I don’t wanna go to Kindy. I wanna stay with Mummy. Why canna I stay with Mummy?
I look over at the other kids playing. Their noise scares me; I hold Mummy’s hand a bit tighter.
My tummy feels yucky; I wanna go home. Mummy said that Kindy would be fun and that I could play with all the other kids, but I don’t wanna. I don’t like it. I wanna stay with Mummy. I feel the tears start to swell in my eyes.
A little girl comes running over and stands in front of me. She has long blonde hair, bright blue eyes and a big smile.
“Hello. My name is Am. What’s yours?”
I hang my head, shuffle my feet and stand a bit closer to Mummy.
“I’m Bec.” I say, my lips trembling.
“Hi Bec. This is Dolly. She is very pretty.”
I look up and the little blonde girl has her hand out to show me her doll. She was right. Dolly was very pretty.
The little blonde girl looks at me and frowns.
“Are you sad Bec? Don’t be sad. Dolly’s not sad. She’s going to a party. Do you wanna help me get Dolly ready for the party? What sorta party should it be?”
The little blonde girl closes her eyes and screws up her face in concentration, and then she opens her eyes really wide and gives me a big smile.
“I know! She can go to a ball! There’ll be music, and dancing, and everything.”
She spins around on the spot in excitement.
“And she can meet a handsome prince and live happily ever after! Come on Bec. Let’s go get Dolly ready for the ball.”
She holds out her other hand to me. I look up at Mummy. She smiles back at me and nods her head for me to go with the little blonde girl. Getting Dolly ready for the ball does sound like fun, and the little blonde girl does seem really nice. I hesitantly let go of Mummy’s hand and take hold of the little blonde girl’s. She leads me to where the other kids are playing.
“What shall Dolly wear? She has a red dress, and a black dress, and a white dress with real diamonds. They sparkle and everything. What do you think Bec?”
“Sparkles sound pretty.” I say quietly.
I watch, captivated as her dark brown wavy hair dances in the sunlight from the window behind her as she turns her head to answer Ms Briggs’ question. There is just the slightest trace of a Scottish accent in her voice, which only adds to her allure. The freckles on her cute little nose match those on her cheeks, which are a natural rosy red, just like her lips. Mesmerised, I watch her tongue slowly lick them. Her green eyes –
Shit! She’s looking straight at me.
Our glances meet for an instant before I quickly look away.
What is wrong with my hair today!? I hurriedly brush some more loose strands behind my ear.
“Rebecca! Are with us?” says Ms Briggs, scowling at me.
“Sorry miss.” I fumble.
“Please stop fidgeting and pay attention.”
What is wrong with me? I never get told off. I can feel the whole class looking at me.
Pay attention Bec. Come on, concentrate. Mustn’t look at the new girl. Mustn’t look. Mustn’t.
I look over, and she is still looking at me. We hold our gaze. She gives me the slightest of smiles and there is a sparkle in her eyes.
She knows! SHE KNOWS!! What did Amanda say to her???
“I’m expecting everybody to have read chapters three and four by next week.” shouts Ms Briggs over the commotion of everyone packing away their things.
I sweep my books off the desk into my bag while turning for the door.
“Wait up Bec. What’s the hurry?”
“Got go.” I say to Michelle over my shoulder on my way out.
Losing my friends in the crowded corridor, I hurry outside to my special place. Nobody else seems to know about the bench in the garden at the front of the school. If it wasn’t for the trucks passing by on the main road it would be perfect. No one is there today either – the nearest people are the Asian girls sitting on the grass in the shade of the trees further along. They are far enough away that I can only just hear them talking as a murmur in the distance.
Sitting on my bench, I immediately relax and start to feel better. I close my eyes and listen to the sound of the leaves as the tree branches sway in the wind. A bird cheeps. The sun gently warms me. The slight breeze is cool against my skin. I concentrate on my breathing.
Something breaks my meditation, and I open my eyes to see Amanda coming towards me across the lawn carrying something in a paper bag. She sees me looking and smiles.
Oh great. She’s found me.
She sits down next to me. Before she can say anything, I turn my head away from her and cross my arms.
“Not talking to you.”
“I’m sorry Bec. Let’s not fight.” she says. “I brought you a peace offering. Your favourite – Chocolate Mud Muffin.”
I look and she has the bag open to show me.
Bugger. There goes the diet.
“I couldn’t eat a whole one.” I say meekly.
“That’s okay. I’ve already cut it in half. We can share.” she says, offering me my piece.
I take it and stare down at the deliciously chocolatey muffin.
“You know, all those years ago when we agreed to share our stuff,” I say quietly. “I never imagined that would include our lovers.”
