Copyright © 2009 A.Matheson. All Rights Reserved.
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The witch and the wardrobe
It was a room you came to for a reason, not one you stumbled upon. It was rare for anyone to have an incentive to head there, but those that did all shared one thing in common; they were hiding something. The door had been eased open with care, and the last thing the intruder had expected was to be intruding.
There was a short pause followed by a sharp intake of breath and a brief moment of deliberation.
Catching a criminal sometimes requires becoming one, rather like one jewel thief exposing another jewel thief in the act of stealing the very same jewel. In this particular instance the gravity of the exposed crime served to cover the misdeed that had led to its exposure.
“I want to see both of you in my office right now.” Monica Reed pointedly looked at each of the women in turn as they began extricating themselves from what had been a very passionate embrace. She subsequently turned on her heels, leaving the late-night hidey-hole.
As Monica clicked away down the darkened corridor of the studio basement store, it dawned on both offenders whose mouth had uttered those stomach-churning words.
“ Oh, shit. ” Grace's brow scrunched with the pain of her own stupidity.
“Fuck…” Kirstin breathed, her forehead falling forward to rest on her lover's, “Fuck. That was M, right?”
“Ah ha. We're screwed. Screwed .”
As they followed her rapidly diminishing form, they realised too that in being discovered, their own motive for using the room would overshadow the reason Monica had been visiting the room. They would simply never know, and never ask.
Silently the couple entered the news director's office where Monica was perching on the edge of her desk, head hung low, eyes closed, seemingly in deep thought.
“Close the door, please,” she asked before lifting her head to meet the intrepid gaze of her two very stupid employees. She shook her wiry haired head at them in disappointment.
“Well… ladies ,” she began. “I should fire you both, right now, just for being so damned fucking foolish.” There were no complaints. “God! You… you just put me in an impossible position.” Still the women remained suitably silent. “Kirstin, I had no idea… I mean, well…” she breathed, “and Grace? Gracey … I know you know I knew, but now I actually know , you know? And that makes it a problem. In fact, whatever this is,” she gestured between the women, “is a very big problem for me to know about.”
“Monica…” Grace began, but she was cut off.
“Shut up! Okay, just…” Monica took a deep breath before continuing. “I want you to know that personally, I don't have any issue, with either of you being… whatever it is you are. And I really don't need or want either of you to verbally clear that up for me right now, okay?” she put a hand up to dissuade the already forming clarifications. “But professionally, you can't be. I cannot be seen to knowledgably allow this to continue. Having a closeted anchor is one thing, having two reporters of the same sex working for the same channel actually dating is just beyond comprehension. Again , I stress, this is not my opinion. I wish I was in a position to be able to push a more forward thinking approach to relations between employees, but I'm afraid I have a family to keep, and my job would be on the line. So I repeat; you just put me in an impossible position .”
She sighed long, and low, pursing her lips. Both women, now knowing better than to interrupt, simply waited for their boss to continue.
“Bottom line is, I can't have you both working here if this is something that I know is ongoing. I don't want to have to take this further. So you need to ask yourselves if this is seriously worth losing your jobs over. And I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you both to answer this next question very carefully, okay?”
Kirstin glanced briefly at Grace before seeing her nod, and nodding herself in turn. Monica spoke very slowly and precisely so as to be completely understood. “Is this going to continue?”
Kirstin spoke before Grace even had time to contemplate answering.
Grace's mouth dropped open and she turned her head to look pointedly at Kirstin, coughing out a small shock of breath.
Monica pressed, “Grace?”
Grace swung her head back round, and gazed at her blankly for a moment, “No, I guess not,” she answered angrily, shaking her head in extreme annoyance.
“Okay. Well in that case, I'm going to ask you both to meet with me tomorrow morning, separately, and we can discuss how I'm going to safely manage this little ‘incident'. I'm afraid there's going to have to be some changes, I'm sure you understand.”
With that Monica rose and motioned them to leave the room.
Grace stormed out in fury.
Kirstin smiled apologetically at Monica and raced after Grace into the bustling corridor.
“Grace! Grace wait .”
“Why? What's to wait for?” she didn't ease up any, striding out ahead.
Kirstin caught up with her nonetheless, and pulled her aside. She looked at her realising she couldn't say what she wanted to say in front of anyone that might overhear. “Goddamnit!” she took a hold of Grace's hand and dragged her through the nearest doorway and into an empty room.
Grace stood there, her heart pounding, her face stony. “I'm sorry, I clearly misunderstood the situation,” she spat bitterly.
“Don't be a fool, Grace!” Kirstin admonished, realising she needed to nip this in the bud before any more insecurity grew. “I told her what she needed to hear,” she rushed, “I am not ready to give up on this. On you.”
Grace faltered, grasping the fact that she had misunderstood, but not comprehending how. “Then why were you so quick to…”
“Because she needed us to tell her that nothing was going to happen - that she didn't have to worry about it, so she doesn't have to sack us. Grace, I'm crazy about you. I didn't mean what I just said.”
The anchors eyes widened, “Well, you're crazy , I'll grant you that.”
Kirstin smiled and moved closer to her, capturing hesitant lips, and securing them for her own. And Grace gave in, melting into the arms of the feisty young floor manager, burying some new anxieties, and accepting the explanation.
L.A. That is what had happened in California . That was the story Kirstin hadn't told Megan. She had met Grace Novello, senior correspondent, and anchor of KCAL, Channel Nine News. She had managed her news floor, reported with her, argued with her, and gotten drunk a few too many times. Eventually she had fallen into bed with her, and finally, she had fallen in love with her. Only then had she been caught with her. And that had changed everything.
At the age of twenty-three Kirstin had learned that there were places and times, and that only weathermen could carry off the allegation of being gay. She snorted, bitterly remembering a certain Mr Pratt who didn't like those kinds of accusations, even if they were true. Still bitter, Kirstin thought, wandering if that feeling would ever go away, wrestling with the notion that love and ego were on occasion indistinguishable, even after long relegation to the past.
It still stung that a fictional affair should gain front-page national press, whilst a real and rather momentous relationship was breaking down, and being brushed far beyond even the tabloid gutter.
Not a single line appeared in print, never mind a column with inches. Not that Kirstin wanted her personal life plastered anywhere at all, far from it, but having to read lies was humiliating; it was to feel as if you had no pride at all.
And she had been very proud of Grace. Of being someone Grace cared about. In many ways she still was.
What Kirstin had begun to take ownership of, however, was the fact that it had been her , not Grace, who had initiated the secrecy in their relationship. It was Kirstin who had, in that moment, tutored Grace in the art of appearances in order to maintain a career. And now here she was, contemplating doing it all over again.
In the dark she lay awake sifting through her memories, asking herself an array of questions, and being thoroughly frustrated by her lack of conclusive answers.
