The price tag that hung from the Mannequin’s sleeve literally gave me a heart attack. This was a mistake. I knew it right from the beginning. The name Corbin Mason sounded Lavish … the kind of stores which used over-expensive fabric and stitched up some fancy blouse and cropped-up jumper, matched it with a multi-coloured Bandana and called it ‘Custom-Made Designer Wear’ and girls like Brianna would splurge everything they have on it and show it off at School the next day. One Word : Freak Shows.
Aunt Mel had had other ideas; she HAD to insist on me spending more QUALITY time with my peers. Yeah, right. I work at Pop Joe’s … I get to meet a lot of peers there, alright. But no, she had to call up Mrs Stellar and arrange an ‘’outing for the girls’’.
Bejeezus. Where do we live in? The 1920’s ?
My phone buzzed in my pocket as I gazed open-mouthed at some more fancy-modern-art-ish clothes. All priced much higher than perhaps Mel’s wedding gown!
‘How u doin? Hope u enjoy.
Ah, perfect. Just what I expected. After typing back a hasty ‘I’m good’ I found my way back to the Trial Parlour where Bri and her mother were comparing two different neck-lines of the same silk gown. Hell.
‘Mum, this sure has that Look. You know what I mean? Like what Carmel Duson wore for the Golden Globe this year?’ exclaimed Bri as she checked her reflection in the life-size mirror.
‘But that had been off-white! This is silk… and plush crème!’ replied her mother.
‘Oh, but yes, you’re right. Dear me. We’ll go with this one,’ said Bri gesturing to the Sales girl or whatever they called her…oh yes, Personal Shopper.
I had heard Personal Shoppers expressed their views and Selected stuff for confused shoppers. But in our case, the Stellars had outdone themselves. Note that, resentfully. I felt crazily out of place wearing a Greenpeace tee and ripped-jeans paired with Puma sneakers in a room fool of Frocks, Gowns, Flowing capes, jewel-embedded dresses and god-knows-what-all. The Mannequins in the corner seemed to share a private joke about me and laugh, I felt.
‘Oh, Inez! You finally arrive… I was worried that you , perhaps, got lost in this place. It’s quite possible given the size of this place and the fact that you don’t visit such places too often,’ said Brianna as she tore her attention away from a blue evening gown. I felt like Perry the Platypus caught in the middle of Doofenschmirtz’s Annual Evil Congregation.
‘Oh. Right! Hey do you mind if I, you know, leave?’ I asked. Alright, it did not come out the way I intended it to.
‘What? But we have not even had lunch together!’ said Stacey Stellar. Her perfect features furrowed in worry.
‘Um, I really gotta go attend this thing that has come up, Mrs Stellar. You guys enjoy. I’ll take the train or something.’ I replied, displaying my best smile.
Brianna walked towards me, still clutching the blue gown. Her blonde curls falling over her shoulders and all. Yeah, she’s the Top Model kinda deal. My hair is usually a knotty-mess that looks like it’s been chewed on by a dog. Or worse, it goes on Frizzy Disco.
‘Oh, that’s too bad. I really thought we could bite a few legs at Nando’s,’ she said, winking. No she did not mean it. And personally, despite my love for peri-naise (Nando’s special version of mayo-like mix), I prefer KFC… lighter on the budget and well, closer to my place.
‘Sure thing. Some other time.’
We nodded at each other and I made a dash to the Reception Hall and then the Outside Heaven. The side-walk felt airy and amazing, free from the fragrance of unnaturally sweet lavender and jasmine and costly fabric and rich women perfume.
The city buzzed all around me. The throng of people, with their ears attached to their phones, eyes stuck on their iPads and fingers busy texting an email on their BB. Busy life. Some others just seemed to be lost in the flow, watching others as they gaily dangled shopping bags in their hands as they walked by…
The other not-so-posh shops and café lightened the mood with old-style chalkboards displaying special menus and Discounts. The fragrance of freshly brewed coffee and sweet candies wafted into the street as I window-shopped as much as my eyes could take-in. The new Dolce and Gabbana Showroom with a special Egyptian theme, Bow Bella’s Café, McDonald’s, Shopper’s Avenue, Rolex, POLICE and GUCCI (I’ve never even entered those) … phew what a journey!
After walking for about an hour I found my way to KFC , I’d called up my lil’ Gang …Jess and Kyle from my Pop Joe’s Café Band ; Zeke and Sof from school ; Abbie and Zoe (twin cousins); Ryder and Roo (neighbours ) … We all lived in Rathborne together and were like a team despite the fact that Kyle and Jess were home-schooled , Ab and Zo went to Lady Anne’s , Ryder was a celeb and did not really go to college after school. Zeke , Roo and Sophie on the other hand were my pals from school! You might wonder as to why, when I have such a huge gang, Aunt Mel still insists on me hanging out with the Stellars and other such people? Well, she thinks this gang is jinxed and are best described as Outlaws. Actually, she does not mind Zeke and Sof… but the rest… she can’t stand. Especially, Ryder. Not her fault. He had tried to hit on her for fun one mid-summer night. That’s it. He was on her hit list! Ha ha!
She did not really know Ab and Zo…. They were new in town but looked pale and skinny as frozen chicken sausages … and hardly ever spoke before Mel and wore funky make-up all the time! Ab even had purple streaks strewn all over her wheat-blonde hair and faked a yankee-irish English accent and gulped down beer like water at Community Parties (much to Mel’s utter Bafflement) . Zo was a lil normal comparatively. Silent angel. She worshipped Rihanna but looked like Pixie Lott! And could play a twelve-string without sweat.
‘Been frvr since we met!! Wer r u, babe? We reached KFC ten mins back!!!!
