After parting ways with James, I dashed back to my house. Somehow, I ended up in the living room, pacing the floor and wringing my hands. I ran through the preparation of my party over and over again. James had stated very clearly that Mother wouldn’t possibly be informed in any way. But the thought still panicked me. If she were aware of it, I would be chained to the inside of my house until school started, and then again, when I got back. Even while I was away, she would edge through any obstacles and punish me from the warmth and safety of her home.
I stomped my foot angrily. I was frustrated at myself for letting that happen: that plan for a party.
I needed to calm myself down knowing there was nothing I could do about it now. I couldn’t just walk up to James and be like; “I don’t want you to throw me a party”. Not only would that disappoint him immensely but also that would be appallingly rude.
I scuttled to the small collection of books under the side-table. I reached for my favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I adored that book, along with the plot and every character. Lizzie and Mr. Darcy were a match made in fictional heaven.
Austen’s work pacified me, and I parked myself on the couch, assembling my legs Indian-style. I lost myself within the volume’s pages, picturing myself in Lizzie’s position and state of mind…
I bolted straight up from my place on the sofa. My novel lay open and upside down on the floor. It was then I realized I had fallen asleep. I lopped lazily to the front door, peeking through the peephole. I sighed with agitation; it was Charlie, the book-boy. He lived with his grandfather who owned the library and the bookstore downtown. I never asked what had happened to his biological parents. That would have been bad-mannered.
I knew for a fact that Charlie fancied me. He had from the time when we were small children. But, in spite of the flattering, though sometimes bothersome infatuation, I could never say I longed for him in that same aspect. At times, I hardly considered him a friend. He was just…Charlie.
He chimed the doorbell again, the droning, monotone ding flitting throughout the small room. I reluctantly seized the doorknob and twisted it, pulling open the door.
There stood Charlie, as gangly and squared-jawed as ever. He had grown at least an inch since I’d seen him last, which was the day I returned home from school. I had to incline my head to meet his gentle, tawny eyes. His copper hair was windswept from the walk there, and in his hands were a few leather-strapped books.
A delivery, I thought, Mother’s most recent order.
“Good afternoon, Charlie,” I said casually, forcing a smile. I assumed it was the afternoon, for I didn’t know how long I had dozed off.
“Hello, Shay,” His smile was so bright and sunshiny-happy, his dimples deeper than I had ever seen them. I felt a pang of pity and remorse. He handed me my mother’s order, “Ms. Colette has been keen on classics lately.”
I rotated the books in my hands and read the titles: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, The Scarlet Letterby Nathaniel Hawthorne and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Mother always did have a broad range of novelistic interests.
“Mmm,” I murmured in agreement. “Is that all?”
He shoved his hand into the pockets of his faded blue jeans and shrugged, “You know about the Street Dance, right?”
I mentally cringed. The Street Dance was a formal event that the town composed every summer. My mother would have nothing to do with it, and continuously forbade me to go. Charlie endeavored my attendance, but he knew how my mother was, and always understood when I told him no.
“Yeah,” I told him shortly, pretending to be distracted by the books in my hands.
“Are you going this year?” He asked, watching me hopefully.
I shook my head sadly, noting how disappointed his kind face must have looked. I went to close the door, but he reached out and forced it open again with ease. I didn’t stop him I was so taken aback by his action. I looked at him, my brown eyes wide with shock and question.
“You should convince your mother to let you go.” Charlie softly requested of me, “I’m leaving for school early this year, and it would mean a lot to me if you were there.”
My heart ached at the sincerity in his gentle voice.
Oh, Charlie, I thought, you’re seventeen. Why can’t you just forget about me? There has to be another girl for you to pursue. Any other girl! Not me.
“I’ll try.” I promised somberly. He nodded, grinning crookedly. I waited until he turned and departed to close the door.
I placed the books on a mahogany table by Mother’s study door. I was never allowed in there. Ever since I was a child, she cautioned me with a firm hand, insisting that if I were to be caught in there without her permission, a penalty more atrocious than I could imagine would await me.
I obeyed her wish without question or complaint.
Although, I couldn’t lie, I had always wondered…I mean…there was that bit of mystery and uncertainty that I couldn’t ignore. There was no doubt that I craved opening the door and finally discovering what Mother had been keeping from the world since heaven knows when.
I motioned the suspicions away, retrieving my book from the wooden floor. I placed it back on the dusty shelf, noting how worn and tatty its fellow novels were. I suppose I spent more time reading than I thought. I shrugged to myself, What else am I supposed to do with my time?
My tummy growled furiously, and I then realized how hungry I was. I toddled into the kitchen, exploring the cupboards, pulling out various boxes, bags, and cans, turning them all down with distaste. Lastly, I checked the freezer. Inside was the epitome of everything yummy, scrumptious and mouth-watering: Peanut-butter-chocolate-fudge-chunk-ice-cream.
I wiped my mouth for fear of drool lingering at my lips. They were dry, but my mouth was salivating. I grabbed the cardboard box of heavenly creamy-ness and snatched a spoon from the silverware drawer. I skipped happily to the dinner table and munched on my snack for a good, peanut-butter filled half hour.
After my nibble session, I felt an abrupt inclination to speak with James. I didn’t know when I was to see him again, but I wanted to see him really soon. I had asked if he wanted my phone number, you know, to stay in contact. But he refused and told me he would find a way to communicate. I didn’t press the matter. So now, I felt as if I was in the dark, unknowing of any situation and just waiting for something to come about.
As if my prayers had been heard and answered, the doorbell rang. I knew it not to be mother because her car was obnoxiously loud and I would have surely heard her pull into the driveway. I raced to the door, hoping it to be a particular glasses-wearing boy with hazel eyes and messy black hair.
