1. Moving Day
1. Moving Day
I packed the last piece of clothing from my draws and started on my wardrobe.
"Aurora, sweetie, do you need any help?"
My mother, Olivia, wouldn't leave me alone. She had sent my stepfather and my half-siblings out to the zoo so I had the day to pack all my belongings away in peace. Now she was the one pestering me.
"No, Mum, I'm alright. What time are the kids and Mathieu coming home?"
"They were going to the pictures after the zoo and the movie finishes at six, so I'd say maybe seven. Don't forget to leave out some clothes for your trip tomorrow. I'm going to miss you. I wish you would stay. I'm not going to have a shopping partner or someone to have girls-night-ins with anymore."
Olivia was trying to guilt trip me. She needed me, I knew that, but she had the kids. Once they got older, she would have two more daughters with whom she could go shopping. Truth was I didn't really want to go. I had made up my mind though and I was sticking to it.
"Mum, I want to go and stay with Dad, it will be fun. You will be fine without me. You still have Mathieu, Alaina, Lottie and Lucas. I'm sure you will cope fine without me."
I hoped this was true. I would never forgive myself if I was to leave my mother and she couldn't cope without me. I could never hurt her; I love her too much. I knew leaving would hurt her a little, but I knew she would be fine and that she wanted me to do what I wanted to. If that meant I moved away then she would support me in that.
"Ok then sweetheart, if this is what you want then I say go for it. Are you cooking dinner tonight?"
"Yes, Mum, I'll be down there soon."
As I folded and placed my clothing in my suitcase, I thought about what I was doing. I had decided that I needed to get away from here. I did not fit in well, I needed space from my siblings and my father's was the best place for it. My father, Robert, lived on the outskirts of a small and quiet suburban town in Victoria, about a 3-hour trip away from my home town of Palm Beach, Queensland. He and his wife, Renea, worked most hours of the day. I was flying out in the morning. It was about a two-hour flight from Palm Beach to Melbourne airport. From the airport, it was an hour's drive to the town where my Robert and Renea lived.
I need this break, I thought to myself. It will be fine. I will have fun.
If I kept telling myself this, maybe I would eventually believe it. I hadn't seen Robert in a year. Olivia decided she needed to move out of the town when I was four. She also decided she was taking me with her. Since then I had been down to visit Robert for two weeks during summer. When I got older though, I preferred to stay at home, so he came to visit me in those two weeks instead. It was two years after Olivia left Robert that he remarried. It was around the same time that Olivia remarried also.
I had finally packed the last piece of clothing I owned into my suitcase, when I realised that I had forgotten to leave out clothing for my trip the next day. I searched around in my suitcase for something to wear.
"I think you should wear you long sleeved blue top, you always look pretty in that."
Olivia could never keep away for too long.
"Thanks, Mum, I might."
I fished around for the blue top, socks, underwear and a pair of jeans.
"I still can't believe you're leaving."
Neither could I.
"It's okay, Mum, it will be fine. I will have fun." I believed this lie less when it came out of my mouth.
"Darling, dinner? It may need to be started soon so it's finished when everyone gets home?"
"Sure, Mum. I'll come down in a second."
"Ok then. I'm going out to my book club. I'll be back in an hour or so."
I zipped up my suitcase and looked at the clock. There was an hour and a half before Mathieu and the kids would be home.
There was only one problem. What was I going to cook for dinner? I'm a vegetarian and my twin half siblings Lottie and Lucas had recently copied me and gone off meat also. My other half sibling Alaina won't eat salad. My mother loved to try new things and recently made the decision to go on a new fad diet. Mathieu was the only 'normal' one out of us all; he wasn't hard to cook for, as he eats just about anything on the face of the planet.
Cooking dinner for my family is hard. The twins go on and off food as much as the weather changes. Alaina decides each day which foods she won't eat.
I walked down the stairs as I contemplated what to cook. As I walked into the kitchen, it appeared that Olivia had thought ahead. She had left the recipe for vegetable lasagne out on the counter.
