Secrets Kept, Lies Told

Secrets Kept, Lies Told
By Sarah

    "You have everything, Nick?"
    Nick nodded, grabbing his backpack and hoisting it over his shoulder.  "Yeah, let’s go."
    AJ nodded in agreement and walked down the hall to the elevator with him.  It had been two weeks since Alexa had disappeared, and no word or anything had been received from her.  Nick had been very depressed, nothing cheered him up anymore.  It was like a part of him was missing.
    ‘And who would blame him?  Alexa added something special to all of our lives, she did so much for us all,’ AJ thought as the elevator reached the bottom floor.  He walked out to the waiting bus and climbed on, walking slowly to his bunk.  He passed his mother on the way, who was sitting in the front, sleeping lightly on one of the couches.
    ‘God, Mom hasn’t been herself for so long, I’m starting to wonder if she’ll ever smile again,’ AJ thought.  His mother had been much like Nick, depressed and unable to cheer up.  She was only getting worse with each passing day, and the fact that they were leaving Paris was even more depressing.  No one knew where Alexa was, she’d left without a trace.
    ‘Lord, even Kevin and Howie haven’t been themselves,’ AJ thought.  He glanced over at his two friends, who were both sitting in their bunks, reading.  They both had long faces, both looking ready to cry.
    ‘And then there’s me,’ AJ said to himself as he passed the bathroom.  He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, his face gaunt and white, and no smile on his face, his hair just brushed back, almost no care taken to his appearance.  He hadn’t been sleeping well, his nightmares and sleepless nights combined together, making the dark circles under his eyes only grow with time.
    ‘Nick looks even worse than all of us, if only we could’ve done something,’ AJ thought.  Nick never slept, he was often up walking around the hallways, looking like a lost person.  The few times people tried to get him to sleep or rest a little, he’d end up saying something to the effect that he was waiting up for Alexa, waiting for her to come back, saying that he knew she would.  Then he would start to cry because the person who was trying to help him had inadvertently informed him that Alexa wasn’t coming back, that the one person outside of his family that he loved more than anything in life was gone.
    ‘God, why did I have to be so closed-minded?  Why couldn’t I just listen and accept it all?’  AJ had been repeatedly beating himself up about it over the last two weeks, basically blaming himself.
    ‘Oh, God, please protect Alexa, and help her understand that I’m so sorry.  I need her back, we all do.  Please, help us find her somehow,’ AJ prayed.  He laid on his bunk and hugged the sweatshirt that Alexa had borrowed from him many times, closing his eyes and praying the same prayer over and over, hoping against hope that someone was listening.

    "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to flight 1819 from Paris, France to Orlando, Florida…"
Alexa looked out the window, blocking out the flight attendant’s voice as she started explaining emergency procedures.  Alexa sighed and checked her belt one last time before the plane engines started, remembering vaguely how Nick always leaned over and checked her belt a few thousand times on the plane before taking a death grip on her hand and looking around nervously.  She always had the job of keeping him calm on the plane rides, and it wasn’t too hard for her, she liked the job, she always learned more about him when he was panicking than when he was calm.
    "I’m so sorry, Nicky," she whispered to the window as the plane took off, rising slowly above the runway.  She looked away from the window and at her seat mate, smiling lightly at the young business man.  She had taken the last seat on the plane, the only one available, which happened to be in first class.  Alexa didn’t mind, but she wished she could’ve had a different seat.
    ‘Well, at least you got a flight, Alexa, remember that.  You almost didn’t leave Paris, it’s a good thing you did,’ she reprimanded herself.  She closed her eyes, seeing herself rush around her room exactly two weeks before, packing everything she owned and writing that note hurriedly.  She saw herself grab her bags and call another hotel from the pay phone downstairs, booking herself a small room.  She stayed for two weeks, then decided to leave, figuring it was safe since the guys were suppose to leave the week before.  She took the first flight out, the two-thirty-five p.m. plane that would be taking her back home.
    ‘Do I want to go back home?’  She asked herself.  ‘Yes, I do, I want to go back to Orlando, get my life straightened out, go visit some people, get a real life for myself instead of going back to that horrible life of a run away child.  Constantly being chased by people that wanted you for the night to screw you over and then discard you like a torn rag is not my idea of a life.  I want a real life, a real job, and a real chance at becoming a real person.’
    "Excuse me, Miss?  You dropped this."
Alexa opened her eyes and looked at her seat partner as he held out her magazine.
    "Oh, thank you," she said, smiling at him and taking it back.  She glanced at the cover, it was the Rolling Stone issue that her brother and his friends were in, a relatively old one, but she never got tired of reading the article or looking at the pictures.
    "I’m Taylor, Taylor Stevens," the man said, holding out his now empty hand.
    Alexa smiled, pausing for a moment before answering.  "Alexa McLean."
    Taylor smiled, shaking her hand.  "Nice to meet you, Alexa.  I’m sorry to say, but I can’t help but think that I’ve seen you before, have you ever been on television or something?"  He asked.
    Alexa shook her head.  "No, not that I know of."
    Taylor’s eyebrows furrowed in concentration and he glanced down at her magazine.  "I know this is going to sound weird, but were you ever in a magazine?  One of those teenybopper magazines that are usually on sale at the supermarkets?  I sometimes look at them with my niece, she sometimes has me help her read the articles in them."
    Alexa felt a blush coming, and saw Taylor’s face do much the same.  "Yeah, actually I was, a few months ago," she said shyly.
    Taylor nodded.  "I thought I’d seen your face before.  Might I ask, why were you in it?  The subject matter escapes me."
    Alexa nodded.  "It’s a rather long story, but the short version is that the person I was in the picture with was my brother, someone who happens to be rather famous."
    Taylor nodded again and smiled pleasantly.  "Well, its good to know that my memory has yet to fail me.  It’s a pleasure sitting next to a person who is in a way famous, yet is so nice and down to earth."
    Alexa smiled.  "Well, I don’t consider myself famous, I just know people who are."
    The two talked for the remainder of the flight, and then Alexa went her own way, leaving Taylor with a friendly goodbye.  No numbers, no way of future contact, Alexa needed to be alone for this.  She was on her own, whether she liked it or not.
    When Alexa arrived at her small motel room on the outskirts of Orlando, she laid on the bed, looking out the window across the room at the bright moon.  She closed her eyes and imagined all the guys unpacking their suitcases and gathering their mail for the last few months at their houses and at the post office.  She fell asleep, remembering how she’d left each of them a little something for them to remember her by.

