While you were sleeping
I was listening to the radio
Wondering what you're dreaming when
It came to mind that I didn't care

- Matchbox Twenty

Chapter Five: With A Knife


Daniel
Three weeks until Christmas, 2004


Daniel Thomas
PO Box 2345
Melbourne, Australia
VIC 3000

Dear Dan,

How're things going? I hope everything alright with everything. Has dad got a girlfriend yet? It's so cold here; I sleep with three thick blankets every night.

I know it's a bit archaic, me writing a letter when the world is open to with full of possibilities, i.e. the internet. But I love getting mail, which is why you have to reply (if you have time to reply) to this letter by writing it, too.

Things are going alright here at school, even though mid-years are looming near. I'm not sure I want to attend Mont Blanc next year, because I don't want to drain your tennis funds or anything. By the way, congrats on beating that poor German guy earlier this year. He looked like he was crying when he walked off of that court, I'm telling you. And you better watch out for that Russian who has the potty mouth. What's his name? Yuri Ande-something? You're going to meet him again on court, and you're going to beat him without doing anything. His mouth's going to do the job for him, you mark my words.

I'm beginning to wonder about what I should do when I leave school. I'd always wanted to be a journalist, but I know mum wanted be to turn out like Zeke, or to be a doctor. But no, none of those are for me.

Went skiing yesterday for PE. Nearly broke my wrist, I think. I fell on it doing a turn, and I couldn't get up—but luckily, I just pulled a muscle.

Harry's alright, in case you wondering (not). I know you said he looked shifty, but guess what he got me for our two year anniversary last week. Go on, guess.

A diamond necklace.

Yeah, you read right.

A DIAMOND necklace. His dad's pretty rich, mind you, so it's not like he can't support me and Harry when we decide to go one step further from the diamond necklace. He is so sweet, I want to squeal.

But enough of that. What's this I hear of you being engaged to Hilary Tanekides? I had to ask one of my friends to interpret that name for me, because I recognised it, but couldn't put a face to the name. Dan, you can do better than a failed popstar. Come on. And then a couple of months after that, I heard you were going out with that Kelly Clarkson chick. Daniel! What's with the singers? I admit, Kelly's absolutely gorgeous, but when you break her heart and tear it into little pieces, she'll write a song about you. I can just picture it now … it'll be in the top charts everywhere, and she'll be kicking your butt with the song. Mark my words with that, too.

So finished your Christmas shopping yet? Probably not. You're not an Ezekiel, who goes around and gets it done even before the Christmas decorations for the stores are up. And you know that's saying something. Don't leave things to the last minute, though.

As for a present for me, I don't mind a new iPod, wink wink. Teacher Deakin confiscated mine when she saw it in Math. Apparently, the white headphone thingo was poking out from the blazer pocket. I forgot to put it away into my locker during morning assembly, and she caught me at a time that I just momentarily forgot to do what I'm supposed to do with an MP3 player—hide it. Well, that's six minutes of work on your part down the drain.

I have to go now, the bell for the end of lunch's about to ring, and I still need to stuff down a packet of Doritos before somebody steals it away in Literature. Send my love to Zeke and everybody. Don't forget, I want you with a steady girlfriend by the time I come home from school for good in about two years.

Alanna

P.S.: Did I tell you? Probably not. I got my belly button pierced!

P.P.S.: Don't tell Zeke, I want to be the one to see his reaction when I get home or when I visit.

P.P.P.S.: Enclosed are some pictures from school. These're my friends from the left: Michael, Peter, Vivienne, and Mieke. They're in my Lit class. Viv's the one who steals my Doritos. – Alanna


Alanna Thomas
Dormitory 10C
c/o Mont Blanc Academy
Sion, Switzerland

Dear Al,

Of course I have time to reply to your letter. Why wouldn't I? Okay, so maybe I'm going around the world travelling and all, but whatever. Which reminds me, is Zurich near that place where your school is? Where's your school again? Sion? That's right, Sion. I remember it by that whole Priory of Sion thing from the Da Vinci Code. Is it near that place? I have a tournament at Zurich in June and I want to visit. It's scorching here. Just yesterday, we had a maximum temp of thirty-nine degrees. Phew.

