Tuesday, 10 February 2009 - 2:41 pm

Stories straight

Ben didn’t want to let me in last night. I knocked because it’s polite and he said that he was busy. Busy doing what?

It had taken me so long to screw myself up into knocking in the first place that I wasn’t going to be turned away so easily. I was determined to at least find out what the problem was. So I let myself into the room, insisting that this would only take a minute.

It was very dark in there. The curtains were open but with no stars or moon, no streetlights or headlights, there wasn’t much out there to help. He turned on a little camping lamp, wasting a little battery power so that we could see each other.

Of course, I had no idea what to say to him. He looked at me, full of expectation, and words died in my throat. He looked so angry and I didn’t know what to do with that. Options fell away like flaky skin, and I asked him the first one I held onto long enough to put into my mouth.

“What happened?”

“Nothing happened.” He sounded bitter.

“Something must have. One minute we’re okay and the next you won’t talk to me.”

He hesitated and turned to look out of the window. “I found out your secret.”

“My what?” I have a secret? I tried to think of what it might be, what I could possibly have hidden that he might be upset about. But there wasn’t anything. I’ve never been one for keeping secrets. “What secret?”

He was silent for a moment, and I thought he was going to tell me that I knew exactly what he was talking about and to stop pretending. Which I wasn’t! Instead, he turned around and looked me in the eye, the sort of look that made my stomach shrivel up inside me. I was sure that I had done nothing wrong, but it still felt like I had.

“About you and Thorpe.”

I almost laughed. Almost. Of all the things he could have said, that one wasn’t on the list. It’s ridiculous for so many reasons. I think the nearly-laugh snuck into my voice, though I tried not to let it.

“There is no ‘me and Thorpe’, Ben.”

He was far from convinced, and I had to pry at him to find out where he got that from. He thought it was strange that I didn’t hold a grudge against Thorpe, even after all the arguing, which I made clear that I hate. He thought it was strange that I wasn’t more upset over him hitting me in the face. Ben touched my jaw just below the bruise, which is fading into yellow now, and he seemed more concerned than I had seen him before.

He told me something about the fight that I hadn’t known before. While I was trying to drive off Dillon’s attacker, the man with the spiky hair had gone for me from behind. Thorpe had laid into him, telling him to stay away from me. I had seen the end of the frenzy, but hadn’t known how it started. When I heard that, I wanted to go give Thorpe a hug, but right then was hardly the time for it.

Ben couldn’t look at me when he told me he’d seen us on the roof. He had come up to see if I was all right, only to find Thorpe already there with his arms around me. I had torn into him one minute and then leaned on him the next; I can see where the confusion might be.

Taken all together, I suppose it does look suspicious. Ben never knew about Trevor; obviously doesn’t know Thorpe’s leanings.

I explained what happened, I told him that I was crying, up there on the roof, and that’s why I was leaning on him. I don’t think that there are any hard feelings between Thorpe and me, despite all the arguing, but there certainly aren’t any warm, fluffy ones instead. This isn’t playground hair-pulling that hints at deep passion and wild sex while no-one’s looking.

I almost told Ben that I really wasn’t Thorpe’s type, but that’s not my secret to tell. Instead, I told him that it was the other way around – that Thorpe really wasn’t the kind of guy that I go for, and it would never be like that between us. Which is true; I don’t fancy him at all. He’s like a brother – an annoying brother that I put up with because he’s family.

I like that idea. I’m afraid I’ll get too attached to it, but for now it’s a warm glow in my chest. It makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time, and hug them all up. This broken, blessed, strange family of mine.