We all have our secrets; those things that we can't tell anyone, not parents or friends, the kind of secrets that can destroy you inside.
Well, my secret was one of those. The guilt each night after I took something, no matter how small or insignificant, would keep me up at night, as I stared at the ceiling and couldn't help but think that there would be a knock on the door, police breaking it down, rampaging upstairs until they found me and dragged me outside.
Eventually, despite these fears, I would fall asleep, struggling in class the next day to stay awake, coming home and falling asleep on the sofa.
Other things plagued my mind during these night time thoughts; why hadn't Jinx told me about finding Alex drunk? I knew she didn't tell me everything; why would she? But still, this was important, this was about our best friend.
I was, it seemed, as surprised as Faith when we met Jake, Paige and Will after school, when Jake chatted to Jinx. Talking afterwards, at Jinx's but out of earshot of our best friend, we shared our shock at the ease with which Jinx talked to him.
At the same time, we discussed this Harrison guy.
"He seemed nice." I reassured Faith.
"All guys do." She replied bitterly. "At first anyway. All guys are nice on the surface."
"Don't let one experience cloud the rest of your life." I smiled at her, as Jinx and Jess's giggles echoed from the living room. "We'll give this Harrison the benefit of the doubt, for Jay. If he does turn out to be an arsehole…"
"We'll tell her what we think." Faith finished, and we nodded in agreement before returning to the other two.
Alex was exceptionally quiet the next day, as the group sat around at break. Well, those of us that were left did. Our table seemed strangely quiet, with Alex not saying a word, and no Nate to crack jokes and make us laugh.
After the excitement of starting sixth form had died down, I think Jinx was starting to miss him.
The bell rang, and with Alex and Faith I made my way to Art.
Art was, by far, my favourite subject. Our teacher was slightly kooky, young and fresh out of University. She'd race around the room, bending over us to see what we were doing, talking to us about the 'meaning' behind whatever we were sketching or drawing, even if it was as mundane as the school building.
Today she sat us in pairs, telling us we were focusing on the human body. She paired me up with Faith, and together we were told to draw each other.
There was a rustling of paper around us and people flicked to empty pages in their sketchpads, and immediately I felt all worries and fears disappear, my body relaxed.
"Before you start to draw," Miss Moiety turned to the class. "I don't want you to draw them in their usual clothes, or the real background. Use your imaginations class, I'm sure they could do with the exercise. Draw them on stage or in different clothes. Whatever you like."
She clapped her hands, and we all started to draw, intently bent over our sketchpads, looking up every now and then to look at our partners.
The bell rang for the end of the period, but no body moved. Double Art. My favourite time of the week.
With ten minutes left to go, Miss Moiety told us to stop drawing, and to hold our sketchpads up. She wondered around, looking intently at everyone's. I blushed upon seeing Faith's image; she had made me look beautiful, dressed up in very 80's attire, with leopard print tights and a denim mini skirt, huge sunglasses adorning my face and huge 80's style hair. Miss Moiety praised her for it, before turning to mine and looking at my image of Faith drawn in a purple and black dress, small designs etched it into which I had spent ages perfecting.
"A wonderful dress Gwen!" She cried, patting my shoulder before looking at Alex's drawing.
The whole class gazed at it with admiration, as Alex hid her face behind it. She had drawn her partner, another girl from our year, as what seemed to be a female version of Robin Hood; complete with a green hat, a bow and arrows as well as, for some reason known maybe only to Alex, an owl.
Alex had, recently, gone through a kind of fantasy obsession, drawing various mythical and fictional characters in a modern setting. Her pictures were amazing; so detailed, so imaginative.
She was, not surprisingly, one of Miss Moiety's favourites, and no one resented her for it, because everyone could understand why.
Miss Moiety was aware of my aspirations; she knew I wanted to go into costume design, after speaking to the class at the start of the term, asking which of us wanted to go into Art later on. In the first two weeks of term she encouraged me to input designs into the drawings, especially as we were focusing on humans.
Halfway through the second week, Miss Moiety pulled me back after class. She smiled gently at me as she shifted through some papers. I watched as others left, Alex and Faith promising to wait for me.
