|As the Sun Sets
Author: Andramion PM
Kate hates it when her parents decide to ruin her life and move from New Zealand to dreary old England. Even worse: as soon as they arrive, she gets dumped at a private boarding school. Charlie's days are better though: he's starting his last year of secondary school, not knowing this year will be a little different than the last. R&R please!Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Friendship - Chapters: 5 - Words: 16,425 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 08-08-12 - Published: 07-18-12 - id: 3042952
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Kate Rilfrey, get your butt off that bed!" Nope, I'm still not moving.
"Katherine Lucinda Aurelia Rilfrey!"
I just shrug. God, how much I hate that name. My mum would have called me Amelia Lucinda Aurelia, after her mother, herself and my dad's mother, but luckily, my dad didn't like the name Amelia and had asked my mum what she'd thought of Kate. When I turned fifteen, he'd told me the first girl he'd fallen in love with had been a Kate. How's that for an awkward moment?
I hear mum's footsteps on the stairs and brace myself for another fight. There've been a lot of those lately. Always about the same thing. She appears at the doorway and I see she looks tired, older than normal. My mother is still quite young, just twenty-one years older than me, but she's always lived a careless life: a rich husband, a daughter that didn't even become a little disobedient when she became a teenager, the perfect house in the perfect neighbourhood, the perfect friends. The perfect hairdo.
Right now, that is all falling apart. Her rich, perfect husband wanted to move to England. She doesn't care about that, she'll just find a new perfect house in a new perfect neighbourhood, make some new perfect friends. Find a new hairdresser.
If only her daughter would have stayed perfect. But no, she had to become rebellious, cut her hair, paint it with a blue streak. Shout at her mother, use swearwords and stay in her room. Stay out too long if her mother even got her out.
"Katherine," I hear my mum sigh. "Please."
She really does look tired. Her normally wavy dark brown hair lays flat on her head, there are dark circles under her eyes and she doesn't stand up straight like she normally does. "Would you please come downstairs for dinner? It's our last dinner here." I suddenly don't feel any empathy for her anymore.
"That's the problem, mum." My voice sounds gruff from not talking all day and it hurts my throat. She frowns and her shoulders slump. She turns around and goes away again.
I am so mad at two of them. My mother has been my best friend up until a while ago. My dad has been the guy that was at work all day. When he decided he wanted to move to the other side of the world, I'd shouted my lungs out. All the anger that I'd held in all those years came out and suffocated me. He couldn't expect me to leave my life behind? My friends? I've lived here all my life!
Tomorrow is the big day. I roll my eyes and settle my head down on my forearms again. Tomorrow we'll take a plane to England and I'll leave my normal life behind. We'll go to the boring, grey house in the city and then I'll be shipped off to boarding school.
I shrug again. Boarding school. Unlike my friend Bella's parents, my parents have never threatened to send me to a boarding school. I've never given them a reason to. But Bella had gone crazy whenever her mother had told her that, even if it was just a joke. So it became a place of nightmares for me too. Of course, it couldn't be as bad as Bella had imagined when she was seven, but still.
I fumble under my pillow until I find my cell phone and I dial Bella's number. I just hope she will pick up. She is probably out with Jude, our other best friend and, since about a week ago, Bella's boyfriend.
The funny thing was, the three of us had known each other from birth and Bells had never even shown any interest in Jude until I'd dated Jude's older brother Chase. It was like she needed to be reminded Jude was a guy too.
"Hey, Kat," her voice says at the other end of the line. "What's up?"
"I feel lonely," I say and my throat tickles. I cough once. I wonder if she thinks I'm being a baby. Bells has always been the strong one of the two of us.
"Oh, honey," she says, "do you want me to come over? We could watch a movie?" I can hear she actually doesn't really want to. She probably really is with Jude. So I lie to her.
"No, the DVD player is already packed. Just have fun, okay? Both of you."
"Take care, Kat," I hear Jude say on the background. Bells is more compassionate.
"I'll see you at the airport tomorrow, okay?"
"Yeah, see you, Bells."
Kat, you've got to end the pity party, I think to myself. I lift my head again and look at the digital clock on my cell. Half past seven. Mum and dad will be done with their dinner by now.
I get up slowly and take a look at myself in the mirror. My strawberry blond hair has grown back to shoulder length already. Of course it will take years to grow it back to the length it used to be, but for some reason I don't really miss the long, golden locks. My red tank top and beige shorts are crinkled and have folds everywhere. I am going to have to iron them before we leave the house. I am being recalcitrant, not untidy.