Amanda freezes just as she is about to take a bite of muffin, then quickly turns to me.
“I’m really sorry Bec. I didn’t mean it to happen.” she blurts out.
“I just asked you to suss her out, not to confirm it beyond all doubt.” I say, frowning. “How could you do that?”
“Well, we both skipped last class, and Mum works back on Wednesdays -”
“NO! How could you do that … TO ME! You knew I liked her.”
“So you keep saying.”
“I didn’t mean to. It just happened.”
Before I can reply, she closes her eyes, tips her head back, takes a big breath and lets out a sigh. She turns back and looks me in the eyes.
“I am really sorry Bec. We wouldn’t take bullshit excuses like that from boys. I don’t know why I said it.” she says, shaking her head. “I was sussing her out like you asked, when she said ‘So how long have you been into girls?’ and I said ‘I didn’t say I was.’ Then she said ‘You didn’t need to.’ It sort of went downhill from there.”
“Am! I really don’t need to hear this.” I say, covering my ears with my hands.
“It all happened so quickly, but I could have stopped it, and I didn’t. I was only thinking of myself. I’m sorry.”
“That’s the second time you’ve disappointed me.”
“I can’t say it if I don’t feel it.”
I just stare at her with my lips pressed tight.
“Bec, you must have known she wasn’t straight. She shut Jordan down before he could even get started.”
“Lots of straight girls shut Jordan down.”
“Not lots.” she says, lifting her eyebrows. “And she wears Dr Martens.”
“Straight girls wear DMs.”
“Straight girls don’t wear DMs and shut Jordan down.”
“All right! All right! But you know what I’m like.”
“You can’t let the past define you. Just because Gavin was an arse doesn’t mean everyone else is. And Ashleigh is a flake. You must have seen how Fleur looks at you?”
“Yes! What did you say to her?” I say, leaning towards Amanda.
“Nothing. I didn’t need to. The way you’ve been following her around like a lost puppy, half the school is talking. It has taken the rest of us all our time just to keep a lid on it. Kelly is going flat out on the rumour mill, but as she’s been saying we’re all lesbos for years, no one is paying any attention. Fleur would have to be blind not to pick up on it.”
I look down at my uneaten piece of muffin and notice my hem is crooked. I straighten my dress and brush yet another stray hair out of my face.
What is wrong with me today? I must look a complete mess.
“You look really stressed.” she says, placing her hand on my knee.
Her touch is electric, sending a jolt through me. I catch a gasp before it can escape. The warmth of her hand burns my skin.
“Why don’t we skip class and spend some time together? Just the two of us. We haven’t done that in ages.” she says, her eyes sparkling. “Mum’s not home till later. If we go now -”
I shake my head.
She pulls her hand away and tilts her head down.
“You don’t want to?” she says quietly and swallows.
“I want what the boys get.” I say. “Friday night.”
She lifts her head, leans in and gives me a wide grin, eyes gleaming.
“That would be amazing! I already have plans for Friday, but he can wait.”
She is like a whirlwind, organising things in her head at lightning speed.
“Wait.” she says, suddenly looking doubtful.
“Changed your mind already?” I say.
“No. Of course not.” she says. “It’s just that I will have to clear it with Mum, and she’s not stupid. She’ll know that this isn’t just some innocent girlie sleepover. And she’s besties with your mum. There’s no way that she wouldn’t tell.”
“I know.” I say. “I’m tired of hiding. I know how I feel, and while I won’t be making an announcement at school assembly, I’m not going to deny it any more either.”
She puts her hand back on my knee.
“That’s a big step Bec. You sure?”
“Yeah. I’m sure.”
“I’m pleased for you.” she says, smiling. “As soon as you’ve told your folks, let me know and I’ll ask Mum about the sleepover.”
I wake with the first of the morning light peeking through the window. We are still in an embrace from last night. Amanda looks so peaceful when she is asleep and not so hyper.
I had been so stressed about telling Mum and Dad, but everything was so easy I don’t know what I was worried about. I had been so bricking it that I even threw up beforehand, yet when I told them, Mum just said “We wondered when you were going to tell us.” and Dad hugged me and said “We’re proud of you.”
Sue and David had been equally cool when I arrived for dinner, but I guess they are so used to Amanda’s excesses that nothing surprises them any more.
I brush a stray hair off Amanda’s face, and her eyes flutter open. A moment of confusion crosses her face while she remembers where she is and who she’s with
“Hi” she says, and we kiss.
“I know you can’t say it back, but I want to say it anyway.” I say. “I love you.”
She smiles warmly and we hug.
All people, places and events depicted are real, just not in this universe.
© Paul Shipley