Aiden and Alison sat on the bus, looking out the windows with their headphones planted firmly in their ears. The heating inside gently warmed them up in contrast to the blistering cold that awaited them outside. Alison nudged him. “I need to confess something.”
Aiden took his headphones out and looked into her green eyes. Despite the fear of the awkward tension, he was comforted by the emerald sparkle. “What’s up?”
She sighed. “I…um…can’t really think of where to begin. This is all so surreal, everything. But I found something yesterday.”
Aiden raised his eyebrows and peered into her bag. “What did you find?”
She smiled and reached into her bag, pulling out a pink book. It looked old and tattered, as if it hadn’t been tended to in years. She opened one of the first pages and laughed. “It’s really embarrassing, but I kept this little diary when we were kids. Two passages caught my eye.”
Aiden shrugged. “That’s not embarrassing.”
She took hold of his hand and looked into his eyes. “You haven’t seen what’s inside yet.”
Aiden’s heart jumped. “Well…go on. Enlighten me.”
She began turning the page as Aiden’s nerves began racing. Would this be a confession of love? The thought ran over in his head like a marathon.
Alison batted her eyelashes and began reading.
“Dear Diary. Today was my first day of school, and I left more happy than ever. There’s this boy. He’s shy, he’s kinda nerdy, and he was…sweet. Like chocolate or that weird powdered stuff you put on lollipops. His name’s Aiden. He has black hair, likes to climb monkey bars, and has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. Walking into that classroom, I was so scared. I felt as if no one would like me. The kids on my street still think my voice is weird. I don’t think Aiden thinks I’m weird, and it’s maybe because he’s a little weird too. I hope we can be weird together, because I’ve never had a best friend.”
Aiden noticed some scribbles and doodles on the page, one of which was in a heart. “What’s that?” he asked, pointing to it.
Alison blushed. “Oh, that’s nothing. It’s a little thing Michael used to say to me whenever I was sad.”
Aiden crossed his eyes. “Forever and always?”
Alison sighed. “Yeah, it basically was his way of reminding me he’d always be there whenever I needed him. No matter what was going on or what trouble I’d got myself into, my big brother would always come and help me. So I probably wrote it there as a little reminder.”
Aiden put his arm around her. “You said there was another passage?”
Alison’s voice lowered. “Yeah…it’s from when I was thirteen.”
“Read it to me.”
Alison’s smiled turned to a frown as she turned the page. She looked out of the window and back to Aiden a few times, playing with her hair. She took a deep breath before putting her eyes to the paper.
“Dear Diary. I can’t begin to explain the amount of fear and pain I’m in right now. I…
Alison shut the book as tears came flooding down her eyes. Her face turned bright red as she covered her mouth. Aiden put his arm back around her and let her rest her head on his shoulder. Her tears began seeping through his shirt, leaving a wet stain. He brought his other arm around, consoling her.
She sniffled and rubbed her nose. “I’m sorry…I…I can’t look at it again.”
Aiden held her tighter. “It’s okay. I’m here.”
Her voice lowered down to a quiet whisper. “Thank you.” She opened the book and put it on his lap. “It’s there. Would you…mind?”
Aiden felt a chill go down his spine, but he picked up the book regardless and began reading.
“I’m in the hospital now, and the doctor has told me that I may not be able to walk again. My ankle’s been shattered beyond repair, and even with surgery, there’s nothing they can do to restore it. I wish Mum and Dad were here, but I’ve got Aiden and Michael visiting later. Aiden will probably make some stupid joke that’ll make me laugh, and Michael said he’d bring my favourite pizza. The food in here is terrible.
I can’t even remember how it happened. One minute, I was running and the next, I was falling. I heard this snap and bumped my head pretty bad. I don’t remember much after that, but everyone was here when I woke up. Aiden, Michael, Aiden’s dad, Danny, Damien and I at least got a phone call from my parents, which is more than I’d ever receive on my birthday or Christmas or whatever. The doctor said I had a really bad concussion and would need stitches. They’re really annoying, but I’ve never had part of my head shaved before. At least I look kinda badass.
I should be out of here within two days, but I know I’m going to have to face Scarlett at school and I don’t know what to do. I can’t prove it but I just know she caused this, and I don’t know if I can face her little evil smile. I could barely cope with the change of moving here, but then I met Aiden. Now, my life’s gonna change again. I’ll never dance again, I’ll never get to run, and I’m scared. My toes feel so stiff, and every time I try moving, it hurts. I’ve usually been good with blocking out pain, but this is different. I don’t know if these are the kind of wounds that fully heal. Aiden and Michael are coming in now, so I gotta go. I’ll just tell them I was doodling to pass the time. If what the doctor says is true, I’m going to have to think of a lot more to pass the time with.”
Aiden shut the book and looked back at Alison. She wasn’t crying as much now, but her face was still red. Her hair had gone all messy and she was holding a few tissues. He put the book back in her bag. “So…you never thought what happened to your ankle was my fault?”
Alison shook her head. “No. I knew it wasn’t. It was Scarlett. That’s why I’m scared, Aiden.”
“Why are you scared?”
“I’m scared because…because I’ve never been good with change. And look at you, you’ve clearly changed, whether it’s for better or worse.”
Aiden looked into her eyes. “The only thing that’s changed about me is my biology, not our chemistry.”
Alison chuckled. “I knew you’d crack some joke. I should apologize though, for freaking out on you like that yesterday.”
The chill came back down Aiden’s spine. “Don’t apologize. You were right.”
She sniffled again. “What do you mean?”
“You were frightened, and for a while, so was I. I don’t know what brought on that anger or why it did what it did, but it doesn’t change how I feel about you.”
Alison blinked. “How you feel about me?”
A lump settled in Aiden’s throat, and he felt a tug in his stomach. “Yeah, I mean, you’re still my best friend. You’re not gonna lose me.”
Alison cracked a smile at him. “Promise?” She held out her pinkie finger.
Aiden looked down and sniggered. “You serious?”
She giggled. “Yep, come on. Just like when we were little.”
Aiden sighed and interlocked his pinkie with hers. “I promise. I’m not going anywhere. You’re my best friend, forever and always.”
The bus came to a halt, startling them both. Alison grabbed her bag and stood up, Aiden picked up his and followed. She turned to him and smiled again. “Can I get one more hug before we go off?”
Aiden laughed as she opened her arms. “What is it with you and hugs? You’re so bloody American”
She shrugged, keeping her smile on. “Can’t help that, I’m afraid”
Aiden went in for the hug, but this felt different from the rest of Alison’s hugs, she was holding on tightly, like she didn’t want to let go. Her warm embrace made Aiden feel like nothing at all was wrong in the world. He forgot about Chad, he forgot about Scarlett, he forgot about being branded a nuisance, all that mattered right now was this moment with his best friend.
Before pulling away from the hug, Alison leant in and gave Aiden a quick peck on the cheek, before grabbing her bag and playfully running off the bus.
“Come on, we’re gonna be late” she yelled from the exit.
Aiden was speechless and just followed Alison, knowing that no matter what happened later in the day, he would always have this moment, and no one could ever take that away from him.