Bad secrets are only bad until you tell someone. What is Maria's secret and who will help her out of a difficult situation?

Peter kicked his desk and stormed out of the classroom. Students in the rows next to him jumped at the noise.

'Hey!' shouted Mr Clark, the maths teacher, to Peter's back. 'Detention!' he called after him. Peter pushed his hands in his pockets, head down and shoulders up around his neck as if he was cold. It was the third time this month that he'd walked out of class.

***
Maria didn't have her sports kit for class again. It was the second time she'd 'forgotten' her kit and towel this term. She didn't have any more excuses.

'Not good enough, Maria,' said her mother when the school called her. 'I put a clean towel on your bed this morning. What's going on?'

'Nothing, Mum,' said Maria, not loudly enough for her mum to hear.  

'Look at me and speak clearly,' said her mum, annoyed. 'I can't understand a word you're saying.'

Maria didn't look up. She didn't want her mother to ask questions. At least her mum hadn't found the dress or the new trainers or the earrings – the presents that Maria had hidden in her wardrobe. Maria didn't want to explain where, or who, they came from. That would be bad. And there would be more questions that Maria didn't want to answer.

'Fine. But if you don't tell me, I can't help you.'

***

A week later, Peter and Maria were outside the school principal's office. Peter was looking at the wall angrily. Maria looked at him and then quickly looked away again. She knew why he was here because she was in his class. Today, he'd hit the desk so hard it hit the window and broke the glass.

She imagined the conversation Peter would have inside the principal's office.

'Why did you do that? Do you know how much furniture and windows cost?' Principal Hughes would say.

'Sorry. I was just angry with the teacher. I get angry sometimes,' Peter would reply.

'It's not just me you need to apologise to. Here's the bill for the damage. Just don't do it again and the problem's solved, OK?'

Easy.

This simple solution of 'I'm sorry' and money wouldn't work for her. She had refused to do PE again. Her mother was on the way to the school. Maria knew there would be questions. Questions that might bring more questions. 

She watched Peter go in. She couldn't hear any of their conversation so they weren't shouting. Peter was probably doing the apology part now. After a few minutes, Peter left without looking at her. He still looked angry.

****

Maria didn't speak for eighteen minutes. She imagined herself floating above her mother's and Principal Hughes' heads, watching what was happening. When they asked her a question, she lifted her shoulders in a silent shrug. It wasn't a great plan, but it must have worked because they stopped asking after a while. Unfortunately, it hadn't solved the real problem though. She could feel her phone vibrating inside her bag. She knew it was him. Later she would have to answer his questions. Where had she been? Was she wearing her new dress? And detention wouldn't save her if he decided to wait outside school all night.

***

Peter and Maria were the only two students in detention on Monday. They were the only two on Tuesday too. They didn't look at each other on Monday, but they exchanged nods on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Peter said, 'Hello again', when they arrived and Maria said, 'See you tomorrow', when they left. They both managed a smile at that.

On Thursday, Maria noticed bruises on Peter's stomach when he pulled his school bag over his head. They looked like they'd been there a while. He saw her looking. She looked away as if she hadn't seen anything. He pulled his shirt back down and his cheeks went pink. They didn't exchange words that day, but Maria felt as if, somehow, it was a kind of conversation.

Maria wondered if Peter had someone he was afraid of. Someone who was nice at first and then later seemed to change into a different person. Someone who made him do things that made him feel uncomfortable. Someone who kept secrets and told him he had to keep secrets too.

On Friday, she decided not to put her phone on silent. So what if the detention teacher saw the messages? Maybe that would be the beginning of the end of the nightmare. But the phone didn't make a sound. She pushed her sleeves up to above her elbows. For two months, she'd been so careful to hide her arms, but now the bruises were clear. She remembered what her mother had said about helping her. It was time to start talking, time to start answering questions so someone could help. She didn't say anything, but she hoped Peter would see her arms and hear the silent question. 'You too?'

***

Whatever Peter thought when he saw her arms, Maria didn't know because he left detention without a word. That night she waited until her mother was busy in the kitchen to talk to her.

She didn't know how to start. She practised different sentences in her head but she couldn't get the first word out of her mouth. 'Mum?' she said finally.