As we mean to go on
What she MEANS is she doesn't like me enough.
After a night of tossing and turning, and not much sleep, Megan threw the covers off with gusto.
Back to square one.
In the other room Kirstin sat on the edge of her bed still in dire contemplation. Potentially a whole a world of trouble could brew if the wrong person discovered they had already been intimately involved. Despite this knowledge she was contemplating taking their involvement further, and she needed to somehow communicate to Megan the gravity of that decision.
And then, no matter what other direction her thoughts took her, they always led back to Megan's little speech about not having to change anything. The words that resonated in her head were ‘I want to enjoy you'.
They were neither the words she had expected, nor the words she had hoped for. And she had no idea what she might have wanted her to say. Megan had no idea how torn Kirstin was after all, or what she might be willing to risk.
And how can you tell her?
The point was that for Kirstin to be with Meg the way she thought she might want to be, they would have to wait until after the tour, and do it properly. This was the conclusion she had come to. Because the alternative was not to wait, which would put her job in jeopardy, and involve concealment, something she didn't think she would handle very well, and something she had no desire to repeat.
But Kirstin didn't think she could say that to Meg; she couldn't say “let's just be friends right now and try dating when this is all done with, yeah, okay? How's that sound?”
Could I? Would Meg be responsive to that? She asked herself.
She wondered too if Meg would even want to wait, if it meant enough to her, if she meant enough.
Is that even what I want? What if I say that now, and promise her that, and she's open to it and then at the end of the tour I don't want to? We barely know one another. What if she's just a really good fuck?
Stop thinking about it. Stop thinking about it.
She gently hit her forehead with the base of her palm with each repetition of the phrase.
The phone in the living room beyond the door burst into shrill ringing life. Kirstin stopped chiding herself, her eyes snapping toward the sound, staring at the door, scared to get up and move through it.
In the living room Meg froze mid-packing procedure and watched the opposite side of the same door, anxiously waiting for the moment when Kirstin would enter through it.
Both sets of eyes focussed on the same obstacle, from different perspectives, and with different expectations. The person who knew she should take the initiative faltered, the person who was trying to hold back gave in.
Ring – ring.
Ring – ring.
Screw it . One thought, two heads.
Just as Kirstin opened the door Meg picked up the receiver.
Meg's eyes locked with Kirstin's as she was caught halfway through the door.
Meg realised she hadn't heard a word that the caller had said, never mind registering who was calling.
“I'm sorry, what? Oh , hi Suze, it's Megan. Sure, sure, I'll just get her for you.”
She dangled the phone at Kirstin whose head kicked back into gear and moved forwards to take it from her.
“Thanks,” she smiled gently as she carefully took the handset and gathered herself briefly before speaking.
“Hey Suze, you okay?”
She watched Megan turn her back to return to the bag she had been re-stuffing.
“Sure,” Suze sang at her down the phone line, sounding in good spirits. “We secured the hostile last night. She looks sufficiently embarrassed for all the trouble she's caused.”
“Yeh. We're heading down to the venue now to check the equipment made it okay.”
“Great. Well I guess we'll grab some breakfast and head over too. We may be a couple of hours yet.”
“That's fine, we have it covered, take your time, it's early yet. Late night, huh?”
“You have no idea. I'll call you when we leave here, okay?”
“Yes boss. Anything we can get you before you arrive?”
“I'll text if I think of anything.”
“Okay. See ya later, gator.”
“In a while, bye.”
She hung up, unsure of what to say next, of what atmosphere might be waiting, or how to deal with it.
Megan, as usual, put an end to Kirstin's discomfort quickly.
“Everything okay?” She didn't look up from packing, but her tone was soft.
“Uh, yeh. Yeah, she said Jess is ‘sufficiently embarrassed'.”
“So she should be, dick .”
Meg didn't hide her disdain. If it weren't for Jess, there would have been no late-night flight, no late-night food party, and no late-night revelations to contend with. If it weren't for Jess her head would ache less. It was much easier to blame Jess, than Kirstin. Or herself. And right now it was also easier to avoid confrontation, or discussion.
“Did you mention breakfast?” she uttered, aware that Kirstin had remained stationary.
“Yeh, I think we should don't you?”
Still Meg didn't look up.
“Absolutely. But I think we should find the restaurant,” now she looked up, finding Kirstin's eyes, “don't you?” she asked.
Her meaning didn't need to be punctuated any further.
Loud and clear. I hear you.
“If you think that would be best.” Kirstin was unusually stilted.
It doesn't seem to matter much what I think. Meg swallowed the thought quickly, pursing her lips together in an awkward, brief smile.
“That's what I think.”
“Kirstin don't, okay? Just - don't.” Her cool was only momentarily lost as she screwed her face up before shaking away the tension.
“I just want to…” Kirstin began, but Meg's incredulous stare stopped her. “Fine, okay? Fine. Is this how it's going to be?”
“How what's going to be?”
“You and me - are we not talking now? You won't even let me apologise, or try to explain?”
Meg cleared her throat loudly. Her mouth worked as her face moved from frown to amusement and back again.
“Will whatever you were about to say ‘change anything'?”
“Will it make me feel better, your apology? Your explanation?”
Suddenly Kirstin couldn't even retrieve what she had been about to say.
Meg continued, calm and collected, “Unless you're about to tell me something that ends with you grabbing me, throwing me against that wall and kissing me hard, I don't want to know, okay?”
Kirstin's mouth hung open for a good few seconds. Her eyes widened.
“ What?! ” she hissed in disbelief.
Meg remained unperturbed, managing to elucidate further still, “Unless ‘no' becomes ‘yes', nothing changes, no matter what you have to say. I heard you the first time you said ‘no', you don't have to keep repeating it. So if what you have to say isn't about to make me feel better, don't bother, okay?”
“ Wow . Okay.”
The filmmaker was flummoxed, how had this suddenly become an irretrievable conversation?
“So if I'm not about to kiss you, you don't want to know?”
Kirstin wanted that clarified. Meg just looked at her.
“So what, we - just…?”
“Maybe we can we just pretend none of it ever happened?”
“Is that what you want?” Kirstin looked doubtful.
“In the absence of any other option, yes, that's what I want.”
“Meg, I think we…” but she was once again cut off prematurely.
“Kirstin, give me a break, please? I'm trying to make this okay.”
“By ignoring it?!”
“Ignoring what? Nothing's going on. Remember?”
And then Kirstin thought she understood. If it wasn't now, it was never. If she wasn't about to open her arms, she could keep them to herself. Megan wouldn't be open to hearing her out, she didn't even want to know.
This headache of a situation was already beginning to detract from Kirstin's work. The late night coupled with it being a sleepless one meant they were already running late. And suddenly she didn't want to devote another second to thinking about it any longer. Her head hurt.
