“Robyn! Hurry up. You don’t want another letter about you being late for school.” there was a pause. “Well, I don’t one.” Sadie’s whinging voice came drifting up the stairs for the fifth time. Robyn moaned gratuitously. She had been working last night and hadn’t gotten home until 3 a.m. The only thing that compelled her to roll out of bed and sit on the cold wood floor to wake herself up , was the thought that if she was late again, she would probably be suspended and would be stuck at home for a week with Sadie, looking at curtain swatches or picking out baby names. Or building furniture for the nursery with Alan. She would get more sleep if she was in school anyway.
Yawning and rubbing her heavy eyelids, she grabbed her uniform from off the floor and dragged it on. All this she did with her eyes closed; she wouldn’t realise that her trousers were on backwards until she got to school. Robyn didn’t have mirrors in her room and she had a talent for ignoring any that she did happen to come in contact with. She brushed her hair, feeling a little more alert, and arranged it so that it covered most of her face.
She grabbed her huge army style coat and wrapped it around herself. The urge to crawl back into her, but she resisted. As she descended the stairs she absently raised a hand to the long thick ridge of scar that ran from her right cheek bone in a diagonal that ended just below the corner of her lip. The irregular texture both fascinated and revolted her. She often touched it but she loathed herself when she did. The thought of seeing it made her stomach grow cold. It terrified her. Sadie and Alan had never reacted to it, never asked how she had gotten it. That would terrify them.
She headed for the kitchen where Sadie was buttering toast and Alan was sitting at their small four seater table reading the newspaper. They hadn’t realised that Robyn was there yet and as Sadie set Alan’s toast in front of him, he placed a hand on her bloated stomach and reached up to kiss her gently on the lips. Robyn averted her eyes and walked swiftly past them to the kettle. Why did she always seem to walk in on tender moments like this one? Alan cleared his throat and Sadie returned to the toaster and slotted two more slices of bread in.
“Toast?” she asked. Robyn shook her head. Saying she wasn’t a morning person was a massive understatement. She was completely useless without her tea fix. “Will you be home for dinner tonight?”
“Nope.” Robyn took her travel mug out of the cupboard and dropped a tea bag in it. “I’m going over to Holly’s after school. She promised to help me with my chemistry project.”
Sadie nodded. “Well send me a message when you’re on your way home, okay?” Robyn nodded her head, stifling a yawn.
She brewed her tea and inhaled the rich aroma before taking her first sip. It was so damn good. She headed for the front door, picking her bag up from the sitting room on the way past.
“Goodbye!” Alan and Sadie called in unison. She rolled her eyes and shut the door, trapping their hysterical giggles inside the house. Sometimes it was difficult to be around such raw happiness like that. No, it wasn’t the happiness, it was the love. Robyn was just a bitter old woman inside.
Robyn’s day at school was uneventful. She took a forty minute nap in Career Guidance class and had to go to the bathrooms during morning break to rearrange her trousers. She spent lunchtime with the boys discussing how strange it was that Noah wasn’t in school or answering his phone. They hadn’t seen him yesterday either. He had an art assignment due this week, and he never missed a deadline.
After school she walked Danny to the bar. He had been working with her last night too. He worked as a sue chef in the kitchen and she worked as a waitress. They both hated it there, but they needed the money. They hoped to get promoted to bar staff when they turned eighteen. By the time she arrived at Holly and Danny’s apartment she was actually awake and starving, so the smell of something wonderful that reached her nostrils even before Holly opened the door was enough to make her stomach gurgle and her mouth water.
Holly refused any help in dishing out the lasagne she had made for them. She looked huge, like she had swallowed a beach ball, but she wasn’t as big as Sadie yet. Holly still had a few months to go. The thought freaked Robyn out; she had just gotten used to the fact that Holly was pregnant.
