In which we find out a bit more about our main character
Happy valentines day by the way, I was hoping to give you something a little better for it, but maybe you'll just have to wait until the next chapter...
Oh, and thank you so much for the wonderful reviews. You're just...cool. Really cool. And those cakes and cookies were delicious.
Did my brother put you up to this?’
I swept the brush swiftly back and forth the pink eye-shadow container, and lifted it to her cheeks as she watched warily. I sat opposite her, perched on the foot of my bed, the crutches that I had acquired earlier resting beside me. According to Doctor Griffin, I had torn – but not completely snapped- a ligament when I tripped yesterday. My foot had to be bandaged, and I was instructed to rest it if I wanted to avoid surgery - which meant that Kate and I only had a limited choice of activities.
‘What? Giving you a make-over?’ I asked, as I swept the pink powder across the tops of her cheeks. ‘Are you kidding? Make-up means looking nice, and looking nice means attracting boys, and attracting boys, means boyfriends. I doubt Ryan would want to enthuse that.’
She snorted. ‘That’s not what I meant.’ She paused and flicked her eyes down to the container in my hand ‘you do realise that’s eye-shadow don’t you?’
‘Anyway...’ She continued ‘what I meant is did Ryan put you up to...you know, inviting me round?’
I raised an eyebrow at her in confusion ‘No, why would he do that?’
‘Oh’ she said, rubbing her earlobe ‘I thought maybe because he and dad have been arguing a lot, he’d asked you to invite me round to get me out of the house for a night. It just seemed like something he would do. And also...honestly, I didn’t think you would ever invite me round for no reason.’
I dropped the hand holding the brush to my lap, making a small stain of pink glitter on my pyjama pants. ‘How come?’
She shrugged and shifted uncomfortably on the stool. ‘It’s just you always seem so...private. You hardly ever mention your mom, and I’m pretty sure you’ve never ever mentioned any of your old friends. In fact, I don’t think I know anything about your life before you moved here; It’s like it didn’t exist...it’s weird. And I had no idea that you liked Spencer- I had to find out the two of you kissed from Jane!’
I blinked at her. ‘I’m sorry’ – I cleared my throat- ‘I didn’t know you’d...want to know.’
‘Of course I’d want to know!’ She said, sounding exasperated ‘You’re my best friend...yet I know hardly anything about you.’
‘It never occurred to me...’ I began. ‘I mean, what would what you like to know?’
She shrugged ‘I don’t know. ..Anything. I don’t expect you to tell me every little thing about you but some sort of background information might be nice.’
‘OK’ I said, taking a deep breath as I picked the brush up and reapplied the eye-shadow ‘I was born in San Bruno on the 21st of November. My mom, Nikki Aroha Moore, was sixteen at the time and my dad, Jason something or other, was seventeen. Apparently they were pretty crazy about each other, but when his ‘rents, found out she was pregnant, they were so pissed off that they made him leave with them suddenly. I don’t think she ever heard from him again. She became really depressed, not to mention she was totally post-natal after having me. She dropped out of school – Gran didn’t want her to, but she was flunking anyway so she saw no point in staying. Gran’s fiancé at the time got a job in San Francisco, so we all moved out there when I was about two years old. My mom was totally stocked up on Ambiens and anti-depressants, and found it hard maintaining her waitressing jobs. A lot of tension grew between her and Grans fiancé, Philip. He wasn’t happy about her being nineteen and mooching off them for money still. Eventually my mom decided she’d had enough and left with me one-day without warning. Trying to be independent is how she ended up doing strip work. That’s the story that Mel told me anyway.’
‘She’s my Grandma’ I explained.
‘What’s she like?’
I smiled. ‘She’s...cool. She’s younger than most Grandmas – 50 something, but she could pass for a decade younger I reckon. You can talk to her about almost anything. She works in a salon. My mom worked there for a while too at the reception, but she yelled at a customer and got fired. Then she joined a brothel.’ I rolled my eyes ‘Anyway, she also teaches line dance classes. Her husband Philip is a...’
Kate listened patiently as I rambled on about Philip...and then his twins...and their kids...and then my 30 year old Auntie Daphne...and her husband Liam...and her 7 year old daughter Emily...and then my 25 year old Auntie Carly...and her hilarious boyfriend Dave...
‘Am I boring you yet?’ I asked, stopping myself just before I was about to launch into a story of something Dave did once.