I made the lasagne and put it in the oven. I lay out on the couch and turned on the television.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
Jumping off the couch, I ran into the kitchen. The lasagne was cooked perfectly. Thankfully, the oven timer had woken me up and I hadn't slept too long.
"Aurora, I'm home. Have you cooked dinner?"
"Mathieu rang. He and the kids stopped off at the mall after the pictures so they will be home a little bit later."
"Oh ok then, I'll put dinner back in the oven to keep it warm."
"Darling, I have something for you."
"What do you mean, Mum?"
"I have a present for you, because you're leaving."
Oh no. I don't like it very much when people buy me things; there is really no reason to. I also can't express my feelings. It's not that I don't want to, because most of the time I do, I just can't. I can put on a 'show' of expressing them though. Very rarely, they come pouring out. Nobody can figure out why I can't express emotions, I just can't.
"Oh, Mum. Umm, you shouldn't have."
She ran upstairs. She shouldn't have gotten me anything. I appreciate it, but she didn't need to.
Olivia was soon back, her hands behind her back, holding an unknown object.
"Here you go. I saw it in the mall last week and thought you would like it."
I sat at the table and she gave me a small package. I pulled off the ribbon. I was careful when opening it, because it was wrapped so perfectly. I peered slowly, tentatively, into the box.
Inside laying on a piece of foam, was a gold heart locket necklace. I opened it and saw that there was a photo of Olivia, Mathieu, Alaina, Lottie, Lucas and I from last Christmas placed in one side.
"Now you will always have us with you."
I put on the necklace and placed the box on the table.
"Wait, Aurora. There is one other thing in there."
I lifted the foam that the heart had rested on. Beneath it was a bracelet, which had a charm hanging from it. The charm was a 5-point star inside a circle. In the middle of the star was a single red jewel.
"Wow, Mum. It's…it's…thanks." I was speechless.
"You're welcome, honey. Now, wash up for dinner, the kids will be here any moment now."
I walked slowly up the stairs. I couldn't believe it. I was leaving. There weren't many people here willing me to stay, my mother being one of them. I was decided though. I was leaving and that was final. No matter how much I may miss this house, the one I had basically grown up in, no matter how much I would miss Olivia I would go.
I washed my hands and splashed water over my face. I was drying them when I heard the garage door start to open. That was presently followed by screaming, shouting and arguing as the kids came through from the garage to the kitchen.
"What's for dinner, Mum?" As usual, Alaina was hungry.
"Lainey, go upstairs and wash up. That goes for you as well, Lottie and Luc. Mathieu, could you please set the table? Oh, could someone also tell Aurora to come downstairs for dinner?"
"No need, Mum. I'm coming."
I walked downstairs, passing the kids as they raced to be the first one in the bathroom. As I walked in to the kitchen, I noticed four things. Firstly, Mathieu was not putting out our normal dinner plates; he was putting out the fancy ones. Second, there were candles on the table. Thirdly, there were far too many plates set out for just the six of my family. Lastly, they fancy tablecloth was out and placed delicately on the table. Strange, we only had the table set up in such a way when we had guests.
As if on cue, the doorbell rang.
"Will someone answer the door?"
"Yes, Mum, I'll get it."
I walked to the door wondering who could be here on the last night I was spending in this house. I gazed through the windows as I pondered the thought. As far as I could see, there were no cars parked out the front of our house. Though, it was possible that the car carrying whoever was at the door was parked at the end of our long driveway, behind the trees and out of sight.
I slowly opened the door a fraction, to find my grandparents standing on our front porch, holding a couple of bags.
"Aurora, dear, may we come in?"
I opened the door further to let them pass. Both my grandparents flitted past me and headed straight for the kitchen. I had only just closed the door and started on my way back to the kitchen when the doorbell rang once again. This time, standing on the front porch were my mothers elder sister Georgette, her husband Tom and their two daughters, India and Diana, also holding a few bags.
"Hi, Aurora." The girls, twins, chorused in perfect unison. When we were younger, I believed that they practiced the timing just to try, and successfully manage, to weird me out.
