I managed to get into bed, and pretend to be asleep as Mum came in to check on me, and when she went out of the door, I sighed, a deep breath of relief that she had believed my poor acting skills.
“So, what are we doing today?” Joe asked me.
“School?” I suggested, deciding to take the opportunity of being at my strongest to do the most difficult thing that I’ve ever done: try not to be a mass murderer of five hundred students, and not to mention the poor thirty-odd teachers!
“Are you sure?” He asked.
“Yeah, I’m completely strong, and if you think that I’m about to murder anybody (which I won’t), you’ll take me away, won’t you?” I asked.
“With your luck I might end up sending you all the way to Russia to get you away from the poor souls here.” He laughed, and he went home to get changed, and I got dressed for school.
I went down the stairs, and Mum was sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for me, with a small portion of scrambled egg in my place.
“Sit.” She said, and it made me remember the last time that somebody had ordered me around like that; when Joe left. I shuddered at the thought and sat down on the chair.
“Morning Mum” I said, smiling at her.
“He’s back, isn’t he?” She asked.
“Who?” I asked, with an innocent expression on my face.
“Joe McIvor.” She said, and all but spat his name.
“Yes Mum, he is.” I replied.
“I can’t believe you’re going to just let him walk all over you again after he left you hanging there like a loose thread. You can’t just let him back into your life again.” She tutted, shaking her head in disbelief.
“Now listen here Mum,” I said, pointing at her with the bread knife which she eyed warily. “It was a misunderstanding, and it’s my life, and I can do what I want with it!”
“What happened to respect you elders?” She asked, with an acidic edge to her normally light soprano voice.
“Went out the window! What happened to keep your nose out of other people’s business?!” I yelled.
“I’m your Mum!” She yelled at me.
“And I’m your daughter!” I retorted, and slumped down in my seat.
“Okay, here’s the deal; as long as you love him, I’ll try to be nice with him, though I’m not making any promises; but next time he drops you, don’t expect to find him alive.” She said, calmer now.
“It’s gonna be difficult to kill him.” I said, trying to stifle my laugh.
“Okay, he’s as hard as rock, I get it; Zach told me he was back by the way.” She said.
“What exactly did Zach tell you?” I asked, suddenly worried.
“That he was watching out for you because Joe was back and that he wouldn’t ever forgive you.” She said.
“He’ll get over it; he ‘doesn’t hold grudges’.” I quoted, carefully.
“What are you doing today then?” Mum asked, changing the subject.
“Going back to school; only one term left, thank goodness.” I replied.
“Oh, okay then. Are you out late tonight?” She asked.
“Just going clothes shopping with Finty; I haven’t had girly shopping time with anybody in ages.” I said.
“Good idea; I’m working late tonight, you see.” She said.
I met Joe outside the house, and he drove me to school, telling me all the way there that I didn’t have to do this, but I felt that somehow, I really did need to do this, becuase who is the weak one? The one that doesn't try? Or the one that tries, but doesn't always succeed, but failure isn't possible with Joe around. I hope.
Amber, my one friend in the school that is female and not related to Joe, came running over to me, all exited.
“You’ll never guess who just asked me on a date?!” She squealed.
“Who?” I asked.
“Paul!” She squealed, and I joined her in her happy dance, while Joe just watched, with a bewildered expression on his face; probably trying to figure out how girls’ minds work, I guess.
“Good for you, and is that new perfume? You smell nice; almost edible in fact!” I said, and she told me that it was the new banana and raspberry one that’s in the new perfume store just outside of town.
Joe had scowled at me when I said that she smelled almost edible, but I told him to stop worrying, and that I’m fine.
“Don’t go shopping with Finty tonight.” Joe said.
“Why?” I asked.
“You’re gonna smell somebody that smells appealing to you, and you’re gonna go after them if you do go.” He said.
“Oh, okay.” I said.
“I already cancelled it with Finty and she’s gonna buy you something as like a ‘sorry you can’t come shopping’ type of thing.” He told me, and I was struggling to see through his eyes what he was seeing in the future.
“Who is it? I just want to know so I can stay away from them in future.” I said.
“Amanda Jones.” He said.
“Oh no! That’s my Mum’s best friend! Zach’s Mum!” I exclaimed, and Joe told me to keep quiet, and to remember to keep the secret.
It was kind of strange, walking into a class full of people who all smelled nice, but I told myself that these were my friends, and that I would never ever forgive myself if I lost control. I kept telling myself that, and I got through the whole first period before I realised that everybody was ignoring me.
“Have you been doing something to everybody?” I asked, looking at the people around me.
“No, it’s you. You don’t look like yourself anymore, remember. Just keep telling people that it’s your body scrub, soap, shampoo, anything that works – say plastic surgery if you have to, as long as it isn’t the truth. Besides, you ignored everybody for ages, so they’re going to act strange and be reluctant to approach you.” He said, looking at the grim faces that kept looking our way.
“School sucks.” I said, scribbling something down in German on a piece of paper, and gave it to Joe.
Ich nicht mag meine studienkollegen, weil sie sehr gemein ist!
A translation for you is: I don’t like my class mates, because they’re very mean.
Joe laughed, and I stuck my tongue out at him.
“Hey wait a minute, I didn’t even know how to say class mates or whatever before. Is there something you’re not telling me?” I asked.
“Yeah there is.” He said, knowing that people were listening. “You swallowed a German dictionary.” We both laughed, and the teacher came to check our work, and as usual, we had it done before everybody else.
The rest of the morning dragged on, and then I smelled Rick. He was sitting with his back to me at lunch, and my mouth started watering.
“Beth? Beth, can you please come back down to earth?” He asked, sensing what I smelled.
“I have to-” I began.
“No you don’t. You have to be good – you ate last night!” He reminded me.
“Right, calm; breathe in and out.” I said to myself, taking deep breaths through my mouth.
“Do you want to stay, or go home? The choice is up to you.” He whispered in my ear.
“Go home. Rick’s in all my other classes, and I don’t want to hurt him or anybody else.” I whispered back.
“Right, come on then.” He said, holding my hand, and we both walked gracefully out of the room, and towards Joe’s car.