Violet spent all her spare time talking to Damien online. She learned about him through the little things he said. Damien was 18. Apart from Jack,Violet had never really been with a guy before, and she hadn’t really been with Jack either . And Damien was older than Jack. He seemed so grown up. He lived in the neighbouring town, an hour away, and he lived with his parents. Violet knew this by little things he said to her:-
My mom is calling me, I better get off the phone.
My brother just walked in, I can’t chat anymore.
I have a lot of work, finals are coming up soon and then it’s graduation.
Violet was slowly, madly, wildly, falling in love. And it seemed that Damien felt exactly the same way.
The more Violet spoke to him, the more she couldn’t tell him who she really was. She wanted to. She sometimes lay awake at night trying to work out how to tell him. She could just tell him the truth. It wouldn’t be that hard.
‘Hey Damian. I need to tell you something. You might be cross with me but I need you to know I really really like you. I think you feel the same way. But - but - my name is not really Tara. In fact, I am not Tara.’
It would be so easy. But every time Violet planned to do it, she just couldn’t get the words out. Damien had no idea that she wasn't Tara. And he really liked her.
‘Tara. I am going nuts not seeing you for so long. It’s been hard to get away and I have so much work. But, hey, won’t you send me a photograph of yourself. Take a selfie for me.’
Violet’s heart was pounding. She knew that Damian would suggest something like this at some point and she didn’t know what to do.
‘Uh. Let’s wait a while until we really see each other,’ she stammered.
What am I doing, she thought, I can’t arrange to see him, what on earthy am I thinking.
‘Oh come on Tara. Just send a pic of you right now..’
It wasn’t like Violet hadn't been through Tara’s phone a million times already. She knew exactly which photographs Tara had on her phone. There were tons of her, she was clearly a very good selfie taker.
What if he’s already seen these pics, thought Violet.
What if he doesn’t like them.
What if he figures out it isn’t Tara.
Violet couldn’t risk losing Damien. He had become her everything. She sat in class, daydreaming about him. He was in her every single dream. He had become her boyfriend, even though she had never met him. He had become her boyfriend even though he thought she was somebody else.
Violet went through Tara’s photos.
‘Hold on Damien, I’m just taking a few pics. Choosing the best angle, haha.’
Teenagers are always perfect selfie takers. They know all their right angles. Tara had some great pics on her phone.
Violet chose the one where Tara looked quite sophisticated. She was wearing a floral dress with boots, and a pretty scarf around her neck. Her earrings were green and there she was, in that red lipstick again.
She selected the pic and pushed SEND.
She waited on the other end of the phone. What if Damien knew it was an old pic?
She held her breath. A few seconds, and then…
He messaged her. And Violet slowly let out her breath. It had worked. Damien thought it was a current pic.
‘You’re so beautiful Tara. I’m so lucky to have you. You’re my girl, you know.’
Now there was no way Violet could tell him!
‘And you’re my guy, Damian. You’re my guy.’
Violet was in love.
Just then her mom called her.
‘Violet, come on hon, remember we’re going to explore the forest today. Andrew has specially taken time off work so he can come with us.’
‘Sorry Damien, I gotta go. Chat later. C.U.’
She sent a whole lot of kisses, xxxxxx, and he did the same.
Of course she would much rather be lying on her bed and talking to him but she had promised her mom that they would go for a forest walk. She slipped on her walking shoes, tied a scarf around her neck and ran down the stairs.
‘Oh good,’ Ellen said. ‘I was a little scared you were going to cancel. You are spending an awful lot of time in your room. And I do hear you on your phone. I’m so glad you’ve made new friends darling. I know this move hasn’t been easy on you.’
If only her mom knew the truth. She would be completely mortified.
‘You can invite your new friends over you know. I would be happy to cook a meal for them. You could even throw a party, what about that Violet hun?’
‘Oh mom, you know I don’t really like parties. Maybe when I get to know my friends a bit better. When we’re a little closer you know.’
‘Okay doll. You just say the word. Come now, come, your stepdad is waiting and you know he can be a little impatient.’
The two of them rushed off to meet Andrew. He was well equipped for the walk. A walking stick, a backpack, water, snacks…
They set off.
‘These woods are a bit eerie,’ Andrew said. ‘They’re very pretty but it feels isolated here. And I have heard stories about things happening here. I don't know how much is real and how much is made up but girls, Ellen and Violet, please remember you do not come here on your own. Ever.’
Violet was starting to feel a bit cross with Andrew. He had disrupted her life, made her leave her friends and Jack, made them come and live in this one-horse town and now he had the cheek to tell them not to go to the woods too.’
But, she had met Damien, so…
‘Andrew. Uh, I mean Dad. What kind of things have happened here? What have you heard?
‘Violet, I don’t want to frighten you. People say they have heard strange noises, seen strange shapes and there have been rumours of people disappearing.’
‘What!!” Ellen and Violet both said the same thing at the same time. ‘People disappearing! Oh come on Andrew, that’s taking things a bit too far.’
They carried on with their walk. Although now, nobody was really enjoying it.
‘Let’s go back please. I have homework to do. And I want to ask my new friends if they’ve heard any stories about these woods. Come on, I want to go home.’
The three of them headed home. Yes, it was beautiful in the woods. But it was pretty scary too.