"Yes Miss Moiety?" I asked, as she found what she was looking for, lifting her head and smiling at me.
"Am I correct in assuming your interest in costume design also stretches to fashion?"
I nodded slowly, wondering what she was getting at.
"I spoke to a friend of mine from University the other day. She did a costume design course with fashion design." She held up two tickets. "She's got tickets to a fashion show in Cardiff, run by one of the Universities, and thought you might be interested."
I decided to give the spare ticket to Faith; Jinx and Alex just didn't have an interest in fashion, whereas it was a regular topic of conversation between us two.
So that Friday we took the train into Cardiff and made our way to the hall the University had rented out for the show.
"So do you know what's going on with Jinx and this Harrison guy?" I asked, as we walked.
"Not really. She's been texting him and stuff but I don't know if, or when they're going to meet up."
"You think something will happen?"
"Maybe, I don't know. It's Jinx, I'm worried she'll get her hopes up and then…"
"Sorry, excuse me I…shit."
A young man had pushed past us, obviously in a hurry, and as he'd gone past his foot had hit a rock, the papers and bag he'd had crushed close to his chest had gone sprawling, flying over the pavement. Faith and I scrambled forward, Faith running off after some paper that had caught on the wind. I bent down, helping him to pick the sheets up.
"Thanks." He mumbled quietly as I passed him the sheets.
I looked up, and was surprised at what I saw; the brightest pair of eyes stared back at me, their colour a mix of blues and greens, like the sea. Not the horrible murky brown of our sea, but the bright blue green of the Mediterranean. I turned quickly away, blushing.
"These are really good." I muttered, feeling shy in front of him, as I waved my hand at the top sheet; they looked like designs, images of hats and beanies, t-shirts with logos and emblems on. He smiled at me as we both stood up, Faith running towards us and handing him a black file.
"Thanks." He checked his watch, a simple cheap digital one on his wrist. I never usually noticed watches; but although it didn't look expensive, it suited him. Of course I then (quickly) let my eyes wonder, checking out his t-shirt (white, with a small design poking out from under his jacket, a plain brown jacket), his jeans (stonewashed, faded) and his shoes (a pair of skater vans). Although his clothes were simple, they had the same effect as the watch, and I knew instantly that this guy knew his fashion. "Shit…I'm late…err I'll see you around!" He lifted up a hand as he ran off, and I watched him go as the beating in my heart subsided.
"Gwen. Gwenny Gwen Gwen!" The chanting was accompanied by a series of clicks in front of my face, and as if coming out of a trance I turned to Faith. "Well…looks like our little Gwen is smitten. Come on." She laughed. "Doors open in ten."
The fashion show was good; no, more than that. It was amazing. The clothes made by these students were as good as the professional designers. The show was split into two; female, a break, then male. I read the programme, discovering that each student had submitted three pieces for tonight's show. The 3rd year designs would be first in each half, followed by 2nd year and lastly 1st year.
We sat back and watched the parade of dresses, skirts, jeans, t-shirts…a multitude of various clothing. The female models were a ranged mix; a couple could be classed as plus sizes, whilst two of them looked way too skinny.
The break came, and Faith and I darted out into the cool night air. It had been boiling inside, and both of us were glad of the cool breeze whipping around us. We discussed the clothes; our favourite dresses, our favourite t-shirt designs, the ones that looked hideous…
And then we heard the announcement to please return to our seats.
The male section passed quickly, and I was feeling tired, barely paying attention until I spotted some clothes I recognised. I leant forward, devouring them, reading the slogans on the front – one thing I had noticed was that the guys seemed to put a lot more effort into the t-shirts than the girls, creating elaborate designs and slogans – slogans I knew, slogans which I'd read only an hour or so before. The very last model walked on stage, and I couldn't help but smile at the familiar beanie, one I'd seen etched on paper, and I had even complimented its artist.
"Faith," I whispered, not wishing to disturb those watching. "That's from the guy who dropped the stuff."
"The one you liked?" She smiled at me, not taking her eyes off the model on stage. "They're pretty good Gwen. But sure he's not gay?"
I laughed. "What would it matter?"
