'How is Chrissy?' my mother asked before rooting in the clay pot on the windowsill for her car keys.
'She's okay. The doctor said she's concussed and has got to stay in for observation but she'll be absolutely fine.' I speared a pasta twirl with my fork, brought it to my lips then decided I wasn't hungry.
'Nothing,' my voice was monotonous and disinterested. Why should I tell my mother anyway? It wasn't like she really cared.
As if to confirm my accusations, she gave a small shrug and waved goodbye. And the mother of the year award goes to my lousy excuse of a maternal figure. I scolded myself as soon as these thoughts flashed into my mind, immediately trying to justify her actions. She was busy with work. She had a lot on her plate. She was on a break from my step dad.
'Pfft,' I scoffed out loud. 'But apparently doesn't have enough time for me?'
'What was that?' mums head popped round the door, scaring me half to death. I thought she had gone!
'I said, I need to find time to see Chrissy.'
'Well why don't you go now?'
Because I am meant to be hanging out with a certain someone. A certain someone I have had a certain crush on for a certain number of years.
'I might do. Are you going now or are you just going to linger?'
My mother frowned disapprovingly. I didn't allow myself to sigh in relief until I heard the door bolt shut. I liked being home alone, just like I'm sure a lot of teenagers did, but it still hurt slightly to know that my mother wanted to leave me that way. I checked the kitchen clock and cursed under my breath at how late it was. I was meant to be meeting Elijah in fifteen minutes.
My phone buzzed in my pocket.
'Isobel? Is this you?'
It was Chrissy's mother.
'Yeah, what's up?'
'Sweetie, Chrissy's asking for you.'
'Oh, is everything okay?'
'Yes, everything is fine, she just says she wants you there. Sorry if this disrupts any plans you've made.'
'Oh no,' I lied. 'I'll be there right away.'
I ignored the selfish, sinking feeling in my chest as I hung up. Truth was, I wasreally looking forward to hanging out with Elijah tonight, but Chrissy was more important. She was my best friend and she was in hospital. Elijah would understand, wouldn't he? Which is why, when he'd turn up on my doorstep in fifteen...make that fourteen minutes, I was going to cancel on him.
I ran upstairs to grab my bag and purse. The purse was just in case Elijah was pissed at me and I had to catch a bus.
The resounded ringing of my doorbell startled me and my heart gave an unexpected flip. I told myself to relax, to be calm and go and tell him. He was going to be fine about it. Even if he wasn't, did I really want to date a guy who wouldn't even let me see my own injured best friend who was in hospital?
The answer to that was a definite no.
I took the steps one at a time, trying to calm my racing pulse and forcing my legs to stop shaking. Why was I so worked up about this? Did I really like him that much? I barely knew the guy! The metal of the door handle was cool against my palm and I exhaled slowly, once, twice, and pulled it open.
It appeared that I had forgotten how good looking he was. Like that was actually possible. Half his face was immersed in shadow due to the faulty light on the porch, defining his sharp cheekbones and chiselled jawline. Thick lashes framed almost apprehensive eyes that were an impossible shade of blue. His hair looked a little tousled and windswept, but it only contributed to his beauty even more.
'Hi Isobel,' he gave a small smile and it was then that I realized why he was apprehensive. He obviously had no clue about any of this. He had no idea how it was going to be. I ignored the flames of guilt that coursed through me at his suppressed excitement and began to speak.
'Hi Elijah. Um, listen. I'm really sorry I have to do this to you. I really didn't want to, but well...'
His face fell.
I forced myself to continue. 'Chrissy wants me to see her. In hospital. Tonight.'
I could see him struggling to understand. A range of emotions flickered through his eyes: disappointment, rejection, defeat, until he settled on an almost impassive expression.
'Oh, that's a shame.'
'Yeah. I'm really sorry about that. Can we arrange this for another night please?'
'Sure, that's fine. I'll see you tomorrow.' He turned and left.
I guessed I would need my bus money after all.
* * * * *
Watching the world fly by from the confines of public transport had always been slightly soothing to me. It was like I was in my own bubble of contentment whilst everyone else was rushing around, going about their everyday routines and tasks while I could just forget everything and let the vehicle take me wherever.
Even tonight, when Elijah's face would not leave my thoughts, I was able to simple relax against the seat and let my mind wander.
Suddenly, the bus came to a halt. A screeching metallic sound tore out of nowhere and I was thrown forward. My hands instinctively came out in front of me, grasping onto the seat in front. Puzzled, I looked up to find the driver getting out of his seat and inspecting the front of the bus. His face twisted in exasperation as he climbed back on board.
'Um, we appear to have broken down.' He announced.
No not now. Chrissy needs me.
'I'll call Road Repairs but I'm not sure how long it'll be.'
I stood up, along with a few other passengers all deciding that their destination was within walking distance.
As soon as I was out into the night though, I realized how cold it was. The air bit at my skin, the crisp scent of winter approaching filled my nostrils. I tugged my jacket around my body and began to trudge forward.
'Need a ride?' a voice called from behind me. I didn't recognize it at first and my first paranoid thought told me that I was about to be abducted and murdered by some psychotic serial killer.
Until I saw Tom Parker.
I didn't know him that well, but the guy pissed me off. He always acted so high and mighty, like he could get any girl he wanted. I knew Chrissy had a bit of a thing for him, but they weren't dating yet, as far as I knew. She'd tell me. His sister was nice though, Aaliyah. Ironically, it was Chrissy that had saved Aaliyah from a speeding driver.
'Sure,' I accepted grudgingly.