My phone rang. Suddenly. And right next to me, the hard, sharp ringtone resonated around my eardrums like, well, a gunshot.
“Hello?” I half whispered into the metallic device.
“Hey, it’s Carrie here.” A pause. “Hey, are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I laughed, “Just…thinking; my phone startled me, that’s all. How are you? Why are you calling?”
There was another pause, longer this time.
“Haven’t you heard? Detective Leonard is ready to make an arrest…”
“Is he?” Did the dozy detective have a definite killer?
“Oh, but it’s just a rumour. He hasn’t said who yet… You know those police types: tell the victim’s family first, but spout something completely different to the public.
“But, how are you after last night’s visit?”
“Knackered…still, and stressed!”
“You are? If you don’t mind me asking, (I mean: you were asking a lot of questions-quite like the police) are you trying to solve this mystery too?”
I hesitated, although I had said I was Caroline’s friend, could I trust her?
“Joshua was dear to me, I want to help, to find out who killed him. I don’t think-didn’t think that the police could deal with something like this.”
Again a silence echoed around the phone line, a deep, dark depression.
We said our goodbyes and I listened to the click of Caroline putting down her receiver, and sat in the silence of my room. Suddenly the call was over just like that. I should have learnt to keep a conversation going with Carrie for more than five minutes.
Unfortunately my mother, who was returning home with her shopping, yanked me from my thoughts minutes later.
“Darling, can you help with this shopping?” She called up to me, and then, as I came down: “Oh, you’re not even dressed yet!”
“Am I a slave now?” I snapped. The reaction that my mother gave me was less than comforting.
“And I’m guessing you haven’t even started tidying or sorting out these rooms?” She glanced across to the conservatory door.
“Did you even get my message?” She demanded.
“Emily’s coming over…” I glared at her. My mother sighed the sigh of one who had given up trying to get a point through to an irritable child.
“Okay. Fine. Now go and get yourself dressed; you can help later.”
After traipsing back upstairs I glared at my reflection in the floor-length mirror. Spots pockmarked my neat complexion; stress and fear had turned my face into a battleground of differently coloured marks against the perfect snow-white blanket of pre-youth. I had always been a pale child; a tan never seemed to stay on my skin for more than ten minutes. Sighing, I turned and proceeded to do as my mother had suggested. I felt like screaming at her that she didn’t know it felt, but had already gone to far into her bad books that another twitch might send me into ‘detention’ for years. If anyone could have heard those thoughts in my head at that moment, they would have groaned at my poor humour, and scowled at the use of anything school-related in it. And as there wasn’t, I did it myself.
I went over to my baby-blue armoire nearby and chose out a small, clingy, mini-dress, midnight blue with rhinestones sewn loosely on the hem and sleeves. It was old, and the gems had all but gone (fallen off in countless discos), but it still gave the same slimming effect to my large shape.
Outside the January air was unusually warm but the only way to lift my spirits was to dress up myself and plaster on make-up; a smooth cherry lipstick would suit my dark red lips, and for eye shadow it would be a lighter blue to contrast the dress. At blusher I stopped. Yes, I wanted to liven up, but I didn’t want- and didn’t need- to add any rouge to this pale face. The white of my face showed the dramatics, and made me appear to be of a higher class (as though I were in the 16th Century).
Sockless, I carefully treaded downstairs to where my mother was draping our best floral cloth over the conservatory table. She glanced up at me, raised her eyebrows, but then said nothing more than:
“Start sorting the living room. That means coasters neatly set on the coffee table, clean, all cushions plumped and in each sofa space, the TV facing the correct way, so everyone will be able to see it, CD’s-”
“Okay, I see,” I interrupted, picking my words carefully.
You can tell we didn’t receive visitors often. (The way ma mère would go on, it was like we were expecting royalty). But life was like that; my father was the entertainer, a ladies man who had a wife and mistresses. Thoughtless, spiteful rumours, concocted by the said jealous wife probably weren’t even true. Still, the fact that my father’s absence also lead to an absence of guests, stayed.
Another reason we never had many visitors was because I, generally, never had anybody to invite round; I spent my time engrossed in detective novels and helping teachers, when it came to other times, I was lonely. There was Vera, who pitied too much and invited me to her annual discos…but I could see she didn’t truly care…and, to be honest, I didn’t really care for her rich type either.
Is it lame to say that I thought that, before Caroline, my IT teacher was my only true friend?
And now I had Carrie, something told me I was going to lose her soon…
The feeling that I’m losing her forever,
And without really entering her world.
Slipping through my fingers…