Though my plan wasn’t foolproof, I had no choice but to give it a try.
The plan was that I’d take them to the house of a close friend of mine, once she opens the door, I’ll signal her with my eyes to go along with my plan. Thankfully, Emily has this talent of being able to notice the slightest details. No doubt she’d easily notice my eye signal.
At this point, the plan was perfect, just perfect, but the flaw in it was that we’d have to pass that shack my parents called home. And to make matters worse, my mom wants to turn the front of the shack into a garden before winter. So, she spends most of her time working there. As I directed Mr Sam, I just prayed mum would be inside resting.
We were about a block away from the shack when I looked ahead and sighted mum bending and plucking some grasses.
Ugh… why isn’t she inside? Well it’s not bad as long as she keeps bending down.
Life is so unfair, because the moment that thought crossed my mind, mum did the exact opposite of what I wished.
Oh no… She stood up and seemed to be surveying the surroundings. By this time, we were already about two houses away from her. I just wish Amy, Nicola and Nicole’s attention aren’t on the road.
I turned to check and thankfully, Amy was engrossed in the novel she was reading, Nicole was listening to music with her eyes closed and her head bobbling to the music. While Nicola was…
Oh no! Nicola was staring out the window!
I need to do something as fast as possible to divert her attention before she sights my mom.
“Isn’t that Michelle’s mum?” she said.
Oh my…. This is so not good.
“Where’s she?” Nicole and Amy asked as Nicola’s voice brought them out of their various activities.
“Over there,” Nicola said as she pointed at my mum. “What’s she doing in front of that ugly house?” Nicola asked with disgust in her voice.
Oh no. I’ve got to divert their attention and convince them that that’s not my mum.
“Nah that’s not my mum. Perhaps she’s someone who resembles my mum,” I said with a wave of my hand.
“I’m certain she’s the one I saw,” Nicola countered.
By then, we were already some houses away from where my mum was standing and four houses to my friend’s house.
She picked up the phone and called Mr. Sam.
“Reverse and stop in front of a house where a woman in red dress is standing,” she commanded them dropped the call.
“That isn’t necessary. It’s just a waste of time. She’s not my mum. She might be her doppelganger,” I tried the more.
Three pairs of eyes turned to me as they looked at me like I’d just grown an extra head.
Yeah. I deserve that look. Doppelganger? Does that even exist?
“Alright. There’s nothing like doppelganger. I know, I know. But still that’s not my mum.”
I turned towards Nora. “And Nora didn’t you say you wanted to help your mum with something?” I asked with a little hope that perhaps that’ll stop them from trying to go back and check if it’s my mum or not.
“Yeah I did,” she said.
Yes! My plan is working. I just hope there are no buts.
“But it’s not something really important. It can wait.”
Oh no. There’s a but after all. Now, there was nothing I could do. My diversion hadn’t worked, neither did my plan to use Nora as an excuse. There’s no hope anymore. My secret would surely be revealed. As the saying goes, there’s nothing hidden under the sun that wouldn’t be revealed. My secret would soon be out.
I stepped out of the limo with the others following and Michelle taking the rear. I couldn’t help but think that something was amiss. She seemed fidgety and she’d tried her best to discourage me from checking out the woman who I was hundred percent sure was her mum. Something was amiss and I’ve got to find out what it is. Detective Nicola is at work.
We walked through the gate and walked towards the woman. The woman turned towards us and I could see that I’d been right. She was definitely Michelle’s mum.
But what she’s doing in front of this ugly house is what I couldn’t fathom. But that’s a piece of cake as Detective Nicola is here and ready for work. Oh. I’m so loving this detective work every second.
“Hello Mrs O’Connor,” I greeted.
“Hello dear. Oh Mitch, you brought your friends home. That’s thoughtful of you,” Mrs O’Connor said immediately she sighted Michelle who had relegated herself to the back.
“Yeah mum. I did,” she said with her head facing the ground.
My ears perked up at the word ‘home.’
Home? This ugly house is Michelle’s new home? I was shocked. How can that be possible? Michelle O’Connor of all people is living in this sort of place? I just couldn’t bring myself to believe so I decided to ask her if if heard right.
Did I just hear ‘home’? I don’t think I did. How can this… this… this… I don’t even know what to call it. This… this dump be the place Michelle has been sleeping, waking up, cooking and eating in for the past week?
That’s not possible. That’s just not possible!
Home? My ears didn’t hear well. Yes… I’m sure my ears just developed a fault this very moment. I couldn’t have heard right. I’m so sure of that. I’ve got to see my doctor today. My ears needs to be checked and treated.
“Did your mum just say home?” I asked Michelle. She didn’t reply but kept her head to the ground. “Michelle, I asked a question. Did your mum just say home?” I said with my voice slightly raised.
I faced the ground in shame as Nicola asked me what my mum had said. I couldn’t bring myself to answer her, I just couldn’t. She repeated the question with a slightly raised voice.
I knew she was waiting to hear my answer and she was already getting angry. This time, my brain couldn’t formulate any lie. Firstly, luck had deserted me. Now, my brain had followed suit. I was on my own. I have to carry my cross alone.
As I waited for Michelle’s answer, I glanced at her mum and I could see a confused look on her face.
“Is this your new home?” I asked a direct question this time around as I waved my hand in the direction of the house.
“Yes it is,” Michelle finally answered.