My stomach starts growling as I make my way down the stairs. I love me some meat and right now, I can smell the really well-filled stew in the kitchen. I sneak in to fill a plate and take it upstairs.
"Katherine, we need to talk." I look up from the stove and follow the voice to the living room. My dad is standing there, one hand on his hip, one against the wall. I know I won't be able to get out of this. He just called me Katherine and he never calls me that. I nod at him, stuffing my mouth with stew so I won't have to start the conversation.
"Things haven't been quite normal between you, me and your mum lately," he starts. I just think: no shit? "I hope we can set off in a better manner when we arrive in England."
"Of course we can." I put another mouthful of dinner in my mouth before I say the rest of what I am thinking. Because you're going to put me away as soon as you can.
"I really hope so, Kate. I know you don't like this decision, but after the passing on of your grandmother and grandfather, the decision to go back to your mother's family is the only right one."
"I know." But I don't agree. How is it right to take me away from all I've ever known? In my seventeen years, I've never even seen my grandparents from England, my mum's parents. They've never gone through the trouble to come visit us, even when dad offered to pay the tickets.
Dad seems to be taken aback by my compliance. His eyebrows rise and his eyes grow big before he masks the expression with a frown. "Good, good." He mumbles and he sits down at the bar. He pats the chair next to him. I take another mouthful of stew before I warily take the seat.
Dad and I used to do this a lot. Sit together while I have dinner I mean. He and I have a lot in common, actually. We're both pretty laid back, we both love to sit in the back garden and listen to children playing on the beach at day and the rushing sound of the waves at night. We used to do a lot of things together when I was a kid. I guess that sort of went away after I grew up and he started working more and more.
"So..." dad starts, but his voice trails off. I look up from my plate and lay my spoon down. For the first time in my life, I notice the fine silver hairs that streak his own rich brown. I hadn't thought about the fact that he's growing older too. I watch him take a deep breath and start again. "So, are you looking forward to the new school? I've heard that it's a good school for kids like you."
I raise an eyebrow and try to make sure my voice doesn't sound like I'm accusing him of something. "What's that supposed to mean?" I ask him, "Kids like me?"
He sighs. "I didn't mean anything by that. I was just saying... sporty kids, you know." I return to my dinner and watch the seconds pass by on the clock. I don't look up for a second time when he continues. "Look, Kate, this isn't the easiest thing to do for me either. I've lived here longer than you have and I really do have my life here. More than you do."
"Then why move?" I ask him, quietly. For once, he doesn't act like he hasn't heard me.
"Because I love your mother. Don't forget she did the same for me. She had a life in England, just as you and I have a life here. But she gave it up so she could be here with me. So we could have you. And because I love her, we can't stay here. Imagine what it would be like if we stayed here. You'd never meet your grandparents before they die. Your mother wouldn't have a chance to say goodbye to them. Would you really wish that on her?" I hadn't thought about it, to be honest.
"So this is another one of those 'sacrifice for your loved ones' things?" I see a little light twinkle in his grey eyes.
The seeing off party at the airport isn't as big as I had guessed it would be. Chase, Jude and Bella are here, just like my aunt Laurie, dad's sister, and her five year-old daughter Alice. Aunt Laurie says uncle Jeremy has to work and says sorry.
I had expected some of mum's fake-friends to at least go through the trouble of seeing her off, but the only person that has showed up is old lady Jackson, whom mum has been doing the groceries for for more than three years now. She used to babysit me when I was little. She calls me miss Katherine.
Chase comes over to me while my mum and dad are busy talking to the others. He drapes his left arm around my shoulders and hugs me sideways. I smile at him.
"Hey, thanks for coming." I lean my head against his chest. He messes up my hair and kisses my forehead.
"No problem. I wouldn't miss it." He's always been like this. He's the sweetest guy I've ever dated. Not that that lasted all that long. After three dates, we ended up kissing. But it'd felt wrong to me and apparently to him too. We'd broken up the next day, laughing about it. He was more like a brother to me now. Bells still jokes about her getting one of the wanted Emmerson brothers instead of me.
"Oh, Kate," Chase suddenly says and I feel him wipe something wet off my cheek. I hadn't noticed that I'd started crying. I shake his arm off and wipe the tears away with the back of my hand. Then I put on a big smile and face Chase, Jude and Bells.
"OK, so here's the deal," Bells says, "You're going to e-mail us every single day. And at least one of us is going to answer every day. We'll set up an account that all three of us can look at. We'll let you know."
