“The only simplicity to be trusted is the simplicity to be found on the fear side of complexity.” - Alfred North Whitehead
| c l a r a |
I roll over in my bed and sigh. I can’t sleep after what happened the other week because, between the prank and Mum finding out about Harriet, Layne, Lucy and Zeke are either gay or bi, it was just too much. Everyone has limits, and this is my limit.
Layne is asleep in Harriet’s room and Nick is asleep on the fold-out sofa in the rumpass room. Nick refused to go home to an empty house again and Layne’s mum was going out so he decided to stay with Harriet, Nick and me. It is going to be hard to make enough breakfast for all of us.
I hear a whimper coming from outside and I frown. Another whimper sounds and I check my phone. 2am. Someone yells and I jump out of my bed. I follow the whimpers down the hall and into the rumpass room. Nick is curled up in a ball and tears are running down his face. I run over to him and shake him.
“Nick,” I whisper. “Nick.”
“Don’t leave me!” Nick whisper-shouts. “I’m sorry.”
“Clara, please. Stay.”
I freeze and stop shaking him. He’s having a dream about me? Why would I ever leave him? Did he do something wrong? Bad, Clara! Wake him up! I snap out of it and start shaking him again, desperate to wake him up from his horrid nightmare.
“Nick, wake up!” I hiss.
“I love you, Clara,” Nick whimpers. “I really do.”
I bite my lip.
“NICK JAMES HOLLBROOKE!” I yell in his ear.
Nick jerks awake and I fall backwards, hitting the ground with a grunt. Nick sits up and looks around the room. His gaze reaches me and his eyes go wide. There is fear in his eyes and horror washes over me. Was his dream that horrible?
“Clara?” Nick whimpers, a tear running down his face.
“I’m here,” I murmur, giving him a sympathetic look.
“Did you wake me up?”
“You were having a nightmare.”
“Did I say anything?”
“You told me not to leave you, to stay, that you were sorry.”
“You said you love me.”
“Is it true?”
“Clara, you’re Harriet’s little sister-”
I cut him off. “Don’t. Is it true?”
Nick nods slowly, as if unsure of his answer.
“Don’t leave me.”
“How can I leave you when I love you?”
“You love me?”
“Not like you think,” I explain quickly. “Just as a friend.”
Nick pulls me up off the ground and onto the fold-out sofa. Fresh tears are running freely down his face and I wipe them away. I pull him into a hug and he cries onto my shoulder. I hear someone shuffle into the room and we pull apart. Layne.
“Clara? Nick?” Layne mumbles, rubbing his eye. “What’s going on?”
“Nick had a nightmare, Layne,” I explain.
“You okay, Nick?”
“I’ll be fine,” Nick says.
“Night, Layne,” Nick and I say.