Saturday 16 October 2010

The Bunny Boiler - Chapter 6

I've been twiddling with my thumbs for a while now trying to figure out how I should get back at Kate.  But everything that comes into my head I have to quickly dismiss with an 'oops, already used that revenge plan' or 'no, Jamie will certainly never forgive me for that if he found out'. 
    The difference this time around is that there is no way on earth that Jamie can find out about this.  His words always echo in my head, and I should do the right thing and be a grown-up about this - but I cannot. 
    Kate has been a vile infection for a while now and I cannot ignore it any longer.  This time, I have to get rid of it for good. 
    "So, what's the latest plan?" Mikey says as he sits down next to me in the library. 
    I look down at my messy scribbles and try to make out the hateful thoughts I have written. 
    But nothing makes sense and out of pure frustration I scrunch up the piece of paper into a tight ball and flick it to the other side of the table.  It stops at the edge and stares at me as if mocking my brain's failed attempt at revenge. 
    "Maybe you should take this as a sign to let things be," Mikey very unhelpfully suggests.
    I glare at him for a couple of seconds before my head falls ever so elegantly in my hands and I grunt in irritation. 
    I hear a loud shushing noise coming from the librarians, which I ignore completely and carry on,
    "It's been a week and I haven't thought of anything!  What's wrong with me?"
    "Well, quite a few things actually," he attempts a smile. 
    I turn towards Mikey with big, brown eyes as if pleading for his help. 
    "I can't let her get away with all this.  Jamie doesn't understand because he doesn't see the way she looks at me or the things she says.  I'm tired of having someone watching my every move.  I hate that my relationship is so cloudy because that awful excuse of a human being cannot let things go,"  I take in a deep breath and try to stop my emotions from getting too carried away.  The last thing I need right now is to cry in front of all these people.  I'm wearing Benefit BadGal mascara, for goodness' sake.  What a waste of money crying would be.
    Mikey pats me on the shoulder.  Sympathetically, he smiles and grabs the scrunched up ball of paper.
    "Let's go over some of these, shall we?  There might be a diamond amongst all this roughness,"

    To begin with, I didn't think much of Mikey's plan.  It seemed so infantile compared to some of the things I kept coming up with, but now the more I think about it, the more it's growing on me.  According to him my plan of arranging a trip to Cornwall and shoving her out of the car while on the M3 was a tad extreme. 
    But despite my zealous ideas, we managed to make something that works.

    "Kate! Kate!" I call after her as we run up the stairs of the Science building. 
    At first she looks perplexed by the optimism in my voice, and I think at one point her eyes scanned my hands to make sure I wasn't carrying a knife.  Her constipated look soon turned to one of anger.
    "What do you want?" she practically screams before she turns on her heel and enters the corridor. 
    I follow.
    "Look, I think it's about time I apologise about everything that has gone on these last few months,"
    Kate's jaw drops.  She spins around just before she's about to push open the door to her classroom.  But she says nothing - she just looks at me as if she's begging me to continue. 
    So I oblige. 
    "I was completely in the wrong for what happened with Jamie.  I'm sorry.  You've been right about it all along,"
    At the other end of the corridor behind me I can hear Jamie's jaw click shut, along with the animated whispers coming from the rest of our classmates. 
    Kate leans against the wall, arms crossed.  Her limp, sallow hair sweeps like straw across her forehead. 
    "I still hate you," she says.
    I force a smile.  "That's fine.  But perhaps we can be civil with each other.  In fact, I have a brilliant idea.  Why don't you join us at Mikey's on Saturday night?  It'll be fun,"
    My smile becomes so sweet that it begins to taste bitter. 
    Kate nods her head and disappears in her classroom. 
    I sigh in relief and turn around to face Jamie who is staring at me with a hard expression.
    "Ella Ivey!" he roars.  "What are you up to?"