    Nick walked sullenly off the plane, rubbing his already dry, red eyes.  He hadn’t slept for the last two weeks, at least, not that he could recall.  He didn’t sleep on the flight, didn’t panic at all because he was left with no feeling in his body.  Since Alexa had left, he was without emotion, he felt nothing, let out nothing, wanted to enjoyment from life, he only wanted Alexa.
And no one could find Alexa.
    Nick walked beside Brian through the terminal and towards the front of the airport, thankful that there were no fans there that day.  Their plane had lifted off early, around eleven, made a pit stop in New York, then continued on to Orlando.  They got in the same time the other flight from Paris came in, the one that left during the afternoon.  He knew because AJ and Kevin had been complaining about how they could’ve taken the later plane if there were seats open, just so they wouldn’t be on a plane for so long.
    It didn’t matter to Nick anymore, he was too tired and worn-out to think.  The only thing he was really concentrating on anymore was going home and trying to sleep.
    Nick’s head snapped up at the sound of laughter.  He looked in the direction and saw someone…someone who looked just like Alexa from the back.  He shook his head and rubbed his eyes again, thinking he was seeing things.  When he opened his eyes again, she was gone.
‘I was just imagining things,’ he said to himself.  He grabbed his luggage from the carousel and followed Denise and Brian outside to the waiting van.  He sat in the seat he and Alexa usually sat in, the very back in the driver’s side corner.  He sighed and looked out the window, ignoring the mindless chatter around him coming from the other guys and Denise and his security.  He watched the scenery pass by and got out when they reached the hotel.  He went up to his room, dropped his bags on the floor, then went downstairs and hailed a taxi to the post office.
    Nick’d requested that all his mail be kept either in the P.O Box he’d bought for mail from his family or just sent to his house and kept in the mail box.  He opened the P.O Box and found two slips of paper in there, along with a few letters.  He took the slips of paper to the counter and handed them to the postal worker, waiting as he disappeared into the back, searching for the boxes that had been sent.  Nick took the two boxes to the counter across from the man and opened the larger one.  It was a care package from his sister BJ, who was in California in acting school.  He decided to wait to open the other package and caught a cab back to the hotel.  He arrived in his room alone and sat down at the desk, bringing out the smaller box and tearing open the box wrapping.  He found a smaller box inside, a white one, and opened it, revealing a snow globe of Paris’ Eiffel Tower.  He picked up a note from the bottom and started to cry when he read it.
    ‘I’ll never forget you, Nicky, I love you.  Don’t wait for me, go on with your life.  Some things aren’t just meant to be, sometimes, and when everyone reacted the way they did, it was proof.  I love you, I’ll see you again one day.  Yours, Alexa.’
    Nick was blinded by tears as he collapsed on the bed, clutching the snow globe and note.  He felt his heart break for the thousandth time and managed to choke out a few words.
    "I love you, Alexa, I promise to find you."

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