School finished on the twenty second of December. Rick, Maria, Will, Mikey and I arranged to meet on the day after Boxing Day at Will’s house. Boxing Boxing Day as Mikey called it. We were going to swap Christmas presents on that day. The key words being going to.
She stared out of the car window at the bleak scenery as the sleet rained down on the twenty-seventh of December. It was five in the morning and they were headed for the airport. Her mom turned around in the front seat to speak to her daughter. “Isn’t this exciting sweetheart?”
Rather than snapping back with something she’d regret Joanna remained silent. She fiddled with the belt loop on the right hand side of her ripped jeans.
Lara and Auntie Sarah were coming over. My perfect cousin and her mother. Why? Because apparently New Year is a time for families. Oh and they were staying until the ninth of January. I started back at school on the sixth, so my mom had arranged for Lara to come into my school for three days, as an observer. Joy.
“Joanna. Hi.” Lara’s smile was far too sweet and she looked too clean for someone who’d been on a plane for about nine hours.
“Lara.” Joanna stated sullenly. It was now eight o, clock. She should have been at Will’s house by now. She hadn’t been able to let them know as she’d found out that Lara was coming at half three that morning. They should have also been half way home by now. However, as the plane had been late they were only just walking back to the car now.
“Oh I always forget how much you two look like each other,” Aunt Sarah exclaimed as Joanna slid into the car. Joanna scowled. Aunt Sarah always forgot that.
The most annoying thing was that it was true. Lara and I did look similar. We both had long straight hair, even if hers was dark brown, dyed, and mine was black, natural. We both had the same shape and colour eyes. We were about the same height, and had the same type of figure, although I had more muscle than her on account of swimming and gymnastics back in England and cheerleading over here. I guess we even sounded similar, except my voice was tinged with an American accent. Obviously I took after Dad and she took after Aunt Sarah.
“Joanna!” Mrs Wilkinson called. “Go and move some of the mess so we can put the air bed up in your room.”
“Fine,” Joanna muttered under her breath as she entered her room. It looked as though she’d be sharing a room with Lara for the next thirteen days.
“And be quick about it pumpkin!” her father called up the stairs. Joanna rolled her eyes and quickly shoved the pile of schoolbooks that was on her floor, to one side. She picked the clothes up and merely either put them in the wash or stuffed them in her wardrobe.
“Okay!” she yelled. “It’s clear.”
As she trundled out of her room, her father went past her carrying, the pump and airbed. She plodded down the stairs, looking at the bag that contained her friend’s presents. It wasn’t fair.
“Joanna! Check the voicemail!”
She pressed the button to find out whether anyone had phoned.
“Hi Anna. It’s, uh, Will. Just wonderin’ where you are. I guess we’ll see you later. “
“Hey Joanna? It’s Will. Um, just checking to see if you’re okay, cause you’re not here.”
“HI. It’s Maria. I’m at Will’s house. Jo, get round here, cause the guys are moping cause you’ve blown us off.”
“Hey!” the three boys protested.
“See? Anyway, like I said, get round here soon.”
“I can’t believe you just-“
Joanna bit her lip, carefully lifted up the phone and dialled Will’s home number. No answer. She groaned. Great. There was a knock at the door and still looking downcast she went to open it.
“Where the hell have you been?” Maria demanded. Joanna looked behind before stepping out into the cold wet rain and closing the door behind her.
“Look, I’m sorry.”
”You’re sorry? You’re sorry. Oh well that makes everything better.” Maria scoffed.
“My parents woke me up at half three in the freaking morning to drag me to New York airport. New York frickin’ airport! At half three in the flipping morning.” Joanna paused to push her, now sodden, hair out of her face. “You know why? To pick up my cousin. My perfect, faultless, wonderful sodding cousin.” She was spitting the words out now and speaking with a very definite English accent. “I’m never going to live up to her but my parents can’t accept that. So yes, I’m sorry. I would love to come to Will’s but I can’t.”
Maria just waited till Joanna’s rant was finished. “That’s fine.” She sounded slightly forgiving. “I’ll send Will round,” and with a wink she left, walking away into the icy cold rain.
Why Will? Because he was the only one my parents liked. Mom adored him. Think it was his classic good looks. I never did tell her he was gay.