    Mikey and I are sitting on the two-seater in his living room looking around at everyone.  The room is unusually quiet and no one can work out why I had such a drastic change of tune about Kate. 
    "Are you not going to tell us what's happening?" Tia says, thoroughly looking at everyone in the hope that she can read the answer through their expressions. 
    "Nothing's going on," I lie.  I wish everyone would shut up about it.  I can't believe they don't believe me.  I know I'm lying, but still, they are supposed to be my best friends.
    "If you say so," Tia gives up and starts chipping the pink nail polish from her left thumbnail. 
    "Why is Giles coming?" Sofia pipes up as she detangles herself from her boyfriend's grip.  I want to throw a cushion at her.
    "Because he's my cousin and he was in the area!"  Mikey very impatiently answers back.  "What's with all the questions?"
    Silence fills the cracks once again, until they're shattered open by Tia. 
    "Isn't he the one who stalked that girl for a year?" she asks. 
    Mikey takes a deep breath before he answers. 
    "That was two years ago.  He's fine now," he tuts loudly.
    "And didn't the girl get the police involved?  She got a restraining order against him, didn't she?"  Tia continues, quite oblivious to Mikey's tone of voice, or the dagger stare he is now throwing her way. 
    I look over at Jamie who is now beginning to put two and two together.  So I look away quickly before he gets the chance to call me to another room and make me explain the entire plan. 
    "Like I said, it was two years ago," he crosses his arms and slouches back in his seat. 
    The doorbell chimes in our ears and both Mikey and I jump to answer it. 
    When we open the door both Kate and Giles are standing on the other side happily chatting to one another. 
    From the corner of my eye I can see Mikey giving me one of his famous looks of, 'I told you'. 
    "Come in," I tell both of them and they follow us to the living room. 
    Giles is exactly how I thought he would be - awkwardly charming with the ability to fly off the rails.  Just like Kate. 
    "Why don't you two sit over here," I say offering the two-seater.  "Mikey and I will just go and get some food,"
    The two of us escape to the kitchen just before Jamie gets the chance to follow us. I smile and shut the door in his face when he tries to.  He's mad at me.  That much I can tell. 
    "I'm not too sure this will work," I whisper to Mikey after I've made sure the kitchen door is firmly shut.  I wait a while until Jamie's footsteps fade away to the living room. 
    "Oh, do be quiet," he says as he spoons dips into little, round pots and pops open a bag of Doritos.  "Didn't you see how well they were getting on?"
    "I suppose,"  I'm very anxious about all this. 
    "Look, I'm telling you now.  Giles and Kate will fall madly in love with one another and you and Jamie will be rid of that psycho for good.  Trust me, I'm right,"
    The room is far too noisy when we get back.  We place the plates on the coffee table and tune in to the conversation.  But it's only Kate and Giles who are talking.  Everyone else is staring in awe at them as if it's a circus freak show. 
    I sit down on the floor next to Jamie, who puts his arm around me and pulls me closer to him.  His lips touch my ear as he whispers, "Are you trying to set them up?"
    I hesitate in answering, but I decide to just come clean.  So I nod my head ever so slightly.  I feel his arm dropping from my shoulder. 
    That action alone feels horrible - a disapproval that you did not need.  I should have stayed out of Kate's way and just got on with my life, and now I've probably wrecked my relationship. 
    I look up at Jamie's dark eyes which are flickering about the room as if he's trying his best to right my wrong.  A wave of panic rises up in me, like the sort you get when you've been given a bad exam result. 
    "I'm sorry," I tell him. 
    He turns towards me and leans his head forward.  He's about to say something but stops himself.  Instead, he ruffles his hair and smiles.  "I'm telling you now.  This won't work,"
    I'm about to argue back but he doesn't let me.
   "After this, will you please just let this entire thing go?"
    So I nod, and he kisses me softly on the lips.  I should really be more thankful that he's as understanding as he is. 
    I'm distracted by a piece of orange peel that has been thrown at me.  I look up to see Mikey in the other corner of the room mouthing something at me.  "Look at that," he seems to be saying. 
    My head flicks up and I see Kate and Giles sitting mere millimetres away from each other.  Their conversation now appears to be private.  Kate laughs hysterically from time to time, and Giles places one hand on Kate's knee.  The rest of us are completely forgotten to them. 
    I turn to Jamie with a broad smile, but he just rolls his eyes and moves away to talk to Sofia's boyfriend. 
    Mikey very quickly takes his place and we sit side by side watching our success. 
    "It appears I was right," he sips his wine. 
    "OK, OK, don't push it,"
    "I'm right once again,"
    I jokingly nudge him with my arm.
    "I should really start writing these things down.  You know, make a list of all the things I've been right about,"
    "Well, let's hope it lasts," I say as we clink our glasses. 

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Much To Do About Nothing

(Continuation of All's Well That's Not Well)

    "So why are you going to Blackpool?" Jo asks as she lounges on the sofa.
    And for the tenth time this weekend I'm about to tell her, "There's a students union conference and I've been asked to help out.  Remember?"  I roll my eyes as I see her concentrating on the TV remote.  By the time Hole in the Wall starts, all will be forgotten again. 
    "I thought you were working this week," she says, swivelling around and resting her chin on the sofa. 
    "I cancelled,"
    "I take it Mel wasn't too happy about it,"
    I get a memory flash of Mel's angry expression when I told her that I'd be busy this week.  The shouting was fine.  It's the spitting I had problems with. 
    "Well, she shouldn't have assumed that just because I'm on the Easter holidays that I want to spend precious studying time dressing up old ladies.  She didn't even ask me.  Just put me down on the schedule,"
    Jo groans at something then flicks the channel. 
    "And I worked all last week.  What more does she want!" I slump down on the sofa next to Jo.  But I'm far too restless and get up as soon as Dale Winton shouts "Bring on the wall!"
    I leave the kitchen and head to my room to pack for Monday.
    "Call me when Doctor Who starts," I shout from the corridor. 

