Authors: Rachael Wing
I handed him the phone, grinning. “Do it.”
Wes took the handset and dialled in the number from his mobile. He pressed the call button, and then turned to me in a panic.
“What am I supposed to be saying?” he whispered. “I rang too early!”
“Just tell her that you've been thinking and you thought it would be great if she came to MSR with us, and stayed in our tent!” I whispered in a rush.
“Hi, Emily?” he asked, his voice a little gruff.
Hahaha, I thought, that must be his manly voice!
As Wes continued his conversation, I only half-listened, and roamed around his room. I love Wes's room. It has a big double bed, and it's blue all over: really nice, calming blues, like you're in the sea. And there are two big squishy armchairs in his “second bedroom”, which is directly linked to his “first” by a small arch. It used to be a door but Wes got rid of it because he didn't like it. In that room there's a huge flat-screen TV, his own up-to-date-with-MI5 computer and a Nintendo Wii.
Ah, Nintendo Wii. I swear that's how we burn off all the ice cream.
But the best thing about Wes's room is his photo wall. It's above his bed. So many pictures of Wes and his various friends and family from weddings, birthdays, parties, gigs â it's just a big wall of memories, with ticket stubs and all sorts as well as pictures. The best bit is the pictures of us two at the top. It starts on the left-hand side from when we became friends, and pretty much maps our friendship for the past two years. He likes photography and so takes a lot of pictures, so you could guess that the picture wall was massive! I studied it, smiling at the pictures of me and him. Robin was right â we
make a cute coupleâ¦
“Done!” he said with a flourish, and dropped the phone in front of me.
“I take it from your insane grin that she said yes?”
He took my hands and hauled me off his bed and stuck on his iPod. He spun me around as we danced like loons and sang our lungs out to one of our Faerie songs:
You're such a peculiar creature
You're the most permanent feature
in my so-called life.
I'd carry you around in my pocket,
If you'd just let me make you my crazy teenage wife.
These days are ours,
Let's make them lastâ
'Cause they're gone too soon,
fly by so fast
So my teen drama queen let's cut to the chase
It's you that I want, it's you
I turned up at school on Monday morning, ready to rock. Excitement was rising everywhere. All I could hear were kids talking about MSR, or chatting about camping, or comparing bikinis for the weekend, and I could see everyone casually mingling, finding out who was staying in whose tent. I couldn't wait until I asked Jonah! Then everyone would know! And for once I would be “Holly” instead of “The Comic Book Kid”: all the boys would look at me and know me; and all the girls would be like, “Oh, Holly, you're so lucky!” and I would be like, “Yeah, I know â you're not!”
Calm, my inner cow, calm.
I went into registration, and the atmosphere was just the same. In fact, it was pretty loud in there. I saw Wes and Emily laughing in the back of the room and started walking over there. Well, it was probably more like a strut from the “everybody wants to be me” daydream.
“Miss Holly Hockers, you seem to be in a good mood today.”
“Good?” I grinned as I walked up to Mr Clumfield's desk. “Not good:
! It's sunny, I'm happy â what's not to be epic about?!”
He leaned back in his chair and laughed. “Oh, youthâ¦” he muttered, grinning at me. “Oh, what is it like to be so easily humoured?”
“I'm humoured by that tie you're wearing!” I giggled. He was wearing a dancing banana tie, which is a tie with dancing bananas on it. Never,
going to pull.
“This'll be a classic one day!” he cried, as I strutted like the super-hot chick I was (or that's what they'd be saying when they knew about me and Jonah) over to the back.
As I reached them, Emily and Wes both erupted into a fit of hysterical giggles.
“What's so funny, guys?” I asked as I sat down, vaguely registering that Emily was sat in my seat, so I was forced to sit across from them both laughing fit to burst.
When they had quite finished, Emily managed to say: “Aw, nothing, don't worry, honey, you wouldn't understand.”
Ahem, excuse me? Who did she think she was?
I glanced at Wes with a quizzical look, but he just shook his head with a small smile and cast his look back to Emily. His eyes were all warm and happy, all shiny when he looked at her. My tummy grumbled and I realized that I was jealous. He only had eyes for her; he hadn't said a word to me. Humph!
“So how are you guys? Good weekend?”
“Yeah, it was pretty great!” Emily jumped in. It started to dawn on me how her voice was kind of â¦ grating. A bit nasal. A bit annoying. A bit too American. “Yeah, like yesterday me and Wes went to the park, and we sunbathed and we had ice creamâ”
OK, I'd heard enough. The park? In the sun? Bathing? With ice cream?
