Read Part 4 here
Do you know how it feels like to keep the burden of a secret from the entire world only to realise that it has got out anyway?
Well, in a nutshell, it’s horrible.
I don’t know how she found out or who told her, but there she was, standing outside of my classroom with a smug look on her face.
At first glance, no one could possibly imagine that something was bothering her. She was examining her toe nails in a way as if they were the most exotic things on Earth. That might as well be true actually. Kind of.
“Hey Julia!”, I greeted her with the best grin I could pull off on my otherwise guilty face.
She looked up and there it was. Her face was blank, apparently serene . Not a single crease. But her eyes. They looked like a sea in the midst of the hardest storm.
I fell silent under her gaze.
“I thought we were friends, June Parker”, her tone wasn’t friendly anymore. But she didn’t sound angry either. It seemed more like she was hurt. Or may be disappointed?
“We..we still are”, I could barely manage to say, anticipating the worst.
“No, we are not. We never were now that I think of it. It was my mistake to let my guard down. Turns out you all are just the same”, she said, as a sneer escaped her mouth.
I was yet unsure if she was talking about Lee. What if it was something else altogether? So it was better to get her to talk about it first.
“I can explain”, I said.
“Believe me, you can’t. I told you to let me know anything you learn about him, which you did yet decided to keep those dull lips sealed. You know I thought we could really be good friends. But I was so wrong!”, she said and closed her eyes for a brief second before whirling around and walking away.
Friends? Not really. She was right. I never considered her a friend. She was more like a fellow traveller on the same boat.
That day, she didn’t turn up for the special class. But surprisingly, Lee Maxwell did. And he smiled. At me.
But for the first time, that didn’t tickle my stomach or flush my cheeks. And it didn’t make me feel any better.
After finding out about Lee’s secret job, I had been visiting his cafe every once in a while after school helping them out.
Travis wasn’t really much happy about it, but he didn’t have much of a say when the great President himself was flashing me the green light.
And somehow, it turned out with me being a part timer there. It was fun, and tiring at the same time.
But I loved watching Lee walking around in his white apron, gently talking to the customers, pulling up his sleeves revealing those lean muscles underneath, and smiling every now and then, making my heart flutter in a frenzy. It was all quite dreamy, like I was in a song sequence, Travis being the only one in contrast.
His stone cold face, always watching my every step made me go nuts. Whatever I did, he had objection.
So that day after school, I was horrified he would be able to tell something was wrong just by the look on my face. I didn’t want Travis to know what happened. That Lee’s secret was out. For he had a secret of mine in safe keeping too.
So, I waited after class until the two of them were off to work. Lee used to ask me to accompany them, but Travis shot me a murderous glare so I declined. Every time.
Therefore, I walked behind them maintaining a considerable distance instead.
The cafeteria looked as normal as any other day, which meant the news didn’t yet reach Travis.
I worked as inconspicuously as possible, steering clear of both of them. I could see Travis from the corner of eyes glaring at me and Lee totally oblivious to my tribulations.
After almost an hour, I couldn’t see any of them near, so that was my cue I realised. The perfect time to sneak out.
And then, a red flicker across the kitchen window caught my eyes. I stumbled over a few empty bowls and plates stacked up on the floor, earning scornful glances from the cook and his assistants, and peeked out the window.
And the very next minute, I wished I never did.
Lee and Julia, locked into an embrace. Or should I say loving embrace?
At least someone’s having a good time, I guess.
It felt like I had just been hit in the gut. So that boat did sink after all. The only difference being, Julia had a lifeguard to save her, and I didn’t.
I tore my glance away and turned back.
“Watch where you’re going girl!”, I heard one of the assistants say as I stepped on a freshly knead flour dough.
I shot him a what-does-it-matter look to which he bitterly eyed me.
Tears overwhelmed me soon enough, and I hated when they did.
So what if Lee hugs her? It’s not like he’s your boyfriend!
But he was somebody to me.
I collided into a waiter, didn’t focus on his face, but I heard the clatter of plates to which he cussed.
Ignoring the poor fellow, I tip toed through the back door of the cafeteria when someone pulled me by the collar of my work shirt.
“Going somewhere? “, the voice sent chills down the back of my neck.
“Travis”, I muttered, without looking back.
He brought his mouth down closer to my left ear, his lips almost touching my earlobe, and whispered, “You are so dead, June Parker.”
The hell I am.