She simply rolled her eyes, and I knew she believed me, because it would matter, because something…something had happened to me when I'd seen him, when I'd seen his drawings, his eyes, his clothes…something which had never happened before.
People started to stand up and leave as the lights went on, but I just stayed sitting there, feeling Faith tugging on my arm. I stared at the catwalk, and suddenly a girl, one of the models, now in simple jeans and a plain black t-shirt, came out from backstage and crossed over to us.
"Hey, are you Miss Moiety's students?"
"Yeah." Faith nodded. "How'd you…"
"Oh she told us what you looked like." With that she gestured at me, grinning. "Said you were interested in doing fashion when you finish school, that right?"
"Cool. Well I'm actually doing drama, so I won't be much help. But come meet some of the guys. One of the third year students used to know Moiety, through her brother or something. I'm Becky by the way."
"Gwen. And this is Faith."
"Like Gwen Stefani?" Her grin widened as she stepped back, allowing us to stand, we followed her to the backstage area. "That is so cool." I found myself blushing as she spoke. "You like No Doubt?"
"Love them." I replied, glancing at Faith as she nodded.
"Awesome. Dan, he's a huge fan."
"Which clothes were his?" Faith asked, as Becky held the curtains that separated the backstage with the floor.
"The last ones."
"Oh." I smiled at Faith. "Cool."
It seemed as though a party was in swing back here, soft music was playing from a stereo in one corner, drinks had been laid out on the table, and the students were lounging around, clutching small plastic cups or bottles of beer.
"Danny!" Becky called, and I watched as one of the guys climbed off a sofa, walking towards us. It was defiantly the same guy; complete with his blue green eyes, and the oh so stylish clothes. "Dan, this is Gwen and Faith. Guys, this is Dan."
"Nice to meet…" He turned to us with a soft smile, and then recognition dawned in his eyes. "Hey…Beck, these are the girls who grabbed my stuff for me."
"Yeah…he's my best friend, but Dan is a klutz!" Becky rolled her eyes, shaking her head as she grinned at Dan.
"Shut up. Anyway I owe you two…want a drink?"
As I opened my mouth to reply, Becky playfully slapped his arm. "Hey! I'm on strict orders from Moiety to look after these two and make sure they don't do anything illegal!"
"Did she specifically say not to let them do anything illegal?"
"Well no but…"
"Becky come on! It's not like they've never drunk before, right?" We both nodded. "And they're only like two years younger than us."
Becky looked like she was about to argue, but then just shrugged, sighed and shook her head. "Fine. Fine. But if anything happens…"
"Then it's my fault. Right." Dan nodded, turned to us and clapped his hands together. "Right. Drink time. We have Vodka, Bacardi, Carling, Stella…um let me see…" He paused, racking his brain. "Oh, Absinthe. Captain Morgan Rum, Jack Daniels, Glen's Vodka, Carlsberg, Gin….Wine, red, white or rose…what?"
Both myself and Faith were staring at him with open mouths. "It's just…" I couldn't help but laugh. "That's a lot of drinks."
He shrugged, indicating the normality of it for him. "We're students. What do you expect?"
This time it was us that shrugged, until Faith asked the obvious question; "What about mixers?"
A blank look on his face, and I felt my heart sink. He expected us to drink ivodka/i with no mixers?
The blank look disappeared, to be replaced by laughter. "You should have seen the look on your faces. We've got mixers, don't worry. And Sambuka, if you fancy doing shots with us later."
It wasn't long before the three of us were sitting on one of the sofas, Dan clutching a bottle of beer while Faith and myself grasped small plastic cups. "So which one of you wants to do fashion?"
"She does." Faith pointed at me, taking a sip. "I'm more interested in media."
"Media?" A thoughtful look crossed his face, his mouth turning in a cute half frown. "Hey Charlie!" He called over to one of the models standing by the drinks. The boy turned and walked towards us, a quick glance at me and Faith. He would have been nothing special, just your average brown hair brown eyes, if it wasn't for his clothes; black jacket over a very light brown jumper, striped shirt collar coming over the top and black trousers. If there was one thing I noticed about the people in this room, was that all of them, even those who weren't fashion students, were wearing very cool, fashionable clothes.
