April smoothed down her dress absentmindedly as she resolutely stared straight ahead. She could hear the general chatter going on around her as various families greeted each other and caught up on the week just gone prior to the service starting. She tried her best to block out the conversations, not wanting to hear the usual gossip that accompanied their weekly catch up sessions. She found herself eyeing up the glowing red exit sign hanging above the door to the side. No longer did the church offer her that sense of calm and peace, it just made her feel claustrophobic being surrounded by all these people who rather than looking out and supporting members of their community, would sooner gossip about them. Before her mind could drift further into the idea of making a break for the exit, she felt like someone was looking at her. The back of her neck tingling slightly. She tried to ignore it initially, but the feeling didn’t fade. It was almost certainly a feeling caused by her recent lack of sleep, but it just wouldn’t stop. So, she succumbed and glanced around to see if anyone was looking and then she froze. Sitting right across the aisle, no more than a few metres from her was none other than Sterling Wesley. April felt her breath catch as her eyes locked on to the green eyes looking straight at her. A wave of emotion flooded through her as they continued to look at each other, the relief of seeing the other girl in the flesh was almost overwhelming. She wanted to just get up from her seat, take those few steps and pull Sterling close to her. To be able to physically hold her and reassure herself that this wasn’t some illusion induced by sleep deprivation.
April noticed when Sterling’s expression darkened, her eyebrows drawing together and her jaw clenching before looking away. She felt her heart drop and bit her lip to try to stop the tears she could feel prickling at the back of her eyes. Looking back around she was a surprised to find her dad looking at her with an unreadable expression on his face. His eyes flicked over her head to where she had been looking, right at Sterling, before looking back to her. April dropped her gaze to her hands and subconsciously fiddled with her purity ring while internally wishing she was anywhere but here. Her eyes flicked to the exit sign, the red of the letters seemingly glowing brighter. All she needed was a quick excuse to step out for a moment, to just get out of there, away from all the eyes she now felt were looking right through her. Before she could come up with anything that her parents wouldn’t question, Pastor Booth approached the lectern and began speaking.
As the service concluded, April was brought out of her thoughts. If you were to ask her anything that had been said, she would have drawn a blank. For the first time in her life, she hadn’t listened to a word of the sermon, too lost in her own thoughts. Thoughts of where Sterling had been; was Sterling OK; Sterling, Sterling, Sterling. The one repeating thought was trying to formulate a plan of how to talk to the blonde. Any idea that she had would have drawn too much attention from the adults that knew they had not been friends for years. Anything more subtle required help from someone else to get Sterling away from Blair. It hadn’t been a scenario she had planned for and coupled with the shock of seeing the other girl for the first time since the lock-in had derailed her ability to come up with anything that could work. As she stood to leave their pew, April had the opportunity to look to where the Wesley’s sat and found it empty. Clearly the time her mother had taken getting herself organised had been enough for the Wesley family to leave. It wasn’t like April could have leapt up from her seat as soon as the service ended to rush over to her nemesis. April’s heart felt heavy as she started to make her way back down the aisle to the exit. She wasn’t hopeful that she would be running into the blonde outside, not when virtually every conversation she had overheard on her walk out of the building consisted of some mention of the Wesley family.
“Hi April.” April glanced over at the source of the voice to see the red hair and smiling face of on of the children from the church summer camp she had helped out with.
“Hi Jessie. How are you?” She smiled back at the young girl.
“I’m good but I need some help and I thought you would be the perfect person to help as you are so smart.”
“Ok, what do you need help with?” The young girl passed her a sheet of paper.
“I’ve got this and I need to translate it.” April unfolded the paper she had been given and recognised it was written in Latin. A little perplexed as to why an eight-year-old would need to translate a paragraph of Latin, she was about to ask when she recognised what it was. Her eyes scanned across the text picking out the words she already knew.
Ne adverseris mihi ut relinquam te et abeam: quocumque enim perrexeris, pergam, et ubi morata fueris, et ego pariter morabor. Occursum mihi septem in. Ubi novissime locutus est nobis.
