The beginning.

Rosanna took the envelope from Mel’s hands.

“Pass this to Candy for me, would ya?” Mel said, with a look on her face that Rosanna did not like. The ugly, upturned corner of her lips, the dark glint in her eyes – yes, definitely a smirk. How obvious, Rosanna thought.

So this was the letter. Rosanna’s fingers twitched.

Mel’s smirk fell slightly.

“Something on my face?” she said, shifting on her feet. Rosanna smiled quickly, eyes crinkling. All sweetness, business as usual.

“I’ll pass it to her.”

Rosanna watched as Mel walked away. This was her favourite part. Mel always sauntered like a thug, and the ridiculousness of the way she carried herself amused Rosanna.

Rosanna smoothed out the paper in her hands, tracing the messy “Candy” scrawled like a spider on the top. How childish. She sniffed it. Mint cologne. Candy hated mint chocolate. But then that was something only Rosanna would know.

Rosanna peeled the envelope flap open, drew out the letter inside. Glanced through: big, fat letters. Slanting lines. Mel should have used lined paper, Rosanna thought. She looked closer, reading: cliches. Every sentence had at least one.

Then, “I like you.”

Rosanna folded the letter back up. Inserted it back into the envelope. Carefully positioned her hands on either side in the perfect grip.

And ripped.

And ripped, and ripped. The envelope was thick, but that made it all the more satisfying.

There. Only scraps.

Rosanna turned towards her room, hands full.

She stopped.

A brown-haired boy was standing in his doorway, staring open-mouthed directly at her.


Rosanna and the boy were frozen.

Her heart throbbed in her throat.

How much did he see? Did he know Mel or Candy? Would he tell? Would anyone believe him?

He looked at her doll-like features, took in the way her hands trembled, her oversized clothes.

She observed his lankiness, the earnestness in his wide eyes, his neatly buttoned shirt.

She could not recall who he was.

“You’re Rosanna, right?” he said.

She hesitated. Nodded.

They continued to stare at each other.

Would he believe her if she bluffed?

Just as Rosanna opened her mouth, he disappeared into his room.

She stared at the closed door for a few seconds more before shutting her own door.

Rosanna dropped the massacred pieces of the envelope into her own waste-basket, then shoved the rejected drafts of her assignments on top. She walked around, trying to see if it looked suspicious from any angle. Finally, she lay down on her bed.

Who was he? How much did he know, and would he talk? Why had she not checked before acting? She had not been in the mood for thinking, that much was for sure. There was only one dominant feeling in her chest that she had needed to get rid of.

Rosanna turned and hid her face in her arm.

She heard the door open and close. Footsteps. Rosanna’s heart quickened all on its own. She did not want to move, feeling too exposed.

“You okay, Zanna?” She heard Candy say.

Rosanna nodded, face still buried under her arm. Her chest was too tight. The feeling was getting tiring.

“I’ve got to stop keeping secrets,” she whispered.


“Nothing,” Rosanna said into her arm. “Just tired.”

“You know what would help?”

“Don’t tell me another party.”

She heard Candy giggle. Smiling, Rosanna lifted her head to see.

Candy beamed at her, a little sun in the centre of their shared room.


Rosanna rolled her eyes.

An hour later, they were on their way to Mel’s house party.

The middle.

There was that feeling again. It seemed to happen whenever they were together.

“You’ve got that same look on your face. Our last Maths test.”


“Like you’re trying not to be too happy.”

“Yeah, because you flunked it, stupid.”

“Yeah, and you couldn’t stop yourself from smiling, idiot.”

“I got full marks!”

“Whatever. So what’s it this time?”

Kipper looked at Rosanna.

She sipped her drink, slouched and dishevelled and swinging her legs. The moonlight was soft on her face. There was a piece of hair hanging by her cheek that he wanted to tuck behind her ear.

She looked back at him and blinked.



“You look different now.”

His heart lurched in his chest.


She sipped her drink, brows furrowed. Her eyes inspected his face, feature by feature.

He stared back, trying not to be too obvious. Her eyes were shining in the dark.

“You’re thinking too much.”

“What do you mean?” He felt cold sweat rise on his scalp.

“Your face is so full. Nervousness. A little sadness, like you’re afraid of ruining something. But you’re still smiling, just a little bit. This thing still makes you happy, even though you’re scared.”

She sipped her drink again, cocking her head slightly.

“You also look like you really, really wanna say something.” She shook her head.

“What is it?”

How could he even begin? And should he? His skin itched, as if waiting to be peeled off to expose what was underneath, raw and bloody.

Seeing him pause, she looked away.

“You know, I don’t care anyway. So you should just go ahead and tell me.”

Would she care? Would it change them?

“It’s okay if you don’t tell me.” She said airily, but her legs started swinging harder.

He almost laughed. There was that damned feeling again.

She tossed her head back, deliberately casual. “Can’t you just tell me?”

He smiled and looked away.

“One day.”

She groaned.

“When it’s not important to you anymore? Lame.”

“When it’s the most important.” He craned his neck to look up at the stars. (To look away.) It was a promise, even if she didn’t know it yet. “When it’s more important than keeping my secrets.”

The trees rustled.

“Do you think we’ll see any shooting stars?”

“Why? Got a wish?”


“What is it?”

Her eyebrows raised.

“You didn’t tell me your secret.”

He nodded, trying not to smile.

“Well. The universe is huge. Even if you don’t see a shooting star, odds are that there’s one passing through somewhere right now.”

She nodded. “Kinda like how we can’t see the sun but it’s always there.”

He looked at her, and the words seemed to take on a different meaning.

She looked up into the blank darkness, clasped her hands, and wished on shooting stars she couldn’t see. Let us have many nights like this.

The night was cool, and quiet, and held their secrets for them.

The end.

Rosanna dreams of endless stairs. She writes unfinished novels and leaves a space between her name and surname.

Kipper sleeps dreamlessly, and wakes up clutching the bedsheets like there should be someone else there.

There will come a time when this red string between them stretches to its breaking point.

But for now: all the fools keep writing, keep dreaming, and keep staving off the end.