Her mother didn't look up from the vegetables she was preparing. 'Mmmm?'

'There's this boy at school and ...' Maria stopped. 'I saw something.'

'Saw what?' She had her mother's attention now.

'Something he didn't want me to see. A secret.'

'What kind of secret?' her mother said carefully.

'A bad secret – like I think someone is hurting him,' Maria said. 'But what if you tell someone and everyone thinks it's your fault? And what if you get someone in trouble and they get angry?' 

'Bad secrets are only bad until you tell someone,' her mother said. 'This boy needs to tell someone. But he has to choose the right person. A person who isn't going to say it's his fault, who's going to help.'

'Who is the right person?' asked Maria.

'An adult,' said her mother. 'One he trusts.'

Maria took a deep breath. She took her phone out of her bag and opened up the messages. The first word still wouldn't come. 'Mum?' she said finally. 'I have to tell you something …'

Nicola Prentis 
 

This story might make you feel like speaking to someone about something that has happened to you, and you might want this to be confidential (private) and with someone you don't know. If you feel this, please look for a child-line number in your country.

https://www.britishcouncil.org/about-us/how-we-work/policies/child-protection/keeping-you-safe

Language level: 

Discussion

Do you agree that bad secrets are only bad until you tell someone?

Comments

eveliina's picture
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eveliina 27 March, 2020 - 12:59

Do you agree that bad secrets are only bad until you tell someone?
It depends on how bad is the secret. If it's not as bad, for example if people are hurting you, like in the story, people you trust can help you, but if the secret is really bad then it stays bad.
Evelīna, 8c

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BarackObama's picture
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BarackObama 27 March, 2020 - 09:22

Yes, I agree because if you do not tell a secret, once someone will discover it and it will be only worse. I think, that if you have a problem, you have to immediatly talk to someone, you can trust.

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larry2809's picture
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larry2809 26 March, 2020 - 15:57

No, I don't agree because if you do something bad, it's already bad so it can't get much worse by itself. The only thing that can make it feel like it's more bad are people who you can't trust. Bad secret stays a bad secret.

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kristeeeeeeeeers's picture
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kristeeeeeeeeers 25 March, 2020 - 08:36

Do you agree that bad secrets are only bad until you tell someone?
Yes, I do agree. In my opinion, if you have a bad secret, its better to tell someone you trust. Because, if you dont tell the secret to someone, you will keep thinking of that all the time.

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sapuciitis_'s picture
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sapuciitis_ 25 March, 2020 - 08:00

I don't agree with that, because i think that if you tell someone your bad secret, it helps you, but it isn't right that you did what you did. But you should tell your secret to a person who you really trust.
Sāra 8.c

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pkalisee's picture
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pkalisee 25 March, 2020 - 07:51

Yes, i agree. I think when you have a bad secret you keep feeling bad about it. Everyone makes mistakes, so thats okey.

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terez8c's picture
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terez8c 25 March, 2020 - 07:32

No, I disagree with that statement. Just because you tell someone your bad secret it doesn’t become good. Well maybe it is good to tell somebody that someone has hurt you or something bothers you. I would personally keep my bad secrets to myself and try to make something good out of it.

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samanttaas's picture
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samanttaas 24 March, 2020 - 15:22

I think that if you have a bad secret you should tell someone you trust because people will start to notice if you behave diffrently and one day they are going to find out what's wrong. Silence isn't going to solve the problem.

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Matiss_______'s picture
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Matiss_______ 24 March, 2020 - 11:47

Yes, I agree because if you don't tell the bad secret to anyone, someone finds out about it it can get only worse. You can get in situations where you start lying to your friends and family.

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_gabii_'s picture
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_gabii_ 24 March, 2020 - 09:57

No I don't agree, because when you tell a secret to somebody it's no longer a secret. But yes it is easier to tell somebody you're bad secrets.
Gabriela S F. 8.c

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sapuciitis_'s picture
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sapuciitis_ 24 March, 2020 - 09:55

No, i don't agree, because a bad secret can't turn okay after you say it to someone. But you should tell your secret to your closest friend or your parents, because it will get better.
Sāra 8.c

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sd's picture
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sd 24 March, 2020 - 08:23

Absolutely! In my opinion, such problems should always be told to someone you trust. It can be a friend, parent or teacher. If you don't tell someone, things can get much worse and more dangerous.