Alanna, you are going to stay in school, and you are going to get a degree at University. Don't talk about wasting my tennis funds crap. Shut up and take the money, oh dear sister.

I don't know what you should be. You're good at writing, I know that. You have a way with words. So why not a journalist? You know I'll support you, along with dad and Zeke, the entire way through.

As for your near-broken wrist, I hope you at least got it bandaged, if not put in a cast. I don't want to see you with a wonky wrist like that poor guy from that medical show a couple years back. I think it was ER.. And this Harry character … I don't even know his last name! Photo, last name, date of birth, star sign, medical history, the works, please. Just because you're on the other side of the world, doesn't mean you can't avoid my brotherly wrath. And as for that diamond necklace … it's a nice gesture and all, but I think you should give it back. I don't want to be the ball-breaker, but Alanna, it's a diamond necklace. If it really is diamonds. Give it back. It's diamonds! I'll buy you your own, given to you by someone safer like your big brother, when you come visit.

Okay, so Hilary Tanekides … we weren't engaged. I met her at some bar when she was promoting that sitnker of a film last year where she sung the theme song for, and what we did wasn't very mature … why am I even telling you this? What're you, sixteen? And as for Kelly Clarkson … I heard a rumour somewhere she's already written a song about me, and it has some pretty strong lyrics. Eesh. I mean, we weren't even going out for more than three weeks!

I haven't finished my Christmas shopping yet. I haven't even started, to be honest. But I always come through with the goods. You know I do. Coming home for the hols, Al? Hope so. Dad wants to see you. You know how you remind him of mum so much. You have to admit, you do look a lot like her. What colour iPod do you want? There's that U2 limited edition one. I know you like them. Did you want that? Please say yes, because I've already bought it. I don't want to go back and return it. I had enough trouble actually getting out into the city and tracking it down with a pack of hounds with cameras at my heels. And excuse me? I work hard in those six minutes or whatever you say. I do my job, I enjoy it, I get paid, and I spend the money on whatever I want. Most of it, anyway.

What're you studying in Literature? Is it still that Girl With A Pearl Earring book? That's a good book. I thought I'd force myself to read it so for the next time you came home, I wouldn't look like such a dork the next time I bring my sister to a gala event, and she starts yabbering away at some book editor about the highlights of literature throughout the last Twentieth and early Twenty-first centuries. Griet sounds like a babe.

Eat those Doritos but don't forget to exercise. You're not fat, you're actually in need of some more bulking up, from these pictures you've sent me with that letter. Tell that Mieke girl she has nice hair, and that Viv girl that your brother thinks she's hot. Just kidding. But go on, tell you if you want to. Ha ha.

Gotta go, Terry's breathing down my back. I need to practice some serves. I'm working on the girlfriend thing. By the way, have you seen that movie The House That Jack Built? That Marcela Peters girl is gorgeous! The plotline for the story, if you ask me, was a little weak, but she stole the show!

Why am I telling you this?

Anyway, write back. This is fun.

Love lots,
Your brother Dan

P.S.: I won't tell if you won't. I have a tattoo on my right shoulder blade that nobody knows about, except probably you now. Hurt like hell to get it done. Hope you got a qualified person to do the procedure. – Dan



To:
Daniel Thomas(thomasd (a) tennisaustralia (dot) com)
From: Alanna Thomas (thoma (a) montblanc (dot) switzerland (dot) edu (dot) com)
Subject: Hush

I know I said I like getting proper mail, but I don't have time to write a proper letter right now. Don't tell Zeke or anybody—but I've got detention! Isn't it exciting! I've never been to detention before … I feel rather rebellious. But in reply to your last letter … thanks for the iPod, Dan. Those Limited Edition ones are a bit expensive, though. You shouldn't have. A Mini would've been fine. And that Marcela Peters … she spells trouble, I think. You know how many exes she's had? Not as much as you, I presume, but it sure seems like she's catching up. By the way, I think I love Harry. I'm not sure if this is the right question to ask you this, but what does love feel like? I'm being serious.