That's what we do!
My inner cow growled. Well, if cows could growl, it would have, but I suppose it was more like a low, menacing moo. I soothed it with a few home truths. 1) She was pretty, but that was about it. There was nothing interesting about her. 2) She was interested in bad boys. Wes wasn't a bad boy. 3) She had an annoying voice.
That was about all I could muster right there and then, but they all contributed to the fact that if/when they did get together, Wes and Emily wouldn't last past the end of the summer.
So I forced a grin. “Sounds like a great Sunday afternoon!”
“Yeah, it was pretty cool.” Wes smiled.
Was that the only adjective they knew or something?
“Hey, y'know what?” Wes asked me, suddenly looking up like he'd just realized I was there. “We're going over to mine after school to play a bit of Wii.” He widened his eyes. “Why don't you come too? Bring someone so we can play doubles and stuff?”
I knew he meant Jonah, and I knew that this was Let's Meet Mummy, and I knew that I was supposed to be happy because it meant the plan was going really well; but I couldn't help my good mood from dropping a few notches from “blinding sunshine” to “mild with a slight wind”. I just couldn't shake the feeling of wanting to violently slap Emily's hand away as she batted Wes's shoulder.
So to give my hands something anti-aggressive to do, I whipped out my phone and composed a text to Jonah.
Recipient: The Fittest One
Hey. How was ur wknd?
Thnx for coming to c me
on sat, made me :) What r
u up 2 after skl? If ur free,
fancy coming to Wes' 2
play on Wii?
No, I couldn't send that â the last bit rhymed. Ahh, and was it a bit pushy to send the last bit, anyway? Stick to the “one question” rule: only ask a boy one question in a text if you want them to text back. Ask more than one and they can't be bothered to text you back, and so leave you hanging like a fool.
Recipient: The Fittest One
Hey. How was ur wknd?
Thnx for coming to c me
on sat, made me :) R u up
2 nythin after skl?
Oooh, now there's the kiss/no kiss dilemma!
Kiss or no-kiss?
Does a kiss seem too presumptuous or pushy, like I think we're involved? Or does it seem flirty and nice and friendly? And if I don't put a kiss, does that seem rude?
No. No-kiss seems friendly and not pushy, and also not too bothered about the whole thing! Nonchalant! It's what it's all about.
I spent the rest of the day split between checking my phone and sending death glares in Emily's direction. It wasn't that I wanted Wes; it was the fact that Wes was, well, mine. He was my bezzay. And the blonde bimbo was all flirty and sexy and long-leggy and all sorts, and he was spending all his time thinking about and looking at her. And Jonah hadn't texted back, so it looked like I was spending the afternoon alone.
(Thank god, I'd been beginning to wonder if I had even sent it!)
Time Sent: 2.59pm
SENDER: The Fittest One
Hy bbe :) Yh wknd ws gud
ta, betr 4 cin u! Sry im busy
aftr skl, gt 2 go 2 dentist :(
il b thinking of u. Cnt
wait 4 fri X
Great! I was all alone â again! I was beginning to get really angry but then reread the text and he said he'd be thinking of me, which is always nice. I couldn't wait until Friday either. It was going to be the perfect warm-up to the Best Weekend Of My Life!
So I walked out of the gates, got on to the bus, and walked down the street and then all the way up Wes's extraordinarily long drive with the two of them laughing and joking â all with my head held high. I may have been alone, but I was there to do a favour for my best friend and I was damn well going to do it! As we walked up the steps, I looked at myself quickly. Emily would definitely look good next to me! Jeans, flip-flops, bare shoulders, bare midriff, bright colours: the only way I could be more obvious is if I wrote “Bully me, Mrs Stone, please!” across my chest. I pinned a smile on to my face. It was going to be fine. It wasn't as if she was nasty exactly, it was just that she ignored my very presence! Hmm.
“This is my house!” Wes said with a flourish as he pushed open the heavy door.
“Woah!” Emily exclaimed. “Nice place. I have a staircase like that! Or I did in my house in the US. OMG, is that, like, a crystal chandelier?”
I was nodding and smiling along on the outside, but inside I was pacing around. Where was Mrs Stone? She usually appeared straight on the dot when the door opened, to see who was entering. But I couldn't see her stunning yet devilish form, I couldn't hear her lethal heels, I couldn't smell her Chanel â where was she? It was making me nervous.
