Our Secrets

Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. -
Benjamin Franklin


3. Joshua's Secret

I have a secret

Poor Mr. Harries, he just hadn't a clue how to teach. What had admitting secrets got to do with English? I thought it was all about poetry crap and big, thick books that don't have a decent storyline. Mr. Harries is a good guy and all, aside from the fact he's hogging all the girls' attention. What's so good about a teacher? At least Anna isn't into him though. Anna's different.

I kicked the stones along the path on my way to the home. It was only ten minutes from school, and sometimes if I was lucky I caught Anna getting onto the bus. She really was something. I know she thinks I'm an idiot. But I can't help thinking about her. 

I jumped over the railing going up the wheelchair ramp, nearly knocking the sign that proudly read: The Martha Janice Place of Hope. Sally waved her hand at me warningly, only a week ago did she have to repair that sign. I opened the door and the familiar ding greeted me.

"Joshua, are you trying to create work for me?"

I laughed. Sally pretended to be mad at me, but you could see the smile. I liked Sally a lot. When I came here first it was scary as hell, but she made me feel at ease straight away. That was the one thing with this place, it may smell like old people and you may step on the occasional false teeth, but it was the friendliest place I had ever been.

"Hows school going, Josh?"

"Same old crap"

"Hey!" She wagged her finger at me. "How are things going with your girl?"

"They're not"

She laughed and ruffled my hair, like I was a little kid.

"Joshua Pike, she'd be a fool not to pick you up"

I knew she had to say that, but it helped all the same.

"You can go on in, hun"
I made my way down the corridor, as I did every day. I poked my head into Old Sal, but he was fast asleep. I'd normally have a chat with him about football. I continued on to Mrs. Patton, who was sitting upright reading a romance novel.

"Are you sure you should be reading that, Mr. Patton?" I smiled cheekily, knowing that would set her off.

"How dare you! I'm only getting a bit of light reading done, harmless! Nothing to be ashamed of."
I left laughing, the defensive yells of Mrs. Patton echoing down the hall. I then reached room 209, the one with the pale blue door and the lilies in the vase on the windowsill. I knew they were lilies because I'm the one who keeps them fresh. I walked in slowly, after knocking.

"Who are you?" 

"Joshua, remember? Your carer"

The woman in the bed was much younger than any of the others here. She still had hair and good teeth and didn't smell. I replaced the flowers with the fresh ones I had brought.

"Joshua, is it? That's a nice name"

I didn't say anything, just kept fixing the flowers.

"Who named you that?"
"My mother" I said, slumping down onto the chair in the corner. The woman lay her head back and closed her eyes.

"Tell me a story, Joshua"

"What kind of a story?"

"A one that doesn't involve oatmeal or hospital coats"

So I told her about the most interesting thing I could think of.

"Her name''s Anna. She has long black hair that curls at the ends, and bright blue eyes. She doesn't slouch in her seat, and always leans forward, as if she's always ready to jump of her seat. I like that in her. And she's smart, even though she doesn't answer questions. She's funny too, in a sarcastic way. But she has her flaws. She's headstrong and stubborn, and can be too quick to judge sometimes. But I think that makes me love her even more"

She nodded, with a half-smile on her face.

"Does she like you?"

I paused, going over it in my head.

"She finds me annoying, I think."

"Well, you really should tell her all that"

I frowned. I hadn't planned on telling her, even if I'd told half the world.
"Do you think so?"
"Sure. How can you win if you're not in the running?"
I smiled. One thing she always had was great metaphors.

"Joshua, can you get me that water please?"

I nodded, and handed her the glass. She slowly raised it to her lips, and with an even slower pace allowed the water to trickle down her throat. Some water was dribbling down her chin, so I instinctively went to wipe it off.


She furiously dabbed at it with her sleeve, determined to do it herself. Her face was contorted with concentration. 

"You know, you really should let me do it"

"Why? Because you're more capable than I am? Doesn't sound like a good enough reason to me"
I laughed. I admired the spirit she had.

"Okay then, I better go. Lots of homework to do"

She looked puzzled.

"Homework? I thought you were a carer?"

"Part-time job" I explained, tucking the covers around her.

"Your mother will be wanting you home"

"I'll be waiting a while for her to come back"

She nodded. I leaned and kissed her forehead, much to her bemusement. I said goodbye and left the room. I went back up the corridor to the front desk.

"How was she?" Sally asked.

"Good" I said, smiling. "I'll see you tomorrow"

No sooner that I got to my house did it start raining. I ran in the door, took off my trainers in the hall and nearly crashed into Dad on my hurry to get to my room.

"That eager to see your old Dad?"

He reached and immersed me in a giant bear hug. I breathed in his familiar scent.

"I really admire you for what you do there, son" He said, smiling.

"I admire the people who do it full-time. Its a hard job!"

"Dinners at five, sausages and mash"
I nodded. This was Dad and I's special meal. Simple, but tasty.

I ran up to my room, closed the door and went straight to my laptop. Facebook.com was on the screen. Okay, maybe I wasn't going to tell Anna how I feel about her just yet. But I think a friend request is a big step.

Before I could change my mind I sent it. And then I waited. And waited. It had been ten minutes. Don't people normally accept friend requests straight away? I glanced at the picture on the desk. It was my mother, with long flowing red hair and a beautiful glow on her face. It was taken on our family holiday to Disneyland Paris. She was wearing Mickey Mouse ears in the picture. I stroked the photo, feeling that missing feeling I usually feel when I think of her. She was my mother. My secret.




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