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Type of story: One-shot

Rating: G

Main Characters: Mattie, Lucas, Ric

Genre: Romance

Warnings: None

Is Story being proof read: No

Spoilers?: No

Summary: ‘Coz when you’re fifteen, and somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them ...


’Coz when you’re fifteen, and somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them ...

She continued to stare at the parcel on the coffee table. The neat rectangle, still wrapped in the brown paper and string, in exactly the same condition as it had arrived. She knew what this was. She knew what would be inside, yet she couldn’t bring herself to open it. What if everything she knew, everything she had done, was inside this package, and once she opened it, it would be impossible to put it back?

It was her Pandora’s Box.

The afternoon sunlight bathed the living room in yellow light. It seeped in between the venetian blinds, casting stripes over the wooden furniture and walls. She sighed, but didn’t take her eyes off the parcel.

She sat up with a start as a voice called out from behind,

“Hey, I’m just going to the shops. We have absolutely nothing in the fridge,” Ric’s voice trailed off, when he saw her perched awkwardly on the edge of the lounge.

“Mattie, are you okay?” he asked unsurely.

“Yep, of course,” Mattie said, nodding. Ric raised an eyebrow in her direction, unconvinced by her enthusiastic tone.

“He wouldn’t have sent it if he didn’t want you to open it,” Ric said.

“I know,” Mattie replied, “It’s just, once you read something like this, there’s no going back. There’s no erase button in your brain, so that you can just ignore it and get on with life. You realise this could change things, right?”

Ric wandered over to where Matilda was sitting. He perched himself on the arm of the two-seater lounge. He would have sat beside her, but one of the places had been taken over by large, hard-covered text books and papers, which Matilda had been trying to rifle through all day. However, once the parcel had arrived -- dropped specifically at the door -- not much work had been done.

“Mattie, what could possibly be in there that would change things?”

Mattie shrugged, “I don’t know... stuff... I guess. He’s been locked away working on this for as long as I can remember, who knows what’s been going through his head.”

Ric let out a low chuckle,

“You’re probably building it up to be some huge climax that never comes,” he placed his hand on her shoulder, “Just open it.”

Standing up Ric took a step towards his wife. He placed a small kiss on her cheek before heading for the door.

“If that thing is not open by the time I get back, I’m going to do it for you,” he threatened.

“Okay, okay,” Mattie said, holding up her hands in surrender, “You win. See I’m picking it up.” She stood up from the lounge grabbed the package between her two hands. She held it up for Ric to see.

“Good,” he said, as he looked over his shoulder, before closing the front door behind him.

Mattie sighed, looking down at the object in her grasp. She twirled the string around her finger as she stared down at the scrawly handwriting across the top.

Matilda Dalby

97 Michael Street

Mount Lawley, Perth

Western Australia

The package was post marked from a New South Wales company, Sunrise Press, and Mattie felt herself smiling. She hadn’t been back to the place she used to call home for over 5 years, but maybe he had.

There was only one way to find out.

Carefully, she pulled at the knot on top of the parcel, before slipping the string off the corners. She let it fall to the ground as she gently lifted the paper, revealing what she knew would be inside. The hard cover fit perfectly into her hands as she stared at the pristine jacket. It was white, his name standing out to her in big, bold, black letters. In the bottom left hand corner there was a smear of red, the shape appeared to be wider at the top, and narrow towards the bottom. She furrowed her brow as she tried to make out the image. It was a heart. Except it wasn’t whole, there was piece missing from the right hand edge and the distinct shape was deformed and blurred into the cover.

A knot formed in Matilda’s stomach. Is that really how he felt? Tears began to prickle behind her eyes as she read the title, ‘Summer Secrets’ by Lucas Holden.

Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand she sat down on the lounge. Carefully she opened the book, hearing the spine crack for the very first time. Inside the jacket, his image stared back at her in black and white. His hair was longer now, sweeping across his forehead as the wind tossed it aside. His smile was crooked, barely showing his teeth at all, but his eyes still had that familiar sparkle. And although the picture wasn’t in colour, Matilda knew the exact shade of blue they would still be.

She cast her gaze over the first page, the title once again causing a pang of guilt as she read it. Beneath that was the dedication.

‘For my dad, who encouraged me to write;

my brother, who is watching over me;

and my best friend, who was my inspiration.’

She was that best friend.

“Lucas?” she whispered.

Tiptoeing carefully through the garden she attempted to call out his name.


The light from the house shone through the window, giving Mattie enough light to see the fence at the end of the garden. The grass crunched noisily beneath her toes as she approached, causing her to look over her shoulder and hope that her mother did not hear.

There was a scratching noise and Matilda froze.


She let go of the breath she had been holding and smiled into the darkness,


“I’ll be over in a sec,” he hissed.

Mattie crept up to the wooden fence and waited, listening to the scraping and tapping as Lucas hoisted himself up the fence. Using the wooden palings as leverage he perched himself on top, one leg over Matilda’s side of the fence, the other still dangling on his side. He gave her a brief wave, but it was just long enough for him to lose his balance. He fell, tumbling down the side of the fence and landing with a thump at Mattie’s feet.

