The Skeleton Tree

For the Fault In Our Stars competition.
Rowan remembers the days spent with her old best friend, Henry, who seems to have disappeared out of her life. Wanting to get their friendship back on track, Rowan finally realises why they had drifted apart in the first place.


7. 7

Three days after the night at the tree, I am sitting in my living room with my parents. The television is on, but I cannot concentrate on it.

"Are you alright, Ro? You've been acting weird lately." My mum says, concerned. That's my mum for you. She knows me better than anyone else in the world.

"Yeah, I'm just tired." I tell her.

"Oh. I think it's just that time of year. It's at that point in the Christmas holidays when you are bored and tired and need to get back to school. You'll be okay soon."

"Yeah, I'm sure I will." I say, relieved that she is finding an excuse for it, before I even need to. I haven't told my parents about seeing Henry again, and how different he is than what he used to be like.

After the fourth day I am completely restless. So restless and lonely that I decide to call him. I understand that he is still trying to get over the problems he is facing, and might want to be alone for a bit, but maybe I can help.

After the third ring, he picks up.

"Rowan." He says, sounding tired.

"Hey, how are you doing?" I ask, trying to sound cheerful.

"Okay. My mum is getting worse. I think she'll have to go to hospital soon. Permanently." He tells me, sounding ridiculously sad.

"Oh. I'm really sorry."

"Yeah, well I don't think I'll be home very much, you know, I want to spend as much time as possible with her."

"Okay, I understand. Well, look after yourself." I say, my heart sinking.

"Yeah. Bye then." He says, and the phone goes dead.

Weeks pass in unbearable silence. School starts. The days drag. The air gets colder and colder, like it's ready to snow. I am ignored, pushed over, jeered at. I sit in my room at night, staring at the walls, unable to tell my parents how I feel. They tried so hard to bring me up well, and now look what I turned out like. I cry at night, and call Henry over and over again, with no answer.

Maybe I am being selfish. I do love Henry, and I hate to see him sad, but I am not calling him out of worry, I am calling him out of sheer loneliness. It feels as if Henry is the only one who knows how I feel. To have everyone else being loud and colourful around you, then you living in a world of endless grey. My days blur together, just another grey day without Henry. Maybe I'd deal with it better if I had other friends, but I don't, because I don't fit in. I never did fit in really. Henry was my only friend, and he moved away.

At last, after three weeks, I get the long awaited call. Just not the type of call I needed.



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