I gotta go! I just got called through the PA for afternoon detention! :D How exciting!

- Alanna



Daniel
Present Day

"Uh … Lora, right?" I asked tentatively, peering through the medium-height cubicle to watch her roll herself into a ball.

At first, I wasn't sure if she heard me, but as I was about to repeat my question, the ball squeaked a meagre, "Yeah?"

"I have your filofax," I said weakly.

"Okay," the muffled voice said.

"I'll just put it on your desk."

"Uh-huh."

I put the organiser on her desk slowly, as if Ellora Ashton could explode at any minute. I stood silently at the side of her cubicle, every once in a while looking around at the people watching my every move. The gay guy—whose name was Oliver—was ushering the people watching back to their cubicles, making them get back to work.

I looked back down at Ellora. Her head was suddenly beginning to lift, albeit very slowly, as if she was surveying her surroundings. She turned her head around slowly, as if she knew I was right behind her.

"Hi," she said meekly when her eyes met mine.

I pressed my lips tightly together, then cleared my throat. "I'm sorry for bothering you, but I returned your organiser … just in case you needed it, or something."

She looked terrified.

"You came all the way here just to return an organiser to me? What for?"

I shrugged. To be honest, I could feel my pits beginning to moisten. I shifted uncomfortably where I stood. "I was just being a good citizen, I guess."

"Oh." Slowly, she stood up, straightening herself out. She dusted her skirt off, and stood in front of me with her shoulders hunched and guarded. "Thankyou, then," she added, pressing her own lips as I did mine.

"You're very welcome," I replied.

Silence can be so excruciating.

She opened her mouth. "The organiser was sort of empty."

I knew that. "Oh, really? Well, that's still alright. It's back in your hands anyway."

She nodded, clasping her right elbow with her left hand awkwardly. "Um … how did you know I worked here?"

I'd already made up my excuse for having the weird need to have a school reunion. "I read your stuff in the paper. Very well written."

"Oh."

Ellora

I wanted him to go away. I wanted the stares to stop.

I wanted to go home.

Where he wasn't.

I didn't need him right now.

Daniel

"Well, I guess I better get going. I still have training to do and stuff … I just came by to, you know, return this." I pointed to the innocent catalyst of events.

She nodded her head. "Yeah … I better get to work … you know, begin to circulate rumours and stuff." She laughed.

I smiled awkwardly. Her smile disappeared.

"Um … thankyou, Mr Thomas. Thankyou for being a … good … citizen."

She forced a smile, which was as painful for her as it was for me.

"You're very welcome," I replied.

I turned around, hesitated, and opened my mouth. "I'll … uh … see you later, then."

She nodded, slowly descending into her chair.


Ellora

To: Ollie Wheatley (oliver.wheatley (a) mmjournal (dot) com)
From: Lora Ashton (ellora.ashton (a) mmjournal (dot) com)
Subject: None

Can you spare me for an afternoon? I have something to do.

If yes, thanks.

If no, thanks, but I've already signed off. I'm in a cab right now.

- Lora



To:
Lora Ashton (ellora.ashton (a) mmjournal (dot) com)
From: Ollie Wheatley (oliver.wheatley (a) mmjournal (dot) com)
Subject: Lora
ATTACHMENTS: profile questionnaire.doc (30KB)

You know I can't just "give" you an afternoon off. As much as it rocks for you to have connections with people higher up in the Journal hierarchy, doesn't mean we're doormats or things you use. Don't be a user. I could get fired. As much as I feel for you now, I can't give you the afternoon off. Come back, please.