Megan's stomach sank but she held her resolve, she had to have it on her terms, all Kirstin did was confuse her otherwise.
Kirstin inhaled deeply, and let out a heavy-hearted breath. “Let's just go and find some food then.”
Meg nodded reluctantly before moving to grab her bags.
Kirstin disappeared to get her own.
It gave Meg a moment to regroup. And a moment was all she required to realise that she needed to diffuse whatever she had just created as best she could, and as soon as possible. Being at odds with Kirstin stung, no matter how short the time span. It made her feel instant regret knowing that she had upset her, even when she felt justified.
God, I'm screwed, the drummer thought gravely.
When Kirstin re-entered the room Meg made an attempt at excusing her previous brashness.
“Kaye,” she began, gaining the filmmakers immediate, if startled attention, “even though we're not going to… get involved, I want you to know that I still, very much, want to be your friend. I just have to adjust to that, okay?”
Kirstin visibly relaxed a little.
“I think we both do, Meg,” she responded, arching a perfect eyebrow.
Yes, this is how it's going to be.
World of fantasy
- Requests? xSx
- something very sweet, & a really strong coffee X
- Cumin rite up bosso, how's about muffin w/butter? xSx
- bosso? Sure. Sounds good. No blueberry nonsense tho, k? X
- Typo, soz, am on the move xSx
- me too, c u in ten X
London loomed as they travelled both over and underground. Kirstin was managing to get reception each time they saw daylight, which was more regular on the District Line they were currently riding.
It was very far removed from the first time they had shared a ride on the underground in New York , Kirstin was reminded, as she spared a glance at the newspaper Meg was currently using to distract herself.
She snorted. It's hardly a newspaper, more like a ‘screwspaper' , she thought as she found herself reading the headline ‘Is McDreamy turning into a McDiva?'
Meg peeked at her sideways. “I know you want to read it,” she growled.
“No I don't, it's trash. They make it all up.”
“It's speculation , and I'll bet you nearly fifty percent of what's printed in here will turn up in whatever rag you'll be reading in two weeks time.”
“ Rag? ” Kirstin repeated.
“The Guardian is not a rag .”
“Oh, I'm sorry. I take it rag is a derogatory term?”
“So you can call my paper trash because you read a real paper?”
“I take exception to that.”
Meg rested the paper on her knee in order to regard Kirstin more fully, taking note of the frown that the blond woman exhibited as the article she had been reading over Meg's shoulder was removed from sight.
Meg repeated, “I take exception to your snootiness regarding my choice of reading material. I like to read pointless drivel as a way to escape the real life that I live everyday.” Kirstin's frown deepened, “I also happen to know quite a few of these people,” she mentioned, shaking the paper, “which only serves to add to my amusement,” she smiled. “You on the other hand choose to read about ‘real issues' because you choose to spend most of your time in a world of fantasy . Now that you're shooting a documentary and living on the road, you've remembered what real life is about, and so now you're tempted by my paper.”
“Am I right?”
Kirstin arched a brow.
Though Kirstin knew Meg was speaking in good humour, she couldn't help but be a little irritated. And that in itself irritated her even more, since she wasn't sure why. There was of course the distinct possibility that it was because Megan was right, but she didn't allow herself to follow that thought to its natural conclusion. That only meant she could be right about other things too.
“I only buy the Guardian for the free posters,” Kirstin pouted.
Megan smiled and returned to her reading.
The day's travel had technically been relatively smooth. They had easily made their connections, and even made up for some lost time. But it had taken them up until the Heathrow Express Station before they were making general conversation, the entirety of the subsequent train journey into London before they were smiling genuinely, and until the fifth stop out of the six they would pass on the underground for them to be poking fun at each other again.
Thus Kirstin blew away her aggravation, and ignored her irritation. What had taken less than two hours with Megan, would have taken her four or five days with Grace.
Then Kirstin shook her head, admonishing herself for comparing Meg to Grace.
That's ridiculous. Grace equals six years of frustration. Incomparable, she told herself.
Plus sleeping with her, which always makes things harder.
She found another reason not to sleep with Megan. Again.
Who am I kidding? If I WAS sleeping with her, we wouldn't be arguing… she thought, wryly.
Meg sensed some disquiet from the other woman, and allowed herself to sneak a peek.
Kirstin's fist was balled, clenching and unclenching as it rested on her thigh. Meg looked at it. Kirstin caught her looking.
“You okay?” the drummer asked with concern.
Kirstin stared at her, startled from her deliberations.
God, she's beautiful.
It was so hard to ignore. Even in London where, it was fair to say, the band were less well known, and especially less identifiable by the drummer alone, there had been a fair few people nudging one another and whispering. And more than a few admiring glances.
And who could blame them, Megan oozed sex appeal, it was effortless. She'd gotten up, showered, roughed up her hair, thrown on some threadbare clothes, and looked stunning. Here she sat with her feet up on her suitcase in a crappy seat on a dirty tube train, and, even reflected in the darkened, scratched, graffiti-ridden window that Kirstin had spent a great portion of the journey trying to avoid glancing at, she looked stunning.
“I'm,” Kirstin swallowed, “I'm fine. I just…” the tube train began to slow jerkily, causing her to look up. “Shit!” she spat, slapping a hand to Meg's lap, “This is our stop!”
Meg winced as the slap began to sting.
“Sorry,” Kirstin said, noting the reaction. “We need to get off.”
“Yah, I realise.”
Megan stuffed her reading material into the front zipper pocket of her suitcase, and stumbled to her feet, following Kirstin as she frantically jumped through the beeping doors of the tube train.
“Hello London !” Megan shouted when they finally exited through the shopping precinct into the street.
“This is Hammersmith. This isn't London ,” Kirstin commented sardonically.
“We're not in London ?”
“Yes,” Kirstin sighed, “we are in London , just Hammersmith isn't really, well… it would be like taking someone to Fieldston to show them New York .”
Meg pulled a face, not understanding.
“It's not really the same is all I'm saying. It's not where I'd take you to show you London .”
“Where would you take me?”
Kirstin opened her mouth to answer, and realised she'd been had.
“I didn't say I was going to show you London .”
“We're going to be… well, I'm going to be very busy,” Kirstin said, dragging her bag up to the striped crossing and pressing the button.
“Okay,” Meg responded neutrally, devoid of pressure.
The green man came to life with beeping, the traffic slowed and stopped. Meg nodded and began to cross, instinctively looking left first, instead of right, Kirstin noted.
“You can't get used to my being your chaperone, “ Kirstin shouted at her back, pulling on her case in order to follow her.
“I know,” Meg answered, not looking back.
Kirstin caught up to her on the other side of the road, matching her stride for stride. They finally had the venue in their sights.
“That it?” Meg asked, jutting her jaw in the general direction of the large building ahead.
