Chapter 1: Hazel *********************************************************

Did they know?

I was nervous, no, mortified, no, absolutely catatonic.

Did they see that?

I think they did. But I hope not. It was only a tiny little tree root. It wasn't even-

"Hey Hazel!" Riely bounded up to me with an enormous grin on her face. "Nice to see you!"

Riely has been my best friend since we were infants. Our mothers were good friends, so we've known each other literally before we were born. I can't even remember a time she wasn't there to help me up when I fell, and vice-versa. We shared everything with each other. Well, up until last week.

"Hi Riely," I said half-heartedly. I tried to put on a smile, but I was just too worried. "How was your day?"

"It was…fine." I saw Riely's eyes scan my face, and I saw her eyes glaze over when her brain registered my frown. "Hazel, are you okay?" she asked.

No. I wasn't okay. A week ago I was an average, normal, person. I wasn't much to look at, with my dull hazel eyes and the shade of hair between brown and blonde. I wasn't popular, but not unpopular either. Life was just the way I liked it: small group of great friends, straight A's in school, and mostly blending in to the background. But that was before the Secret.

"Um, Hazel?" Riely looked at me oddly. I realized I had been lost in thought. "You okay, space cadet?" Riely queried.

"Yeah," I replied. "Just tired." I yawned as loud as I could, opening my jaws as wide as an alligator. "I just wanna go home."

"Ok…" muttered Riely. "Just text me later. I want to know if you are okay." Riely slowly walked to her mom's waiting minivan.

As the white van drove away, I felt a pang of guilt in my heart. I had never kept anything from Riely until now. I wanted more than anything to tell her. But I knew deep down that I couldn't. I would have to live like this forever.

I really needed to get home. I started to run to the sidewalk, then decided to take the long way, through the woods. I sprinted through the trees, not stepping on a single root.

Oh no.

The tree root.

If anyone had seen, I was dead. It was only a trivial little thing, yet so important in the long run.

Did anyone see?

Did Riely see?

I pushed these thoughts out of my head. What's done is done. Besides, no one would have known it was me.

I continued through the forest, walking slowly in order to admire the scenery. On a beautiful October afternoon in Rhode Island, the leaves were almost glowing scarlet and gold. I saw this foliage almost every day in the fall, but I was still amazed every time I looked outside. The sheer beauty made me forget the secret for a second.

But just a second.

I suddenly realized something. I had been thinking of the secret as purely a bad thing. How unlike me! I searched my brain for positive aspects.

I could see the beautiful foliage every day.

As I continued towards my house, I tried to keep my mind off of Riely. I felt terrible that she couldn't know, but it couldn't be helped.

What kind of friend was I?

What kind of friend didn't share secrets, no matter how dangerous?

I finally arrived at my house. Nobody was home. I locked the door and entered my bedroom. I curled up like a cat on my bed.

And then I sobbed until I thought I could drown in a pool of my tears.