It took more than a few swigs of cola to relax. Burn Notice played on the telly whilst I sat like a crushed doll on the couch chewing my nails as I simultaneously texted Zo. Apparently, her phone’s battery had to be replaced. Now it worked.
Me: ‘Its bad, Z. Kyle and Jess are not happy.’
Zo: ‘Chill, they have a separate life! You have to use opportunities that come your way.’
Me: ‘Can I call? Xx’
Instead of a reply , my phone began to vibrate with ‘Zoe Calling…’
‘Look, just SHUT UP! Join Zeke and Ryder… freak out with Fyre Flyte!’ came Abbie’s voice. No, I was not too surprised. Ab must have eavesdropped or eyes-dropped (most likely) on our chat.
‘Abbie, they’re my friends. It’s not like I’m being offered a place in the band, right?’
‘It IS, in one way or the other. If I could sing like you I would have joined that band right away. Hell, I’d be booking my tickets to London by now!’
‘Well, I dunno …I’m just worried about Kyle-Jess and my relationship’, I replied… fiddling with the cushion on my lap.
‘Look, I don’t understand why they matter so much right now. I can’t take this drama and a headache is forming around my temples… so talk to Zo, yeah? Think bout what I said, girly!’ replied Abbie, sounding rather frustrated.
‘Relax,’ came Zoe’s voice. It did relax me somehow.
‘It’s simple. Grab your chance, go for it. The rest is a piece of cake,’ she said.
That’s when the doorbell rang.
‘Hey, I’ll call you in a bit,’ and I hung up.
‘Hello! Which one of you is home? Open the door!,’ came Mel’s voice. Oh darn it! I was supposed to be back BY dinner not four hours BEFORE dinner.
‘It’s me . Welcome back.’ I said as I opened the door. She looked like she’d been in the rain or something and it was sunny outside.
Mel’s dark hair was French braided behind her head and she was in formals. She smelled of Dior, paper and hard work. Beads of sweat stuck to her forehead and she was lightly panting.
‘Oh.’ She smiled.
‘Home, early?,’ I asked.
‘Yes, today we just had minor formalities to attend to. By the way could you fetch the bags I left in the car? I stopped by the Mart to stock up.’
‘But we are stocked up.’
‘Um, I’ll tell you later. Please?’
Well, Mel did seem quite tired as the first thing she did, was NOT replace her expensive footwear in the cupboard (like she always does) but rush towards the kitchen for a glass of water. That was unusual. She was too organised-control-freak-ultra-hygienic-ish to run into the house with dirty footwear.
The Chevy parked outside looked weather-beaten. It had been Mum’s before. And mum did not really click with machines. Not a bit. And dad was at a completely different level to tend to the poor beast. And I would not bother. So now, despite all the washing-scrubbing-refurbishing , it still remained like a piece of junk.
The Supermart bags lay in the backseat. Heavy and bulgy.
‘Aunt Mel, now, will you tell me why we’re re-stocked up?’ I asked , poking my head into the kitchen.
She was not there. No surprise. Never mind. It took about an hour to sort and arrange the stuff. No harm in making her happy. Her mood always lightens up when she sees me getting involved in House-keeping. She keeps saying how she earned her first few bucks like that. And blah! Blah!
Heater, I and the kids on the other hand were piggies! Wrappers, socks, books and food all over the place… dirty laundry under our beds and clogged basins etc. etc.! We drove Mel to the point of insanity sometimes.
But today, I had something to ask of her … PERMISSION and these sessions have never gone well between the two of us in the History Of Christendom. For example,
‘Mel, can I go to the Beach party?
‘Mel, hiking with Baxter’s Troup?’
‘Can I have a new phone?’
‘Can I apply for a car loan?’
‘Are you MAD??’
So, you see. Never. Once. Does. It. Go. Smoothly. Ever.
I could already imagine Zeke’s disappointed look when I told him I won’t join him to the trip. In fact, the guy he is, he’ll drop out, as well. That, I could NOT let happen even if I don’t get to go.
‘Mel?,’ I called out. But, no answer.
She must be stuck up with phone calls in her room. This conversation had to take place before Heater and the kids arrive because after that her status is UNAVAILABLE unless it concerns domestic issues like… ‘I’m hungry,’ or ‘We’ve run out of tissue rolls,’… ‘I have a test tomorrow and I’m NOT prepared.’ You get the general idea, now, don’t you? She was the power source and engine of the family.
And I was right , her room was open. But instead of lying flat on her bed in home clothes or talking on the phone , she was perched on her bed… sitting with her head in her hands.
‘Mel!’ I cried as I went to her. She quickly looked up and wiped away her tears.
‘Hey, Inez…’ she croaked as she controlled a sob.
‘Are you crying? What happened?’ Disbelief struck me!
Mel gets mad… she goes crazy. She drives US crazy. But she NEVER cries. Something had to be MAJORLY wrong. But the problem here was not Mel. Crying is in human nature. It was Me . I can’t handle wet issues. Just can’t. And Mel? She supported me every time I broke down. This road had never been taken before. After the initial shock wore off, I knelt beside her bed and smiled at her. God, am I a fool?
‘Sit up here, child’ she patted at a spot on the bed. I obeyed.
‘What is it, Mel? Iron Woman lost her powers?’ I asked and she smiled.
Thank All Mighty.
‘No, she’s good just… just dawdling.’
‘That’s fine. You have a right to. Now, will you spill the beans or should I phone up Heater?,’ I asked.
‘It’s nothing , sweetheart. I Promise. I’ll be fine. You go ahead and well, do your homework.’
It actually sounded funny. What did she take me to be? Twelve?
‘Is it really nothing or is it because I can DO nothing about it? Or, perhaps, YOU think I can’t DO anything about it?’
