About the Book
She was caught in the shadow, happy with second place … until…
… With her security tied up in great friendships, life for Tabbie was a breeze … until her best friend moved interstate. That’s when the exposing reality hit her. Who was she without her best friend?
Forced to stand on her own, Tabbie finds a new confidence and sees the world for what it really is. Her new convictions enlighten her to see friends through a different lens. Is Tabbie strong enough to stay out of Stephanie’s shadow when Steph returns?
Can Tabbie be true to herself without letting her friends slip through the cracks?
I missed her like I’d miss my arms if they were removed. I tried to cram at the library, in the park, in front of the TV—anywhere but my room. That was where Stephanie and I always crammed.
I’ll be fine. We’ll get to hang out again soon. If I could just get this stupid assignment to make sense, then I could start on the other mid-semester assessments. I pushed my tongue to the roof of my mouth hoping to block the tears from forming.
My best friend had only moved twelve hours north—it wasn’t like she’d died. What was wrong with me?
Nothing I’d written by the time the sun began to dip behind the mountains was good enough. I shuffled around the house before giving up and returning to my room to sit at my desk. An hour passed and I’d done zilch. The phone interrupted my useless train of thought.
‘Tabbie, Stephanie’s on the phone,’ Mum called.
I raced downstairs and grabbed our ancient corded phone.
‘Hey, I really miss you.’ I blinked to keep my eyes dry.
‘Yeah? This town is a hole,’ said Stephanie, the most beautiful, sophisticated and elegant fourteen-year-old I knew. My best friend.
‘There’s this English assignment I’ve got to do …’ my voice trailed off and Stephanie’s took over.
‘It’s worse than you could ever imagine,’ she said with a wobbly voice.
‘Why? What happened?’ I twirled the phone cord between my fingers.
‘The boys whistle at me and the girls don’t talk to me.’ She sniffled, then blasted me as she blew her nose.
‘Oh, Steph …’
Seriously, Miss Popular was telling me she was miserable and would never fit in.
Apparently co-ed schools were different. Well … derr! Had she really thought it would be the same? Boys = Hormones. Boys + Girls = Distraction and … well everything else that goes with boys and girls mincing their time.
‘The worst is in the mornings. When I walk through the gates, the boys’ hoo-haaring irritates me.’
‘Why don’t you just smile and say hello politely? That should shut them up.’ Guess I’d have to work out the assignment on my own.
‘I’ll try tomorrow.’
‘Dance rehearsals are—’
‘Tabbie, I’ve got to go.’
The hang-up-clunk echoed in my ear as a stream of tears flowed. I trudged upstairs into the bathroom to splash my face with cool water. Then I slipped on my running shoes. Mum’s treadmill would have to do.
The smooth whir of the machine’s belt filled the silence between my steps. A fresh set of tears threatened, but I shunned them away as I turned on Mum’s iPod. Her favourite eighties playlist dried up the tears and freed a smile. After half an hour I jogged straight back to my desk and wrote.
I miss her
I’ve found delight
Alone, so lonely
But I’m missing her
Here and now
It wasn’t exactly a response poem for the short story I’d read, but now that I’d written one poem, I began to think in verse. I imagined Stephanie right beside me. I could smell her fruity shampoo and hear her bite down on a piece of chocolate. I wrote and rewrote until I had a poem worthy of at least a B.
I cried myself to sleep and awoke with wet cheeks. It was obvious. I was a mess. My ridiculously beautiful and perfect best friend had gone. Moved interstate.
Where would I be ranked now without Miss Fabulous Dancer Stephanie by my side? I rolled back and forth across the mattress in a sheet-tangled insomnia that went on and on.
What was that?
I pulled the doona off my head. What had I’d crashed into? My floor. Stupid.
I stretched, checking for bruising from my klutzy fall. Nothing. Not even a red mark to laugh about at school. Tension pulled from my shoulders to my toes. I threw the sheets back on my bed and changed into my sweats and trainers, ready to escape my room.
The house was quiet, so I tiptoed downstairs and closed the door without making a noise. Our street, though usually quiet, whispered an eerie silence before the sun came up.
I ran without a plan, pounding my feet in autopilot. I’d be fine. It was only a couple of weeks until I’d be visiting Stephanie’s new home. I stopped at a wall of trees. Miles from home. Heading back, fatigue stripped my muscles. One foot in front of the other. Keep the pace. Breathe. Anything to take my mind off her and the way she’d left me.
I still had Janet and Suzie to hang with at school but life would be different. The four of us had hung out since the first day of year seven, but Stephanie had been there long before then.
The house was quiet as I returned home for breakfast. I swirled my spoon around in my cereal, unable to shut off my mind. Stephanie had been there when Fluffball, my cat, died. She was there when we surveyed the neighbours, imposing an investigation on Santa and the Tooth Fairy. I swiped at the trickle of tears and shoved another spoonful into my mouth.
‘You’ll be fine, love,’ Mum said as she breezed past me in her dressing gown with a basket of laundry.
‘Your mum’s right.’ Dad kissed me on the cheek and tucked a ringlet of untidy hair behind my ear. ‘Have a good day.’ He pulled on his pinstriped suit jacket, jingled his keys and left for work.
About the Author
Michelle Dennis Evans writes picture books, chapter books, young adult contemporary novels and enjoys dabbling in free verse poetry. Her debut novel, Spiralling Out of Control and poetry collection, Life Inspired both reached #1 in subcategories on Amazon in their first week of release.
Michelle is passionate about seeing people grow and overcome their struggles to live a fulfilling healthy life. She believes you can find healing and hope when you read someone else’s story, fiction or truth.
Living on the Gold Coast of Australia, Michelle enjoys views of the ocean and endless eavesdropping and people watching opportunities. She lives with her husband and four super active, super fun and super time consuming children. Visit her website to learn more.
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