Kate shook her head. ‘Not at all.’
I smiled. ‘Well I guess that’s it really. We moved whenever my mom felt like a fresh start – which was often. This is our first time moving out of San Francisco. The last school I went to was Lik-Wilmerding.’- Kate sniggered-‘I know! It was stingy. I had a few friends I hung around with. No-one that I was particularly close with. We haven’t kept in touch. My middle name is Jasmine, I don’t like olives and I’ve just realised I left my bra on. It’s really uncomfortable.’
I shifted the straps and wiggled as Kate laughed ‘OK, I think that’s enough information. Thank you, I already feel like I know you loads better.’
I had to laugh at the broad grin on her face. She obviously felt like she had accomplished a great deal. I stopped and took the lip gloss away from her face before I had even applied it to her smile. ‘There’s something else too...’ I said -after all, I no longer had anything to lose ‘You know how much I detest English and Maths?’
Kate chuckled ‘Yeah.’
‘It’s because I can’t- I mean it’s because...words, letters –numbers don’t really make an awful lot of sense to me.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘They don’t make sense when I look at them. They’re like worms wriggling on a page. I can’t...I mean I don’t...read very well.’
Kate paused for a moment before she replied. ‘Dyslexia?’
I nodded. Kate widened her eyes ‘Really? I had no idea! How bad is it? That’s why you hate having to read! Does Mrs Fitzergeld know? If she does then it’s really harsh of her to always be on your case about-’
‘She didn’t, but she does now.’ I said. ‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I’ve always been kind of embarrassed about it.’
Kate surprised me by leaning forward and embracing me. ‘You shouldn’t be embarrassed!’ She said speaking over my shoulder ‘Not at all.’
I smiled into her shoulder and gave a muffled ‘Thanks.’
She released me with a sigh. But it was a sigh of contentment. I gave her a questioning look as she smiled at me at me. ‘You’re happy.’ I stated.
‘Sorry, it’s just kind of a relief in a way. Like I might have finally broken through your barrier or something. Maybe that’s the wrong way to put it...’
I shook my head and smiled ‘I didn’t mean to barrierdize myself.’
‘That’s not a word.’ She laughed.
‘It is in Europe’ I said, picking the lip gloss tube back up. I finished applying it to her mouth, screwed the lid back on and leant back a bit to admire the finished result of my efforts. ‘You look gorgeous.’ I said truthfully. I gestured for her to pick up the mirror. ‘What do you think?’
She smiled and nodded as she preened at herself ‘I like it. Do you think I should wear my make-up like this more often? I usually only wear eye-liner.’
‘It’s up to you.’ I said ‘Personally, I don’t think you need it. Neither does Spencer – he told me yesterday.’
She looked up from her reflection ‘Really, he said that?’
I nodded and she smiled.
‘So, Kate...’ I began, twisting my body round so that I was lying on my front with my legs in the air and my chin in my hand ‘how long have you and Spencer actually known each other for?’
She put the mirror down ‘Umm, I think since we were about five.’
I widened my eyes ‘Five?’
She nodded ‘Uh-huh. I met him through Ryan. I didn’t hang out with him much at first because they were, you know, annoying smelly boys. But then Spencer asked me to be his girlfriend. I didn’t really understand the concept much but it seemed everyone was doing it so I thought sure, why not. I don’t really know what happened there...I think we just kind of forgot about the whole thing after a couple of weeks.’
I giggled uncontrollably. ‘You’re still technically out with him.’
She laughed. ‘Two timer.’
It took me a few more seconds than it should have to grasp what she meant. ‘Oh! Right, yeah totally.’ I said. Sometimes it was just all too easy to forget. ‘So you’ve been friends ever since?’
‘That’s...that’s pretty awesome. I don’t think there’s anyone outside my family that I’ve known for as long as that. Should I be Jealous?’ I asked slyly.
‘God no.’ She said ‘I mean that was just...we never. No.’ she shook her head quickly, and stopped suddenly. ‘Whoa, did you hear that?’
I nodded and turned my head to gaze out of the window to my left. It was too dark outside to see anything, so all I really saw was my reflection – scooped up hair style, polka dot pyjamas – but I could hear the rain hitting the glass of the window. It was less ferocious than last night’s downpour...but it was still early. ‘Thunders back.’ I said.
Kate frowned at the window and mumbled a sarcastic ‘great.’