“The one with the word ‘Apollo' in big lights? Yes, yes it is.”
“Sarcasm becomes you.”
Kirstin grinned. A wave of nostalgia washed over her as she caught her first sight of a red double-decker bus.
“ Brick Lane ,” she said suddenly.
“That's where I'd take you. One of the places I'd take you.”
A slow smile of understanding began to radiate across Meg's face.
“If you could,” Megan allowed.
“If I could,” Kirstin agreed.
“If you had time.”
“I'm not saying…”
Meg interrupted her, “I know. If you magically find some time, I'll be delighted. But I won't expect it.”
I'll tutor myself not to. It may be the only way, the drummer thought.
I should make sure I have plenty to do, thought the head of Crater Films.
“Why'd you come on the tube? What's wrong with taking a car?”
Suze handed her boss a fresh muffin laden with butter, just how she liked it, along with Earl Grey in a mug.
“Because, Susan , I lived here long enough to know that riding in a car, glamorous as it might feel on occasion, is by far the slowest way to get from A to B in this city. Plus, Meg was up for a small adventure.”
“Was she indeed?” It clearly wasn't a question.
“What's that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing,” Suze tried to let her quickly building fears go.
Kirstin had mentioned Meg no less then five times in the half hour she had just spent with her, and not once in any professional context. That wouldn't usually start any alarm bells, but she was beginning to notice that Kirstin was checking herself as she spoke.
Suze had known Kirstin for coming up to five years now. In that time she had seen her in and out of her relationship with Grace numerous times, as well as through the occasional fling in between. On more than one occasion Kirstin had withheld juicy information about both. Suze hated to be out of the loop, but she understood that when she was it was usually because Kirstin was either very unsure, or felt Suze might be disapproving.
This is what Kirstin did. To anyone else the change would be subtle, almost imperceptible, but Susan Bleich could see it a mile off. Kirstin was actively aware of mentioning Megan. No reference therefore was entirely casual, indeed all natural references were now laced with caution.
Kirstin looked at Suze. She could almost hear the mechanics in her assistant's head whirring and buzzing. She began to wonder if she should confide, knowing it would only be a matter of time before Suze worked it out.
Then she distracted herself unknowingly.
“Mmmmmm!” Kirstin gushed, her eyes opening widely at the sheer deliciousness of the food she had shoved in her mouth for comfort.
And Suze also forgot all of the notions in her head, “I know, they're amazing right?!”
Kirstin nodded vigorously, half smiling as Suze reached for her own piece of confectionary joy.
“Good to know we're all working hard,” Josh beamed as he paused on his way back from the truck with some equipment. He leaned through the doorway flashing his sparkling teeth at them both.
“Good trip?” he asked Kirstin.
Kirstin swallowed her mouthful begrudgingly, wishing to savour it for longer.
“Hi Joshua. Um, well, no actually.”
Suze admonished herself for not having asked sooner. She too was well aware, probably more than most, of what the flight to England had meant to Kirstin. She had been very reluctant to leave Kirstin under Megan's charge, but her boss had assured her she would be fine.
“Oh?” Josh pushed.
“I, er, I was fine, and then suddenly I wasn't.”
She knew at least that this was something she could, and should confide.
“I think I had some sort of panic attack.”
Suze's brow darkened noticeably, and Kirstin quickly realised that the events and discussions with Meg that had directly followed the incident, had completely relieved her mind of worrying about it.
Now that she was here telling Josh and Suze, the truth hit home. She had panicked, she had been unable to breathe, she had been unable to control her body, or her head.
“Meg managed to snap me out of it, calm me own,” she said in wonder. Her head shook, “It wasn't good you guys.”
“ Shit Kirstin,” Suze hissed, aware once again of the mention of Meg, but this time clearly seeing an affection, and hearing the gratitude in Kirstin's voice. “Are you okay?”
“Yeh,” Kirstin was almost as surprised as they were to discover that what she was saying was actually true. “I'm fine. At least I think so.”
She shoved another load of muffin into her mouth and chewed through a goofy smile.
Josh and Suze both knew better than to pursue the negative side of the conversation further.
“So Megan saved the day, huh?” Suze couldn't help herself, she was on to something here, and she knew it.
With a mouth full of muffin, all Kirstin could do was nod.
whistle and woo
“Are you single?”
Meg's tongue stumbled, tellingly, “Uh, er, yeh,” she frowned and clarified, “Yes, I'm single.”
“Do you have a broken heart?”
This time she was more confident.
“No,” she shook her head and lowered her voice, “Why are you asking?” her tone indicating she felt a scheme in the making.
“I want to know,” her second favourite singer taunted, honestly.
“For who? Who's asking?”
“I am,” she answered boldly.
Meg smirked, “Why don't I believe that?”
“Why would you not?! ” Elfin-like features rose in mock disbelief.
It had been weeks since Meg had seen Isla, Dr Bass and their cheeky little drummer boy play in Brooklyn , and she had been looking forward to them joining the tour. She hadn't counted however on being given what she was sure would graduate into somewhere beyond the third degree very quickly.
Isla pouted at her, mockingly.
“Because you're practically married,” Meg responded, a little baffled by this apparent flirtation.
“Practically, but not actually .”
Meg narrowed her eyes.
“Oh come on Megan, don't make me beg for it!”
Meg paused mid reach for a slice of pizza.
“Where is she? The girl ? You know, I have to live off other people's drama… and you owe me some.”
Meg hung her head briefly, knowing Isla clearly had her number, and for a moment marvelling at how astute she was.
“So?” she pushed, watching Meg return to her occupation of pizza retrieval.
“You barely met her, how do you do that?”
“Megan you had your own personal wet t-shirt competition going on, and you were trying not look! That means you must like her. Or be related!” she laughed. “ So? ”
“Um… She, I… we…” Meg's pizza slice waved around with each hesitation.
Josh, who had been prepping for the evening's performance chose that moment to drop by the dressing rooms in order to steal some food. He hadn't counted on there being anyone still around, and certainly hadn't wanted to overhear this particular conversation. He paused.
“...there's nothing going on.”
Meg shoved the pizza in her mouth in an attempt to avoid the need to expand further.
“ What? You guys were metaphorically jumping one-another's bones last time I saw you? How can there be nothing going on?”
Josh's ears were pricked, and despite his better judgement he lingered.
“It's complicated, Illy…” Meg chewed thoughtfully, before continuing. “She…” and then she sighed. For the first time Meg registered that she had not talked to anyone about it, and subsequently realised there was no-one really to talk to. She thought perhaps Isla could be the perfect sounding board.
“You two did get it on right?”
“Yeh, we certainly did,” she smiled briefly, before frowning. “How in the hell do you know that? No-one knows that!”
“Because you tend to go for what you want, and she'd be stupid not to. So?”