We moved around into the great white kitchen, which was chrome and tiles as far as the eye could see; the library, looking like something out of
Beauty and the Beast
; the study, lounge, second lounge, bathroom, washroom, cloakroom, games room, conservatory â and she wasn't in any of them. We headed upstairs.
“And this is Juanita's quarter,” Wes was saying, as we followed like sheep in his wake along the landing. “She's our maid. She's Spanish and doesn't speak loads of English, but she's funny and a really good cook!” We heard a rattling in her kitchen, the sound of something being dropped into the metal sink. “That might be her now, actually!”
We trooped into the small kitchen, me first. Juanita wasn't there. Instead, in the corner, stood Mrs Stone.
“Mother.” Wes's tone suddenly stiffened. “What're you doing in here?”
Mrs Stone smiled, but it wasn't her usual superior, smug smile; it was too tight and forced. She never came into that kitchen: she made a point of it.
“Simply checking that Juanita is keeping her quarters spick and span, dearest,” she declared, not missing a beat. Her eyes flicked over me quickly in distaste, and then straight on to Emily. She smiled juicily. “However, dear, the question here is, who is this darling girl and why have you not brought her home before?”
Emily smiled demurely, which was extremely out of character for her normally extroverted approach. “Well, how do you do, Mrs Stone? I hope I find you well this afternoon.”
I was so surprised; she was acting less like her usual “How're ya doing?” Wink-And-A-Smile Barbie, and more like Shy, Respectable And PC Barbie. I actually thought for a fleeting moment that she was going to bob down into a curtsey, but before she did, Mrs Stone walked over and did something I'd never seen her do before, to either of her children: she placed a perfectly manicured claw (oops, I mean hand!) on to Emily's shoulder. Even Wes looked surprised.
“My dear girl,” she cooed. “I am most well, as I trust you are. You are simply beautiful, darling; you must be Emily, whom my Margo was talking of! She was right, your hair is stunning; what a delightful shade of blonde!”
I backed away a bit, stunned. So the plan went a little better than expected â but I didn't know that The Dragon was capable of saying nice things. I leaned back against the counter for support, and my metal belt clicked loudly on something. It made me turn around to have a look, and I saw that it was only the metal sink. I was about to turn around, but then I saw what was in the sink. A spoon. But not just a spoon â a spoon with a chocolate-looking slush melting on it that looked suspiciously likeâ
That's why she was in here, looking uneasy and pouring out the compliments! She'd been at the ice cream!
I looked back to Mrs Stone, my eyes wide. My head was spinning. I'd thought the ice cream had been going down, bit by bit, but Wes and I had just assumed that Juanita had been having a bit every so often. But Mrs Stone didn't like food, let alone ice cream. I'd never seen her eat. And she always said that she didn't like ice cream; she made out like she was some kind of martyr for it, she didn't even have it in the houseâ
Because she would eat it all!
I'd found out Mrs Stone's guilty secret.
They all looked at me.
“You all right, Hols?” Wes asked, concerned.
I couldn't help myself. I looked over to Mrs Stone, and her dark, lifeless eyes suddenly awoke at the sight of my own wide, shocked ones. They took in the sink, my expression, and put two and two together. It was then that I saw the first flicker of humanity I would ever see in Wes's mother: panic.
I cleared my throat.
“Um-hum, yeah, I'm good. I just, er, forgot to breathe!”
What was I on about?! I needed to get away from that mind-numbing stare.
“So how about that Nintendo Wii, ey?” I suggested to a wide-eyed Wes. “Can't wait to play that tennis!”
I was using all of my subliminal power to get Wes out of the room so I could tell him about his faÃ§ade of a mother, but he wasn't getting the urgency. Boys never get the urgency.
“Yeah, it's pretty cool!” Wes said to Emily, smiling, unaware of the tension building between his mother and myself. “It's in my roomâ¦”
We all turned to leave. Wes left first, then Emily, then me â but just as I thought I was free, a claw snapped out and grasped my arm like a vice. Emily and Wes continued down the corridor, chatting away about something cheery, like they were in their own little world, and I turned to face the devil herself. Up close, Mrs Stone wasn't that pretty. The skin around her eyes looked tired and despite the surgery, wrinkles were catching up with her. And those eyes looked huge and threatening, the pupil and iris all one colour, and I felt like they were going to swallow me up whole.
“Tell anyone, and you never come around to this house again. Do you hear me, girl?” she hissed into my ear with words that flew. “And if you do, you can say goodbye to your tent for the silly festival this weekend, because you won't even be going. I paid for your tickets; I can get them cancelled.”