Your loving friend,

Ollie

P.S. Lora, I need you to fill out the attachment for the monthly profile. I need it on my desk—or in my inbox—by three this afternoon. I need to put it on page 15—just before our columns. See you tomorrow, then ;)



To:
Carla Morrison (carla.morrison (a) mmjournal (dot) com)
From: Ollie Wheatley (oliver.wheatley (a) mmjournal (dot) com)
Subject: Quick

Write a story about those pictures I gave you, like, ages ago. The ones where Daniel cheats on both his chickadees. On my desk in two hours!

- Ollie



Daniel

Her perfume wafter into my nose as I caressed her hair while her head lay on my chest. I could feel her heartbeat as I stared at the ceiling; a sort of comforting rhythm which helped me think.

"Marcela, what do you think about meeting my family?" I asked quietly, almost whispering. I wasn't sure if she was awake, or if she was sleeping.

The hand on my chest curled into a ball, and she propped herself up, turning her head so that it was still on my chest, yet she faced me directly.

"Your family, Daniel?" she asked, her eyes glittering in the dim daylight spilling in through the window.

"Yeah," I answered, staring into her face. Confusion spread onto her features, wrinkling her forehead and lowering her eyebrows.

"Is there something wrong? Is everything alright?" she asked, propping herself onto her elbow.

"Everything's fine," I said. "It's just that I need to go home for a couple of days or something to sort out things with my sister. I still haven't told Terry yet, but as soon as I do, I want to leave straightaway."

She blinked, stroking my chest.

"And when I do leave, I want you to come with me."

She nodded slowly. "Of course I'll come, Daniel. Where's your childhood home, anyway?" she asked jokingly, resting her head once more onto my chest.

"Down, near the Peninsula."

A sigh escaped her mouth. "So does this mean since I'm meeting your family, we can tell them?"

I sighed as well. "Not yet, I don't think so. We've already got enough news of wedding bells at our household. One more's too much."

Marcela looked up again. "I thought your brother was already married," she said, confused.

I sighed. "This is where things get messy. My sister's the one getting married."

Marcela sat up. "Isn't she only, what, fifteen?" she exclaimed.

"Seventeen, actually. The wedding's after her birthday, though—after she turns eighteen."

"Oh," Marcela said. She swung her legs over to the side of the bed, and although still naked, she made no attempt to grab onto the blanket covering the both of us. "Well … technically, she's an adult. I think she can make her own decisions."

I shrugged. I was in no mood to argue with an actress right now.

She seemed to take the shrug as a confirmation of her speech from me. "I'm going to take a shower," she said. I glanced over at the clock sitting by my bedside table. Nearly six o'clock. "Want to come?" she said. Her voice didn't hold any connotations, instead saying it nonchalantly.

I shook my head, however. "Nah," I replied, sitting up myself. "I'm going to go for a run."

She shrugged. "Suit yourself."


"Tall black, sugar, thanks," I said, drumming my fingers on the counter as I waited for my coffee to be served.

The waitress smiled. "Coming right up, sir," she said, tilting her head to the side. Her voice had a happy Irish lilt to it.

"Are you Irish, then?" I asked. Accents always had me going.

She nodded, handing over the cup to the guy working the machine. "From Belfast."

I smiled, surprised at myself. Even though I wasn't flirting, my body seemed to be doing it for me.

Colour suffused into the girl's cheeks. She couldn't have been more than nineteen—maybe even eighteen. She certainly couldn't pass for anyone older than twenty.

The waitress handed me the coffee. "There you go, Daniel. Is there anything else you'd like?"

I looked over to the display of pastries and bread lining the counter underneath. "Um … maybe a Danish, thanks," I replied, pointing to the fruit-filled pastry with the flaky crust.

She nodded.

