This story is dedicated to my sister.
All Nick Carter wanted was a nice, family Christmas. He was trying to make up with his mother after last year’s mistake, when he had spent Christmas with his girlfriend, Mandy, instead of being with his family. He knew he had hurt his mother very badly by doing that. This last year had been rough for him because of that. He and his mother had not been on very good terms since, and all Nick wanted was to make it up to her.
Nick knew that his mother would not forget what he had done last Christmas, but it seemed like she was letting it go for now, for when he had arrived at their house in California two days before Christmas, he had been surrounded by nothing but hugs and love. And when Nick hugged his mother and looked into her eyes, he realized that he had finally been forgiven. That Christmas was looking good so far. But not everyone in the family was as happy as Nick was.
It was early afternoon. The presents had all been opened, and there was a turkey roasting in the oven, signaling it was almost time for Christmas dinner. Nick and his sister, BJ, watched their brother and sister, Aaron and Angel, play a new videogame they had gotten, while his father sat in an armchair, reading a new book he had gotten. Nick’s mother was in the kitchen, checking on the turkey. Nick didn’t know where his sister, Leslie, had gone.
Suddenly, he realized he hadn’t called his best friend, Brian, or any of the other Backstreet Boys to wish them a Merry Christmas. “I’ll be right back,” he said to whoever was listening and stood up, heading upstairs to the guestroom where he had been sleeping to use the phone. He picked up the phone and put it to his ear, startled to hear someone else’s voice on the phone. It was a girl’s voice, and he figured Leslie was on the phone.
He was about to hang up, when he heard the girl on the phone say, “Leslie, please, don’t say that!” Confused and alarmed, Nick sat down on the bed, pressing the phone to his ear.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Leslie said, her voice shaking. Nick could tell she was in tears. But what did she mean?
“Don’t say that, Les,” her friend urged. “You’re my best friend, and I can’t stand to see you like this.”
“It’s too hard, Kari,” Leslie sobbed.
“What’s too hard?” Kari asked.
“Everything,” Leslie replied. “Just life. I don’t want to live anymore.” Nick’s eyes widened, and he drew in a shuddering breath. His hands were shaking.
“Leslie!” Kari cried. “What happened? Why don’t you want to live anymore?”
“I told you, it’s everything,” Leslie said. “My career, my family, my whole life. No one cares what happens to me anyway.”
”Leslie, I’m your best friend! I care about you!” Kari cried. “And do you really believe your own family doesn’t care about you?”
“They don’t,” Leslie sobbed. “All they care about is my career, because I bring money in for them. All they want for me is to become some famous singer. They don’t care what I want at all.”
“So you don’t want to be a singer?” Kari asked incredulously.
“No,” Leslie sniffed. “I did at first, but it’s not fun anymore. All it is is work. I hate it, but I could never quit because my mom would probably disown me. She has some dream for all of us to be famous someday.”
“Leslie, you need to talk to your parents then,” Kari said. “Tell them how you feel. They won’t disown you.”
“I don’t want to talk. They don’t care what I think anyway. I just don’t want to live anymore,” Leslie said, beginning to cry again.
“Leslie, stop it!” Kari cried, beginning to cry also. “Leslie, please, don’t do that! Don’t you have any idea how many people love you?”
“No,” Leslie replied. “No one ever tells me it. My parents sure don’t. BJ, Aaron, and especially Nick are never around. And Angel hates me.”
“Leslie, that’s not true, and you know it!” Kari cried. “Angel doesn’t really hate you.”
“She says she does,” Leslie said.
“All little sisters do that!” Kari said. “But really, she loves you, just like you love her, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Leslie said.
“Well then, you can’t take your own life, Les. You couldn’t put your family through all that pain,” Kari said.
“Yes I can!” Leslie cried. “That will show them! Maybe then my mom will give up the singing thing before she ruin’s Angel’s life too!”
Suddenly, Nick could hear muffled voices on the other line. “Listen, Les, my mom’s making me get off. It’s time for dinner,” Kari said.
“Bye,” Leslie said dully.
“Leslie, please!” Kari cried, sounding terrified. “Please, Leslie, don’t kill yourself. For me.”
“Whatever,” Leslie said in the same monotone voice.
“Leslie, please. I have to go now. Please, go find one of your brothers or sisters and talk to them. Please, you can’t do this to yourself or everyone that cares about you.”
“No one cares,” Leslie said. Suddenly, she slammed down the phone.
“Leslie?” Kari asked in a panicky voice. “Leslie?!”
Nick took a deep breath. “Kari, this is Nick,” he said.
“Nick?” Kari asked incredulously. “Listen, Nick, please go talk to Leslie, before it’s too late! She wants to commit-“
“I know, Kari, I heard the whole thing. I was going to use the phone and didn’t realize she was on it. And then when I realized what you guys were talking about, I stayed on and listened,” Nick said guiltily.
“Well, Nick, thank God you did,” Kari said. “I have to go now. Please go talk to Leslie, before she does something horrible.”
“I will,” Nick said. “Bye.” He quickly hung up the phone and tore down the hall to Leslie’s room. He tried the knob, but it was locked. He banged on the door. “Leslie!” he cried.
Trembling, Nick ran into BJ’s room and dug through her jewelry box. Finally, he found what he was looking for: a bobby pin. He ran back to Leslie’s room and stuck the bobby pin into the lock, jiggling it around until it opened. He burst into the room to find Leslie sitting on her bed, facing the wall, her head down. She whirled around when the door opened, her eyes filled with fury. “Nick, get out!” she yelled, but she didn’t sound as if she meant it. Nick stood where he was, studying her. Her eyes were red and puffy, her face blotchy with tearstains.
“Leslie, I heard the whole phone conversation,” Nick said gently, walking over and sitting down next to her on the bed.
“You did?!” she cried, her eyes wide. Nick nodded. Leslie glared at him. “Eavesdropping is wrong,” she said softly.
“Not if it can help save a life,” Nick replied. “Leslie, I can’t believe you! Why would you say all that to your best friend? Of course we love you, all of us.”
“You sure don’t show it much,” Leslie said.
“Leslie, I have a career that forces me to travel a lot. Plus, I live in Florida, more than halfway across the country. I’m sorry if I can’t spend much time with you,” Nick said.
“Big whoop. It just shows that your stupid singing group is more important to you than me,” Leslie said dryly.
Nick was getting fed up with her. “Leslie, for crying out loud, stop being so selfish!!” Nick yelled. Leslie’s eyes widened, and she stared up at him, shocked at his outburst. “I bet you don’t even realize how selfish you sound,” Nick said. “All you care about is yourself. You don’t care what your family and friends would have to go through if you killed yourself. All you care about is your own happiness, not anyone else’s. Well, Leslie, let me tell you something. You wouldn’t be happy if you committed suicide anyway. People who take lives, including their own, go to Hell. Is that where you want to live for all eternity?” Nick asked.
“No,” Leslie said, her voice tiny. “I’m sorry.”
Nick softened. He opened his arms, and Leslie crawled into them. Nick wrapped his arms tightly around her, cradling her to him tightly. Leslie began to sob again, and she clutched to Nick as if she was afraid to let go of him. Nick just stroked her hair and held her. “Les, it’s gonna be alright,” he soothed. “But just remember one thing, ok?”
“What?” Leslie asked, her voice muffled, for her head was buried in Nick’s shoulder.
“I love you,” Nick replied. Those were the three words that could make a difference in someone’s life, and in this case, even save it. And they did.
Three Words Ó 2000 by Julie