Life is full of choices. Kelly, my best friend, made many choices; life altering choices. It sculpted the rest of her entire life. I, Karmen, was standing by her. Whatever happened to her. She was the only girl I had ever known who had the ability to hurt me, make me cry, make me loathe her, but still deep down, let me love her. Of course in this day and age some mocked our friendship; perceived it as something more. However, only we knew what we meant to each other. She was my life; she was like a sister to me. Our friendship undeniably was not the easiest, but whose is?
Despite all of this, I loved Kelly Mainers more than anything in my life. Let me start from the beginning. Seven years to the day, I met Kelly. It was a cloudless day, at the beginning of September, it was apparent by the looks on everyone’s faces that none of us wanted to be there. The weather was showing no signs of cooling, so it felt like we were attending school in the middle of summer. I noticed this girl waving her parents good bye at the gates of Whitmore Girls. She had a thought provoking face. Long brown hair outlined her heart shaped face, and her vivid bright green eyes were the focus.
She caught me staring and smiled, I did the same. We were eleven and young, fresh out of junior school, we just thought of each other as people to talk to. After a while our friendship deepened. We had instantly clicked. Neither of us had brothers or sisters, so we filled that void in each other’s lives. We were mocked at school for constantly being together. No one would ever catch us without the other, and when they did, they knew something serious must be happening. The years passed, as we grew older, our friendship grew stronger. However, at around 15, gradually our personalities began to differ.
Kelly was into boys, make-up and clothes, whereas I was into music, food and television. We still conversed, but the spark that we had encountered at the beginning of our friendship just was not there anymore. We did not feel the need to be around each other constantly. It was sad, and we both had noticed it, but we did not let it jeopardise the little communication we had left with each other. We both acquired more friends outside our own friendship, which in a way helped me, but not Kelly. Kelly’s new friends influenced her in a way that I can only describe as detrimental.
I was inclined to call them the “Shriek” crew, due to their incessant screeching whenever they spotted a member of the opposite sex. They turned Kelly into mini clones of themselves, which I am sure you can guess, was not a good thing. After much deliberation, one Saturday at the beginning of the summer holidays, 15 and free, I gave in and agreed to go out with Kelly. I usually tried to avoid doing this in case one of the “shriek” crew decided to tag along. After a long time, it was just the two of us. Looking back, it was the last time that Kelly and I had spent some real quality time together.
We spent that whole afternoon just talking. We caught up on everything, I felt like I was getting to know her all over again. She had changed a lot, but deep down I knew she was still Kelly. The Kelly I ‘chose’ to be my best friend all those years ago. I had had one of the best days of my life, so obviously something had to come and spoil it. Just our luck, it was Karl, Karl Daniels. It was obvious to anyone who laid their eyes on him that he was good looking. Consequently, this boy was classed as Whitmore Boys finest specimen. I can still recall the effect that Karl had on Kelly and me when we first saw him.
We were walking and I noticed him first. I stopped dead in my tracks; he literally took my breath away, all clichi??s aside. He had an utterly captivating face. After this day, Karl became the focus of all our attention. He was the type of boy that girls lusted after and a select few actually got. Some spent their lives throwing themselves at him. I had personally fawned over Karl for quite some time. However, soon his effect on me died down. Kelly, on the other hand, had a completely different take on this. As she grew older, her lust for him grew stronger.
It was seven o’clock, and Kelly and I were still out and about on our “Bonding Session” when Karl called out to us, “So, you two wana come my way? ” I scowled quietly. Kelly, right on cue, giggled and tossed her hair. She had switched into flirting mode. “Hey Karl, you all right? ” Kelly simpered, as a wide slow grin spread over her perfect features. “Uh-huh, so what you saying? You two guna come? It’s this massive party down at my yard, love it if you could be there,” Karl replied. Blatantly he was only asking me to come along out of politeness.
This was a regular occurrence: the guys chat Kelly up whilst I sit on the by lines watching, and assume the nickname ‘moody bitch’. Nothing new there. Kelly looked pleadingly at me, and I gave her one of my ‘don’t even think of asking me, you know what my answer is, do what the hell you want’ looks. She seemed displeased. “Karl, I’d love to come you know that, but it looks like my friend isn’t in the party mood, and would rather I didn’t go, sorry,” Kelly stated. My heart went out to her, she had fancied this boy for ages and she was doing this all for me. However, Karl, being a boy, persisted further, “What?
