“Oh it was so sweet,” Mrs Wilkinson gushed to Joanna as they stepped through the door. “Your cousin Lara read out a poem, and it was so beautiful. Al the family was there.”
“Apart from me,” Joanna added.
“Well yes, we couldn’t have taken you, sweetheart. You’d have missed school.” Her mother replied, surprised that Joanna was answering back.
“So what? It was Nana’s funeral, I should have been there,” Joanna snapped, her eyes filling with hurt.
“I don’t want to hear it /mother/.” Joanna retorted, her brown eyes filling with hurt as she stormed up the stairs, heading to the sanctuary of her room.
Of course Mom would talk about Lara. Perfect cousin Lara. Ha! If only the adults knew. Lara goes out every Friday night, supposedly to study at her friend’s house. Believe you me; the only thing she’s studying is biology.
Thanksgiving had come and gone in a blur of falling leaves and far too much turkey. However, it was now the weekend afterwards and Mikey was trying to persuade Joanna to come out.
“Aw, come Anna. You’ve gotta come,” he moaned, standing on her doorstep. She shook her head, huddled in a thick light blue jumper. “Mikes, I’m ill. Coming out isn’t going to help is it?”
He pouted. “But-“
“Mikey!” She sneezed then looked back at him reproachfully. “There is nothing I would like more than to come out with you guys,” she whispered furiously. “But there is no way my mother will let me.”
As if on cue her mother called. “Sweetheart, who is it?”
”It’s Mikey,” Joanna replied, rolling her eyes.
“Ah Mikey.” Joanna’s mom came to the door, smiling condescendingly at the boy. “It’s lovely of you to come and call, but Joanna’s ill. So I’m sorry, but she can’t come out today.”
Behind her mother Joanna shrugged helplessly at him. Mrs Wilkinson began to shut the door, when Joanna’s eyes lit up. ‘One hour,’ she mouthed. ‘Meet you at Rick’s.’
Yes, I was going to sneak out. No, I didn’t feel guilty. Yes, I used the time old trick of pretending to be asleep.
“I’m tired Mom. I’m gonna go lie down.” After she’d uttered those words, she went upstairs, locked her bedroom door, and managed to climb out of her window to the ground without letting her parents see her, or breaking any bones. And then she merely made her way to Rick’s house.
“She’s here!” Maria called as she opened the door. “Don’t come in,” Maria told her. “Harvey’s walking around half naked ‘cause he’s just woken up, and I don’t think Rick would be too pleased if he caught you checking out his brother.
“Okaaay,” Joanna raised an eyebrow.
Maria shrugged, as she stepped outside, next to Joanna. “Rick’s got a fit brother. Course, I’m a purely objective observer.”
Joanna rolled here eyes and grinned. “Yeah sure.” And then she sneezed explosively.
“Sheesh Anna. Wake everyone up why don’t you?” Rick grinned, as he, Mikey and Will poured out of the house, all three of them carrying middle-sized rucksack.
“It’s twelve o, clock Rick so why would anyone be asleep?” she laughed.
He shrugged. “I dunno. Anyway, we gonna go?”
Mikey rolled his eyes. “No, we’re gonna stay here forever.”
We ended up at the park. You know, The Forbidden Park? Turns out it was a mini thanksgiving…for me!
“To Anna!” They chorused.
She blushed. “You guys are so…” She trailed off, trying to think of a suitable word.
“Sweet? Incredible? Amazing?” Will supplied.
“I was thinking of mad, but they’ll do,” she smiled.
It was basically turkey sandwiches, and us mucking around in the empty park.
Good times. Good times.