gave us weird looks, but we didn’t care.
I don’t know what the future hold for me, but I do know that no matter what happens I will always have Tabby and Kitty by my side to help me through it.
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