“So.” Holly said as she sat down at the small kitchen table. “You have to tell me everything that’s been happening. I’m dying in this stupid little apartment with only Danny to talk to. He never knows anything interesting!” She smiled, lifting her fork daintily to her mouth and taking a minute mouthful. Robyn had to wait a while to answer as she was having trouble chewing the three forkfuls she had stuffed into her mouth.
“Nothing new.” She finally said. “No scandals, dramas, no anything. Not since-” Robyn stopped herself and glance up at Holly. Holly gave her a smile.
“Not since me, you mean?” She asked, patting her bump. Robyn shrugged looking sheepish. Holly looked disappointed with the scoop.
“Well except for the fact that we haven’t seen Noah in a while. He hasn’t been in school this week and he won’t answer his phone. Chris says that he will have to go round to his house tomorrow if he doesn’t turn up again.”
Holly looked concerned. “That’s not like him is it? He’ll do anything to get out of that house. Not that he’ll ever admit it.” She chewed her food thoughtfully. Of course she would love to go and see him right now, but she couldn’t. She would have to waddle all the way there. “Did Danny say that there was a new girl in our year?” She asked, suddenly remembering.
“Yeah. I’ve only seen her about the school. Haven’t spoken to her. I think her names Megan or Molly or something.” Robyn told her, scraping the remnants of the lasagne of her plate. “She just looks really small and quiet. And she also looks like she cuts her own hair.” Holly raised her eyebrows. “Yip.” Robyn nodded.
“Poor kid. I’m sure she’s regretting that now.” Holly finished up her meal and took the plates to the sink. “So no more gossip then?” Robyn shook her head. “Well, then I guess it’s on with the Chemistry then.”
Robyn’s head shot up. “Well actually, something really funny happened to me today.” Holly gave her a sceptical look. “You see, I arrived at school and realised that I had put my trousers on backwards!” She threw out her hands waiting for the laughter. Holly grabbed her by the jacket and dragged her from her seat. “Come on, it’s not going to get any easier if you don’t try.” Robyn groaned.
Four hours later and Robyn slammed her book closed. “I’m done.” She said blearily, shaking her head. “No more. No more.” Holly was reclined on the sofa with her feet up.
“Come on! Another half an hour and you’ll have it. You’ll be top of the class.” She promised, tapping her on the head with a pen, a head which was laid on the coffee table. She shook her head. Holly was about to protest further when they heard the front door open. Her eyes light up, Chemistry forgotten. Robyn sat up, bright eyed as well. Danny was her way to get out of this.
“Well, I better leave the two of you alone then.” She said, grabbing the book from Holly’s hands. Holly didn’t even notice. Danny walked around the corner and Holly pulled her feet back so that he could sit down. He pulled her over with one arm and kissed her forehead. Robyn stood up from the floor and slipped her bag on her back, suddenly uncomfortable. She pulled her fingers through her hair. “I’ll go. See you at school Danny. Thanks for the torture Holly.”
“No problem.” Holly replied.
“See you in the morning.” Danny said with a yawn.
Robyn left, her light hearted mood gone. She felt like she was surrounded by couples. Pregnant ones. Ones who were totally and unconditionally in love. Sadie and Alan had been trying to have a baby for years and they had never given up, never given up on each other. And Danny and Holly, well, Holly hadn’t exactly planned on getting pregnant but there was no way in hell that Danny would ever walk out on her. They were all so tied together, you could feel the love in the room when you walked in, it was palpable.
And Robyn hated it. She hated herself for hating it. What normal person hated seeing their friends being happy? No one. She was abnormal. And didn’t she know it. Maybe it was because she knew that she could never have what they had. No one had ever seen her scar outside her own home. She had never seen a model or actress or anyone pretty with a scar like hers. Or a scar full stop. No one would ever look at her the way that Alan looked at Sadie or Danny looked at Holly.
She was halfway up the drive before she realised that she had forgotten to text Sadie, not that it made a difference now. She slipped in the front door, ready to apologise. They were both in the kitchen. The radio was on playing some old country music and they were waltzing round and round. It was palpable. Robyn averted her and headed quietly up the stairs