She your mum now? Who says you have to go with her? You can come with me girl. Trust, you’ll have fun with me too! ” Karl responded winking at her. That small insignificant gesture made Kelly’s mind up instantaneously. With a few rushed apologies she sauntered off, arms linked with the “sex god” of year 11. She had picked Karl over me, a twinge of pain swept through my body. I was aware she fancied him but she could have at least tried to persuade me to accompany her. Little did she know that going to the party would change the course of her whole life; she could do nothing to stop it.
It was the first day back to school from the summer holidays. I was late, and was darting around trying to get to my new form room. I had not spoken to Kelly for four weeks since that day she chose Karl over me. Neither of us had bothered to pick up the phone to each other during this time. However, Kelly was the kind of girl I tended to call a sporadic caller, i. e. they only call when they want something! Personally, I thought it should be Kelly’s duty to do this especially as she was the one that left me that serene Saturday. Things like this rarely traversed Kelly’s mind.
My mobile bleeped and said “four messages received”. All of them were from Kelly begging me to find her in the school toilets. As usual, Kelly called and I ran to her side. I made a slight detour on the way to my form room and found Kelly sitting on a toilet. The door was ajar, and I found Kelly crying hysterically. I was at a complete loss. I did not know what to do; why was she so upset? Kelly’s sobbing ceased momentarily, whilst she urged herself to talk, “Karmen, I have something to tell you and please don’t interrupt me for once, I just want to come out with it… I’m pregnant. ”
I was gaping at her; it was like a bombshell. Kelly looked so vulnerable; I wanted to reach out and hug her. Suddenly something snapped in me; I could not put my finger on it but in a space of a second, everything had changed. Something was stopping me reaching out and touching my best friend. Why? She again burst into full-fledged tears and I just could not bring myself to console her, it was impossible. I tried to reach out and touch her arm but it was as if an invisible string was holding me back, making me keep my distance from her. I am not sure why this piece of news had such an effect on me.
I think it was because deep down I wanted Kelly to realise for herself that the people that she hung out with were wrong for her. The old Kelly would not just up and leave and go out with a boy that she hardly knew. “The eyes are the windows to your soul,” Kelly had said to me five years ago. Until now, I had never understood what she meant, but she was right. When I was staring into her eyes, I could feel every facet of emotion she had in her. I was scared for Kelly. What would her destiny be 15 and expecting? “Whose baby is it then? ” I asked, mentally running through the string of boys that we were acquainted with. Karl’s,” she replied with a sniff. I studied her face intent on getting the truth, but Kelly made this task very easy for me – “Look Karmen, I don’t see the point in being in denial, Karl raped me ok? I know what you’re going to say ‘I told you, you shouldn’t have gone with him in the first place blah blah blah’. I know it was entirely my fault and I know you think it is to. We were making our way to the party and he was being so nice. Treating me well. Before I was drunk at the party, I didn’t really know anyone, so I hung around with him. One thing led to another and was kissing him, nothing more.
I went and hung out with some of the “shriek” crew and that was all right. Then a couple of hours later, Karl came up to me. His breath stank of alcohol and he tried to kiss me. I pushed him away. However, in the end I just could not help it, I liked him so much and I gave in to temptation. I was in his room and we were just talking,” Kelly again broke down into tears, I let her cry it out, but she started to talk again. “I am an idiot I was kinda drunk; I didn’t even know what I was doing, let alone when, where and how. I doubt I even enjoyed it. I mean I liked him yeah, but not enough to do something like that with him.
I don’t know, I lost my virginity to him and I didn’t even want to. He was so rough, and his eyes were evil. It was as if a different Karl had taken over. He wasn’t the same sweet, innocent faced boy that I had fancied for so long. I am such a mess, and I am so sorry I didn’t ring you. I did not know what to do with myself; I’ve been a nervous wreck. Seriously Karmen, as a mate, I need to know that you’ll be here, right beside me. ” What could I say? After hearing all that, the invisible string that was holding me back let go. Apart from anything else, I managed to give her some degree of solace.