‘I’ve always thought thunderstorms to be pretty exciting.’ I said ‘I’m guessing you’re not so fond of them.’
‘It’s silly isn’t it?’ She said ‘I mean I’m sixteen, but they still scare the crap out of me. It’s irrational, I know. I’ve always hated them. When I was little I’d hide myself behind the couch until it was over. Ryan would do that thing where he counts the seconds between the thunder and the lightening and try and reassure me by saying ‘see, it’s 7 miles away’ or whatever, whilst Spencer would be there telling me horror stories about people getting fried by lightening. Funnily enough, I remember them all.’
She stood up from the stool. ‘Anyway, my turn.’
I sat up as she studied the different shades of foundation. Neither of them were mine, as I never wore it; they were the result of rifling through my moms make-up bag. Kate looked straight at me as if to study my face. She sighed, but this time it wasn’t of contentment, but rather longing. ‘I wish I looked like you.’ She said.
‘No you don’t.’
‘Yes I do. You’re flawless. Your skin is absolutely perfect. Your eyes are beautiful. Your teeth are immaculate. You’re nose isn’t a potato like mine. Don’t even get me started on your hair! You’re... like a film star.’
I looked back at my reflection in the dark window and snorted. ‘What are you on about? I swear to God you have features I would kill for.’
‘Yes! Now shut up and make me look like Cameron Diaz.’
_ _ _
I was inclined to put it down to the thunder that Kate had not fallen asleep yet. It was worrying because if there’s anything I’ve learned about my best friend in the last couple of months, it’s that she really, really enjoys her snooze time. It would normally take her a maximum of five minutes to go; so far she had taken thirty and still her eyes stayed glued to the ceiling. ‘Kate?’ I said quietly ‘Is everything OK?’
She turned her head sideways to look at me. ‘Yeah. Kind of. I was just...thinking about Ryan.’
This took me by surprise and I propped myself up with my arms ‘What about him?’
‘You can never tell him I said anything, OK?’
‘He’s just so...unhappy at the moment. I tried to talk to him about it but he denied it, and shrugged it off as just being a little stressed with schoolwork. I don’t buy it. Of course the arguments with dad over the band aren’t helping much. It just makes me feel so sad to see him like that. He’s been keeping himself to himself more than ever. I don’t know what to do though – I feel so helpless. I mean he pisses me off a lot of the time, but I really do love my brother.’
Her voice cracked on the last sentence, and she gulped, staring back up at the ceiling. ‘I want to help, but I don’t know what to do.’
‘I’m sure he’s just...going through a rough patch.’ I said unsurely ‘It’ll pass. Ryan and your dad will sort things out eventually between themselves. Ryan doesn’t want you to think he’s upset because he doesn’t want you to be upset too. All you really can do is put on a smile for him; Ryan just wants to see you happy.He'd hate to know how much you were worrying right now.’
Kate nodded. ‘Yeah, I guess. Thanks Steph.’
Kate managed to fall asleep not long after that; her face dropping into her pillow, and her heavy breathing decorating the still air.
I, however, remained awake for quite a long while after she went – just simply gazing out of the window, past the drizzle of rain, and making very quiet and very secret wishes to the stars.
_ _ _
'Ey china plates.Arfur J Shanks for aw the sugar an' spice reviews, They're the bleedin' frogs and logs gonads. I try my Mae West, I 'eaven and 'ell do, but Lord Mayor it's almost impossible for me not ter slip the bloomin' matheson lang dicky bird na and again. It is me bloody language afterall - Been speakin' it for six'een donkey's ears. I don't 'ave a danny la rue what's not american matheson lang. There 're a Hoppin' Pot of dickie birds in the world, i'm Bobby you're aware, and i've got a Porridge Knife. Not ter mention aw the bloomin' school Kathy Burke that's packed into it at the bloomin' moment, but from the bottom of me horse and cart I 'ope ya understand that learnin' american matheson lang aint me whistle and pop priority at me moments but i do appreciate there can be Barney Rubbles, though 'opefully not summit ter major, it's not loike i'm speakin' flemmish after aw, wite? But if there's ever aahhht ya can't understand daan't be afraid ter let me kna, i'll be more than 'appy ter explain it ter ya. 'Cause even if ya daan't get me drift ya 're me luv'ly jubly readers, and I golden dove ya!
I 'ope ya 'ave a mother's pearly gate bubble and sqeauk.