“Well what happened? I doubt you're a bad lay Megan Rogers. So is there an ex in the way?”
Meg stared at the sleek, neat woman eagerly fingering the beer in her hand.
“Why would you think there was an ex?”
That isn't it. That's not what it is. That's not what she'd said , Meg told herself. But although it hadn't been used as an explanation, it didn't mean it wasn't an explanation.
“There's always an ex, Meg. There's always something unresolved, and it usually involves an ex.”
Josh realised he'd been holding his breath, and a sudden wave of guilt washed over him. He coughed and entered the room, startling Meg.
Isla looked up expectantly, thinking he was probably there to depart with some pre-show instructions.
“Josh, hey,” Meg greeted him cautiously, automatically scanning him and the general area warily for any sign of recording equipment.
“Hi,” he nodded. “Everything okay?”
“Oh, um, sure. Sure. This is Isla. Isla meet Josh. Josh is part of the documentary team.”
“Oh, hi. Nice to meet you. You want a beer? They seem to think we're all alcoholics!” she gestured toward the fridge that was both filled, and surrounded by bottles of every description.
“That's probably because most of you are!” Josh winked, noting that Megan had a can of coke in front of her.
Isla smiled, “Hmm. Smartarse.”
“There's a tonne of people outside. Do they always turn up so early here?” he asked the native pleasantly.
“Ah, yeah. You're in England and we like to queue. Any excuse. Half of them probably don't even know what the queue's for,” Isla joked.
“You know, I've heard that before,” Josh remarked.
“Well then it must be true!” she laughed.
Isla looked at Meg, quizzically, “What?”
“Nothing. Something. It's… a small world.”
Josh decided to continue with his original quest and headed toward the table bearing edible gifts.
“So?” Isla urged.
“So?” Meg was slow on the uptake, her mind elsewhere, though not that far from the question.
“Jesu! Get with the script! What happened? Is there an ex? What's going on? Why aren't you screwing her right now ?”
Meg saw Josh's back stiffen.
“Maybe we can talk about this another time?”
Meg widened her eyes and nodded towards Josh. Josh chose that moment to turn around and pop a few grapes in his mouth. He chewed, staring for a moment, willing Meg to be brazen about her exploits.
But Meg saw no real reason to play games. Josh knew about what little had happened between her and Kirstin, and Isla had clearly guessed.
“Look Isla, the woman you're asking about is Josh's boss,” she gestured toward him, “and friend , and it's really not appropriate that I talk about this in front of him.”
A stunned Josh swallowed quickly.
“I thought you were talking about someone else ,” he spluttered, a little relieved.
Meg was confused, “Someone else?”
“Some other girl,” the Aussie clarified hurriedly.
“Someone else I might have met in the last three days?!” she asked with incredulity.
“Or before that,” he ventured sheepishly, realising his assumption stated a great deal about what he thought of Megan.
“Wow, you have been busy,” Isla chimed in before taking another long slug of beer.
“What? No , no I haven't. I haven't been busy!” she frowned deeply, hurt by the apparent accusation. “As a matter of fact I've been completely con…” she stopped herself, hearing in her head what she has been about to say.
“You know what? I thought maybe I wanted to talk about it, but I've decided I don't. I don't want to talk about this. Nothing is going on, and nothing is going to go on. And please,” she looked at Isla imploringly, “ please don't mention that you know anything, because I haven't told anyone, and I promised I wouldn't, okay?”
Then she looked to Josh, feeling utterly defeated, imagining he already knew more than she wanted him to.
Josh was confused. He didn't really understand who was in control. Megan seemed unsettled. She seemed almost upset. She didn't seem to be boasting about Kirstin, or flaunting any other conquest either, as he'd expected she might.
Something wasn't right.
“I'm not going to tell anyone Meg,” Isla said softly, reaching over to touch her arm lightly. “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry.”
Meg turned to her and smiled kindly, “It's okay. It's just all a little too complicated, is all. Maybe I should talk about it, just not right now.”
Josh swallowed the grape that remained in his mouth, suddenly wondering if maybe he had been warning the drummer away for all the wrong reasons.
“Are you doing any interviews tonight?” Meg asked him unexpectedly.
“Uh, yeh.” Josh snapped his focus back. “There's a list in the hub if you want to check it?”
“No, I'm sure you'll come and find me, wherever I am. But I'll show Isla where to go later.”
“List?” Isla was confused.
“Of where the film crews will be located, what they're hoping to shoot and when,” Josh explained, trying to be helpful. He watched as Meg pushed up from the table where they had been seated and noted her sluggishness.
“Oh, cool.” Isla too sensed the drummer's apparent weariness. “You okay?” she asked kindly.
Meg looked at her. “No. Not really, no.” She answered plainly.
Isla blew out a sharp breath of decision and stood up.
“Come on.” She strode round the table and grabbed hold of Meg's hand, “You're coming with me.”
“Where are we going?” Meg questioned as she felt the insistent tug.
“To find Jessica.”
Josh thought he saw a little panic in the glance that was thrown his way before she was dragged from the room. And he fully understood why.
“Old bore, new law, give us what we're fighting for!”
“Old bore, new law, give us what we're fighting for!”
“Old bore, new law, give us what we're fighting for!”
The crowd swelled with passion, pushing forward along the now barricaded street before them.
“Holy fucking shit on a stick.” Meg shook her head angrily, catching sight of some familiar faces shouting and screaming along with the rest of the fray.
Isla just laughed, “And people say I'm off the wall. When Jess said something was going down, I really did think she meant liquor!”
“Looks like they've taken care of that already.” Meg commented wryly, beginning to reach for her cell phone. “Hey, what are you doing?” she asked worriedly as her escort edged away.
“I'm going to join them,” Isla answered plainly, “and so should you!” she pointed, indicating the placards being waved over people's heads.
“All rights should be for all humans”
“Everyone deserves the option of a loveless marriage!”
“Some people get three marriages and I can't have even one?”
“I'm fully aware what it's about, I'm just not sure we should be getting involved.”
Isla stopped, and considered her. “You think this'll lead to trouble?” she asked soberly.
“I think Jesse will lead us into trouble.”
Isla rolled up the sleeves on her soft cotton shirt, and shifted into the shade of the nearby office building to regard the current protestations.
They both watched for a moment.
“What if we can actually make a difference, Megan?” the front woman asked genuinely.
“I'm serious. Maybe for once Jess's willingness to jump into a fight could come to some good.”
“She's drunk and angry and screaming, and isn't afraid to get physical. You really think that's going to end well?”
“She's also a famous face passionately chanting anti-homophobic slogans in the capital city of a foreign country during her only free time for no other reason than she agrees with the sentiment,” Illy stopped only to draw breath. “And there's a film crew not too far from here that should be documenting it.”