I doubt I alleviated any of her pain but I did my best. Something that really bugged me was the fact that she did not seem too bothered about Karl raping her. Rape, the dictionary defines it as a) if a man rapes a woman, he violently forces her to have sex with him against her will b) rape is the act or crime of raping a woman. The next day, Kelly talked for two hours straight, and I just listened. Listened to what she had to say and how she felt. It was her time and not mine. I came out of it feeling different. Different as in doubtful but not once did Kelly speak about how she had been violated by Karl.
I thought a lot over the next few days. I recalled all the conversations that Kelly and I had had about Karl (which was quite a few). All the evidence pointed to the fact that Kelly wanted this to happen. Not that it was pre-meditated or anything, more that she wasn’t bothered about the fact that she had been violated and her virginity had been lost to a terrible crime like rape. It would make sense, I mean she had always fancied him, and I was positive that her feelings for him were more physical than anything else. She was not so much upset about the fact that he raped her, more the fact that she was pregnant.
I mean obviously the suspicions that I had were not rock solid, but they felt right. A few months passed, I consciously distanced myself from Kelly. Not that she had noticed, of course. She got a lot of teasing when her bump started to become prominent, but those people soon refrained from this when she began coming out with her version of the ‘truth’. She was basking in the glory of being one of the only girls to lose their virginity in year 11. However, what she called basking, I called bragging. She was bragging that she had had sex with Karl. What was she? Did she not realise what she was saying?
I only caught snippets of her conversations but I was quite sure what I had heard was true. Kelly was claiming to the rest of the class that Karl did not rape her, but that she was the consenting party in this. This just consolidated my suspicions. My best friend was a liar. “Yeah, I know. He looked too buff that night. He was so sweet. I’m glad my first time was with him,” I heard Kelly say. Since when had rapists been sweet? It was not that I was eavesdropping; more determination determined to unveil the truth. “Seriously! Yeah I heard from someone that you got off with him that night! How was it?
You’re such a lucky bitch, us lot would all kill to be with Karl! ” the unknown gossip hungry girl said. “Look, I ain’t the type of girl who kisses and tells you know! You wana know what went on, you have to ask him,” clearly Kelly was avoiding the question. So, did this mean she was raped? I mean at the beginning of the conversation, it sounded like she had wanted this to happen; am I right? However, towards the end, it was the complete opposite to that. I had concluded that if I was going to get my answers, there were two things that I needed to do and have a) courage and b) confront her.
Eventually, I did muster up enough courage to confront her. The thought of Kelly hiding all her pain from people was hurting me. Did she not trust others with her secret? Obviously the paranoid side of me kicked in and I thought that maybe she had not been raped, and it was all a ploy to get attention from me. I mean we had grown apart but lying about something so serious, that was uncalled for. Therefore, the purpose of the conversation was to get the truth, the real truth from what they call the ‘horse’s mouth’. In a way, deep down, at that time, I thought I knew the truth, I just needed to hear it for myself. Kelly, did Karl rape you or not? I don’t understand, you came to me and told me that he had raped you, and at the very same time you’re bragging to all your other friends that Karl had had sex with you. I’m sure you can see how I feel; I am confused and I can’t help it you’re sending me mixed messages. Were you raped or weren’t you? Did you want him to? Is that why you went telling the whole year how you got off with him? You disgust me you know that; to even think that I spent time thinking of you, hoping it would all get better; whilst you’re sitting here weaving all your lies. ” She was silent.
For once in her entire life, Kelly had no comeback for me. She had not taken her eyes off me for five minutes straight. None of us had uttered a word, just exchanged menacing looks. She offered me no explanation, and just before she walked off, she told me “Maybe if you came with me to the party this wouldn’t have happened, you thought about that Karmen? ” “Typical Kelly, can’t face up to anything can you, so you shift the blame onto someone else. You’ve been found out and you can’t handle it,” I shouted after her. I watched the back of my ‘best friend’ as she walked away and realised we were the complete opposite of that.
