6. Have a Little Goodbye

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‘Are you going to the leaver’s assembly, Hope?’ Belle asks me on the phone to her. I look up to the ceiling and bounce my leg nervously and ponder.

I’ve taken all of my exams now, and probably failed them considering everything that has happened, but after exams, it’s tradition for the year 13s to have a leaver’s assembly with our teachers and students filled with speeches and short videos of our life in year thirteen and the school. However, there are several reasons why I don’t want to go in:

1. I don’t feel like celebrating.

2. I cannot even fake a smile.

3. I don’t want to go back into school with Mr. Bentley and Miss Harris giving me pitying stares, knowing what’s been going on outside of school.

And 4, I don’t want to be asked or confronted about my dad, because I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep the tears back. My Grandparents kind of get that I don’t want to talk about it, but I don’t think other people will get that until they make me cry, which I really do not want to do.

‘Please come in,’ Belle begs me. ‘You’ll regret it if you don’t.’

‘I highly doubt that I would.’

She sighs, ‘But it’s only for an hour. It’ll be a nice goodbye to the school.’

I’ve had too many goodbyes recently. School was the only consistent thing I had left, and I don’t want to say goodbye to it. I was actually all prepared to leave school, but now it brings back too memories, specifically sitting in Mr. Bentley’s office and being told about my dad. It sends tiny goose bumps all over my body just thinking about it. I just don’t think I can willingly walk back in there to celebrate leaving.

 ‘No, Belle. I don’t think so.’

‘Just for the assembly? Please? I’ll come and pick you up. Think of it as a positive thing to do, celebrating moving on and growing up. Come on, I really think getting out of the house is good for you. You didn’t think today would go as well as it did, did you? So the same can be said for going to the leavers’ assembly.’

I didn’t tell Belle much of how the visit to Cole went today, merely I went to visit one of the recipients and left it as that. But maybe she is right? I did that, so maybe I can do this too. I waver and immediately Belle senses this. ‘Brilliant. I’ll be at yours for 9am tomorrow. Love you.’ She hangs up before even letting me confirm. Belle’s like this. She’s too blunt for her own good and doesn’t leave room for others to change what’s happening.

Even if she turns up, there’s no guarantee I’m getting in that car tomorrow morning.

                                                oOoOo

It’s funny how you can be sure you can do something one minute and freak out about it the next. This has what has just happened. Belle has had to drag me to her car to get me to go to this leaver’s assembly this morning. I thought I was okay before she turned up, but then it became real, and I started to panic and insist it wasn’t a good idea to go. Nevertheless, she dragged me to her car and locked the doors once I was in the passenger seat, almost like I was a captive animal desperate to escape; the latter is probably true though. She was impressed I was even dressed, so I guess it’s not completely bad; I’m not in my pyjamas so I won’t be publically humiliated at the very least.

Right now, we’re driving along the beach front, ten minutes away from school and listening to the radio with Belle telling me how much she appreciates her family getting an au pair in to take the boys to school now that she’s going to university in the autumn. She is a saint looking after her four brothers and I think she is going to adore university by not having to tend to them as much as she currently does.

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