Handing over my money wen I had collected my food, I smiled even wider, and I could've sworn I heard her squeal.

Choosing a table in a dimly lit corner, I sat down on the chair and reclined back a little, stretching my arms up in the air. My muscles had been tense since yesterday. I sipped my coffee, burning my tongue a little. To cool it down, I took a bite of my pastry, letting the fruit inside roll around my mouth and letting the tender tissue that had been burnt cool down by the chilled fruit inside.

Another waitress, not the Irish one, came up to my table and asked if I wanted a newspaper to go with my breakfast. Not wanting to be rude, I accepted it; and she handed over the Melbourne Morning Journal. I laughed, but at the same time, a knot swelled in my stomach.

I hadn't realised that I was in the café for longer than fifty minutes—because the next thing I knew, hands clapped over my eyes.

"Guess who," she sang.

I twisted around, making the woman let go of my eyes. "Hey," I smiled, reaching over to hold her hand when she sat down.

Marcela leant over the table, kissing my lightly on the cheek. "You weren't there when I got out of the shower, then I remembered you went for a jog. I was going to cook eggs, but I just had a manicure. So I went looking for you, and now, here I am."

She smiled, and because I had nothing to say in reply to that, I smiled again.

"You want some coffee?" I asked, lifting my cup and handing it to her.

She shook her head. "No thanks, it stains your teeth."

I put the cup down. She looked around the dark corner. "I'm going to get some salad." She stood.

"It's seven thirty," I laughed. "You need something more substantial, don't you think?"

"No," she said in a serious tone.

I sighed, and stood up. "Listen, I gotta go. Sorry for just leaving you here. I'll see you this afternoon."

She pouted her famous lips—those which were so plump without ever needing any collagen. "Can we at least catch up for lunch? I feel like I'm seeing less and less of you everyday."

I nodded, holding her hand and kissing her on the lips with a quick smack. "Okay, gotta go. Love you," I said.

She nodded her head. I waited for a response. "Okay, see you at lunch. Call me when and where." She turned around and walked towards the bathroom. Changing her mind, she turned around and walked out of the café, giving me another one of those 'in the air' kisses.

I forced myself to put one foot in front of another, and walked to the counter of the café to pay for the food I had just eaten.

I smiled at the Irish waitress. "Thankyou. See you later," I said.

"See you later, Mr Thomas," she replied, tilting her head again.

I turned around, and began to jog out of the café—only to be abruptly halted by a petite woman with brown hair. The things in her arms spilled to the pavement beneath the both of us—including her laptop, which fell with a loud clunk.

She gasped.

We both bent down at the same time, incidentally making out heads bump with each other.

"Ow!" we both said at the same time, and the woman's head lifted.

"I am so sorry," she said, apologising even though it was my fault. She picked up her laptop, and groaned. "Man, am I going to get annihilated by my boss."


Disclaimers: Anything underlined! Don't sue me!

Claimers: The addresses used in this story are fictitious in my mind. So don't go writing to the addresses in case they actually DO exist. Also with the failed poptar Hilary. Made her up.

A/N: A shorter chapter than usual here. But I didn't want to go any further. School's getting really busy now, since it's getting to the end of term (go the holidays!) but as soon as Term One finishes, ill try updating Save Me.

And as for the peculiar chapter title, think about it—what's so thick there's a proverb about "cutting it with a knife"? Feel the weirdness of all the conversation of the chapter. Feel, I say!

Thanks a whole bunch to:

Special thanks to alineofprose, the artist formerly known as Fire's Child,who added me onto their Favourites Authors list. :D

Tenshistar: Your reviews keep getting nicer and nicer each time! Thanks for your support the whole way through, and look, I updated super-speedily so you won't have to hurt your knees begging any longer! Thanks for reading and reviewing!

