I wasn’t greeted by any burning sunlight sifting through the gaps in my drapes when I woke up on Thursday morning, as I had done everyday previously since I had lived here. I relied on it as a natural alarm clock almost, which is why, to my horror, I was woken up by my mother that day instead.
‘Someone’s on the phone for you.’ She said.
I grunted and crawled out of bed on all fours, tilting my head up at the digital clock on my dresser. 1.00pm.
‘Who is it?’I asked, standing up and flipping my hair off my face.
‘Uh, some guy called Spencer I think.’ She shrugged, tightening the tie around her bath robe and leaving.
I carried a stomach full of uncomfortable knots down the stairs with me. My hand even trembled slightly as I picked up the phone. I dreaded the conversation that would follow. Would he ask me out somewhere? Should I act as if every things fine, or should I do what Melanie said and tell him the truth?
‘Hey Steph...what’s up?’
‘Um...nothing new.’ I replied ‘You?’
‘Uh, same.’ He said. ‘Are you busy tonight?’
I gulped. I contemplated lying, but I couldn’t come up with anything believable enough. Besides, there was no point in avoiding him. I’d have to do this sooner or later.
‘Well Brent’s back, so I was wondering if you’d be interested in coming to our band practise today. Jane wanted to come so I thought it would be cool if you came too.’
I relaxed a little. It was just a band practise – not like a proper date or anything. And he wouldn’t be alone, so I couldn’t talk to him yet anyway.
‘Sure, sounds great.’ I said, pausing ‘Is Kate going too?’
‘Well, I told Ryan to invite her, I mean it’s not really fair if she’s left out is it? I should probably warn you that Ryan’s not in one of his best moods today – no idea why. Anyway, yeah I think he’s inviting her, hopefully, but he did moan a little... something about how we– meaning me Brent and Brendon- shouldn’t expect to bring our girlfriends along to every practise we have. So I pointed out to him that it was just me and him with girlfriends....well, Brent DID apparently meet a girl in Portugal- which Is a relief, or I would have worried a bit, because I knew he liked you, but it shouldn’t matter now, right? Anyway yeah, and I got kind of annoyed at Ryan about that, because he was being pretty hypocritical.’
‘Oh, are you sure it’s OK if I come?’
‘Come, seriously. He doesn’t make the rules. It’s my grandma’s garage.’
‘OK’ I chuckled ‘What time?’
‘Is seven OK for you? We’ll pick you up.’
‘Yeah, seven’s good.’ I said. ‘Uh, see you then.’
‘Yeah, see ya.’
I made myself breakfast in the kitchen, which consisted of two slices of toast and a cup of coffee. I don’t normally drink the stuff, but I figured I might need the caffeine. I sat down at the kitchen table to consume it, unsettled by the absence of the brilliant light that would normally be shining through the window and basking the kitchen in its gleam. Instead the only thing that seemed to fill the kitchen today was shadow. Looking out of the window as I ate, it became clear what the absence was due to; a mattress of thick purple clouds lay across the normally clear, blue sky, obstructing the sun entirely.
‘Apparently we’re in for a series of thunderstorms.’ My mom muttered. I turned my face away from the window to look at her. She was dressed now, in jeans and a cotton shirt, the remains of yesterdays make-up scrubbed off and replaced, her hair washed and bouncy, but her eyes still tired and bloodshot.
I looked back out the window at the dreary neighbour hood. How gloomy and depressing the day appeared.
I pushed back my chair and stood up. ‘I’m going out tonight’ I said, picking up my plate and emptied mug to wash up in the sink. ‘At Seven.’
‘Oh, OK. What time will you be back?’
I shrugged, placing the mug and plate on the drying rack and drying my hands on a towel. ‘I’m having a shower’ I announced instead.
The droplets of water soaked my bare honey-coloured skin with a satisfying force and warmth. I finished rinsing the papaya scented shampoo out of my hair, turned the water off and squeezed the excess moisture from my locks into the drain.
I hugged a towel to my naked body as I walked across the hallway to my room. I peered out of the window. The sun had obviously made little progress; the sky was still as dark as before. I unearthed a pair of blue denim jeans of mine that hadn’t been worn in a while, and a green chequered shirt. I admired and groaned at the visible tan lines that the beach had left at either end of my stomach before putting them on.
I played some music on the stereo as did my hair and make-up. The only mirror I had in my room was a square shaped thing that was meant to be hung on the wall with nails, but as we didn’t own a single DIY tool, it merely rested against the bottom of the wall instead. I knelt down in front of it as I blow-dried my hair, studying my face in the reflection as I did so.
