Chapter 13: Final Goodbye's
In which we watch Kirsten say goodbye to her two best friends. The ones she thinks she knows like the palm of her hand, but in reality she doesn’t. In reality Kirsten doesn’t know a lot of things.
But this will be uncovered. In time. And the only person who can help her do so is The Boy That Hates Books.
Kirsten is going to be heartbroken when she says her final goodbye’s, but one thing is for sure. Not a second goes by from this point on wards that The Boy That Hates Books does not cross Kirsten’s mind. And they will most certainly be crossing paths again sometime soon.
“Kris!?” Alice’s face was a picture of panic, “Where on earth have you been?”
“I’m sorry I’m late,” I began, “I was reading a book at the library and I lost track of time...”
“I should’ve guessed,” Alice gave a dramatic sigh, “No worries!” She beamed.
“Where’s Austin?” I wondered, hoping that he hadn’t disappeared somewhere like he did earlier. If there was any bad air between us I wanted to clear it before he left.
“Inside!” Alice practically sang, “Now come in before the pizza get’s cold.”
Alice grabbed my hand and practically dragged me into the house. I laughed, I could never quite keep up with Alice and her ways. I wondered if she ever got tired of being the happy-go-lucky person that she was, because I sure would.
The bright lights and the exaggerated interior of the house made me squint, and I knew that it would take awhile for my eyes to adjust. They always did. The twins seemed to like the colour white, from the walls to the carpets, the marble tables and the furniture. Everything was either cream or white, but they somehow pulled it off.
“What’s happening to your house when you leave?” I asked Alice, who still had tight grip of my hand as she led me through the corridor and into the sitting room.
“Nothing’s happening,” she smiled a little too brightly, “I told you before, we’re coming back.”
By the way she couldn’t hold my gaze, and the way her voice faltered, I found her promise hard to believe.
“Please don’t promise me promises that you know you can’t keep.” Sadness washed over me.
Suddenly Alice stopped. She turned around to face me, eyes glassy with tears.
“I will try my best Kirsten,” she breathed, “-to come back. Because I can’t leave you here.”
“Alice I feel like there’s something you’re not telling me...”
“There’s so much you don’t know, there’s so much even I don’t know. But it’s for your own good okay? All you need to remember is that me and Austin...we never did you any harm to you and we never wanted to. You mean the world to us.”
“Why now? Why all of a sudden? It seems that ever since that new boy arrived...”
“Look Kirsten, it has nothing to do with him,” Alice snapped, “we lied to you. There is no new boy okay?”
“What do you mean you lied to me?”
Why did it always seem like everyone knew something and I was the only one kept in the dark?
“Because the boy we saw at The Highway Cafe the other night,” Alice stumbled over her words as if she was finding it hard to speak, ”he was the fugitive. Not a new boy.”
“Oh my god.” I lifted a hand to cover my mouth, stifling a cry, “Why didn’t you tell me!?”
“Because we didn’t want to scare you, you were already so upset.”
“Did you phone the police?!” I questioned, shocked.
Alice hesitated, “-No.”
“What? Why not?” Every word she spoke felt like a poor excuse.
“We were scared, worried sick, so we just left. It wasn’t the right thing to do I know, but we had no other choice.”
A lone tear slid down Alice’s porcelain like skin. She lifted a finger to wipe it away. I felt sick. None of this felt right anymore.
“Okay.” Was all I could say before Alice recovered herself.
It was only a matter of time before Alice plastered that same smile on her delicate features, added that same bounce to her steps and that same bubbly tone to her voice.
As we entered the sitting room where Austin was sat, I realised something. Maybe this whole facade Alice never fails to put on was an act, and my best friend I thought I knew so well was nothing like who I thought she was. Happy-go-lucky Alice might not be as perfect as she seems.
. . .
“Can you remember that night we were sat on the hill near The Highway Cafe?” Alice smiled, “Underneath the stars.”
“How could I forget?” I picked up my third slice of pizza and rammed it into my mouth, welcoming the oozing cheese and tomato.
I had decided to put earlier’s events in the back of my mind, because I didn’t want them to ruin my final night with my two best friends. Whether they were hiding something or not, that didn’t erase the past years I had spent with them. We had each others backs and we always would, nothing could change that. But despite my wishful thinking, the unease still rested like a stone at the bottom of my stomach, and no matter how much I tried it wouldn’t budge.