Ab-ZO (ZO’s fone is gone wonky)’
Well I was at the entrance. The gang had chosen a nice corner that we always hijacked. Our Haunt. The others had come in vehicles like a Vespa (the twins) , cars (Zeke, Sof , Jess and Kyle) and a Motor-bike (Ryder and Roo). I was the only one who still managed with a cycle or on-foot!
‘Howdy, Partner?’ called out Ryder, mimicking Jacky Chan’s accent in the Shanghai Noon. That made me smile and forget about the rather boring, dull and dreary Afternoon Outing For Girls. God, thanks to Mrs Collin I’ve learnt my Synonyms somewhat.
‘Imma be good. Yurselv? ,’ I replied plopping up beside Sof. Of course, they had ordered already. Plates heaped with zinger burgers and fries and all! Hungry Oxen as they were! Thankfully Jess had the mind to order my Crushers and pops along with the burger and Hot Wings!
Once with my people, I felt home. There was a lot to talk about… Ryder’s tour with his band ; Zeke’s Guitar Lessons , Sof baby-sitting the Mayor’s toddlers, My dull morning, Jess and Kyle’s forthcoming Grade exams and what-not. And holiday plans.
‘Why don’t you and Zekester join us this summer? It’ll be swag. Trust me! Zeke just got his Guitar going for him and you could be our female vocalist?’ offered Ryder, his eyebrows forming a curve that showed he was serious.
‘Fcorse’ joined in Zeke, his mouth stuffed with chicken.
‘Yeah, I’ll call up Gary, make the arrangements. The band meets in London next weekend to start the Europe Tour, ’ exclaimed Roo, smiling like a Goth Angel, the silver crossbones dangling from her right ear. How could we say NO? Zeke had that starry-eyed look of a baby whilst I was weighing my options inside my head.
A.) Will Mel EVER allow me to go touring with a bunch of Twenty-Something guys (of which she does not know 2 and their crew) ??
B.) Will I be able to stand up to their Expectations? The boys have only seen me play twice or thrice at school and the Café . And those are in my Homeground. Not Sweden or Paris!
C.) Do I have the kind of clothes to wear for a performance ON-STAGE?
D.) What the hell IS happening? And why is the strip of shredded-chicken hanging from Zeke’s mouth? Is he drooling? DAMN!
‘Babe, you there? Earth to Inny-Minny???,’ Abbie shook me back to the reality. I hate that nick name, I swear.
‘Oh yeah Abby-Baby.’ I replied shrugging her hands off my shoulder.
‘So, Yay or Nay?,’ asked Ryder holding both his hands up for a hi-fi.
‘Yay!’ shouted Zeke clapping a hi-fi and I blurted out , ‘Nay!’
‘Good Lord, why?’ asked Jess. Her beady blue eyes confused under her low-fringe.
‘I gotta ask Mel. I would LOVE hanging out with ‘Fyre Flyte’ but you know how Mel gets when I take huge-o-war decisions by myself. I’ll call you back, Ry and let you know, though’ I replied. That came out well.
Everyone nodded in silent agreement. Well, everybody has seen Mrs Melisa Wolfe get into her fits of anger-craze-disbelief . Community Parties are like a live-theatre where everybody’s true colours come out … note to note! It’s not like I hold any grudge against Mel.
Actually, I love her. She’s my Guardian and Aunt. After my parents, well disappeared (I say) after their cruise was found wrecked on the coast of Madagascar… she’s been looking after me. And now it’s been 14 years since that accident. It changed our lives. Mel had to discontinue her job at Walton-Griffith (Law Firm) in New York and opened a legal consultancy service here at Rathborne. She undertook my responsibilities. Raised me up like a mother. Got married herself to the Town’s Chief, Officer Heath Wolfe (Heater, for me)… gave birth to the craziest, most amazing and notorious twins in the history of Humankind… Josh and Myla. And also took up Mother’s position in the Town Council and well… looked after our crazy family. Including Granma Beatrice! And that is NOT an easy job even though Beats lives in her orchard in the country-side. But she drops by to see her sweets (us, grandkids) every now and then.
The ride back home with Jess and Kyle was charged with confusion and hurt. The conversation was edgy and did I smell jealousy? Gosh, they are my friends, aren’t they?
‘You’ll go. I know it,’ said Kyle as he slowed down to swerve to the right into Bristol Road which opened into the countryside after a few miles.
‘I’ve not decided that yet. And anyways, I’m never leaving our band.’ I replied, cheerfully.
‘Inez, once you perform with a band like Fyre Flyte… things will change. You’ll get offers. You’ll leave. And we’ll have to manage our gigs without you and that would truly suck,’ said Jess fiddling with her seat belt.
‘Is it my fault that I can’t invite you two? It’s your record label that prevents you to perform with other artists in collaborations. I’m a freelancer or whatever. I’m sorry, yeah? And who told you I’ll leave our band?’ I retorted. They were testing my patience. I had given this clarification a dozen times in the past 5 minutes of the journey.
‘Let’s hope what you say is true. We’ll miss you. But we’ll find a replacement soon,’ chirped Kyle.
‘Whatever. You know what? Just pull over. I’ll take a cab or the tram. Please.’ I can’t take it.
‘Oh no! Kyle is kidding. You can’t be replaced… trust me. Inez wait… Inez!’
But I made a swift movement and was out of the car as soon as Kyle stopped for the red light. Lucky me. Then there was no looking back. I knew Jess would come after me so instead of running towards the Tram Station I simply entered one of the shops that lined pavement. It was kinda dark in there but I closed the door behind me and peered through the glass. After a minute or two I spotted Jess running across the road and searching for me. I’m safe., I’m though as I turned around.
CHAPTER 2 COMING SOON 🙂 HOW CAN I IMPROVE>> LET ME KNOW xoxo