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.

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It is a cold, foggy night, and I am staring at my bedroom ceiling. There are about a dozen spiders taking refuge there, from the cold outside. My phone buzzes, and my heart quickens with half-worry, half-excitement. Grabbing my phone, I tap the answer button and press it to my ear.

"Rowan?" I hear Henry say, faintly.

"What's up?" I ask, filling with dread. This doesn't sound good.

"She's gone." He murmurs, his voice cracking in the most heart-breaking way. We are silent. Nothing I can say will make him feel better.

"Ro?" He says, tears in his voice.

"I'm here. I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry, this shouldn't have happened." I say, my eyes welling with tears.

"It did though. I don't know what to do." He sobs, sounding completely helpless. It scares the hell out of me, hearing the usually happy, carefree boy, crying and breaking to pieces down the phone to me.

"Don't go." I say, scared.

"I won't." He sighs. "I hate the sight of my house now. It's so cold. I have no one."

"You have me." I say, repeating the words he told me all those weeks ago, when I was the one depressed and lonely. Now we have switched places, and I don't like it.

"My mates, they're planning something tomorrow night, and it involves me. I can't tell you what, but please don't worry about me."

"Henry, are they forcing you to do it?" I ask, my fear rising once again.

"Yeah. Please don't try to stop them. Trust me, I don't mind. It takes my mind off stuff."

"Henry." I say, terrified for what they might do to him.

"No. I'm okay."

"You're not."

"I am, just leave me alone, I make my own decisions." He says, and hangs up. Shocked, I fall back into my pillow and let the tears pour down my cheeks. This is wrong, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

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