2 YEARS EARLIER
Diana flopped onto her bed, giggling about the boy the girls in their grade were currently pining over.
“You should have seen his face! He couldn’t believe that Maybelle didn’t want to go to the dance with him.” She gasped out, relaying her story to Rose, who was listening intently.
“I wish I could’ve been there. Stupid guidance called me down to talk about my schedule for next year.” Rose replied, climbing carefully onto the window seat in her best friend’s room.
“What are you going to take?” Diana sat up, sitting up to bring her knees to her chest and cocking her head to the side.
“I’m not sure, I want to take French again, but I’m not sure what else I want to do,” Rose mumbled, pulling her old, rundown laptop out of her backpack.
“Why don’t you take something cool, like tech?” Diana suggested, moving to her desk and pulling out her new laptop.
“Eh. I’m not really a tech person. I’d rather read.” Rose replied, pulling up the English essay she was working on.
“I know! Why don’t you take Drama with me!” Diana squealed suddenly, causing Rose to look up from her essay.
“I don’t really want to be put on a stage Di. I’ll probably just take art again or something.” Rose murmured quietly.
“You’ll be good at that, you’re good at everything,” Diana replied, giving her friend a smile before both girls delved deep into another world as they worked on their homework.
Hours later, Rose was packing up her things to go back to her own house.
“You could stay here tonight. It’s a Friday night and my parents won’t mind you staying. They love you.” Diana said, watching her friend get ready to leave.
“My dad will be furious if I’m not back tonight. I’ll see you on Monday.” Rose gave her friend a small smile as she walked out.
“Don’t forget your application for next years schedule! Monday’s the last day to hand it in!” Diana yelled out to Rose as she left.
Rose left on her bike, pedalling as fast as her legs could go. The bag on her back felt heavier than it had this afternoon when she had biked to Diana’s house.
When she left her bike in the garage, she was relieved to see that her dad hadn’t gotten home yet, because he was becoming increasingly difficult to deal with.
She walked into the house and ran her finger along the empty spots where pictures used to line the wall. Dragging out a sigh, she put her things into her room and went to the kitchen to begin making dinner for herself and her father.
She gave herself a bowl of the pasta she had made and put a heaping serving into the microwave, ready to be heated when her father returned.
Rose ate alone at the kitchen table, humming a tune to herself. She wanted to finish her dinner before her father got home, when he returned he would just ignore her as usual and she would retire to her room.
After working on her essay for another hour, Rose heard the sound of the front door opening and slamming closed, her father was home. Back when she was younger she would rush downstairs and meet him at the door, giving him a flying hug and a kiss on the cheek. Back then he would spin her around and fly around the house and now, he rarely acknowledged her existence.
Rose listened closely to what he was doing, listening to the sound of him warming up his food and what she knew was the sound of him grabbing a beer from the fridge. She listened to the sound of him eating and then turning on the TV, watching what she could only presume was sports.
It was their daily routine, Rose would hide in her room while her father would sit and watch tv, ignoring Rose’s presence in his life.
After a weekend of doing nothing, Rose hurried to get herself ready for school on Monday. She sat at the window, waiting for Diana’s family to pick her up and drive her to school.
Her father went to work early every morning, he preferred to leave the house that haunted him.
When she heard the honking of a car horn, Rose collected her things and left, locking the door behind her.
“Hello Rose, how was your weekend?” Mrs. Haynes, Diana’s mother, asked her sweetly.
“Quiet as usual Mrs. Haynes. Mainly been doing homework.” Rose responded, giving her a small smile.
“How many times do I have to ask you to call me Sharon, Honey?” She asked, causing three separate barks of laughter to come from the car.
“Sorry Sharon, morning Di, morning Clay, morning Paige,” Rose muttered as she hauled her bag into the car with her.
A chorus of “morning’s” was heard in the car, all in varying pitches.
The car was packed as usual, Clayton in the front seat, little Paige in the back between Rose and Diana, Shanon was driving.
The car stopped at the high school first, dropping off Rose, Clayton and Diana.
“Bye, Mum!” Clayton and Diana called out as Rose waited for them by the doors. She was quiet, remembering when she used to yell a goodbye over her shoulder to her mother, one that seemed so unimportant and miniscule to her back then, but if she was given one more chance to...
“Rose! I’ve been calling you for like an hour!” Diana cried dramatically, bringing her hand to her forehead and pretending to faint.
“It was 30 seconds at most Di, stop being such a drama queen,” Clayton muttered as he shuffled past his sister and her friend.
Rose was quiet as she walked to her locker and classes with Diana.
She didn’t have 2nd period with Diana, and they had promised to meet up with each other before lunch at Diana’s locker.
“You need to tell her Diana, she needs to know.” Rose heard Clayton’s voice and ducked back, hiding behind a group of giggling girls.
“I can’t, not yet, her birthday is tomorrow. Tomorrow, Clayton. It’ll be her first birthday without her mom, her first birthday in high school. I can’t tell her yet.” Rose knew they were talking about her, and decided to see their reaction to her popping out.