Meg frowned. She wasn't sure she liked where this might be headed. Her cell phone remained grasped and ready. Ilsa looked pointedly at it.
“Old bore, new law, give us what we're fighting for!”
“You should be calling Joshua, not Pete. Let them come down here and rouse up some real interest. It might even make the news.”
“She's already on probation Illy, getting the crew involved in all of this could make that worse.”
“They'll jump all over this and you know it. It's a great angle! We could make a difference!”
“I just want to make a living, and stay clear of making more trouble.”
“Okay.” Isla turned to her. “Go ahead. You call Pete.” She smiled, “ I'll call Josh.”
“Illy…” Meg dropped her voice in warning.
“Then you can say you didn't do anything,” she explained.
Meg looked at the burgeoning crowd in front of them, by now merely metres away.
“That's what you want right? Not to need to have done anything?”
“You want to play safe, maintain some order, stay in line? This is Jess we're talking about. You think her or Ben would listen to Pete if he came down here roaring at them to get their asses back inside?”
“Not really, no,” Meg conceded.
“But you would have done the right thing?”
“Why is it the right thing Meg?”
Meg looked at her, truly not knowing what her answer was.
“Isn't standing up for your beliefs also the right thing to do?”
Meg growled, then pressed a couple of buttons on her phone and raised it to her ear.
Isla frowned and dug her hand into the cavernous den of fabric that was her bag, in search of her own phone, but her search was prematurely cut short.
“Hey Joshua, I think maybe you guys should be interested in what our lovable reprobate is doing to regain some favour.”
Both Megan and Isla had been very pleasantly surprised to discover that neither Ben nor Jess was even remotely drunk. In fact, they both seemed quite utterly sober. They told of how a brief chat to some fans in the queue outside the venue had led them to the square outside what were apparently often targeted government offices.
Meg and Isla were introduced to the said fans, Rachie and Randolf, who were obviously beside themselves, as were a few other tag-alongs.
Within ten minutes Josh was back on the phone to Megan asking for a specific on their position, and radioing it through to Kate and Seth who were heading their way. Sally and Laura were also now in tow having heard of the escapade and joined the cause telling them all that Adie had sent apologies, she was still at the theatre, with good reason. Seth grabbed a protestor and deftly secured a slogan board to his sound boom. Within minutes the whole thing was on camera.
At first, a little confused, the officers that were keeping the protest peaceful seemed oblivious to the small film crew that was nestling itself neatly into the crowd. But within the hour there were national and international news crews being sent to add their own coverage. And it was quite out of their hands. All Kirstin could do was see the footage and sigh.
“You think they'll be back in time for the show?” Suze asked doubtfully.
Kirstin sighed, “Nope.”
“Guess we have an angle today at least.”
Kirstin's brow furrowed, “I'm not exactly sure this is what Al had in mind.”
“Well we can hardly ignore it now,” Suze span around in her comfy hub seat to face the live feed of a local Toronto internet news station she'd been tipped on.
The screen's running footer feed read “Local Heroine supports gay marriage march in London , England . Live: Punk-Rock singer screams for equal rights.”
“How in the hell do they get hold of this stuff so quickly?”
“They work twenty-four-seven, Suze, and have contacts everywhere , I should know.”
Suddenly Jess was being asked all kinds of questions about her politics and her sexuality. To both women's surprise she answered not only candidly, as would be expected, but also very eloquently. Even Suze was stirred by her emotive responses, and it left them almost as stunned as the interviewer.
“I hope to God we have the build up to that on tape,” Kirstin breathed, staring at the screen.
“I thought she must be drunk. Or high,” Suze muttered, equally astonished.
“Me too. Maybe we should dry her out and put her up for president?”
Suze swivelled back to meet Kirstin's gaze and laughed heartily.
As the protest wound down, the band and their additional guests were bundled into various cars to be transported slowly back to the theatre. Meg ended up in a car with Kate, Jess and Laura. Though they were cutting it fine, they would be back in time to catch Isla's band “Control Zed”.
Isla herself had headed back earlier with Sally to complete the relevant sound checks for both bands. Sally assured Grapple she could do all of their ‘parts', because none of them were really very good musicians anyway. She was met with sardonic smiles of thanks.
Megan was still marveling at the woman Jess could be, and admonishing herself for always thinking the worst, when her phone rang.
Puzzlingly it was an overseas number. She stared at it, until everyone shut up and stared at her.
“Hello? Yes, speaking.”
There followed a silence during which Meg seemed to be concentrating very hard on what was being told to her. The other passengers tried to quietly ignore it, but it went on so long they began making conversation again, while keeping one careful eye each on the drummer.
“Okay, thank you. Thank you for calling.”
Once again the car went silent. Meg just looked out of the window. Then her phone rang again.
“Hello? Hi. Yes they did.” Pause. “That won't be necessary, but thanks.” Pause. “I said no. I'm going to go now, okay?” This time Megan not only hung up but also turned her phone off and shoved it back into her pocket.
By now trepidation filled the car. It was clear Megan would be unresponsive to questions and so none ventured forth. Finally another phone rang, startling everyone from the united reverie, and causing Laura to physically jump.
“Fuck!” Jess exhaled, “You made me jump!” She answered her phone.
“Yo! Oh hey,” she smiled. “What's…? Oh. Right. Oh, right. ” She looked over to Megan who instantly turned away knowing exactly who had called Jess.
“Um. Sure.” Pause. “Yeh, ah will. Oh, you did? Already? I know, I'm sorry, I just wanted to do something, you know? It just makes me wild sometimes. Really? I thought you'd be mad? Well, good. I'm glad.” Pause. “Yeh, I'll talk to her, for what good it'll do. Okay. Oh, you are? Cool. Kay. See you later.”
As she hung up the phone Meg spat, “You will not talk to me.”
Jess's brow rose. She took a breath. “Can I talk at you?”
“I'd rather you didn't, but I've never been able to stop you before.”
Jess clamped her mouth down on the biting words she would usually shoot back.
The other two watched carefully.
“That was Al,” Jess told them.
“You will NOT tell them!” Megan turned on her angrily. “It's MY business, and if I want people to know I will tell them. Okay?”
“Fine.” Jess replied softly, “That's absolutely fine,” she said with kindness. “But you will talk to me about it when we get back, Megan. Because if you don't talk to me, or least someone , I'll cancel the show. Got it?” she warned gently.
Meg gave in, “Okay,” and turned back to the London scenery that by now was gently being drizzled on by the ever-present ominous cloud that had threatened them all day.
“Girl, what are you still doin' here?”
Al was stern, his brow dark and low, but concerned.
Grapple had just performed to a sold out London venue, and after the massive coverage of the band's pre-show antics there were reporters everywhere looking for sound bites. Pete had set up a few extra interviews, of which the next was set to be the most important.
