The day had come for Violet to start her new school. She, her mom and stepdad, had settled into a routine. They had unpacked the house and were all getting used to their new neighbourhood. After breakfast Andrew would go to work while Ellen pottered around the house. Violet spent a lot of time in her bedroom blasting her music, texting on the phone.
Of course she was texting Damien. As if she was Tara.
Her mom would sometimes come and knock on the door and beg her to come outside.
‘Violet honey. It’s not healthy to spend so much time inside. Come, let’s go for a walk or go and do some shopping in town. Come and spend time with me, please. You need to switch off the music and get off your phone.’
No sixteen year old wants to spend time with her mom, ever! Or get off their phone, even if it isn’t their own phone. To try and erase suspicion though, Violet spent time with her mom, time in the garden, and then time in her bedroom. Her conversations with Damien had become fantastic and she felt like she had taken on Tara’s way of speaking. She spent a lot of time reading the old messages so that she knew what Tara and Damien had done.
Just this morning, before school, Violet had seen these messages:-
D: Hey Tara, quick message to say how much I love you. I’ll be at school all day today, tests and stuff, but chat later.’
T: Yeah, I have school and an exam too. I miss you. I would much rather be with you than sitting with all these other boring kids at school.
D: Feel like bunking? We could both bunk and meet in the forest? No-one will find us.
They must have had an actual conversation then, because the messages ended. Violet didn’t know if they had actually met in the forest. And she hadn’t been into the forest yet either, except on the edges.
She was becoming more and more curious. Who was Tara? Where had she gone? Damien clearly didn’t know she had moved, he never asked her about a move. He only spoke about his feelings for her.
Still. She had to put the phone down and go to school. She put on her uniform, put the phone safely back in its hiding place and went downstairs. She grabbed a quick piece of toast, picked up her schoolbag and said to her mom:-
‘Right, I’m ready. Let’s do this.’
Ellen looked at her. ‘Gosh Violet, you suddenly seem so grown up.’
Violet felt grown up. Maybe it was the move, but maybe it was her secret romance. She felt as grown up as she imagined Tara to be.
She wondered about Tara. She decided she would try and find out more at school. And truthfully, that was the only reason why Violet wanted to go to her new school.
New schools are never fun. Any teenager knows that. It always feels awkward, being the new kid walking into the classroom. Everyone knows each other and you’re always the outsider. Violet hated meeting new people. Still, she had to do this. And she also had to find out more about Tara.
Violet walked into her new school with her head held high. She took her seat at the back of class. Surprisingly, the other kids were great. They welcomed her and at break, the girls invited her to join them.
‘It’s so cool to meet you Violet. We love your name by the way. Where are you from? Do you know anyone at school yet? Come and sit with us, we always sit at this table for our lunch.’
The girls seemed great. Suzy, Tiffany and Danny immediately took her under their wing. They told her who all the cool guys were, they told here who all the bad girls were, they gave her all the gossip.
‘Don’t get friendly with Amanda,’ Suzy told her. ‘She can be really nasty.’
‘Stay away from Tina,’ Suzy told her. ‘She’s got a bad name.’
A bad name? What did that mean, Violet wondered. Had Tara had a bad name? Was she popular. Was she friendly with Suzy, Tiffany and Danny.
Or – maybe she was still at the school? Violet hadn’t thought about that. Maybe Tara had moved house and not neighbourhood. Oh my gosh, she better find out.
Do you girls know Tara?’ she asked them. ‘I’ve moved into a house and I know there was a girl the same age as us who lived there. Her name was Tara. Maybe she was a friend of yours? Was she at this school?’
The girls all looked at each other. It was Suzy who replied.
‘Yes, Tara was in our Grade. We knew her although she really kept to herself. We weren’t friendly, in fact, I didn’t even know she had left the school. I wonder where she’s gone.’
‘She was always a bit stuck up,’ Tiffany said. ‘I think she had a boyfriend. She never really hung out with any of us girls.’
The conversation moved on. Violet didn’t want to push anything. Of course Tara had a boyfriend. Her boyfriend had been Damien. And in a way, Damien was now her boyfriend, she just couldn’t explain it to anyone.
Violet quite enjoyed her first day at school and when her mother came to fetch her, she was in surprisingly good mood.
‘Oh, I am so delighted you enjoyed it Violet,’ gushed Ellen. ‘I’ve been so worried about you, holed up in your bedroom. I think we’re going to be okay here, aren’t we?’
Violet hugged her mom. She was trying so hard. She almost wanted to tell her about the phone and about Tara and Damien. She knew she was doing something that was quite bad, pretending to be Tara. But she had gone so far now, she didn’t know how to turn it back. Her mom wouldn’t understand. Her new friends wouldn’t understand and her old friends didn’t contact her anymore. She hadn’t heard a word from Jack and of course she felt lonely. Damien made her feel good. They had something special. At some point she would have to tell him that she wasn’t Tara.
But not quite yet.
Instead, she went up to her room.
‘Hi. Missed you. How was school?’
‘Oh cool. I had lunch out with Suzy and Tiffany, they’re nice girls.’
‘Yeah, they are.’
It was so easy. Damien clearly knew the school that Violet was at (that Tara had been at) and didn’t know Tara wasn’t there anymore. They carried on talking. Violet was getting a little confused though.
Who was she?
Tara or Violet?
There was a chance she didn’t really know anymore.