It was six o clock in the morning and the dew was glinting in the first rays of sun. She sat huddled on the sofa, waiting. Waiting for the morning. Waiting for some modicum of sanity to return to her cousin.
She turned to face the speaker. “Yeah Will?” she murmured.
“Why’re you down here?” he asked puzzled. In his too short pyjamas and his dark hair tousled from sleep, he looked like a little boy lost. She raised her shoulders in a shrug. He sat down next to her. “Are you okay?”
”No. Lara’s poisoning everything,” she murmured, pushing her hair back from her face. His silence revealed that he hadn’t heard her. “I just want Lara to go.”
“Yeah I understand why,” Will nodded.
“No you don’t,” Joanna snapped, standing up and whirling to face him. “All you’ve seen is her nice side. I’ve got the constant stream of bitching and bullying and everyone adoring her.” She broke off as her face crumpled in on itself, the first hot, angry tears beginning to roll down her face. “And everyone says how nice she is, or how smart or how pretty, and why can’t you be more like that Joanna. No one ever understands what it’s like. Ever!” By the end of her tirade she was at the point of beginning to yell.
“Are you okay Josie?” came a small voice. “I heard shouting and I was worried.”
Joanna roughly brushed the tears away as she glared at her cousin. “Guess what Lar? I’m not o-freaking-kay.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
During the exchange Will was watching through wide eyes, looking like he was reliving all his childhood nightmares.
“Yes.” Joanna’s voice was deadly, as her brown eyes narrowed, and her fists clenched. “You can go home today and tell your mother that you don’t like it here. That I’ve been more surly and rude than normal, and you want to go home. As soon as possible.”
“But Joanna,” Lara protested. “I can’t leave now. I was just getting to know your friends.”
“And that’s exactly why you should leave,” Joanna persisted.
“Anyway, we can’t go home,” Lara told her. “Dad’s redecorating. We’d die from paint fumes.” And with one last scathing look, she turned and stalked out the room.
Joanna sank on to the floor, her shoulders trembling, and the grief and exasperation in her sobs echoed round the room. Will quickly crossed to her and knelt down next to her; an arm around her shoulder.
I don’t know what Mikey and Lara did or didn’t do that night. Although it’s extremely likely that they didn’t have sex. One of us would have heard them.
”Joanna! Joanna!” The shrill voice was that of Mrs Wilkinson. It was now eleven o clock and both girls were back at Joanna’s house. Joanna’s hair was tied back in a messy ponytail and all trace of make up had been scrubbed from her face. Her hands were deep in the pockets of her baggiest jeans, and she huddled inside a think black jumper.
“Yes mom?” She asked, before recoiling form the slap that her mother dealt her.
“How dare you be so uncouth and rude towards Lara!” her mother screamed. “How dare you act that way to wards your cousin!”
“Don’t argue Joanna. I am disgusted with the way you behaved.” As she screeched at Joanna, she appeared to grow in size.
“Go to your room!” Mrs Wilkinson shouted. “I thought maybe Lara would have a good influence on you. You look so much like her; why can’t you act like her too?”
Joanna’s eyes hardened as her head began to throb from the slap. She turned and, with her head held high, began back up the stairs. She caught sight of Lara smirking at her.
So I looked like Lara did I? Well, not for much longer.