Quiet music played in the background, helping to calm me, and the room smelt of lavender. Every detail of the sitting room was perfect, and the countless candles scattered upon tabletops reminded me of a spa.
“I remember Kirsten’s face when I took my shirt off.” Austin chuckled, surfer boy appearance still in check.
“Phhh,” I made an almost inaudible noise through a mouthful of pizza, “that happened?” I exclaimed sarcastically.
“Hell yeah it did,” Austin took a swig of his beer, “if you hadn’t of closed your mouth when you did I’m almost certain you would’ve started to drool.”
“Shut-up.” I shoved Austin’s shoulder.
A memory from earlier danced through my mind.
“Have you got hearing problems?”
“Hey!” I shoved his arm playfully.
I wondered if I’d ever see The Boy That Hates Books again, but if I wanted to, I knew where to find him. In the most peculiar place to find a boy that hates books, a library. Not that I wanted to see him again, I barely knew the guy. But there was something about him that I’d never really seen. He seemed so real, yet so different to everyone who’s minds were in the real world. He spoke to me like a book did. He made me feel like I was somewhere else.
But one time meant nothing, because like I said, I probably won’t want to see him again.
“We got fucked that night.” I heard Alice say.
“Not as fucked as Vixen’s party.” Austin replied, throwing his head back in laughter.
And just like that I was back in the room.
“Yeah, I don’t wanna talk about Vixen’s party.” I said, pushing away the unwanted memories.
“I don’t think anyone does after-”
Alice hit Austin’s arm full force, bringing him to an abrupt stop.
“Ow! What was that for?” he glared at his sister.
“Austin don’t be so ignorant, you know why Kris don’t wanna talk about that.” Alice cut her words down, as if in an attempt to get them out faster.
“Oh right yeah,” Austin shuffled awkwardly, “Sorry Kirsten.”
“It’s cool. Vixen will get what’s coming to him soon enough.” I replied.
I would never forget that night. The night that pushed my sister Nala over the edge. The night that made her hit the ground running.
“How?” Austin asked.
“Karma.” It sounded stupid, but it was true. Karma would catch up to him one day.
“You believe in that?” Austin sounded skeptical.
“Always.” Was my only reply.
The rest of the night was spent reminiscing on every little thing we could think of. We’d made so many memories, both good and bad, and I didn’t know if I was prepared to let go of them just yet. We shared a couple of pizza slices or 5 and drank the rest of the beer, before welcoming some falling tears and warm embraces. I had forgotten about every sour patch of the night, letting the laughter drown it all away.
It was gone midnight by the time we made it out to the front door and said our final goodbye’s.
“I hate goodbye’s.” I could barely speak through my tears.
“So do we.” Alice said, pulling me into a tight hug.
“But it isn’t goodbye forever,” she told me, voice as calm as the breeze outside, “think of it as a temporary goodbye.”
“Okay.” I whispered, hugging her tighter.
“Thank you Alice, for everything.”
“And thank you,” she pulled away, eyes shining in the moonlight that filtered through the doorway, “for everything and more.”
It was Austin next, and he hugged me like he didn’t want to let go.
“I’m sorry we haven’t been too great for the past couple of days,” he told me, “I never wanted it to be that way.”
“It’s okay,” I hugged him back, “but I just want to know, did I do anything wrong? Because if I did I’m sorry.”
“No, you didn’t. Don’t apologise.” He wiped a tear from my cheek, finger soft against my skin.
“We just saw someone,” Alice blurted out, “Watching you. And Austin confronted him and had a word.”
“I was only worried.” Austin elaborated, shooting a glare in Alice’s direction. It was so quick that it was almost unnoticeable, but I noticed.
“Watching me?” Nausea rolled in my stomach.
“Nothing to worry about, it’s all dealt with now.” Alice reassured me, smiling.
And there it was again. That unease in the pit of my stomach and the lump rising in my throat, the feeling that everyone knew something but me.
As we said farewell time and time again, before I finally walked away from Alice and Austin for what could possibly be the very last time, I could’ve sworn I heard them whispering. I paused in my steps, desperate to hear what they were saying. Pulling my phone out of my pocket, I rested it against my ear, pretending to talk to someone on the other side.
The twins were no longer taking any notice of me, and were standing facing each other, words holding within them fear and worry.
If only Kirsten could’ve heard Alice’s voice, as she spoke the words that proved Kirsten’s suspicions of that whole bitter-sweet night...
“She’ll find out the truth soon enough. And we won’t be safe when she does.”