“Can I leave it with you?” Jessie looked at her hopefully, glancing over her shoulder to where her parents waited.
April nodded. “Of course.” The young girl smiled and skipped away back to her parents. April watched her go, the paper still held carefully in her hand.
“Everything OK honey? What have you got there?” Upon hearing her dad’s voice, she turned putting a smile on her face.
“Oh, just some Latin that Jessie needs help translating.” She turned the paper towards her dad so he could see the writing, knowing full well that he didn’t speak any other languages other than American. His views on the unnecessary nature of learning another language was frequently voiced in the house when any topic of another country came up. She saw her dad look at the paper briefly before dismissing it. April carefully folded the paper and slipped it into her bag to properly translate when they got home.
As soon as they got back home, April slipped off to her room to finish her homework. Once her bedroom door was closed she pulled the piece of paper back out re-reading it. She picked up a pencil from her desk and started to translate.
Ne adverseris mihi ut relinquam te et abeam: quocumque enim perrexeris, pergam – Do not ask me to leave you and go: wherever you go, I go. April recognised the quote. It was from the book of Ruth. Her mind took her back to sitting in Sterling’s workshop painting Solomon’s temple and the way the blonde had rambled her way through her interpretation of this story. The last two lines were not from the bible however. Occursum mihi septem in – Meet me at seven. Ubi novissime locutus est nobis. – Where we last spoke.
April sat back looking at her translation. This was a note from Sterling. A note Sterling had written in Latin for her. A note that asked her to meet at a place she hadn’t even been able to look at since the previous Friday. A place she knew she would be going back to tonight to hopefully get some answers.
6.55pm. April sat on the bench she had purposefully avoided for the past week. Her mind filling in flashes of the last time she sat there as the seconds ticked by. The way she had sat at a distance from Sterling, her eyes focused on the keys she was fiddling with in her hands rather than facing the girl beside her. Having to turn away when Sterling leant across to kiss her, having to take a breath after to keep her composure.
6.57pm. Feeling her heart and composure start to crack as she met those tear-filled green eyes asking her to hold her hand. Her last remnant of hope of there being a someday being crushed with just four words.
April looked up and as soon as her eyes landed on Sterling’s face, every emotion she had kept bottled up for the past eleven days came rushing out. She stood from her seat and wrapped her arms around the taller girl, her face buried into the side of her neck. She just needed to hold her, even if it is just for this one moment. Just to feel the warmth of her body against her own. To feel the way her chest rises with each breath. Just to know that she is real and here. April feels arms wrap around her in response and in that moment, her last wall crashes down and the tears fall. Time had little meaning as they stood there, just holding each other but eventually April began to pull away. There were still so many questions that needed answering. She pulled back enough to be able to look at Sterling’s face but kept one hand on the other girl’s arm, not willing to give up that last point of contact. Needing to have that connection to keep her grounded. They took a seat on the bench and both girls just looked at each other. Taking their time to map out each other’s faces with their eyes.
“Are you OK?” April broke the silence. There were so many questions she needed answers to but right then, at this moment in time, that was the only question that really mattered.
Sterling looked away across the road, her head dropping slightly. “That’s not an easy question to answer.” She looked back and met April’s gaze once more. “I needed to talk to you. I don’t want to lie anymore.” April frowned slightly at the mention of a lie. Sterling’s voice dropped quieter. “I don’t want to be lied to anymore.”
“Sterl, I…” April stopped as Sterling moved to hold her hand, her eyes dropping to the new point of connection.