She did not reply. She simply picked up her phone and began typing something. And it began ringing… seconds later.
‘Mel, I need time alone. Please. I need to pack up my drama before the rest of them arrive, yeah? Go downstairs, do anything.’
I just looked at her. She was a strong, pretty woman. But the tears in her eyes and the sadness on her face showed the age that she hid, so well.
Today I believed she was Human. Her hair, despite in the braid was turning frizzy, her make-up was bland and she looked nervous, sad and angry all at the same time. I only hope I have nothing to do with whatever worried her.
‘Not much to do here, then. Shall I make dinner or something?’
She mouthed a ‘No’ and blew into her kerchief, between the call. She never does THAT. Her dress was all sweaty as though she’d run a marathon … it looked worse than it did before when she had come back home. It was one of her summer clothes but she looked so damn tired today.
‘You should probably shower’ I winked, before leaving. I could hear her chuckle after me. What could it be?
Only when I entered my room did I realise the whole band matter was forgotten? Oh boy.
My phone buzzed in my pocket. It sometimes scared me. Really.
‘Inez.’, showed up the text from an unknown number. Who?
‘Who is this?’ I texted back.
I tried calling back but the sender’s phone was switched off. I’m getting paranoid, I thought, so I left the issue then and there. I had more urgent matters to attend to. The band trip, buying a new pair of socks and well, finding out what upset Mel.
My room was a total mess… even to look at it was agony. And there was homework. But that can most probably wait, right?
I threw myself on my bed and kicked away the pile of magazines placed haphazardly at the end of the bed. Mel usually cleaned up my room until it was spic and span. The image of her sad face came into my head. ‘How could I never see?’, I thought.
Was it all this pressure we put on her? Is she at the breaking point? Did Heater and she have a fight? Work troubles? Legal issues? WHAT?
I could not bear her like that. She was our anchor. We practically survived and functioned harmoniously because of her and now she was broken. Is it ageing? No!
I kept pondering about the state of affairs in the morning, earlier today. She had been fine as we had breakfast and she lectured me as to how good company plays a pivotal role in a young woman’s social development whilst I texted Sof, under secretly and the kids spilled milk over the table and Heater sleepwalked onto the sofa and hurt his ankle and yelped which lead to me dropping the phones and the kids going nuts laughing at me! Mel had given us a piece of her mind after that, ‘One single day… have we had a peaceful breakfast at least once? Let me guess… NO! I need peace of mind, you guys!’
We really upset her. Day in and day out. But that won’t make her cry. She in fact, enjoyed disciplining us. She loved us like that, she had said, on the Christmas Confessions game Beats (Granma) had organised. Then WHY?
My heart stopped for a second as I was caught off guard.
‘Abbie! Zoey!,’ I cried with joy.
They came into my room and we did a group hug sorta thing.
‘Bejeezus, look at that worry on your face! What are you thinkin’ , girly?’ said Ab as she jumped onto my bed.
‘Stuff.’, I replied taking the place next to her.
‘Alright, so then … you two, don’t settle down here! We have a place to go!’ said Zo catching hold of my hand and pulling me up.
‘What? Where?’ I exclaimed.
Just then the door opened again and Mel stepped in.
‘Oh, I’m sorry’ she mumbled when she saw I had company.
‘That’s okay, Mrs Wolfe ! We just came in !’ smiled Zo.
‘Oh, well, that’s nice. Inez, you didn’t mention you were expecting friends. I would have cooked up something.’
Before I could open my mouth Abbie blurted out , ‘That won’t be necessary, Melisa, we’re taking her out to dinner.’
Did she just call her by name? Okay… I gave Abbie a quick Manhattan Onceover … Her hair were sans extra funky colour, she was wearing a tee , skirt and a shrug… for once, she was dressed like a normal person. Melissa would not be alarmed this time .Wow! How come? I looked at Zoe for an explanation but she just returned back her angelic smile.
‘Where, honey?’ replied Mel. Worry flashing on her face.
‘Not a restaurant. Our home.’ Replied Zo.
‘Oh, fine … have fun, you guys,’ she smiled ‘But be back home by eight, yeah?’ she looked at me.
I nodded a yes and headed towards the dresser to brush my hair. Mel left us to our devices.
‘You should try blue… or purple! It should suit your dark hair really well!’ claimed Ab as she helped me with my unmanageably crazy hair.
Zo was picking up the magazines on the floor.
‘No, Zo! Leave it be! I’ll clean them…’
‘I’m not cleaning, Inez.’ She laughed.
‘Its One Direction on the cover. I’m just skimming through.’
‘Oh you know, right? How much she loves them,’ winked Ab as she nudged me gently.
Zo stuck her tongue out at us.
‘Oh, I do! I still remember her calling me up at 3:00 AM when one of those lads replied to her tweets. Late at night…’ I replied, laughing along with Abbie.
‘Ha Ha, it was not ONE OF THE LADS, it was Harry Styles, himself and then Niall re tweeted.’
‘Oh, the Queen came to tea!!’ exclaimed Abbie, another bout of laughter followed.
By this time Zo seemed to get a little sad. It was all over her face.
‘Hey, Zo, remember when Ab fan girled over Greyson Chance and Cody Simpson? She did not even leave poor Bieber alone!,’ I offered giving Zo a one-up over Abbie.
Well Abbie had fan-girled in the past, too, until some stuff happened and she literally deactivated her twitter. That story will have to wait for another time.
‘Now, now, ladies … we have a place to go so move it and stop giggling about me!’ called out Abbie, who was already near the door. Zo and I hi-five’d behind her back and joined her….. They somehow, always made me feel so much more better.
What did we three giggling teenagers know what awaited us behind the walls of my compound… in the dark.
……………………………………………………. Chapter 3 > Out Soon >…………………………….
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