The Hidden Truth

Written for the Pretty Little Liars contest on Movellas. Shara Shinnok is among the few people who know what really happened to Christina McAllen on June 20, 2005. The trouble is, though, nobody in San Francisco, California cares about the truth about that moment, not when they believe the lies told about her.

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1. The Hidden Truth

Here's how this story goes, according to everyone else:

12-year-old Christina Riley McAllen was too old to be in the fifth grade at St. Francis Elementary School. Yet she was in the fifth grade, as her parents, William and Sylvia, didn't send her to school after her fifth birthday. Also, no one said anything about it until she was almost seven years old. That's when a nun from the St. Francis District ordered the McAllen family to send Christina to the school instead of the Pinehurst Sanitarium.

Of course, Christina's older brother Randall was angry when he learned that Christina was attending classes at the same school he attended. He often complained that Christina didn't act her age, nor did she like the things most kids her age liked. He was also embarrassed to be around her, especially whenever the family went out in public. He often walked behind his family, pretending that he wasn't related to them.

In fact, everyone in San Francisco, California knew that Christina was different from the other kids her age. Most of those people avoided her like the plague, yet stayed friendly with Randall to keep him happy.

But that wasn't the worst of it.

Most kids at St. Francis Elementary School bullied Christina, making sure she sat alone in the cafeteria at lunchtime, never picked her to be on anyone's team during gym class, and making her life a nightmare. (And if Christina wasn't being bullied at school, she was bullied at home, as Randall made her life at home as terrible as her life in school.)

So, it was no surprise that she did what she did.

To start, here's the story, according to me:

I was among the few people able to talk to Christina McAllen, as no one except for a teacher could interact with her. In fact, the only people she spoke to were Joanna Marshall, Sabella Tucker, and myself, Shara Shinnok. It wasn't easy for us to be friends with her, as anybody caught talking to her was shamed in front of the school. Oddly enough, nobody bothered going after us, although they had so many chances to catch us in the act.

But let's not start.

The year is 2005, and what's going on in the world? I don't know, as while we fifth graders kept up with the world news, we weren't allowed to know about the wars and conflicts. Also, the Silver Stones series by Theresa Beckett replaced the Harry Potter books in bookstores, with a fourth book in the series coming out next month. While everyone else in our school was watching "Robots" or "Ice Princess" in theaters, my friends and I planned to see "The Pacifier".

Now here comes the real story about what happened to Christina McAllen. If you're uncomfortable hearing the truth about what happened to her, then turn around and walk away.

It was the middle of spring break (March 23, 2005) when it happened. Joanna, Sable, and I, along with Rebecca Walker, were at my apartment for our annual spring break slumber party. Meaning that we would eat pizza, watch scary movies, and hang out. Christina would try to scare us with scary stories, but we laughed, knowing that most of the stories she told weren't real.

But this year, Christina didn't come to the slumber party. This was odd, as Christina never failed to show up. I began wondering what had happened to her when a knock was heard on the door. Christina walked into the room as if she owned the place. She said, "I had to get away from my family. They think I'm too old to attend your slumber parties, but they don't know me. Not when they refused to send me to school for two years."

"Yeah, I know," I said as Christina sat on the couch. "But I'm wondering why your parents now aren't letting you hang out with us. Did your idiot of a brother finally convince them that you're not worth going to school or having any friends?"

"I don't want to talk about Randall right now," said Christina. "I just want to party."

"And that's what we're going to do," said Becky as she pulled out a DVD. "My parents got me the first Ultraponies movie," she said as she held up the DVD.

"You mean, they got you that DVD that's about the ponies back in the 80s?" Sable cried out.

"I heard that movie sucked when it first came out in theaters," said Joanna.

"I have to say it's a product of its time," I said. "But I still have a bone to pick with DIGIVersity.TV for not letting us watch the new Ultraponies TV show. Ultraponies is an American show, in case they forgot."

"It's not like they haven't forgot," said Becky. "But after the 90s version of Ultraponies flopped, they decided it might be better if they didn't show Ultraponies on TV for a while."

While hearing my friends and I talking about multicolored warrior ponies is entertaining, we still have a story to tell. But remember that the Ultraponies of 2005 doesn't exist, as the Ultraponies of 2010 is more popular than the 80s, 90s, and 2005 editions combined.

We'll deal with that in the next story.

Anyway, after several hours of us watching movies and eating pizza, we all fell asleep. But when I woke up the next day, Christina was gone. In fact, her parents showed up at my front door at seven in the morning, asking my parents if they had seen her. They claimed that she had disappeared in the middle of the night. I was shocked, knowing that Christina wasn't supposed to be at my slumber party, but she came anyway.

But my parents told Mr. and Mrs. McAllen that they didn't see Christina at all. Everyone gasped, as I remembered seeing Christina last night. To most people, Christina wore bad clothes and her hair was never properly styled. But I saw Christina wearing an old-fashioned yellow top and a pair of purple shorts, and a pair of loafers. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail. I think she changed her clothes and hairstyle because of the accident that almost killed her several months ago.

OK, please don't make me talk about the accident anymore; it's too painful!

Anyway, I don't remember what happened to Christina after the others fell asleep, but I did find a message from her hidden in my coat. The message read as follows:

"Dear Shara,

"By the time you get this message, I will be gone. Please don't be mad at me because I planned this for a long time. You should know most people didn't like me or they bullied me; my parents didn't help or protect me. That's why I have to leave.

"I don't know if I'm coming back here, not after what happened to me. I know Randall's best friend Finton Joyner and that Denise Tillman got your cousins involved in trying to kill me when I told the police about the bullying and abuse. That was when your mother took me to the hospital several weeks ago.

"I leave you with my diaries, for I want you to carry on now that I'm gone. And if you see a girl named Jacquel Rassenworth, talk to her. She will tell you what I told her to tell you.

"I thank you for being my friend and I will miss you, as I will miss the other girls. After you finished reading this letter, destroy it, as I cannot let its content fall into the wrong hands.

"Yours truly,

"Christina Riley McAllen."

I can't believe it. Christina was gone and there was no way she was coming back here, not if everyone in San Francisco despised her. I stared at my friends; they had all gotten the same letter Christina had given me. She wanted us to carry on, now that she's gone.

Yet when I heard that someone had killed her and buried her body at the old Castlemore Estate, my blood boiled. I can't believe she's dead. Christina's parents were beside themselves with grief, as they finally realized that they had failed her. Randall, however, was indifferent to his sister's sad fate, yet he did shed several tears, blaming himself for not being a better brother to her.

Unfortunately, any news about Christina's alleged murder was ignored, as the famous movie tycoon Winston Dara died in his sleep in his New York penthouse at the age of 94. Just like that, Christina Riley McAllen was ignored in favor of the city mourning for a famous man who did more for the city of San Francisco than Christina had done.

So, why is the story called "The Hidden Truth"? It was because I was forced to hide the truth behind Christina's disappearance while other people believed that she was murdered. Christina wanted to live her life, yet people bullied and abused her, ultimately driving her away from her family and friends.

Sadly, I (and several others) knew the truth about what happened to Christina McAllen, and we couldn't say anything.

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