“Hey.” She said quietly.
“Rose! Hi! You ready for lunch? Let’s go!” Diana dragged Rose away, leaving Clayton to stare after them.
“Are you okay?” Rose asked timidly, not making much sound.
“I’m fine.” Diana smiled back, dragging her into the cafeteria.
It was late, 11:59 pm to be exact. Rose was still awake. She was exhausted, but couldn’t fall asleep.
Maybe she was hoping that if she stared at the clock it wouldn’t turn to 12:00, it wouldn’t become May 4th, it wouldn’t become her birthday. She wasn’t entirely sure why she was so apprehensive, she didn’t know why her 15th birthday made her nervous and unhinged. All she knew was that she would rather not have to go through with it. With the pain that she somehow knew would undoubtedly happen.
“Happy Birthday,” Rose muttered to herself.
By the time her father was awake, she was up and ready downstairs. She saw the look of shock that passed over her father’s face, she watched it turn to stone and then saw him turn away and walk out the front door, heading for work.
It was barely five minutes later when she heard the Haynes’ car pull into her driveway.
Although they were early, she didn’t mind. She didn’t want to be alone.
She quickly locked the door, ignoring the fact that she hadn’t had breakfast.
“Hi honey, we’re here to take you out for a celebratory birthday breakfast. What do you say, sweetie? Will your dad mind?” Sharon asked as she started the car.
“He won’t mind. He had to leave early for work, he said we’d go see a movie or something tonight.” Rose lied quietly. She could see the look Clayton and Diana gave her that told her they didn’t quite believe her.
Over pancakes and orange juice, the Haynes family and Rose talked about mundane and happy things, she hadn’t felt this happy for a very long time.
“We have a small gift for you honey, in order to celebrate your 15th birthday,” Sharon said happily, handing Rose a gift bag.
“You didn’t have to get me anything, I would have been fine without a gift.” She said shyly, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
Derek, Diana’s father, gave Rose a look that caused her to stop arguing.
“Open it Rosey, open it!” Paige, the youngest Haynes, bounced in her seat.
Rose smiled at the ten-year-old girl and carefully began to take the tissue paper out of the bag. She pulled out a sketchbook and a set of watercolours.
“These are beautiful, thank you.” She said quietly, cradling the gifts to her chest.
“You deserve the best sweetie, happy 15th,” Sharon said, giving her a soft smile.
“Now, if you’ve finished your breakfast, you three need to get to school,” Derek said, clearing his throat.
“I’ll take Rose, Diana and Clayton if you pay the bill and bring Paige to school,” Sharon said to her husband, pulling her keys out of her purse.
“Aye, aye captain.” Derek smiled, kissing his wife on the cheek as she slid out of the booth.
The school day was almost ordinary, save for the odd person in the hall who would wish Rose a happy birthday. However, by the time the day was over, Rose was ready to go home.
When the Haynes’ dropped her off at her house, she opened the door as slowly as possible. She was tired and just wanted to draw.
She lugged her bag up the stairs, and into her room. She changed out of her uniform and into leggings and one of Clayton’s sweatshirts she had taken after her last sleepover at the Haynes’ house.
After changing, she sat down on her bed and began to carefully sketch and shade a copy of the flowers from one of the photos she had taken.
The rest of the school year seemingly went by without a hitch. Exams had been surprisingly easy, yet both Diana and Rose were ready for summer.
Diana came over to Rose’s house during the first day of vacation and they lounged around all day.
“Rose, I’ve got something I need to tell you,” Diana said, pulling herself to sit on the floor.
“Are you okay?” Rose immediately asked, pulling herself up to face her friend.
“Ro, my dad got promoted, but it means that we have to move. To Vancouver.” Diana said, hugging her knees.
Rose was silent.
“Ro, please say something.” Diana pleaded, pulling herself over to her friend.
“When?” Rose asked in a feeble voice, staring at the ground.
“We’re leaving in a few weeks.” Diana sighed.
“Will you come back to visit?” Rose said, not tearing her eyes from the ground.
“Of course I will! You’re my best friend, I love you!” Diana exclaimed, gathering her best friend into a hug.
The two girls cried and held tightly to one another, not ready to let each other go.
When the time came for the Haynes family to leave, Rose waved them off. Giving each family member a hug, she began to cry when it was Clayton’s turn.
“Don’t forget me, Angel,” Clayton said, hugging her tightly.
“I won’t forget you Bear, don’t forget me, okay?” She whispered, squeezing him just as tight.
“Never.” He mumbled, giving her a final squeeze before letting Diana hug her friend.
“Text me?” Rose asked, tangled in her friend’s arms.
“Every day,” Diana vowed, kissing her friend on the forehead.
They separated, both girls wiping away their tears.
“Goodbye, I love you guys!” Rose called out as their car sped away to the airport.
She sighed, feeling more alone than ever.