“Are you ready sweetie?”
On thing I’ve noticed about being orphaned is that, even if you are a capable seventeen year old, the entire world suddenly starts seeing you as sweetie. “‘Fraid so,” I replied sarcastically, lacing up my faithful doc martins under a pair of torn black pants. My shirt was long sleeved and dark grey, my eyeliner thick, and my hair messy under what I referred to as my jazz hat.
“Don’t you think you’d give a better impression with some nicer clothing?” The portly social working criticised, surveying my macabre ensemble as she lifted my duffel bag.
I glanced down and ran my eye over my own look; not terribly much dark than my daily wardrobe. “I’m in mourning.”
She didn’t argue.
“Now you remember the details?” She questioned as I followed her out of the welfare building, uncoiling the ear plugs of my iPod.
“Sure, check-in and get on plane without any ‘funny business’ at JFK, get off and meet the possible paedophile holding a sign with my name on it who with escort me to my cousin who is either too busy or too cold to bother meeting me first had.” I recited with embellishments.
The woman didn’t bother to reply, but it didn’t matter, Death Cab For Cutie was already blasting into my ears as she hustled me into the cab. I hoped that the driver was aware of the destination.
Ryan stood in front of the band, gathered in Brendon’s living room. Spencer was sitting closest as a pillar of support, whilst Jon and Brendon were lounging on the couch, faces wearing matching expressions of shock.
“I thought you didn’t have any family,” Brendon questioned, still shocked by Ryan’s announcement. “The press are going to have a field day.”
“This isn’t about the press,” Ryan rebutted strongly. “This is about a kid who I can help.”
“Its cool man, I was just saying…”
“You’re doing the right thing dude,” Jon added as Spencer smiled. “I wonder if she knows who you are.”
“She was like ten last time I saw her,” Ryan explained. “Our folks had a falling out and they moved to Washington.”
“Wow,” Brendon marvelled, he’d always felt sorry for Ryan never having much family. “When’s she arriving?”
“That’s kind of quick.”
“They contacted me a couple of days ago; I’ve just been drowning trying to make agreements.”
“Its cool,” Spencer, who had been quiet up until now reassured.
“Blair Cullen?” The man questioned, as if I would be standing in front of him for any reason other than my name being on his placard.
“One and the same,” I quipped in reply, weighted down by my duffel in on hand and a rather heavy cello case in the other. “And you are?”
“Mali,” he replied, holding one hand forward to take some of my load. “Want a hand?”
“Fragile,” I replied, motioning awkwardly to the sticker plastered across the instrument’s case. Instead I offered the bag, bursting with what little junk I was attached to –a photo album, my mother’s good jewellery, what cash was left in the money jar, a couple of pairs of jeans, chucks, and an assortment of tops, briefs, bras, and makeup.
With a bemused smile he took the duffel and like a shadow I followed the man from the terminal, shocked as it was a hired town car which was waiting for me, rather than a rank Vegas cab. Ry must have gone up in the world, I thought surprised, remembering the vague image of a young youth playing Blink-182 songs on guitar I had. Carefully we stored my luggage in the boot and slipped into the backseat as the driver move off silently.
“So Ryan isn’t the same scrawny kid I remember then?” I asked Mali, receiving only another bemused smile in return. “What’s he do now? A designer or something?”
“You’ll find out soon enough,” the man replied, as we slipped down the gaudy streets of Vegas, making me feel as though I was falling like Alice down the rabbit hole of some mob movie.
I sighed; patience wasn’t a virtue I had even possessed. For the next twenty minutes I turned up the volume of Motion City Soundtrack and ignored Mali why he happily ignored me.
“You think she’ll like it?” Ryan asked nervously, surveying what used to be the spare room of his apartment. He knew nothing about his cousin except that at eleven she had disliked anything feminine, had brilliant rhythm, and corrected the spelling on some of his first attempts to write lyrics. Oh, and she was beautiful; pale, dark haired, and willowy was a family trait it seemed.
“Dude, what’s not to like,” Spencer encouraged. The walls were a plain white, offset by the black carpet, curtains and bedspread. In one corner a black antique desk -Ryan had fallen for it whilst browsing months ago- sat with a laptop upon it, and along the wall were a collection of black and white framed photographs, some he’d unearthed of their shared childhood memories, one of her mother, and a collection of scenic snaps he’d gathered on tour.
“I suppose she can always change it,” the man continued uncertainly, still eyeing the room with suspicion.
“Look, you didn’t need to do all this anyway. Her only other option was foster care so she’ll deal,” Spencer said flatly.
“I know. It’s just, she’s the only family I’ve got, and I want her- us to be happy.”
“Then chill,” Spencer finally commanded as the doorbell rang.