“Are you okay?” she whispered.

Lucas sat up slowing, rubbing his head and inspecting the scrape on his elbow.

The loud thud had not gone unnoticed.

“Matilda? Is that you?” her mother called from within the house.

“Lucas? What are you doing out there?”exclaimed Lucas’ dad.

Mattie and Lucas crouched in between the bushes, hoping to remain unseen. Both of their pairs of eyes sparkled in the moonlight and bright smiles lit up their faces. Matilda held in a giggle, placing both hands over her mouth to muffle the noise.

“Matilda?” Beth called again, “I want you inside the house this instant.”

“I have to go,” Mattie said reluctantly.

“Tomorrow?” Lucas asked hopefully.

Mattie nodded, but before she could stand and return to the house, Lucas grabbed her hand. She felt as though an electric current was creeping up her arm. Her whole body tingled as her best friend held on tightly.

Smiling, Mattie leant over Lucas, who was still hidden in the dark shrubs, and placed a soft kiss on his cheek.

And he was hers. At least, that is what she used to believe.

“I hate him,” she said bitterly, pacing up and down the kitchen. The tears trickled down her cheek as anger surged through every muscle in her body. She balled her hands into fists and clenched them tight.

“Mattie, calm down,” Cassie said softly from behind.

“Calm down?” Mattie replied incredulously, her voice raising an octave, “Did you see him with her.” She couldn’t bear to say her name.

“Yes, but –” Cassie began.

“Did you see what he was doing?” Mattie screeched.

“Yes, but –”

“We always said we were going to be each other’s firsts and now ... now ...” Mattie breathed in deeply as she tried to control the tears as they tumbled steadily down her cheeks. Her chest rose and fell rapidly as her all her hurt, anger, disappointment, every emotion spilled out of her.

Cassie stepped forward, ignoring Matilda’s struggle to wriggle away from her friend’s grasp, and pulled her into a hug. She held onto her limp body as she cried.

After several minutes Mattie’s body stopped shaking. Carefully she pulled herself away from Cassie’s chest, which was now damp. Mattie looked up at her friend, the hurt evident in her eyes. Her face was pale, with only her eyes rosy red from all the tears shed. Her skin shimmered under the fluorescent lighting of the Hunter kitchen. Cassie placed her hands carefully on her friend’s shoulders and said sympathetically,

“I know it hurts. But if it makes you feel any better I’m sure he is feeling just as bad about this as you are.”

“Why would he be feeling bad? He got to have sex,” Mattie muttered, using the back of her hand to wipe away a final tear.

At that moment there was a creak of a door hinge and Cassie spun around. Mattie stood on tiptoes, looking over her shoulder at the source of the noise.

Standing in the doorway was the reason for all her tears. The one who had taken her heart and torn it to pieces.

“Mattie, I –” he began.

“Get out,” Mattie replied monotonously.

“Please,” Lucas begged, “Just give me a chance to explain.”

“Get out,” Mattie said again, this time with a little more force.

“It’s not what it looks like,” Lucas added, taking a step towards his best friend.

“Did you sleep with her?” Mattie asked directly. She was no longer crying. She was over being upset, now she was just angry.

“Mattie –” He said her name, but dropped his head as he spoke.

“We made a promise,” she said bitterly.

“I know,” Lucas replied, still avoiding her eye.

“Do you love her?”


“Do you love her?”

“No.” He looked up and into her eyes, still sparkling with moisture. It didn’t matter what he said, he had lost her trust.

Mattie found herself sitting on the couch, her knees pulled up to her chest, a single tear rolling down her cheek and sliding off her chin as she remembered. She suddenly felt a pang of guilt as she tried to recall the last time they had spoken. Matilda had known he was writing and had always convinced herself that she may be interrupting him if she phoned at the wrong time. She had let it go years without any sort of contact, from her once closest and best friend.

Now it was time to rekindle the relationship they once had.

When they were fifteen.

She turned the first page and began to read, her eyes darting across the page rapidly as she tried to take in every word he had written.

I didn’t know what love was. I thought it was something you could catch and put in a jar. To save it for all eternity, and bring it out for special occasions. I realise now how naive that was. To think love was that simple. The truth is, love is more painful than any injury, but also brings you more joy than the greatest of sugar highs.

I looked out the window of the car as we drove into the sleepy sea side town...

When Ric returned home Mattie was still perched on the edge of the lounge, her eyes not even looking up from the pages when he entered the room. He smiled silently to himself as the corners of her lips turned up as her eyes darted over the print.

It didn’t matter to him that she was still thinking about him. He knew that the boy whom she fell in love with at fifteen would always hold a special place in her heart. All that mattered was that she was happy.

He didn’t know at the time, but reading those pages on that warm afternoon, in the living room of their first home, would bring Mattie the closure she needed and deserved.

When she was ready, she would tell him about it and thank him.


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