I looked at her in shock. Perhaps she’s just kidding around, a small part of my brain said.
No she isn’t, she’s damn serious, the larger part countered.
I turned to the others to see their reaction and I could see that they were as shocked as I was.
“You’re kidding right?” Amy asked.
The exact thing I was about to ask. This must be a joke and any second from now, Michelle would burst into laughter at the fact that she’d succeeded in fooling us. But her next reply removed all doubts from my mind.
“I’m not. Welcome to my wonderful abode,” she said sarcastically.
“You mean you’re living in this… this… ” I couldn’t find the appropriate words to describe the place. “…this place?”
“How’s that possible? What happened? Why are you living in this place?” Amy asked in quick succession.
“Well the thing is… ” she started but was interrupted by her mum.
“Why don’t we all go in? We can’t stand here discussing this,” Mrs O’Connor suggested.
“Alright,” Nicole said.
Mrs O’Connor dropped her tools, removed her work gloves and headed towards the house as we followed behind.
On entering the house, I could see that it wasn’t as bad as it looked outside. The house was small but cosy, and though it didn’t contain much furniture, it was a little bit homely.
Mrs O’Connor led us to the sitting room which contained a small couch and few plastic chairs and a wooden centre table. “Have your seat.”
Nicole and I sat on the small couch while the others sat in the plastic chairs.
“Would you like anything to drink?”
“No, we’re okay,” I replied, “thanks for the offer.”
“You’re welcome dear.”
I was too shocked to take anything and I’m sure the others are.
“I’ll leave you alone,” Mrs O’Connor offered as she made her way out of the room.
We all sat, looking at each others faces. The tension in the air was so thick to the extent that it could be cut by a knife.
“Now Michelle spill the beans,” I commanded.
Then, Michelle told us the story of how she’d gotten home and met her parents in a dejected mood and how her parents had told her that they’d been duped and had gone bankrupt.
“And you kept all this from us?” I asked angrily. “You call us your friends yet you kept something like this from us?”
“Does that matter? It isn’t everything about my life you’re supposed to know.”
I looked at her in surprise.
I looked at Michelle as she uttered those words. I was surprised. Very surprised.
“Of course, Michelle. We’re your friends. Your fucking friends!” I shouted in exasperation.
“And so? The fact that you’re my friends doesn’t give you the right to know everything about me.”
I was awestruck by her words. I couldn’t believe those words were being uttered by the person I’d called my friend for more than five years.
I was hurt by her words. Extremely hurt. “Of course it does. Michelle, I’ve been your bestie for more than five years, yet you kept something as serious as this from me. That’s unfair Michelle, totally unfair.”
“Unfair?” Michelle asked with an amused look on her face. “You know what’s unfair? What’s unfair is the fact that you all get to live in wonderful houses, spend money anyhow, flaunt your new clothes while I get to live in this… this ugly house as Nicola had called it.”
Nicola bowed her head sadly as she realized that what she’d said wasn’t right.
“… I get to take only four dollars on a girl’s day out and I get to wear ugly clothes. That’s what’s unfair,” Michelle finished with anger written visibly on her face.
“We could’ve helped, you know. If you’d informed us, we could’ve helped. My dad could’ve lent your dad some money to hold up the business.”
Michelle rolled her eyes “There you go again, flaunting your riches. I’m not a fucking beggar, Amy, I’m not. ”
“That isn’t begging. That’s just helping a friend in need,” I countered. “You shouldn’t have kept this a secret, you shouldn’t. So you lied about your dad withdrawing your allowance, and you also lied about your mum misplacing her purse? You should’ve just told the truth.I’m really hurt, Michelle. I thought we were friends.”
“Hurt? Friends? Of course we are friends but the fact still remains that you don’t need to know everything about me. I have every right to have secrets of my own. And our friendship doesn’t change that fact.”
That means she doesn’t value our friendship a bit. Ouch, that really hurt.
“And you call yourself my friend Michelle? You aren’t my friend. You’re nothing but a filthy backstabber. I never knew you were like this. Had I known, this friendship would’ve been over years ago.” I paused. I could feel myself tearing up. “You know what, this had gotten too much. I’m outta here,” I said with a note of finality as I stood up and walked out of the house.
I expected her to run after me and apologize but the reverse was the case as she just sat there watching me walk away.
I’m outta here. I’m outta this stinking house of betrayal.
I watched the exchange between Michelle and Amy. I couldn’t believe that Michelle hadn’t informed her bestie of all people. If she didn’t inform her, then who were we who are just her mere friends?
“I’m highly disappointed, Michelle. You’re nothing but a piece of trash. You thought you were protecting your secret, rather you ended up losing your friends. That’s a shame. A great shame. The way you lay your bed, so shall you lie on it.”
I turned to Nora and Nicole “Let’s get out of here. Let’s leave this house of lies.”
And with that, we stood up and left the filthy house of lies.
I watched as they all left the house. I flinched as I remembered Nicola’s words.
Is she right? What if I’d let pride chase my friends away? a small part of my brain reasoned.
No, I don’t care. I don’t need them. They can drown in the ocean for all I care, the other part countered.
That’s true. First luck then my brain and now my friends. This life is a scam. Friends are scam. I don’t need them.
I walked to the disgusting and cramped room Max and I shared. But that small part of my brain kept bugging me.
I lay on the bed and forced myself to drift off to dreamland. The land where everything was fine.
To be continued…