Divulge — “to disclose or reveal”
Three weeks before camp
Alyssa breathed hard, a silly grin on her face. Her clothes soaked to the bone. From the corner of her eye, she saw Will with the same silly grin mirrored on his face. He was in pretty much the same state as she was in.
“This was your idea?” Will asked.
“The team was feeling the tension between us,” she told him. “So, I brought up the idea of a water balloon fight. They bought it.”
“They were feeling the tension?” he asked, voice filled with regret.
She smiled softly at him. “What’s important is that we erased the tension between us and between the team.”
“Am I really that bad of a leader?”
She punched him in the arm — just enough to make it sting. “Stop that.”
He turned to her with a slight glare. “What?”
“Stop putting yourself down, Will. It doesn’t suit you.”
He opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the waves of goodbyes thrown their way. Alyssa merely waved her hand to the rest of their team.
He stared after the others, as if wanting to escape again.
She settled on the grass with her legs crossed and the sun in her face. Her wet clothes slowly becoming damp.
“One of the last people under my leadership committed suicide. His name was Kade.”
She froze at his confession. It was said so bluntly, yet so quietly, she almost missed it. What shocked her most, wasn’t how he said it, though, but who he was talking about. Kade – her Kade.
He laughed harshly. “Shocked you, didn’t I? I wouldn’t expect you to understand. You’re ‘Little Miss Perfect’. How could you even grasp the magnitude of what I’ve done?”
She raised an eyebrow at him, trying hard to keep her thoughts to herself. “Do you really think that of me?”
He met her gaze. “Why do you think they put you with me? You’re one of the most capable leaders we have. Even if I left, you could carry the entire team. I’m just a figurehead. This is just some sort of sad attempt to restore my confidence or something.”
She shook her head. “How did he die?”
“Overdose,” he said as he looked away.
For a moment, she could hear Kade’s mother’s hysterical voice when she broke the news of her son’s death. Alyssa swallowed hard. “Did you give him the pills?”
“What?” he exclaimed, glaring at her. “Why would I even do that?”
“Did you tell him to take them?”
“Then why do you think you killed him?” she asked softly.
“I should have seen it coming,” he insisted.
“You’re not God, William,” she told him. “You can’t control his actions just as much as I can’t control yours.”
Alyssa stood and slung her duffle bag on her shoulder. “You can’t lead effectively, Will, until you understand that you cannot control the actions of others. You’re not held responsible for them. And I know it’s not the same as suicide, but two years ago, a 15-year-old girl in my group got pregnant. She aborted her baby at three months – some quack doctor. She died – uncontrollable bleeding. I didn’t know until it was too late either. I couldn’t help but wonder what I did wrong. Then I realized we can’t control them. We can’t dictate their actions. All we can do is guide and forgive ourselves when we fail to see what’s in front of us.”