It was two months later when everything happened. When my Dad moved out permanently, when Scarlet and Rick moved their relationship to the next level, when Mikey got a girlfriend. You want to hear this from the beginning rather than overview?
“Honey, this is because of you, you know that don’t you?”
“How dare you!”
The angry voices floated up the stairs, waking Joanna. Blearily, she glanced across at the luminous clock. One AM. She sighed, and turned over. Then she turned the door slam. She bolted upright. He couldn’t have left. He couldn’t leave her with her mother. She leapt out of bed, thudded down the stairs, threw open the front door.
“Dad!” she cried, as he slid into the car. He looked up at the sound of her voice, but he shut the door and began to drive. She ran down the path, her heart in her mouth, leaping over the gate, and pounded down the road. She was a fast runner, but not fast enough. “No,” she whispered brokenly, slowing to a halt in the middle of the road. And just like that her Dad drove away, leaving her to the mercy of her Mother.
Turns out Mom was having an affair. Dad obviously found out. I didn’t really see him after that. I know that he filed for divorce, and Mom signed the papers. But I knew that they couldn’t divorce without a huge thing about who had custody of me. Being fourteen, my opinion should have been taken into account, but I never heard anything about it. I couldn’t phone Dad or anything wither, ‘cause I didn’t know where he was and either Mom didn’t know or she wouldn’t tell me. Her boyfriend dumped her as well. He didn’t know she’d got a kid. So once again, I screwed life up for her.
Again? Oh yeah, she was really young when she got pregnant with me. She wanted an abortion but Dad asked her to marry him. But I ruined her education, her whole life.
What can I say? I annoyed her from the very beginning. I was never gonna win.
In late June, Anna slowly walked up the path that lead her to an unfamiliar house. Scarlet had invited them to a sleepover, and like a fool she had accepted. She slowly knocked on the door, and then took a step back as a ridiculously gorgeous boy opened it.
“Hi,” he smiled. “You’re Scarlet’s friend, ‘cause I don’t know you, and you’re not old enough to be a friend of our parents.”
Finding her voice, Anna smiled tentatively. “Yeah. So are you Mark?”
“I was,” he shrugged. “I’m Tristran. Used to hate my name, so I told everyone it was Mark.” His warm brown eyes sparkled in the half-light. “Anyway, come in, come in. her room’s up the stairs and at the end of the corridor.”
She nodded. “Thanks.” She was half way up the stairs when he called her.
“Girlie! What’s your name?”
She turned, seeing his tall form still standing in the hallway. “Joanna.”
“Cool,” he grinned. “So, Anna, Ann, Annie, Annika.” He frowned, changing tack. “Jo, Josephine…” He shook his head. “Any preferred nicknames?” he asked.
She laughed. “Anna’s fine.”
He wrinkled his nose as he thought. “Tell you what, I prefer Kaitlin.” And then he disappeared through a door.
She stood there for a bit, shook her head and continued to Scarlet’s bedroom.
I loved his hair. It was the kind of peroxide blonde that looks natural, that you only normally see on very small kids.
So, Scarlet’s room was huge. As was the rest of the house. And it was black. Black with silver everywhere. She had a four-poster bed for crying out loud.
It was a lot later, when Mikey, Rick, Scarlet, Will, Maria, Joanna, and Tristran were all sitting on squashy leather sofas in the lounge. The parents Heysmith were away for the evening, giving the seven teenagers the run of the house.
“Truth,” Joanna shrugged.
“How far have you gone with a guy?” Will asked.
“Will!” Joanna protested.
The others shrugged. “Answer it Wilkinson,” Maria grinned wickedly.
“Uh, making out,” Joanna replied in a hurry, avoiding Mikey’s eyes. He may have no recollection of the event, but she did. “Will, same question.”
“I didn’t pick truth,” Will replied. “So…dare.”
Joanna rolled her eyes. “Suggestions anyone?”
“Kiss someone of your own choosing,” Scarlet said lazily. She was half asleep, leaning against Rick as he absentmindedly played with her hair. Will scrambled to his feet, to reach Maria.
“Sorry,” he said simply, before pecking her on the cheek.
“Will!” Scarlet giggled. “It was meant to be on the lips.”
“Well, you never said that,” he pointed out. “Tristran, truth or dare.”
"Who, out of the people here, would you go out with?"
The seventeen year old looked around the group. “Well, I’m straight so that eliminates the guys, Scarlet’s my sister, and Maria’s currently taken. So Joanna.”
“So sound so thrilled,” Joanna murmured, but in the mid darkness she blushed.
It was roughly six o, clock and Tristran and Joanna were the only ones still awake in the lounge. Will and Maria, had fallen asleep a couple of hours ago, and about half an hour ago Scarlet and Rick had disappeared upstairs.
“So what was with the Kaitlin thing?” Joanna murmured, her eyes closing.
He shrugged. “I like giving people different names. Kaitlin seemed to suit you.”
“Oh.” There was silence. “I need to go brush my teeth.”
Tristran laughed, his eyes flashing in the slivers of light. “Go on then.”
Anna stumbled out of the blanket that was wrapped around her and staggered upstairs. Her bag was in Scarlet’s room. She pushed it slightly, but then froze as she saw Scarlet and Rick. Let’s just say that she’d never think of Rick as a nice boy ever again. She thudded down the stairs, and ran for the toilet.
Tristran was really sweet. He didn’t ask what had made me throw up, or anything. He even cleaned up some of my sick. Now that was far and beyond the call of duty.
She was shivering, so he put an arm around her. “You okay now?” he whispered.
She nodded, but she couldn’t erase the image of the ex and his new girlfriend, from her memory. Unable to hold it in anymore, she burst into tears. Tristran hugged her, letting her cry onto him. When the flow of tears had stopped, she looked up at him.
“Why are you doing this?”
He shrugged. “Don’t know,” he replied. “But you look like you need someone to talk to. If it’s me then that’s cool. And if it’s not then that’s cool too.”
That was when the whole story came pouring out. Right back from when Scarlet first said ‘Hi’, to when she almost slept with Mikey, to splitting up with Rick up to and including her parents separation. And he listened. That was all. He listened. Didn’t tell her that everything would be okay. Didn’t judge her. Just sat and held her. All cried out, she fell asleep in his arms.
She was about to leave the next morning when he took her aside. “Look,” he told her in a low voice. “If you ever wanna talk, you know our number. And just for the record, I’m not doing this to get in your pants.”
She smiled wanly. “Thanks.
Tristran was great. Looking back now, I don’t think I would have minded if he was doing it to ‘get in my pants’. I did have a gigantic crush on him. But that’s all it was. A crush.
“He has a girlfriend,” Maria said, at lunch, a few weeks later.
“Who?” Joanna asked, not looking up from her homework.
“Mikey.” Joanna’s head snapped upwards. Satisfied that she’d attracted her friend’s attention, Maria continued, “ It’s awesome awesome awesome.”
But if it was awesome awesome awesome, why did it feel like my heart was breaking breaking breaking?
An: It's finally here. Chapter 50. Half a century. Makes a girl think.
And on those little bombshells, I shall leave you. Don't worry, there's more to come.
Thanks for all your reviews. I really hope I haven't just killed a team.
TEAM MIKEY: madzMCRMY, clutsy_93, Alyss, Waygasm, Tragicwithacapital T, cherrybomb, linerlover, GhostOfYouMW
TEAM WILL: Silvana, sayDIE
TEAM RICK: of which the president and current sole member is pyrotechnicist
TEAM ANTI SCARLET: pyrotechnicist, linerlover, x Charlie x.
And by popular demand there is now going to be a Team Tristran