"Thanks, guys, but you really don't have to go through so much trouble just for –"
"It's no trouble. We're going to drag you through this thing whether you like it or not." Her Italian accent is thicker when she gets wound up. "I'm going to try to come over in the next summer, OK? You ask your parents if you're allowed to come over here, OK? And we can always skype and call each other and stuff."
"And stuff," Jude repeats after her and he grins. "Because we got you this." He stretches his arms and I see a little package in his hands, wrapped in blue and silver wrapping paper.
"Oh, you shouldn't have!" Still, I happily take the present from them. I love presents. It sounds silly and a little spoiled, but I really do. Underneath the wrapping paper is a box, showing a picture of a webcam. They really didn't have to.
"Guys, this is amazing!" I look each of them in the eyes before looking at the box again. "Thank you so much!"
"It's got a built-in microphone," Chase explains as he turns the box around in my hands and points at the list of properties. "There's some more it can do, but you'll have to figure that out yourself."
"What if it doesn't work?" I ask, afraid of technical problems. I'm not at all good with computers or anything technical. I can do what I have to do, and that's all. "I can hardly send it halfway 'round the world just to return it."
"It works," Chase says, "I tested it." Again, I look at all of them and I feel fresh tears forming in the corners of my eyes.
"I'm gonna miss you all so much!" I say, half sobbing, which is the sign for a giant group hug.
Alice gives me a drawing of me and her in the garden playing with her pitbull puppy Spikey. Spikey looks like a sausage. Aunt Laurie gives me a big hug and tells me I can always stay at her place if I come over in the holidays.
Then we pass through the gate and I wave my friends goodbye for at least a year. I sleep through most of the flight to Sumatra, though afterwards I wish I'd saved my tiredness for the boring flight to Europe. We stop at the airport in Amsterdam to go on a smaller airplane to London Stansted. My mother's two older brothers wait for us there to drive us to our new house.
Actually, the new house isn't all that bad. It's a big Tudor house, the one right next to my grandparents'. The room my parents say is for me, has windows and a balcony on the south side, which would be perfect to get tanned. Too bad I'm not going to be staying here.
"Here, darling," one of my never before seen uncles says to me. I believe it's uncle Herbert, though he and uncle Stanley look very alike, so I'm not sure. He passes me a box and a flyer. "That's the school you're going to." He taps his finger on the picture on the flyer. 'Sunset Shoreline Private School' is written across it in navy and green letters. "Your cousin goes there too, so you just ask her if there's anything you need, okay?" He turns around and leaves me staring at the picture.
"What's the box for?" I ask him, just before he leaves the room.
"Ah, it holds you uniform and other information. I believe Erin has also put in your books for this year. She did the shopping for you, so you could rest and get adjusted before the year actually starts." He waves at me and makes his way down the stairs across from my door. He reminds me of Harry Potter's uncle from the movies, waggling around with his big body. Though he is a lot friendlier, I can see he doesn't care about what a teenager wants at all. I don't think he even knows how ignorant he is. I don't think I'll mind not seeing him and his brother.
I put the box down and look out of the window. Even though the rain is making it hard to see far away, I like the fact that I can at least smell the sea from here. It sort of makes me feel at home.
Which is really stupid, because I don't want to feel at home here. I don't even want to start liking this house, this room. This country. I'm still hoping for a move back to New Zealand. It might sound a little spoiled, but I wish my parents had thought a little more about how this would affect me. I just miss my friends, my own room, my shopping mall. And honestly? I'm not that fond of the rain here either. I sigh. I miss the sunny beach behind the house too.
"Getting settled?" I hear my mum ask and I turn around. Is it even possible for her to look even more tired than she did back home? I just nod and look out the window again. Because of the thick rain, all I see is our reflections. I watch her step closer to me. "I'm sorry, Katherine. I know you don't want to go to Sunset, but I honestly do think that's the better thing to do. I don't want you to be alone at home all the time."
"I used to be alone all the time back home." I wrap my arms around myself and try to get used to the fact that my parents are going to put me out like garbage.
"You were with your friends all the time, that's different." She stops talking when she sees my face change as she mentions Bella, Jude and Chase. I watch her take a deep breath. "I'm going to take you to Sunset tomorrow. So just get your room ready, OK?" She turns around and walks down the stairs again to get some more boxes.
"I don't see the point," I say to no one.
I feel... well, sort of like a monkey.
I know my dear sister tried her hardest to make us all look nice and stuff, but I can't get comfortable in my – a little too small – beige tuxedo. My mother has been tugging the vest in different directions for the past five minutes to get it right, but eventually she just sighed and said it was impossible with a son growing that fast. The thing is: I haven't been growing for at least a year.