We had changed so much along the way; I hardly knew who she was anymore. I could not take it. Why should I have to be responsible for all the mistakes that she makes? She had the audacity to say that it was my fault she got pregnant because I didn’t go to the party with her. I could not just be there at her disposal all the time, day in and day out. There was a time when I considered Kelly as my one and only best friend. I had moved on. This girl was some kind of alien to me. I was physically disgusted with her. I had considered her my own flesh and blood and now she was having a baby.
The old Karmen would have stood by her, but not now, she was on her own. I had decided that I was going to make a stand for myself, see how she could handle her life without me. As evil as I must sound by saying this, it was all-true. My capricious friend had her comeuppance, and to some extent, I was glad. With hindsight, I regretted doing this. I did not realise how much my words had affected her, how much me not being there for her had done to her. A few short months after the confrontation, I had not heard or seen Kelly around. According to gossip, she had had a baby girl.
Kelly’s mum left countless messages for me on my answering machine everyday, begging me to come and visit her. Her last few messages started to become a bit more desperate and personal. Kelly had postnatal depression; she was rejecting the baby. That was Kelly all right; she could not face up to anything, not even something as serious as this. A few days after Kelly’s mum’s message about her postnatal depression, I received a letter from Kelly – Dear Karmen, Letters, don’t you find they are the best form of communication? Remember when we used to write letters to each other day in and day out.
I still have all of them you know, they mean so much to me, please don’t ever forget that. This may be the last letter I will ever be writing, to you, or anyone else. Do you remember the first day of Whitmore? I smiled at you, you smiled back. From that moment onwards I knew that we were meant to be friends, we clicked you know? I knew that you were the only one like me in that hellhole. To this day, I stand by that comment. Do you remember the days when we were literally obsessed with Karl, and we spent the whole day looking for his house? Took us ages, but we persevered and found it.
Since you have stopped talking to me, my whole world has literally crashed around me. Have you forgotten all the good times that we spent together? I haven’t. I sat in bed last night, just thinking about all the times we’ve spent in each other’s company; sitting on the terrace, contemplating on life. Those were some of the best days of my life. I miss that; in fact, I miss you. My life feels like nothing without you by my side. I know people were always commenting about how close we were for just friends, but was and still is true, we are more than friends. I consider you as a sister.
I will be the first one to admit, that the “shriek” crew were some of the people that thought we were more than that. I told them otherwise. I stood up to them Karmen, that was something you always said I couldn’t do. I found this in a book… Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead Just walk beside me and be my friend When the whole Karl raping me thing happened, I didn’t know what the hell to do. I felt so violated by him, but I couldn’t tell anyone. Everyone had been at the party and seen what had happened, they all just thought I’d got a bit carried away and slept with him.
But, it wasn’t like that. You should have seen his face when he did it, it was so indelicate. I cried for days on end after it had happened. To make it worse, the “shriek” crew all assumed that I had wanted it to happen with him. Yes, I was physically attracted to Karl, but not to the extent that I felt I needed to lose my virginity to him. It stung when you insinuated that I had lied to you, when I had not. You confronted me that day and I blamed you for this happening to me, I realise I shouldn’t have. It was your choice not to come with me, and now, looking back, I wished I had not gone either.
As usual, I felt I needed someone to blame for my actions, but you weren’t the one. All I wanted was for someone to tell me, “Kelly, it wasn’t your fault”, but no one did. I thought I had to put up a front for the “shriek” crew. I didn’t want to be known as the freak that was raped. Besides, I know them better than you do; they were overtly laughing that time when Chrissy got raped by that university guy. How would I tell them this? So, as usual to get out of it, I spun my intricate web of lies to get out of the predicament. I wasn’t lying to you; you are the one person in my life I would never dream of deceiving.
Karmen, I trust you with my life. Do you know what kept me going that day and night? No? That I could tell you and you could give me the support that I needed. I did not need the “shriek” crew if you were there by my side. Where were you Karmen? Where were you when I needed you most? I had my baby, where were you then? I called and called you for days on end, why didn’t you ring me back? I love you so much, and the one time in my life I needed you, you just were not there. Was this some kind of punishment for the ways I’ve treated you in the past? I didn’t deserve that.