And there he was, standing on my doorstep casually with a charming smile scribed onto his face. I grinned back, holding in the vast excitement my frame was currently containing.
“Hey James,” I greeted cheerfully.
“Aloha,” He responded smoothly. He watched me, gauging my expression. Was he waiting for something?
“Can I come in?” He solicited pointedly, gesturing to the door with a wave of his hand.
I flushed, averting my eyes, “Yeah, sure, sorry…”
He strode on in and perused silently through the inside of my home for a while. He mostly admired Mother’s trinkets and baubles. He strolled to the mantle and suddenly looked disappointed. He faced me and pointed to the empty shelf, save for a single, chunky red candle.
“No pictures?” James inquired delicately; a familiar baffled look crossed his features. I shook my head, observing him. He turned back towards the mantle and glared at the candle, mumbling, “I thought there would be some here, of all places…”
I shrugged stiffly. Mother didn’t own a camera, so she couldn’t take any pictures. Of course, we had paintings and such, but no family pictures. Nothing extraordinary enough happened that she would drag out that wonderful memory-saving device.
Even if she did have a camera, she probably wouldn’t take photographs, let alone put them up.
James seized the candle, examining it with aversion. I extended my hand, retracting my fingers slightly and pursing my lips. By this simply movement, I was supposed to show him that the candle was not to be disturbed. He disregarded me, and lifted it up to his nose, sniffing it. He coughed once and placed it back on the mantle, shaking his head gravely, “It doesn’t even smell good.”
“It’s been there forever. The smell’s probably faded.” I explained the statement away. Maybe the candle never even had a smell.
“You’ve never lit it?” He asked me, stowing his hands away in his pockets.
“No, Mother thinks candles are dangerous.” I clarified, shrugging again for the umpteenth time that day.
“Umm…wow.” He mumbled, raising his eyebrows. It sounded more like a question, rather than a phrase of shock.
“I told you she was overprotective.” I reminded him, going and plunking myself onto the couch. I brought my knees to my chin and wrapped my arms around my calves. James came over and sank into the seat next to me.
“Anyway,” He started, yawning as he did so, “I actually didn’t come over here to inspect your house, but to tell you that the party thing is going oh-so smoothly.”
Whatever that meant. “Oh?”
“Fo’shizzle,” He retorted, nodding his head.
I blinked, slightly bewildered. “Huh?”
He chuckled, his eyes crinkling in the corners. “We’ll work on it.”
I couldn’t stop myself from thinking he looked adorable when he smiled. I mentally reprimanded myself, No, none of that.
“Hmm…” James mumbled suddenly, bounding up from the sofa and heading to the kitchen. He opened the freezer and withdrew my box of ice cream, and grinned maniacally, “Can I have some? Please? Please? Please?”
I snickered and pointed to the drawer crammed with silverware. His tongue was hanging from his mouth, and he was almost drooling. He took a spoon and darted back to the couch, leaping over the arm and crashing onto the cushy seat next to me. I just gawked at him.
James chortled, a mouth full of ice cream preventing him from laughing as loud as he probably desired.
“Wha’ tie izzit?”
I wasn’t sure, but I think what he meant was, what time is it? I glimpsed at the clock, understanding the big hand to be on the nine and the little hand on the five. I bit my lip before answering, “It’s quarter to six.”
“Oh, fudge-nuggets!” James gasped, dashing to the kitchen and stowing the ice cream in the freezer and the spoon in the sink, “I gotta go! The old lady’s making macaroni and cheese for dinner and I can’t miss that.”
I tilted my head and wondered, “The old lady?”
James was at my door before turning to me and answering simply, “My mom,” He twisted the doorknob and saluted me. “Cheesy goodness awaits me. Farewell.” Then he disappeared.
I chuckled to myself prior to cleaning the spoon he used and the one I had made use of earlier. I desperately tried to bring to mind any chores Mother would have required to be done before she got home. I let out a sigh of relief when I remembered that she didn’t.
I anxiously paced by the door, waiting to hear the unbearably thunderous roar of Mother’s car. When the sound finally reached my ears, I froze, my shoes glued to the wood beneath them. I took one last peek around the room, making sure there was no evidence whatsoever that I had had a visitor.
I stopped breathing when the door opened and my mother sauntered through in all her glory. Such a cold and terrible beauty she was and I wondered why I couldn’t have inherited her astonishing looks. Golden brown locks streamed past her shoulders, emphasized by her dark eyes. Her flawless face always bore a tightlipped scowl, but that hardly lessened her splendor. Long legs, a tiny waist and decent-sized assets adorned her tall frame. Mother was beautiful.
“Hello Mother,” I greeted her accordingly, as I did every evening.
“Hello Darling,” She returned. She had always called me Darling. It was a mere habit, no longer a term of endearment. She hung her purse by its long, leather strap on her study’s doorknob. She picked up the three books from the table, reading the titles of each one before holding them to her chest and disappearing into her study. I waited for what seemed like forever until she came back out. She turned her back on me and stalked to the kitchen, asking, “What would you like for dinner?”
I shrugged, “I’m not so hungry.”
Mother preoccupied herself with the clean, dry dishes, putting them back in their appropriate spots. She had finished before she told me firmly, “Shay, you have to eat dinner. Otherwise, you’re eating habits will be off track.”
I nodded. “Then what would you like me to have?”
I never knew why she asked me what I desired for dinner. She always ended up making the decision.
“Oh, I don’t know.” She said, sounding flustered, “I’ll think of something. I’ll call you down when it’s ready.”
I was dismissed. I nodded again, only once, before marching up to my room.
Author's Note: I love this tory right now. I wrote this entire chapter in like...a week. I'm proud of myself. I want to continue writing this for awhile. Mkay?