"Charlie, stand still for a minute!" Sarah squeals and grabs the photo camera off the side table. "You look adorable!" I turn to her and tug my sleeves some more hoping they'll stretch a little to cover my wrists.
"Isn't it bad luck to see the bride before the wedding?" I ask her when after she puts the camera down and comes over to adjust my bowtie. She ruffles my hair and beams her brightest smile at me.
"That's just the groom, not the baby brother. Maybe we should have gotten you a bigger tux." She cocks her head to the right and seems to be contempt with the bowtie.
"Never mind, Sarah, it's your day to shine, not mine."
"That rhymes, Charlie, and yes, you are completely right. But I still feel a little sorry for putting you into that." She giggles and picks the camera up again. "I'm going to check on Pip! See you in a bit! Bye, mum!" After that she lifts the skirt of her dress a bit on one side, holding the camera in the other hand, and runs out of the room. I shake my head and look at my mother, sitting in the corner of the room.
"Don't you worry, mum?" I ask her, nodding at the door. She looks up with a smile on her face and I notice a tear trickling down her cheek.
"Of course I do, dear," she says and wipes the single tear away. "Sarah'll always be my baby, but I also know that Terry will take care of her just fine, hon. I just really want her to be happy."
"But she's still so young," I say, looking in the mirror again. I don't see myself marrying in three years.
"Your dad and I were both twenty when we got married. That's a year younger than Sarah."
"Yeah, but you guys are hippies. Sarah's not." She laughs and I smile too.
"That's true," she says, "but Sarah's a smart girl. She knows what she's doing. As for me having to give the care for my girl to Terry, I've still got Pip."
"I guess so. I can't believe she's already coming to Sunset with me, you know."
"And I can't believe that it's already your last year there. But let's not focus on school today, shall we? I think we have a very beautiful ceremony to attend to."
"Of course you think it's a beautiful ceremony, you planned the whole wedding."
She smiles again, gets up and hooks her arm through mine. "I'm sure you'll think so too."
I look at her beaming face and can't help but think she's the greatest mum in the world. "I can't believe your giving your daughter away to a Welshman."
She laughs out loud now and shakes her head and from what I know from memory, that means she's not laughing about the joke, but at my sense of humour. "Neither can I. Good thing your father's doing it."
Mum was right. The ceremony was beautiful. I wouldn't have expected otherwise from a world renown wedding planner. Pip glowed when she stood next to her sister, holding her bouquet. Terry and Sarah said their pledges and kissed when the priest said they could. And then they were married.
After the church we all went to a venue with white crystal chandeliers and a very French feeling to it. It wasn't what I would have wanted at all, but Sarah had always loved frilly things like that, so I guess it was a success.
People lined up to congratulate the happy couple and hand over presents, so I just hung around the back until the buffet was served and all our relatives and friends sat down for dinner. Then I went over. I smacked Terry on his shoulders and hugged my big sister.
"I want to dance with you too tonight, brother," Sarah says before I sit down for dinner myself.
"Not a chance that I'm dancing with you tonight," I say. "Or with anyone for that matter. I can't dance and you know it." I shake my head all the way through the sentence. "And this curry is really good, you should try it."
"Oh, come on. Pip agreed to dance with Terry too!" She looks at me with big blue puppy eyes. Won't work on me.
"Pip looks cute even if she flunks it. She's eleven years old for crying out loud."
"Don't be grumpy on my big day!" she pleads and she pouts, because she knows she won't get her way with her stubborn brother.
Terry's grin has been getting bigger throughout our conversation and now my sister throws him an accusing look.
"Sorry," Terry laughs and he kisses her quickly before he goes to get them both a drink.
"You look happy," I tell Sarah and she nods.
I end up dancing with Sarah anyway, because she plays the bride's card, saying it's the only time she'll ever ask me to dance. It's horrible. Laughing, we give up after one song and go to the bar for a drink.
"So how come you couldn't get a date to my wedding?" Sarah asks when I'm sipping my coke. She looks at me, but her face isn't serious. It's just a question.
"It's not that I couldn't." I drink some more and think about her question. "I didn't feel like taking any girl here. There's a difference in taking someone to a pub and taking someone to a wedding don't you think?"
"So still nothing serious?" She shakes her head while she asks it. Then she smiles and gives me a quick hug. "You'll get there eventually." She looks around. "I mean, if it can happen to me..."