    This is my first time up north, and in the fifteen whole minutes I have been here it is rather pleasant.  Although I don't think I've held on to my handbag quite so tightly before. 
    The university has put us up in a big, blue hotel right on Pleasure Beach (which incidentally is called The Big Blue Hotel).  At first I thought I was incredibly lucky to be placed in the room overlooking the rollercoasters, but after the fifth swoosh of a rollecoaster and it's screaming passengers went past, and the continuous choo chooing of a  miner's train, I realised that I had pulled the short straw.  I had also taken a travel sickness pill when we left in the morning, which now was making me incredibly sleepy, and as I fell asleep to the soundtrack of Neighbours, and woke up to the excited screams of a northern chav three minutes later, I started to think that working as Mel's lapdog for the week was perhaps a better option. 
    And it would have been nice if I was actually needed.  The conference which required everyone else's presence from 9am to 7pm, only required mine for the first two hours.  The rest were down to me and the big, blue hotel.  All of this for absolutely nothing.  And what's more is that I have to endure another full day of northern delights.  On my own. 
    "Why don't you explore the Pleasure Beach.  You'll have fun on the rollercoasters," one of the presidents says.
    Why bother?  I can experience it all from my bed.
    So I made my way back to the hotel restaurant, ignoring my room.  I might as well use this time wisely and revise.  Exams are looming ever so closer. 
    The restaurant is nice and spacious, with not a single other person here, apart from a waitress who occasionally zooms past and magically tops up my coffee.
    Bliss.  More places should be like this. 
    I'm so busy swotting up on monopolies that I don't realise two men have entered the restaurant.  They sit themselves a couple of tables behind me, but they're not being quiet.  I'm about to turn around and give them a disapproving look when I hear one of them say:
    "I'm not sure this is something I'd like to invest in,"
    I'm tuned in.  Monopolies are now forgotten.  Surely this practical side of business is much more useful than textbook theory.
    "I understand, but if you just look at these figures-" I hear the sound of paper being pushed around the mahogany table, "- you'll see that it'll produce a more than generous net profit in only two years time,"
    "It's not for me," the older gentleman says.
    I'm so involved in their conversation that I almost say, "Oh, just give him a break.  He seems like a lovely chap.  Just invest," like I'm still at my uni flat watching TV and this is Eastenders.
    I hear the younger guy letting out a frustrated sigh.  His voice sounds terribly familiar. 
    "Look, good luck with it.  I'm sure it'll take off.  In fact, I have no doubt about it.  But I'm a family man.  I can't be spending money on such risky investments," and with that, he leaves.  I pretend to click clack on the keyboard so he doesn't notice I was listening in.  Somehow I've managed to type 'Swittle loo poo'.
    The younger guy stays behind.  I should really leave him to it, but I have this uncontrollable urge to see what he looks like.  He's just been let down.  I want to see if he looks angry.  Or disappointed. 
    So casually I pretend to be transfixed by something out of the window.  Slowly, I rotate my head until I'm looking straight at him.
    And my head has never snapped around so quickly. 
    I'm so shocked by this that I immediately shut the screen of my laptop (or lid as my brother would call it) and haphazardly gather my notes.  If I just keep my back to him I can easily sneak out.
    But I'm only three inches away from my seat when I hear:
    As if I'm completely surprised, I turn around, "Oh, Anthony.  How odd.  What on earth are you doing here?"
    He comes over and kisses me on the cheek. 
    "It's so great to see you," he says.  "Why are you here?"
    "A university thing," I wave my right arm about to emphasise that it's insignificant.  My left arm is still clutching at the laptop and notes.  "So how are you?"
    He smiles widely, "I haven't really had the best day,"
    "I gathered," I say and immediately want to slap myself.  Now he knows I was eavesdropping.
    His lips form a straight line and he looks at the floor.  "I drove all the way up here for what I thought would be the final step to clinch a deal.  It turns out it was a complete waste of time,"
    "Me too.  I apparently came up here just to hear a 'choo choo' every ten minutes,"
    "What?" he looks perplexed.
    "Never mind,"
    "How's work going?" he asks.  We're now seated down at my table.  The laptop and notes have been freed from my grip and are now lying in a forgotten pile to my left.  The word 'monopolistic' occasionally grabs my attention as my eyes swing towards my notes, and I feel the need to trace it out at the roof of my mouth with my tongue.
    "Same as always," I shrug.
    "Your boss still giving you a hard time?"
    I nod, "She told me to cover my mouth when I yawn because it looks ridiculously embarrassing,"
    Anthony just laughs.
    "So how are the entrepreneurial schemes going?" I ask him.
    "You should know, little Miss Nosy," he smiles.
    "I didn't realise it was you," I defend myself. 
    "I have at least three that are doing well.  Nothing special yet, but with time, you never know,"
    A sense of pride swells within me. 
    "How are you feeling about your first ever university exams?"
    I pull a 'fed up' face.  "I'm terrified, but I'll be fine,"
    "Good girl.  Of course you'll be fine,"
    Our eyes linger at each other a lot longer than they should do.  Awkwardly, I sit back on my chair, and Anthony averts his eyes to his phone to look at the time.
    "I should get going.  Long drive ahead of me," he says. 
    We hug, and I watch as he gets in his car and disappears out of Blackpool.  Meanwhile, I'm left to wonder why he didn't take my number.
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