“What?” Meg asked, somewhat shocked, “What are you talking about?”
She knew damn well what he was referring to.
“Don't gimme that, Megan. Jesse, did you talk to her?”
“Yes Sir, yes ah did. But she's stubborn chief! And I can make her do a lot of things, but not if she really don't wanna do em.”
“Megan honey, if you don't want to go, that's fine, but if you're convincing yourself you're staying here because it's your duty, then ah'm here to tell you it's not.” He coughed, clearing his throat, waiting for some sort of response from the drummer. “I'll cancel the whole damned tour if I have to. But what say you just take a day or two out, huh? Maybe go see her if you're up to it?”
Meg cocked her jaw briefly.
“You flew all the way out here to tell me that?”
“Yes ah did young lady!”
“Where in the hell did you call me from anyway? The plane?”
“Actually yes, yes ah did.”
Meg shook her head sadly. She turned to Kate, “Can you turn the camera off, please?”
Kate looked to Josh who was on the other side of the room, he nodded quickly and Kate flicked the light off.
The feed in the live truck went dead, immediately catching Kirstin's eye. She rolled back the tape casually to see why they had stopped filming, nudging the speaker sound up as she took a seat.
Al was in town, was her first thought. He second thought was that it must mean something, especially considering he stayed in contact with her regularly. She hoped he wasn't too angry about the protest incident.
Catching the tail end of the exchange Kirstin's stomach sank. She had no idea what Al was talking about, but after the sting she felt for not knowing, came a sudden irrational jealousy at the mention of a woman.
She grabbed the walkie-talkie from her desk.
“Can someone tell me what's going on please?”
Josh answered quickly, “Hey boss. Yeh, we're not entirely sure, but it looks like we may be taking a few days off.”
“Did something happen?”
“Yeh, I'm coming back up now, I'll fill you in.”
The radio went silent. Kirstin shifted in her chair. It was a long couple of minutes before a rap came on the door, enough time for her to conjure up a few scenarios. She mentally slapped her vivid imagination.
“Hey,” Josh smiled, clambering through the door of the truck.
“Hey. What's up? I have no feeds?” she tried to sound collected.
“Yeh, there's nothing to film, the interview has been cancelled. Apparently Meg may need to go back to NYC for a few days.”
“Is she okay?”
“Yeh, yeh. It's something to do with her Mother. I don't know much more than that, only that Al has suggested she takes some time off.”
Kirstin suddenly felt very foolish for her hurried assumptions. She frowned.
“You okay?” Josh asked.
She looked at him abruptly.
“I should go see if she's okay.”
“Yeh, I think you should.”
“You do?” she was clearly surprised.
“Yeh. I mean it could be bad news or something. I know when I get bad news, you're one of the people I like to see.”
Kirstin sighed deeply, and smiled ruefully at him.
“I've been avoiding her,” she admitted.
“I'm not very good at this.”
“No-one is Kaye. Even when everything looks simple, there are a few spanners to be found.”
She pulled a face, “I don't wanna be a spanner, Joshua,” she complained.
“Spanners can sometimes fix things, so grab a hold of yourself and find a way. Promote what you want, you might just get it.”
“What if I don't know what that is?”
“Then start by discouraging what you don't want.”
“That's pretty good advice coming from someone who's been pining for the last two years.”
“Giving good advice and being able to follow it are two entirely different things. I learned that from you.”
Kirstin laughed out loud.
“How are things going in that department by the way?”
Josh smiled, “Slowly, but nicely.”
“Good. I'm glad.”
It was past midnight by the time Kirstin, Suze and the rest if the team had everything packed up for the night. In many ways they had all been relieved to discover the interviews were being suspended for the time being. It was late, and everyone needed a break.
They had no real way of knowing what the next few days would bring and Pete was as much use as he'd always seemed to be: incapable of getting the band to tell him a straight story. With everything in the air they had to behave as if the show was to go on.
Kirstin had headed out to the live truck to shut up shop. Having secured everything for the night, she flicked off the light and ventured back out into the drizzle. Climbing down the steps she caught sight of a shadowy figure across the other side of the deserted private street, lurking by the back of the tour bus, heaving on a cigarette. Meg was running her finger over the bus's rear end, thick with dust and grime, imitating the spray painted bosom that had adorned the US Tour bus for many weeks.
Fumbling with the keys in her bag, Kirstin had unconsciously caught the smoker's attention. As she looked up, having retrieved the pesky mass of key chains, the drummer stilled. Blowing out a cloud of smoke she carefully removed an imaginary piece of tobacco from her mouth as she watched Kirstin.
“Hey,” Meg offered eventually.
Kirstin smiled kindly, “Heeeey.”
It felt like a lot had happened in the day that had passed, since Kirstin had promised Megan not to show her London .
Was that only this morning?
Locking up the truck Kirstin hurriedly tried to think of what to say. She wanted to know Meg was okay, but she wasn't entirely sure the drummer would be forthcoming. Having kicked the stairs back up into their travel position she turned and made her way slowly towards the girl parading with her cancer sticks.
“Hey,” she repeated more briskly.
“Hey,” Meg returned.
“You okay?” It seemed the easiest way to broach the subject.
Meg inhaled a lungful before answering, “Sure.”
Kirstin pursed her lips and gave a nod. Perhaps now was not the time.
“Are you sticking around?”
“No. Bunch of people are heading out to some place called The Ghetto .”
Kirstin pulled a face, she been dragged there herself before, it hadn't been pretty. “Well I hope you're planning on getting drunk!”
“I'm planning on getting very drunk, yes.”
“Right.” She mentally slapped herself for not realising Megan might feel the need to get very drunk due to whatever news she had received. “Want some help?” she enquired.
Kirstin couldn't help but visibly display her hurt, as much as she'd wanted to hide it.
“You want to ask me questions, Kay,” Meg explained. “I know you do. Everybody does. I just want to drink, and not talk about it, and… not be around people who want to ask me questions, or,” Meg sped up sensing Kirstin's pending objection, “who I might actually want to talk to about it.”
Kirstin clamped her mouth and nodded, “Okay. I understand. I think.”
Meg leaned against the bus, “Did you catch any of the interviews today?”
She had caught them all . I spend all day watching you.
The filmmaker smiled, “Yeah, a few.”
“Score one to the Dumb American. I thank you, yes!”
“That was pretty clever.”
Megan had made an attempt to start their word game campaign.
“Y'know Jess pulled me aside and told me specifically not to make words up. She was trying to make some important points and I, apparently, wasn't helping. I told her all words were made up.”
“That they are.” Kirstin nodded genially. “It was good, but it doesn't count though.”
“Hm. Well, maybe someone will write about it. It's a start.”
“It's definitely that.”
The bus door eased open with a hiss.