Fire's Child: Another long review! (rubs hands together) You say you feel privileged to have been given three long paragraphs—well, I'm humbled y the fact that you took the time to review and extra long review. I wish I could learn another language besides the Italian I studied for two and a half years. Like French—I'd love to live in France and just not gain weight because of the whole "French women don't get fat" thing. As for the 04 Aus Open finals, it was between Lleyton and Marat Safin. Too bad he got knocked off in the third round of this year's Open.

I have a thing for accents too! But you already know that, my Townsville-ian friend. Auskiwindian, eh? That's an interesting thing to label yourself. Baa (LOL!)

As for your other comments, about the name "Ezekiel" usually being associated with old geysers, well, think about it. I was debating with myself whether I should've named Daniel's brother Ezekiel or Vincent, but I liked Ezekiel better, because, as you say, it's a stereotypical name. Think about it, though. Although Ezekiel's not old, he feels as if he has to act the oldest. Although he was already twenty-something when his mother died, he had to develop fatherly instincts at a pretty young age. Thus, the name.

I'm glad you think Daniel's a manwhore, yet likeable. I think if he isn't the protagonist though, you'd hate him because he is what he is. And as for Lora, some people think she's too innocent. But that's what she's all about. She's kept herself in a safe little box all her life, and hasn't forced herself to face the entire world. We'll delve into her innocent world and her early marriage later on ;) And is Every Boy's Got One the one about the cartoonist? Haven't read that yet … must get cracking.

Anywhos, another long response to your review. I love getting long ones … keep doing so, by all means! Thanks for reading and reviewing!

Rhapsody In Blue: I love getting long reviews. I relish them.

Yes, there was an original Rebound Ace, which I thought was pretty good … until I read more and more stories and books. I read back, and I was absolutely appalled by my writing. I didn't understand why I didn't see it … it was so horrible! I cringed and cringed for days, until I put it down and just started re-writing. Goodness knows that probably, in five year's time, I'll cringe when I read my stories that I have up now, too. I hope I update this regularly, too, because I know I've been slacking off for both my stories—which I shouldn't really do.

One of my problems in the previous version was that I was so hyperactive about it all that I didn't plan it enough or plan out the characters well enough. I'm glad that me planning the story out better has given them "more flesh" as you say. I know how the story will end—it's the same ending I had in mind when I was writing the old version—but I want to steady the pace a little.

I know lots about Australia, but not much about tennis—which is where my sister comes into mind. She's a tennis fiend, plays it regularly (sort of), so she's going to be labelled as my tennis consultant when I get to the nitty-gritty of tennis styles. Yes, I am fifteen, but I'm turning sixteen in about three month's time! And thanks for the comment … most are disbelieving when I tell them I'm fifteen. They think I'm at least thirteen or something (grumbles).

Well, thanks for reading and reviewing—it means a lot!

Heartless Writer: The siblings will begin to play a bigger role in the next few chapters or so. And as for the women's reactions in the office, it's a pretty clichéd reaction, but eh, whatcha gonna do? Clichés are clichés because they're overused, and they're overused because they're so good that nobody can think of anything else to replace them ;D. Hope you had fun in school, and thanks for reading and reviewing!

minute-glass: Thanks for putting me onto your probably already full author alert! Here's another chapter to read, and thanks for reading, reviewing, and putting my onto your alerts!

Kelyn: Hello there! Thanks for reviewing, and I hope you stick around!

eolandella: Lol, no, you haven't reviewed before, but that's okay, because you're here now! I haven't heard any reviews for Meg Cabot's works, but all I know is that I love it, and nobody could stop me loving it ;D. As for clichés, reading my response to Heartless Writer :D I love clichés. As long as writers don't stick WORD for WORD to clichés, I'm all a-okay. I guess her writings are the book equivalents of chick-flicks, which give us chickas unrealistic expectations. But eh, whatcha gonna do? I love them all the same. I'm going to cyberspace hug you now. (hugs) There! Thanks for reading and reviewing!

Thank you everyone!

- Small Marshmallow