Was I pretty?
I thought I’d concluded the answer to this a long time ago; that yes, I was.
It’s what people have always been telling me at least. My grandma, my cousins, my aunts, friends, boys, even people who are practically strangers to me. I wondered whether this had made me perhaps a little too vain. I’d always felt that, as far as guys were concerned, I was the catch. And if there were ever someone I’d wanted, well there would be little challenge involved in...Getting them. Completely self-conceited and narcissistic of me of course, but it’s the truth.
But I guess that wasn’t exactly the question I wanted to ask myself right now. It wasn’t so much a wonderment of whether I was pretty, than of whether I was pretty enough. And was pretty enough, even enough? After all, he was the closest thing to perfect that I’d ever known. Surely he was meant for someone who was nothing less than beautiful.
Ryan had singlehandedly demolished those previous inhibitions of mine. I had found someone that I wanted, and as it turns out, he has ‘challenge’ written all over him. I certainly didn’t feel like the catch this time. I had been too shallow-minded to consider the possibility that I would fall for someone who was too good for me. Far too good; how could he ever see me in the same way I see him? Apart from being the most phenomenally gorgeous... person I had ever seen, he was also everything that I never before thought would even matter to me. He was selfless and decent and mature. And despite him being water, and me being oil, he almost seemed to... get me somehow. Oddly enough, I realised suddenly, he knew things about me that even my best friend didn’t know. He knew I was dyslexic. He knew why I detested education and authority so much. He knew why I was expelled from my last school. He knew my relationship with my mother wasn’t exactly functional. He knew she enjoyed more than the odd bottle of wine. He knew the more detailed reason of why we moved to Vegas. Not anyone else, just him.
But I knew a few secrets of his too, I remembered. I knew the extent of his dad’s alcoholism. I’d seen it with my eyes, and heard it with my ears. I knew, like my mom and I, that their relationship could be dysfunctional too. I knew why he would stay up late at night or get up extra early in the morning. I knew why he felt so protective of the sister he cared so much about. Maybe, to some extent, I knew part of the reason he felt so passionately about the music he wrote; it was a disguised way of releasing the pent up feelings he had which he refused to reveal in front of his sister.
I took in the details of the face that was staring back at me. The rather wide green eyes that people claim to envy so much, seemed so inferior in comparison to his captivating caramel ones. I doubted that they could ever have the same effect on someone as his did when they looked at me. Then there was the mouth that always went unintentionally crooked when I smiled. I’m pretty sure I inherited it from my dad, whoever and wherever he is, because I once overheard my grandma asking my mom if she was reminded of him when I smiled. Friends told me it was alluring, but it was no match for the perfectly even grin that he gave with the superpower of turning human body parts into jelled juice.
I turned off the hairdryer, sighed and stood up, having reached my final conclusion. No; being pretty, even if it was enough, would still not ever be enough.
_ _ _
I clutched the material of my hood as tightly I could, attempting to keep as much of my hair and face as dry as possible. My head stayed bent, and my shoulders hunched, as I quickly ran towards the familiar car that awaited me with a promise of shelter. The damp ground moistened the ends of my jeans, making them heavy. Spencer opened the door for me, and I climbed in with relief. I was never a fan of getting wet.
Still, I suppose the rain made a nice change for once. It was as still as hot as ever though. The air was so humid that it felt sticky on your skin.
Spencer grinned at me. I pulled my hood down and shook out my hair as I smiled. ‘Hey.’ I said.
Kate sat on the other side of him and smiled at me. It used to be the other way around – me, Kate and then Spencer in a row. And before Jane came along, Spencer would have been in the passenger seat next to Ryan, but he wasn’t – she was. Every thing had since been rearranged, and Kate was now forced into the corner. I hoped this wasn’t an analogy for how she really felt. After all, before I came along, Spencer was her friend.
When we reached Granny Smiths house, I pulled my hood back on and braced myself for the downpour I’d be greeted with when I got out of the car. The rain had become even harder and was soaking my hoodie through. I shivered.
‘Hey Steph!’ Spencer called, catching me up. He pulled me under his umbrella with him, and I automatically clutched onto his arm, pulling myself closer to his side.
‘Thank you.’ I squealed.
He chuckled at me. ‘You really don’t like getting wet do you?’
‘It’s just; I washed my hair this morning and took ages blow drying it, and my make-up isn’t even waterproof...’
‘Eesh’ He said, looking behind us ‘Doesn’t look like Jane’s is either.’