"Alright Dan." Again he glanced at me and Faith. "And who are these lovely ladies?" The grin on his face emphasised his confidence, his 'charming' nature.
"This is Gwen and Faith." Dan explained, and I watched as Charlie gave us a slight nod. "Faith's thinking of doing media in Uni."
"Oh cool." Immediately his face brightened. "There's a few of us around who do media. Come on." He held his hand out, and Faith glanced quickly at me. I just smiled; trying to make sure she understood that I was fine with it. She turned back to Charlie and took his hand, allowing him to lead her away.
Now Dan turned to me. "So what made you interested in fashion anyway?"
"Honestly?" I smiled, chewing my bottom lip. "I'm more interested in costume design, but I'm kind of toying between the two. When I saw Lord of the Rings I just…I saw their costumes and all I could think was that that was what I wanted to do."
A small chuckle from him, as he nodded his head slowly. "Yeah I can see that. That's cool."
"What about you?" I asked, watching his tilted head as his eyes cast down towards me. "What made you interested in fashion?"
Again that soft smile. "I know, strange isn't it? Everyone thinks that if you're a guy, and you're doing fashion, you're gay. There are seven guys on my course; only three of which are gay."
I laughed, shaking my head. "That wasn't the question."
"Alright. Well I kind of went through a…phase, as a kid."
"Yeah. Your typical fourteen year old trying to find his place." The soft smile was replaced by a grin as he leant forward. "Ended up picking punk. My mum brought me a couple of old school albums, none of that pop punk shit." I laughed thinking of Jinx and her Blink 182 obsession. "Stuff from the 70s and 80s, even picked up a few books, one of which was on the evolution of the punk fashion."
He paused, rubbing the back of his neck. "I guess I kind of got into it from there. I left the whole punk thing behind, but the fashion, the way it kind of evolved and became this huge thing…that fascinated me. I wanted to do something like that."
His eyes shifted towards my empty cup. "Want another drink?"
A couple more drinks, and we'd decided to leave the hot backstage room. Dan took my hand, sending tingling electricity up my arm as he led me through the viewing room and out into the grounds.
I laughed at his eagerness as our feet crunched over the grass, as we made our way to a secluded spot, shielded by trees. He fell to the floor, smiling up at me before reaching up, grabbing my hand and pulling me down with him. I laughed again as we lay there, staring up at the stars.
We lay there silently for a few moments, before Dan sat up and took something from his pocket.
"What are you doing?" I asked, reluctant to sit up and take a look. It was so comfortable here.
Eventually, I did see when he fell down beside me and took a drag of a sweet smelling stick. He closed his eyes, took a few more drags and handed it to me.
His hand found mine, interlocking them tighter than earlier. As we passed the joint back and forth, his thumb softly stroked the back of my hand, both of us staring up into the dark sky lit with thousands of stars.
Between the trees there was a shaft of light, moving, shining on us.
"Shit." Dan leapt up, pulling me with him.
"What?" I muttered, as he started to run, still holding my hand.
"Security. They catch…well, it won't be good." Despite the ominous tone, he was smiling as we ran, legging it over the grass and darting behind one of the older buildings. He glanced around the corner before relaxing.
"You alright?" I asked, leaning against the wall as I looked at him.
"Yeah." He was panting as he nodded. "Bit...out of breath though." He grinned at me, before I spotted another shaft of light shining on the floor beside us. "Bugger." He gazed around wildly, wondering what to do.
The light got bigger beside us, and before I could say anything he'd grabbed my hand and pulled me off, running, again.
We fell to the floor against a different building, Dan's arms wrapped around me, both trying to stifle giggles.
"Well that was fun." I muttered, leaning against his shoulder. He kissed the top of my head, surprising me. I leant back slightly, looking up at him. He seemed to take my smile as a good thing, and suddenly his lips had locked onto mine. We sat there for a while, wrapped together, sometimes kissing, and sometimes just enjoying each others company.
Eventually we made our way back to the building where the show had been, and as we walked I thought to myself how I now owed Miss Moiety – big time.