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aijalukasenoka's picture
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aijalukasenoka 23 March, 2020 - 21:11

Yes, I agree, because when you tell someone about your problems, it becomes easier. Also, when you tell parents or an adult, they can help you.

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dartuciite1234's picture
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dartuciite1234 23 March, 2020 - 21:00

I agree the situation.You need to tell that somone you trust,because it can turn worst and worst,but later it can be too late to fix.And you are lying to youre closest friends and family,that turn youre situation worst.

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Alex95's picture
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Alex95 23 March, 2020 - 20:47

Yes, i agree. i think when you have a bad secret you keep feeling bad about it. It’s better to say it to a person you really trust. And together you can solve the problem. Everyone makes mistakes, so thats okey.

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Nova__'s picture
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Nova__ 23 March, 2020 - 19:03

Yes, I agree with that for the most part. Having a bad secret basically means that you're holding your feelings and emotions inside, and that is not good. Just find someone you trust, and talk with them. Before it actually becomes a real problem.

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edlelx's picture
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edlelx 23 March, 2020 - 17:26

Yes, i agree.If you have a bad secret, you should tell someone only if it bothers you or makes you feel worse internally.If you know that by telling a bad secret to someone you trust you can change a situation for the better then you should do it.No one has the right to condemn you because we all makes mistakes.We learn from our mistakes.

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anastasija's picture
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anastasija 23 March, 2020 - 16:28

Yes,i agree.I think that if you tell someone who you trust, they could help you to deal with it.it is important that you have someone who will always be with you in both good and bad moments.sometimes you don't even realize it, but just look around, you have your family who will always support you.

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tabaka_8b's picture
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tabaka_8b 23 March, 2020 - 16:07

I agree with that because, i think you need to talk to others and they will understand and together you can solve the problem. In my opinion the more you hide the secret from others the more worse secret gets.

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gretaberzina's picture
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gretaberzina 23 March, 2020 - 16:02

Yes, I agree because if you don't tell a person you trust this bad secret then you will feel bad about it. If It's bothering you (the secret) then tell a person who you trust and it will not feel bad anymore.

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ricardsns's picture
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ricardsns 23 March, 2020 - 15:37

I do agree. I think that you always should talk to someone. It doesn't matter if it is a bad secret or a good secret.

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tukans's picture
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tukans 23 March, 2020 - 15:17

I do not agree with this. People need to mind they're own business. If he wants to tak about it, than ok, but if not then do not bother him with this question.

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pukite's picture
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pukite 23 March, 2020 - 15:09

I agree because if you tell someone you will feel better. But if you do not tell someone you trust it can get worse.

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Eliinaba's picture
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Eliinaba 23 March, 2020 - 14:12

Do you agree that bad secrets are only bad until you tell someone?
I dissagree with that. If a secret is bad it will say bad. Telling someone a bad secret won't make it a good secret.

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liva's picture
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liva 23 March, 2020 - 13:58

I do agree. You cant keep secrets because it will only make you feel bad. If you have bad secret you have to tell someone you trust or someone that can help you. Ten they can help you fix broblems.

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liva's picture
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liva 23 March, 2020 - 13:49

I do not agree with this statement. If you tell someone secret it will no longer be secret but it will still be something bad. Sometimes you can make some things better but you can do thath after fixing bad things. Fixing is not telling someone secret you have.

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gerdaik1's picture
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gerdaik1 23 March, 2020 - 13:01

if I agreed. if a person tells you what they are doing or loses a bad breath after a while it starts to die and become emotional

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asmilktens's picture
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asmilktens 23 March, 2020 - 12:55

I don't agree with that. If you have a bad secret and you don't want to share it then just don't share it because there are a lot of people that can make fun of you and spread around your secret. This has actually happened to me.

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BANANS's picture
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BANANS 23 March, 2020 - 12:28

Oh yeah!!!! Bad .. Very bad!! If you tell someone a secret it's not a secret anymore so no it's not bad but your are. The person who said it!!!

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