I looked over my shoulder. Jane and Ryan were a few feet behind us. Unfortunately they had no umbrella, so the water was drenching them. Jane’s mascara was running, giving her panda eyes. She was looking at Ryan who looked straight ahead, walking with his hands in his jean pockets. The rain somehow made him look even sexier, if that was possible. I shook the thought out of my head. Kate was walking behind them, hugging herself tightly and watching the ground as she walked.
‘Lucky Kate didn’t wear any’ I commented.
‘It’s not like she needs it’ He said.
‘Yeah, you’re right.’ I agreed.
We stopped in front of the garage and he took a key out of his pocket to open it. We walked in and he switched the light on. It flickered slightly before illuminating the old garage in its dim glow.
It wasn’t long before another car that I recognised pulled up beside Ryan’s. Brendon and Brent stepped out, hurrying up the path and into the garage. Spencer pulled the door down as Brendon bent over and shook his head, sending a spray of water over me, which I swore at him for.
‘Hi Brent’ I said, turning to him and smiling, ‘How was Portugal?’
‘Yeah, it was awesome – thanks’ He nodded.
‘Spencer tells me you met a girl?’ I said, hoping I didn’t sound nosy, but inquisitive in a friendly way. I felt a bit guilty having grown so close to the rest of the band, when I had barely spoken a few sentences to him.
He nodded ‘Her name’s Claudia.’
‘Oh?’ I nodded, wandering what to say next ‘is she pretty?’
He nodded again.
‘Still keeping in touch?’
He nodded again.
‘Stephanie dear!’ Brendon called, from where he was setting up the microphone. I walked over to him, quite grateful to be saved from the effort of trying to make strained conversation with Brent.
‘I don’t get it’ I said to him, lowering my voice so Brent couldn’t hear. ‘Does he not like me? I’m trying to be friends, but he acts like he doesn’t want to be.’
‘I’m sure it’s not that’ said Ryan, from where he stood a foot or so away, getting his guitar out from his case. I looked at him in surprise ‘you see, there’s this thing some people have called shyness. Probably not something you’re familiar with, but Brent is at least.’
I opened my mouth to retort, but Brendon cut me off by grabbing my hand and bringing it up to his face to inspect it. ‘What the hell happened to your fingers?’ He said. I looked down the hand he was inspecting. Two of the finger tips were still enwrapped in band-aids, whilst the other three were sore and red looking. I saw Ryan look, and I quickly snatched my hand away and curled it into a fist. I leaned closer towards Brendon, my mouth by his ear.
‘I tend to chew my nails when I get kind of nervous or stressed.’ I said. ‘And I’ve kind of been nothing but lately.’
‘You know, I’m sure this could pretty much class as a form of self-harm’ He said, frowning.
I was going to reply, but the start of my sentence was drowned out by a loud clap of thunder, followed by a high-pitched shriek from Kate. We laughed at her jump of surprise and she blushed. ‘What?’ She said ‘It just caught me by surprise, that’s all...’ but it repeated a few moments later and she screamed yet again, even louder. ‘Sorry, sorry!’ She said, clutching her face with her hands ‘I’ll shut up now.’
The two of us made our way to the old armchair and collapsed into it. It was rather uncomfortable and I ended up half-sitting on her lap. Jane perched herself on the edge of an old desk of drawers which was shoved into the far corner.
Panic started playing. It was a different song from last time, I’m pretty sure. The instruments mixed with the thunder made it incredibly hard to make out any lyrics though. The only words I could make out were ‘where is my poster?’, or at least that’s what it sounded like. And later on, the phrase ‘shotgun wedding’ repeated over and over again. The tune was eventually growing on me though, and I was only just getting into it, when all of a sudden everything went very dark, and very quiet, -spare a few extra drum beats from Spencer.
‘Shit’ Brendon’s voice said, somewhere in the darkness.
Not too good a chapter, but it will all be worth it(?). hmm. yeah. I have a few things to say to you:
1. It's so cool that you picture Taylor Momsen as Steph because literally like 5 minutes after reading that review, I found this banner stashed away in my photobucket album from when this story was on quizilla [old crappy version, long since deleted], and I'm pretty sure that's her isn't it?
2.I also found this, which is basically character appearances.
Five cakes to the person who can work out who's who first. I think Steph is portrayed by Alicia Silverstone here...kinda cos she reminded me of her in Clueless,and it's the only half decent pic i came across after searching for eternity. But yeah, no perfect pic for Steph yet.
So we've already had Taylor Momsen... who else do you guys picture Steph as? I'm curious now.
Oh and, mega wierd coincidence on your friend being called Stephanie Moore, haha.