“Please, just let me speak. I need you to hear everything before you respond. Can you do that…for me?” April looked back up from where their hands were joined to meet beseeching eyes. She nodded. She watched as Sterling took a breath and then started speaking. “I don’t really know where to start. I thought I had it all planned out in my head but now I’m sitting here…with you…and it’s going to change everything.” April watched silently as Sterling ran her thumb over the back of her hand, giving the other girl time to collect her thoughts. “I’m not who everyone thinks I am. I’m not even who I thought I was. My whole life has been a lie.” April watched as Sterling drew a shaky breath in. “My mom and dad are not my parents. They have been lying to me my whole life. My real mom kidnapped me from the lock-in.” April couldn’t help the way her hand gripped Sterling’s tighter at the confirmation of the rumour. “She had a gun in her bag. We ended up at this trailer park and she tied me up. If it hadn’t been for Blair and Bowser finding me…” She trailed off as a tear slipped down her cheek. April reached up to brush it away with her thumb. Desperately wanting to say something but knowing that Sterling had more to say and she was determined to let her speak. “These secrets that people kept to keep me safe have done nothing but put me in danger and tear down everything.” April fought the urge to wrap the blonde into another hug. “I have been keeping a secret from you.” Fresh tears fell down the blonde’s cheeks alongside the admission. “I should have told you before but I knew you would hate me again and I didn’t want to lose you.”
“I never really hated you Sterl.” April admitted quietly.
Sterling smiled sadly as another tear fell. “You will.” April was about to launch into a denial of this when Sterling continued speaking. “Do you remember the last time we sat here and you asked me about a someday?” April nodded feeling the lump in her throat form. “I wanted a someday with you.” She felt the tears begin to fall at the past tense. “I want a someday with you but I don’t think you will when I tell you this.” April met Sterling’s gaze and tried to search out the answers in her eyes feeling both hope and despair simultaneously. “I’m the reason your dad went to prison.”
April froze with those words. Her brain seemingly short-circuiting as far too many neural pathways fired concurrently. Her face clearly reflecting the questions racing in her mind. “Blair and I are bounty hunters. We found your dad at your lake house and took him in after he had skipped bail. We hadn’t believed it at first and had said we didn’t find him but then we saw the video.”
“Of the night he was arrested. He was filmed being led out of the motel room…after. We saw what he had done and so we found him. When we took him in, he became aggressive and told us we would be sorry. Then you told me he was out.” April could feel the tears running down her cheeks. Here she was sitting on a bench, holding hands even, with the person who had broken up her family. The person who had put her dad in jail. The person who had taken away the image of her perfect family. The person who had kissed her in Ellen’s office. The person who had given her the courage to say out loud that she was a lesbian. The person who had made her feel like she was free for the first time in her life. She felt gentle fingers brush across her cheeks, wiping the tears away. “When you told me he got out, I got scared. He told us that we would be sorry and I didn’t want you to get caught up in this mess.”
The silence stretched between them. “I’m already caught up in it Sterl.” April reached her free hand out and gently raised Sterling’s face by placing her fingers under her chin. When their eyes met, April gave a watery smile. “I can’t hate you. You’re not the reason John went to prison. He is.”
“If I hadn’t taken him in…”
“If you hadn’t taken him in, then I wouldn’t know what it was like to truly be myself. I’m still so scared of what he might do if he finds out about me but I’m tired of running.”
“What are you saying April?”
April brought Sterling’s hand across to hold between both of hers. Her eyes wandering over their joined hands for a moment before returning to meet the questioning green eyes before her, searching them before dropping to her lips briefly. “I can’t be out, not with John still around and asking about you. Though the reason behind his interest is clear now.” She watched as Sterling’s shoulder’s slumped and felt the blonde try to pull her hand back but April held firm. “But I can’t shut this down anymore. I don’t want to wait for someday.” Sterling searched for a definitive answer in the eyes before her. April reached her hand up to cup her cheek and brushed her thumb over her jaw. “Tell me we can do this.” The words were barely above a whisper.
Sterling slowly closed the distance between them, resting their foreheads together. “We can do this.” April felt the last remnants of her walls come tumbling down as she shifted to bring her lips to meet with Sterling’s, letting all her doubts and fears get washed away with the warmth of the blonde’s smooth lips against her own. There may still be dangers lurking in the shadows but at that moment, there was nothing but the two of them, together.