I had just been raped by a guy that I had fancied for ages and you were punishing me, I could not comprehend. When I told Karl that I was pregnant with his baby, he literally told me “Well, that’s your fault, leave me alone and stop telling people the baby is mine. ” Can you even begin to imagine how I felt? I had been raped by him. Foolishly, assuming that he had an iota of decency in him, he would help me; obviously he didn’t. I rang you so you would know what I called my baby – Karmen. Do you know why I called her that? Because when baby Karmen grew up, I wanted her to be just like you.
A strong, good person, not like her mother. I rejected baby Karmen, I had postnatal depression, and did you come and see me then? Numerous times my mum left messages on your phone for you to visit me, and did you? Did it cross your mind to talk to the girl that you spent the better part of you life with? I better cut to the chase; I know how you hate long letters. I can’t take life anymore Karmen. I just cannot take it. It’s such a mess, baby Karmen I did not and still do not want her, and I doubt I ever will. I love her, but I cannot outwardly show my love. How do you think that makes me feel?
Every night she sits and cries and I can’t go anywhere near her. I’m afraid of what I could potentially do to her. What Karl did to me affected me psychologically in a way I doubt anyone will ever understand. To some extent, not even I understand why I’m feeling this way. I don’t think the true effect of the rape really hit me until after I had Karmen. Before that I had comprehended with the fact that I had been raped, I just had not had time to get over it. I’m a weak person Karmen, all this pressure I cannot deal with. Without you, I had no one to offload my worries and problems onto.
No one to talk it all out with. Now you’re not here for me, I don’t see the point in living. I want to die. It’s not just one of my phases, I’ve been feeling suicidal for quite some time. Only now have I built up the courage to do something about my life, and my choice is to end it. This is the last letter you will ever be receiving from me, and the last time you will be hearing from me in general. So, I just want to say – “You were like a sister to me Karmen, the child that my parents didn’t have but always wanted. You are irreplaceable, and I know some other girl will take my place as your best friend.
Being the kind hearted person that you are, you will be equally good to them as you were to me. I thank you so much for all you did for me in the time that I have known you. I love you Karmen, and whether I am dead or alive, nothing is going to change that. I am sorry I’m leaving it this way, I wish I didn’t have to, but I feel I no longer have any other choice. Goodbye Karmen, I love you with all my heart. ” Kelly x P. S. You always said that I have to be the one who the makes choices in my life. This is my choice. I choose not to be alive anymore. I chose to lie about Karl and all that.
I control my life now that is what you always told me to do; I’ve done it Karmen. I have finally taken control of my life; it is all in my hands now. I read the letter; I was just numb and immobilised. My world had been instantly transformed. She had hung herself. As disrespectful as this must sound; I thought that if Kelly ever killed herself, she would take pills. However, she did not, she chose something that would hurt her, she did not take the easy way out for once. I mean hanging yourself is not exactly the most comfortable position. Kelly and I had both made many choices in our lives.
Hers, however, were very drastic. It all started when she chose Karl over me. If she had not she probably would not be dead right now. The grief I was undergoing inside of me was overwhelming, all I could think of was “what if I had just gone with her to that party? ” “What if I had just believed her and not confronted her that day? ” “Returned all her phone calls”. All these questions were literally eating me alive. For the first time in my life, I felt guilty. It was terrible; it was like a wave of heat frequently swept over me. Every time this happened, I felt like being sick, I hated it; I wanted all this grief to go.
The recollection of the letter brought tears to my eyes. What must she have been feeling when she wrote it? I was astounded … she was gone, and I could not come to terms with it. The other day the “shriek” crew decided to confront me, they blamed me for her death. They are truly heartless. I had just lost a best friend and they were lecturing me about how I should not have ignored all her calls etc. What do they know? They were the downfall of Kelly, if she had just realised they were not the right sort of people she should have been hanging around with, she may have been alive at this moment in time.
It was the day of her funeral. Kelly’s parents were distraught; they could not fathom what made her do this. According to them, Kelly was always such a happy girl, and towards the end, she had shown no signs of feeling suicidal. Evidently, they were not the most observant parents. The last choice that I made concerning Kelly was to give the eulogy at her funeral. It was my last attempt to discern why, why I neglected her in the recent months. Then it came to me – it was my choice to.