The Secret

Anna Green and Alana Beare are 14
Melissa Green is 17; Thomas Beare is 18

September 2027

Summer was ending. Hard as it was to believe, in a few days they'd be back at school.

It had been a particularly memorable summer for Anna Green, as she and her family spent a couple of weeks in France.

It had been a bit strange going on holiday without her sister Christine, but she'd decided to go away with her college friends instead. Anna wondered if she'd ever want to put her friends above a trip to another country.

Maybe if the friend was Alana...

Back home in her room, she couldn't wait to tell her best friend all about her adventures...

"There was this girl at the hotel, and she told me some lady was offering a big reward for finding something she'd lost at this old tomb outside of town."

'So, why did she tell you? Why didn't she look for it herself?"

"That's what I asked her. She said she had better things to do than digging around in the dirt. But, you know what? While my parents were on this winery tour, I went out to the tomb... and she was there, digging around!"

"What did she say?"
"That she's allowed to change her mind, and there's probably nothing there anyway. Then she left, so I just started looking myself."

"Did you find the thing?"

"Yeah, I did!" Anna said proudly. "You know what it was? A baseball!"


"A baseball. Apparently it had been autographed by some famous player and it was the lady's good luck charm and she wouldn't go into a tomb without it."

"A tomb? Why would anyone want to go into a tomb anyway?"

"Apparently she was some kind of explorer.. she studies and documents old tombs and stuff. Anyway she gave me some money, and I also found these bits of something broken, near the tomb." She showed Alana the pieces of broken pottery.

"Wow! I wonder how old it is? You should have asked the explorer lady."

"No way! She probably would have wanted to keep it. These are mine."

Anna and Alana decided to spend their last Saturday of freedom at the amusement park in Redwood city.

The sun was setting earlier now.

"Your brother is going to live in the same dorm as my sister," said Anna, when they sat down for something to eat.

"It's going to be weird at home," Alana replied. "Thomas will be at college, and David is staying on Twikki Island with Mum."

"So he decided he wants to stay there?"
"Of course he did," Alana said. "It's a tropical island, who wouldn't stay if they had the chance?"

Anna felt her chest tighten a little. Alana would stay on a tropical island, if she had the chance. All it would take would be for her mother to ask her...

"Anna? Hey, Anna? Are you listening...?"

"What?... Oh, sorry, I was just... um... thinking... I mean, I bet your dad wasn't happy about that."
"He wasn't. But they already decided that it would be David's decision. I'm going to miss him, though..."

It was only when the sun had completely gone down and the air was turning colder,  that Alana thought to look at the time. She leapt up out of the chair. "I'm going to miss the train! Dad'll kill me if I'm late home."

Anna raced ahead of Alana. Hours at the gym made her fitter and faster, and she figured she could at least try to get them to hold the train if she got there first.

But it was too late, even with the mad rush across town.

"It's gone," Alana sighed. She looked around. "You should go," she said to Anna. "I don't want you to get in trouble with your parents, too."

"I can't leave you here all on your own," Anna said.

"I'm not on my own," Alana said. "The ticked office is open and there are those people with the little kids waiting down the other end of the platform. I'll go stand near them, and I'll call Dad and tell him I missed the train."

"I don't mind waiting."

"No, you go," Alana said. "It's not that long until the next train."

So Anna went, but not without stopping to watch Alana walk down the platform.

It was too hard, keeping a secret.

Especially when you're keeping it from the one person you usually share all your secrets with.

Especially when want nothing more than to just say the words out loud, but you know that this is one that can't be shared.

Not when you're only meant to be friends, nothing more.

Alana couldn't stand to lose that, too.

The next day, Alana's brother Thomas was also out enjoying the last weekend of the summer break.

"So, it was Alana's turn to get in trouble last night," he told Melissa.

"Alana? In trouble?" Melissa frowned. "What'd she do, forget to return a library book?"

"Not a chance," Thomas said. "She was late home. But at least if Dad's mad at her, he's leaving me alone."
"Is he still mad at you for not going to SSU?"

"Yeah," Thomas sighed. "At least I'm going to college. Autumn didn't even do that, and he wanted her to go to SSU like he did, too. RCT's going to be better for studying medicine, but it's like he can't see that. He's mad because David's staying on Twikki Island with Mum, and he's taking it out on everyone else."

"Well, you'll be gone tomorrow and it won't matter," Melissa said.
"I'll be coming home some weekends, though."

"He might get over it," Melissa said. "I mean, Cory got over me dying my hair, so anything's possible."
"Seriously? I thought that was why you cut it - because he wanted you to get rid of the dye."
"No, nothing to do with him... although I am supposed to get rid of the dye before school starts back. Stupid rules."

"No rules like that at college," Thomas said.
"Don't rub it in. I should be finished high school now, too."
"It's only a year... "

"Yeah. A whole year... "

"Do you think I should forgive her?" Thomas asked suddenly.
"Forgive who?"

"My mother. Autumn and Alana both say I should forgive her for leaving us."
"Did she say she was sorry?"
"They say she did."

"And did she mean it?"

"I dunno, I guess so. I mean, I doubt Autumn would have wanted David to live with her if she didn't mean it or something."

"Well, if she's sorry, and she really means it, you should forgive her. That's the right thing to do. Or, that's how I see it, anyway."

Thomas thought about this for a while.

"If Joshua said he was sorry," he said, "and he meant it, would you forgive him."

Melissa stiffened. "He's never going to do that."

"Well, ok, if your mother said she was sorry, and meant it?"

"That's not going to happen either." She got up from their seat. "We probably should get going. You have to finish packing."

"Um... yeah, I guess... "

"This time tomorrow, you'll be at RCT..."

"Yeah... uh...I wanted to say, um... I mean, I'm going to miss you."

"I'll miss you, too."

He took a step closer. "Um... is it ok if I... mean...?"
She rested her hands on his shoulders. "It's ok..."

It wasn't their first kiss. That had happened when they were twelve years old, and she let him kiss her, just to see what it felt like. 

It wasn't very romantic, they kept bumping noses and laughing, and it had all felt a bit silly afterwards.

This was nothing like that.

He stepped back suddenly. "I have to go," he said. "I need to finish packing."

It's too hard, keeping a secret. Especially when you're keeping it from the one person you usually share all your secrets with.  Especially when want nothing more than to just say the words out loud, but you know that this is one that can't be shared. Not when you're only meant to be friends, nothing more.

You couldn't stand to lose that, too.

I love you...

Anna and Alana
Thomas and Melissa

The ending was partially inspired by an in-game incident. I had already written part of the conversation with Thomas and Melissa, and I had them sitting on the log, making all the conversation interactions I could, to get a range of expressions in the pictures. I clicked on Thomas to "Share a Secret" with Melissa.

This was his secret:


Anna's family had my first 'real' WA vacation. With nraas mods you can take toddlers on vacation, but it turned out to be a problem as everyone wanted to travel on the little motor scooters and couldn't with the child, so whoever had the kid just froze. I ended up hiring a babysitter at the hotel every day. Next time I'll just leave the little ones with a sitter at home if I don't have a particular story reason for them being on the vacation.

In France, of course, sim-Anna did a lot more exploring to get the reward than just digging around outside the tomb... but it didn't feel very realistic to have a 14 year old girl doing that stuff alone so I left it out of the story. She thoroughly enjoyed it, though, and she may grow up into an explorer herself.

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