The Girl With The Broken Smile

"There are things, unspeakable things, which go through the minds of hundreds of young people every year. We can't always be sure what these are, but when we do, we need to be able to help. I learnt a little too late."

17 year old Will knew his best friend was suffering, but he wasn't aware of how desperately until the tragic news arrived. Now, he's determined to try, to make things work and to solve the problems that have been plaguing the both of them for the last two years, no matter the cost.

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2. Reminiscence

 

I was aware of my brother in the next room, asleep. I could hear him snoring, and I hoped he hadn’t heard me crying. He didn’t have work today but he still ensured I went to school every single day. I didn’t want him finding me here, being pathetic.

I keep a shoe box underneath my bed. Inside, I keep everything that is most precious to me. I’ve had it for years, but it’s been a while since I’ve used it. Now when I feel myself slipping, I reach under and grab it, opening the box to expose its contents. Some of this stuff I’ve had for so long that I didn’t even remember putting them here.

There’s a photograph of me holding the football trophy when I was eight, clipped from the newspaper. The text below has smudged so it’s barely legible, but my memory’s of that day are still clear in my mind. Beside that is the actual trophy, my name engraved and shining brightly. There are several other things in there: a photograph of my grandma before she died; a letter from my favourite author and the Prime Minister. At the very bottom of the box, beneath everything, is a large brown envelope. I never thought I’d look at it again, but I knew I couldn’t get rid of it.

The envelope is thicker than I remember, heavier. Memories seem so much lighter when you’re making them. I never sealed the envelope, in case I ever found something else to put in it. The first week I did. I found a lot to store away, to keep even though I knew I shouldn’t.

I don’t know why I do this now, shaking my head trying to convince myself it’s a bad idea, that I don’t need to open all these old wounds: wounds which I had denied to myself for so long. Yet part of me knows that this is something that I need to do.

I lift the flap and tip the contents onto my bedroom floor. Photographs, cards, letters and handwritten notes fall into a scattered pile: Pictures of us together, sitting around the fire at camp; Valentines Day when we bought each other the most extravagant presents (which I know I must still have somewhere); parties and meals and days out where the flash of the camera allowed the memories to collect in a small film.

But it’s a small, leather bound blue notebook that I’m interested in, the thing I was searching for. Picking it up, I can feel everything flooding back. The love. The loss. The pain. I remember the happiness and the laughter, the fun and the games, as though they’d never left. And I remember the sadness too. I know this notebook contains every emotion I’ve ever had and I don’t know whether I should read it. 

Instead I stare at it, wondering why I’m holding it now, after all this time when I thought I’d be long and far away from these thoughts. Answers. I know I want- no, need- answers. 

Why did Enola do what she did? Why didn’t she tell me she felt that way? Why didn’t I help her?Could I have helped her?

I open the book and I’m surprised by how early it starts, back when I was fifteen. I hadn’t expected it to be so long, and I take that detail in for a moment, thinking about how I’m nearly eighteen now. Nearly three years had passed since I had first opened that book. So many details I must have forgotten. Despite the circumstances under which I was holding it, I felt an excitement about what I was about to read, about all the memories I was about to relive.

And I started reading.

 

There’s nothing really on the first page. A simple line expressing my interest in writing and keeping this diary. It was a christmas gift, from my Grandma. 

‘You won’t always remember everything,’ she told me when she handed the small parcel to me. ‘But you can keep a record so you might just remember most of it.’ I hadn’t bothered with it at first, thinking that diaries were just for girls, but it was only a couple of months before I saw she was right. Already the memories of my birthday were fading fast and I knew that there would be things in life I didn’t want to forget.

The first entry spoke only of my day at school, which had been uneventful, so it seemed. There were several references to people I hadn’t seen in years, like Colin and Peter who had left at the end of that year. Still, I knew it wasn’t long before the whole story picked up.

I kept reading, skimming mostly over the parts that didn’t have any relevance to Enola, looking for something when I began to actually care what I wrote. It came a few pages late.

‘Mrs Hobb sat Enola next to me today. I’ve actually missed her, which is odd because I still see her every day in school. Last year we spoke a lot because we were sat together in English and it was so funny. She always had something to laugh about. But… she looked sad today.’

I pause at the end of the line, as I remember the events of that day. I hadn’t realised that there was so much wrong with her then, hadn’t known what was happening. I hadn’t asked. 

As I sit here thinking it through, I realise that this is probably the first time I noticed something wrong with her, the first time I realised all the problems that she had, that she felt so alone in dealing with. 

This was when I should have started to help her.

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