It was the fifth of December when Rick finally worked up the courage to race round to Joanna’s, hoping to explain everything. Once again it was raining, and, not being as sure footed as Joanna, he almost fell into several puddles. As he approached her house he slowed down. The car was gone. He swore under his breath but still made his weary way to the front door. In desperation he banged on the door. Almost immediately it opened.
“What! Oh, it’s you.” Joanna was wearing a hoodie with the hood in up position. It was disconcerting, espeically as it meant he could only just make out her features.
“Jo,” he replied. “Can I come in? It’s pouring.”
“It is,” she agreed, still blocking his way into the house. He ran a hand through his soaking hair. His fingerless gloves were drenched.
“Jo, I don’t know what you saw or what Lara’s told you but-“
“I saw you making out with my cousin.” Her voice was low and steady, as she folded her arms across her chest. “Explain away.”
“I…I thought she was you,” he stammered uneasily. “She came in and cause my light was off I thought-“
“Why was your light off?” Joanna asked languidly.
“I was experimenting with glow in the dark stars,” he replied. She didn’t react. “And she came in, and she looked like you and sounded like you. God Anna, she even acted like you.” Joanna still didn’t look at him. “Jo, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. She looked like you,” he continued to protest.
She looked up at him, the hood falling down to reveal her face. Her long hair was now short and sticking up where the hood had caught it. Her once dark blue eyes now sparkled brown. “Funny,” she drawled. “I almost believe you.” And she turned and shut the door on him.
Rick stepped back out into the rain, his mouth hanging open. If it was possible she looked more beautiful now than ever. “Jo!” he yelled over the noise off the rain. “Jo! I’m sorry! I’ve never been more repentant ever!”
Inside the house, Joanna’s lips twitched into half a smile. How typically Rick. Using long words. She turned and yanked open the door.
“Sorry that it happened or sorry that I caught you?” she asked the boy now kneeling on the path in front of her house, in the heavy rain.
“Sorry that it happened.”
“So you’re sorry that you did more than mere kissing with my cousin who you thought was me? You don’t want to go further with me then? Is that it?”
He looked like she’d slapped him. “What? I never slept with her. We never went past first base!”
Joanna watched him. “I know,” she admitted. But then her eyes went steely once more. “Why’d it take you three days to come round here?”
He slowly rose to his feet, walking towards her. When he reached her, he whispered to her, “’Cause I was afraid you wouldn’t want me anymore,” And then he bent down and softly kissed her cheek. He turned and slowly walked away.
“Rick!” she called, running out to him. He sadly looked at her.
“Your hair’ll get wet.”
She smiled at him. “I always wanted to kiss in the rain,” and reached up to bring his mouth down to meet hers.
I guess you’re wondering what happened to my hair? Or eyes? Or how I’d decided that me and Lara weren’t going to look alike? Well, for the hair, I made a hair appointment; the eyes were coloured contacts, and Lara? Well, had an unfortunate incident where a whole pack of chewing gum got stuck in her hair. Sadly, the only way she could make her look respectable after that was to have a bob. And man, did it not suit her. Oh and her brown hair dye got mixed up with some blonde hair dye. Turned her hair ginger. Don’t know that happened…Sadly, her mom paid to get it dyed brown by a hairdresser. Shame. Still, the screams were worth it.
The sad thing was I had to go to school the next day, taking Lara with me. That was the day she met the cheerleaders, realised I was popular, and started to schmooze for all she was worth.
“Anna, you seen that new sale in that shop by Maccy Ds?”
“Hey Joanna. Long time no see.”
Joanna sneaked a glance at her cousin, whose mouth was slowly falling open. Joanna smiled to herself, and then frowned. She felt like she’d forgotten something. Something important. She shivered inside her oversized red hoodie. It’d come back to her.
“Hey Jo.” Joanna looked to see Emily smiling at her.
“Hi Em. You ‘kay?” It was strange. Even though they lived next to each other they hadn’t seen each other over the holidays.
“Yeah. Who’s your friend?” Emily turned to Lara.
“Oh this is Lara, my cousin. Lara this is Emily. She’s on the squad with me,” Joanna explained with a small grin.
Shock spread across Lara’s face. “You’re a cheerleader?” she asked. Joanna nodded brightly. “But…but…” Lara stopped and looked at Emily. “Hey.”
Joanna spotted Mikey walking towards them. “Em, can Lara stay with you today?” She took her to one side, before continuing in a low voice. “Please Em. I can’t face another day with her.”
Emily nodded understandingly. “Yeah, sure.” And she turned to walk back to Lara.
“See you later Lara,” Joanna called, as she ran towards Mikey.
So I had no Lara for a whole day. Score! And the look on her face when she realised I was popular. It was sweet. Pure and utter bliss.
The first thing Mikey did was wrap her in a huge hug. She laughed as for a brief second she heard his heart beat. When he released her she looked up.
“When did you get so tall?” she asked him.
“Last week,” he replied with a grin. “5”9’.”
“That’s so unfair,” she complained. “You’re 5” 9’, Rick’s, like, 5” 11’, Will’s 5” 9’. I’m 5” 6’. You sure know how to make a girl short.” She mock huffed.
“Ann, if you don’t stop huffing, then…I don’t know what I’m gonna have to do,” Mikey warned her. She continued to huff for a couple of seconds. Then regretted it.
“Mikey!” She shrieked, hammering his back. “Put me down!”
It was so unfair. He used his height against me. See, he decided to pick me up in a fireman’s lift. And either I was really light, or he’d been working out, but basically, he didn’t put me down for another five minutes. And when he did, he made me fall over. Right at Rick’s feet. Now I’ve heard of falling at someone’s feet, but that was just ridiculous.