“Did you fuck off?!” Jess shouted out into the darkened ether of the secluded private street.
“Nooooo,” Meg answered, rolling her eyes.
The singer clumped her way down the steps I search of her buddy.
“Oh, hey Kirstin!”
“Hey Jess. You look good.”
She did look good. Presentable even, and sexy as always.
“Thanks!” Her eyes twinkled. “You ready?” she asked, turning to Meg.
“Always,” Meg rumbled, pushing herself upright.
Kirstin took her cue, “Right, well I'll be off then. Guess I'll see you tomorrow.”
“You didn't invite her?” Jess frowned.
“No,” was the plain response from her friend.
“What? Why the hell not?” she shot Meg a look of surprise mixed with irritation.
Kirstin interjected, “Jess it's fine, I can't come, I have to get back.”
“Bullshit! Megan, invite her.” It sounded like an order.
“Jess honestly, it's fine. I'll see you both tomorrow, okay?”
Jess huffed, “Okay Miss Hart,” she sang.
“Goodnight ladies.” And with a slightly heavy heart she headed back out into the main street in search of her own accomplices, making her way for the exit furthest away from the still exited fans she knew lingered.
Jess hit Meg on the arm.
“Ouch! What was that for?”
“I thought you liked her?”
“I do like her Jess, that's why I didn't invite her.”
“That's not how it works, stupid. You feel shitty, you need to go out and get hammered and be around people that make you feel good, feel alive. You invite the woman you have a crush on. That's how it works. It takes your mind away to a nice place, and they get to feel good about making you feel better.”
“That's not going to make me feel better.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Because nothing's going to come of it.”
“How do you know if you don't try? Jesus Megan, who cut your balls off gal?”
Meg just shook her head, realising that she couldn't fault Jess's advice, if Megan hadn't known any better, she probably would have invited Kirstin. But Jess didn't have all the facts, and Meg did know better.
Jess banged on the back window of the bus with both fists repeatedly, “C'mon Illy, I'll be your whore if you buy the first drink.”
And Megan remembered there was at least one person who was a little more informed. And she hoped to God Illy could hold her tongue.
By the time she'd made it back to the hotel bar Kirstin noted the rest of crew must have sloped off to bed. Josh however stood up to greet her.
“Now Boss, I thought you'd be heading out with the ladies?”
“The ladies?” she laughed, noting she'd called them as much not half an hour ago. “I think we need to find another collective term. Where's Suzy Q?”
“Out with the women folk. She assumed you'd be joining them.”
“Oh. I er, no. No, I'm not.”
“So I see. May I ask why?”
“I was uninvited,” she blurted as she slumped into a chair.
Josh looked puzzled, he sat to join her.
“Meg didn't want me to go,” she clarified.
Josh pulled a face.
Kirstin cocked her jaw. “Yeh. I know, I don't really know… what's… I guess I'm not the person she needed to see.”
Josh raised his brow, “Or you're exactly the person she wanted to see.”
It was Kirstin's turn to pull a face. She blinked, and bit her lip.
“Are you here alone?” she asked him.
The bar still had a gentle buzz of people, but none she recognised.
“Not exactly, Pete is at the bar. And Al's around.”
“Pete?” she was surprised.
“Slim pickings, everyone's gone to bed. He's okay really. He has some good stories. You want a drink?”
“Er…” her jaw worked as she thought. “Noooo.”
Josh didn't think she sounded too sure, but let it go.
“So, Kirstin. I know it's none of my business, but…”
“…you're going to ask anyway?”
“Yes I am,” he agreed. “Should I bother to set an alarm for tomorrow? Only I get the impression there'll be no-one to film?”
Kirstin's mouth hung open for a moment before she laughed, and noticed why Joshua had changed tack.
“Hi Pete,” she smiled.
“Hey Kirstin. Can I get you a drink?”
“Oh, no, no thanks. Actually I was going to head up to bed.” She stood up. “Josh, in answer to your question, both of them actually, no.”
The combined smile and frown that greeted her was bemusement to perfection.
“Nothing's happening, so no alarms,” she tried to clarify.
“Oh, right. Well, I think maybe you should get up anyway, see what the day has to offer? You never know.”
“Huh.” Kirstin looked at him thoughtfully. “Well, goodnight boys, enjoy. Tell Al I said hi, I'll call him in the morning.”
“Night,” they chimed.
Megan downed shots in a darkened club with flashing lights and too many sycophants. Kirstin lay awake in a darkened room with too many memories.
What the hell am I doing?
girls, girls, girls
In a dirty dusty backyard there is a little blond girl sitting up a tree. A little shoeless blond girl in a sweat stained t-shirt and slacks. It has taken her all afternoon to reach the furthest, strongest branch with her treasure intact. All afternoon, planning her route, and executing a foot by hand attack on the yew tree that hangs over her neighbour's back garden. She was tired, but now she is rested.
Her treasure is a kind of ammunition. Her target is a neighbour. Today, like yesterday, she has been off school sick. Her father at work, her mother gone to the mall, or so she has been told. The shoeless girl decided there would be ample time to set up an ambush.
She supposed she was too old for this kind of nonsense now, but it was five years to the day since she had last fallen from this tree in fits of laughter, and it somehow seemed fitting. Though appropriation wasn't exactly her style, being sick was boring beyond belief, therefore stealing a little fruit was essential.
So she sat. And she waited. She waited for dusk. She waited for the crunching sound of school shoes over twigs. She waited for the girl next door to make her way through the bushes and the trees of the wood behind their houses. She waited for her to amble along the path that formed the special kind of off-road route that only school kids knew.
Waiting was the beautiful part: the anticipation, the imagining and the projection. It could take hours, but she could sit for days if need be, playing out all kinds of scenarios in her head. She had fruit and water and the other girl would have to come home eventually.
It was warm out and the tree was in full-leaf bloom, red berries blotting the branches that both shaded her from the sun and shielded her from discovery. Today she would wreak a little havoc. Today she would pay back a little of her undeserved loan of unpleasantness. She handled her treasures with glee, like an otter with its pebble, and turned another page of her book.
Today she would undoubtedly be dragged through whatever mud was left in the woods, but it would be worth it. And who knew, perhaps today she would have the speed to outrun her faux foe. Either way she would be smiling.
This little blond girl would grow up soon enough. She would leave this yard, this house, this town, and for a time she would forget the beauty of this revenge.
But there would come a point when she would think about this moment of decision, the moment just before she unleashed her treasure on the girl next door. She would look back at instances just like this and realise how some patterns would be ever repetitious.
Unbeknown to her the girl next door would also come to the same conclusion. But until that day they would be pleasant enemies through sheer routine.
Apologies for the delay, many reasons for it. Thanks to all that have spurred me on by writing to me, much appreciated.
Thanks to Jen for beta duties. Ax
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