Merry New Year.
Her feet barely touched the concrete as she flew through the streets, heading for the person at the end of the road.
“Hey,” She smiled, slowing to a stop next to Rick.
“Hey. I, uh, thought you had to meet Lara?” Rick began, a puzzled frown spreading across his face.
“I did, but she’s with Benji,” Joanna shrugged.
“Oh.” Rick nodded. “Get it.”
They walked on, hands entwined, talking about people’s reactions to Joanna’s hair cut, about why Star Wars was overrated, and whether Will had actually finished his maths. They reached Joanna’s front gate and paused.
“I prefer your eyes blue,” Rick stated.
Joanna shrugged. “Yeah, same. But I will finish using these contacts. I’ve only got enough for another week anyway, so…” She trailed off. “Anyway, isn’t love supposed to be blind?” She teased, smiling.
Rick shrugged slightly. “Maybe, but I ain’t.” He bent down and kissed her, before turning to leave.
Oh I understood the implication that if love was blind, and he wasn’t blind, that that meant he wasn’t in love. That I could cope with. I didn’t want him to love me. I just wanted him to…to…I don’t know what I wanted. Ideally I should be saying love as that’s what I should have been feeling. But I was beginning to think that maybe Rick and I were better off as friends. Then he’d say something, or do something, and I’d fall head over heels into infatuation all over again. Maybe not infatuation. I liked him. Liked him a lot. And just hoped that he liked me too.
When Joanna opened the door, she immediately ran into her mother.
“Sorry Mom,” Joanna muttered, pushing past her, without looking at the woman.
“I’m going out darling. Sarah and your father will be back at sixish. You and Lara…Where is Lara honey?”
Joanna turned to face her Mom. “She’s at…” She trailed off. Mrs Wilkinson was wearing her black trousers, her silverish long sleeved top, her silver stilettos, and she was wearing make up. “Where’re you going?”
“I’m going out with Trina’s Mom. I’ll be back late,” her mother replied, arching an eyebrow. “Where is Lara?”
“She’s, um, out with, uh, Kelly…” Joanna lied, her ability to deceive evaporating as she suddenly realised her Mom looked attractive.
“Okay sweetheart.” And Mrs Wilkinson reached out for her daughter, and quickly hugged before gliding out of the door.
I let my Mom hug me. I really hope she appreciated how rare that was. Don’t know why she did though. She never does. It’s like Dad. Dad never hugs me. Ever. I don’t know why Dad is really distant. When I was little, really little, he wasn’t. And then one day he suddenly detached himself from me. So did Mom. It’s like we’re three people who just happen to live in the same house.
She was sitting at the desk in her room, when the phone started ringing. She sighed, and threw down the pen, on top of the notebook that contained pages covered in her scrawl.
She padded down the stairs muttering to herself about how the phone always went off when she was home alone. Almost tripping on the long ends of her jeans as she reached the ground floor, she ran a hand through her hair, forgetting that her hair was no longer long.
“Anna.” It was Mikey sounding frustrated. “Have you done the-“
“Music homework, yes.” Surprisingly, Joanna had done all of the music theory homework.
”Don’t sound so surprised,” she teased.
“I’m not,” He replied. “Can you help me?”
“Yeah sure, it’s-“ She began to explain as she fiddled with her skull-shaped earring.
“Great. I’ll be there in a bit.” And he hung up.
It was weird having Mikey ask me for help with music homework, but I decided to enjoy it while I could.
He arrived about fifteen minutes later, and I accused him of running. He reminded me that he was asthmatic and explained that his mom had given him a lift.
He leaned back on the bed, as he wrote the finishing note on the work. He looked across at the girl who was sitting cross-legged on the same bed, chewing on a pencil and staring into space, with a battered leather bound notebook on her lap. He attempted to read the illegible writing upside down, but failed miserably. He slowly reached out for the notebook, and gently took it. For a few seconds the girl didn’t react. And then she jolted back into the real world.
“Mikey!” She shrieked. “Give that back!” She scrambled to her knees, trying to reach the notebook. The boy smiled and held it at arm’s length away from her.
“What is it?”
“Nothing,” She insisted, trying to grab the book in vain.
“Nuh-uh.” He stood up to greaten the distance between her and the book. “Tell me.”
“Mikes,” she pouted. “If I told you I’d have to kill you.”
Mikey raised his eyebrows. “Fine then.” He squinted at the book, before reading out, “Go back to the playground, where the memories started. I was there; remember? I saved the swing.”
She froze, sitting on the bed, a faint blush spreading across her cheeks. He flipped back a couple of pages. “Someone said lightening only strikes once, but I think I’ve caught it twice. Now I can’t choose, and time is running out.”
He looked up at her curiously. “They’re songs. You’ve written songs.”
She nodded slowly, messing with the end of her white shirt.
“You put them to music?” Mikey asked her, still watching.
“A couple.” Her voice cracked, as she slowly met his eyes.
“Can I hear them?”
She sat still for a couple of seconds before slowly crossing to the keyboard that she had in one corner. She pulled it out, and her fingers fluidly ran across the notes, picking out a delicate tune, inlaid with minor chords, and haunting runs. And then her voice quietly melded with the sounds.
“Go back to the playground,
Where the memories started.
I was there; remember?
‘Cause I saved the swing.
It wasn’t so long ago,
And yet it seems like years.
I want to go back to then,
Just for one more day.
I love you more
Than you could ever know.
But I can’t stop wishing,
That this had never happened.”
Then she smiled impishly, the tune changed under her fingers, a drum beat coming in at the press of a button, and the song melted into one that Mikey knew well.
“I want to break free
I want to break free,
I want to break free from your lies,
You're so self satisfied, I don't need you
I've want to break free
God knows, god knows I want to break free.”
Mikey smiled sadly, before adding his voice to the medley.
”I've fallen in love
I've fallen in love for the first time,
And this time I know it's for real
I've fallen in love
God knows, god knows I've fallen in love
It's strange but it's true,
I can't get over the way you love me like you do
But I have to be sure, when I walk out that door
Oh, how I want to be free, baby
Oh, how I want to be free
Oh, how I want to break free
But life still goes on
I can't get used to living without,
living without, living without you, by my side
I don't want to live alone, hey
God knows, got to make it on my own
So baby can't you see?
I've got to break free
I've got to break free
I want to break free
I want, I want, I want, I want to break free."