"May we come in sweetie?" My Aunt Georgie calls everyone sweetie. She even once called a guy who cut her off on the road "sweetie". My Uncle Tom thought it was hilarious.
"Ah, yes, sure."
This evening was proving to be more then confusing. Once again, I had almost made it to the kitchen when the doorbell rang a third time. I flung open the door, to find my mothers younger brother Eric, his wife Amelia, their son Edward and daughter Lilly.
"Come in." I managed to get in before they could speak. I followed them into the kitchen. "Is there possibly going to be any other family members joining us tonight?"
"No sweetheart that should be all. Though, I do think that Rose and Alice will be joining us. I asked them to come last week. Rose said that Alice may bring her boyfriend along as well."
Rose, Rosalie, is Olivia's best friend. They have known each other since they were in kindergarten. I have also has the pleasure of knowing Rose's daughter Alice since she was born, only two days later then me. The unfortunate side is that apart from Olivia and my family, Alice would be the one I would dearly miss. We had grown up together, spent all our free time at each other's houses and helped each other through the toughest times. She wasn't too happy I was leaving her behind. I had good reason to believe though that Alice would be ok without me here.
Unlike me, Alice had other friends with whom she was close. She hung out around them at school, and occasionally I would tag along, but they never seemed to approve of me. Still, no matter what, we had remained the best of friends.
Her new boyfriend however, was something on which we didn't agree. He was the cause of one of the biggest fights we have ever had. She may be in love with him, but I have seen a few different sides to him. She thinks he is sweet, kind, caring and that he has no dark side. I have seen this nonexistent dark side and it is not pretty. I tried to tell her about what I had seen numerous times. Alice, though, refuses to listen to reason, so I dropped the argument.
"Ah, that's ah, good Mum." I turned awkwardly to my cousin Edward. "I thought you had a girlfriend. Why didn't you bring her with you?"
"Oh, you mean Jemma? No, we aren't dating anymore. It's been over for ages. I thought I had already told you that."
"Did you? I apologise, I don't remember you telling me."
"I think someone is at the door, Aurora." I was so caught up in trying to remember if he had told me, that I hadn't heard the doorbell ring. "Oh, it might be Rose and Alice. Be quick sweetie."
I walked to the door as slowly as possible, trying to prolong the time without them here. I loved Alice and her mother, but if Alice's boyfriend was coming, or if he still was the same jerk that he had been, I didn't know how it would go.
I opened the door, expecting to see three people, but I only saw two.
"Aurora, darling! Oh my god, I can't believe that you're leaving. It's going to be strange around here without you. I've known you since you were this high." Rose indicated that I had been as high as her ankle.
"I didn't think I was that small!"
"You were crawling, darling. You were as high as my ankles."
"I moved here when I was four, I was taller then that!"
"Aurora, darling, you're mother brought you here for a visit when you were just one."
"Oh, I didn't know that."
"Well, now you do darling. Where is your mother? In the kitchen, I suppose. Knowing her, she's probably making last minute changes to the food that's been cooked. That reminds me; Alice baked some muffins and a cake specifically for today. They must be put in the fridge; do you think there is enough room?"
With that, Rose walked in still talking, and headed for the kitchen.
"So…" I turned to look at Alice who was just standing there in the doorway looking slightly ashamed. "Are we talking?"
"I'm…I'm sorry for the way I acted. It was trivial and stupid. I thought you were jealous or that you were just trying to get us to fight, but then I realised something. You're not to blame. No one is. I just think that maybe you read him the wrong way or something." Alice's face lit up at the possibility of this being true.
"I don't know Alice. You know I'm good at reading people. I just don't get the right vibes from this guy. He is just a bit creepy, that is all."
"Ok. I'm sorry Rora. I didn't mean to get so upset…"
"It's ok Ali. You were just trying to defend yourself and your boyfriend."
"I thought it would be for the best if I didn't bring Brad."
"Thank you for thinking that, it's very thoughtful."
I no longer cared what had happened the day of our argument. Alice was my best friend. I pulled her through the front door and gave her a hug. Neither of us was able to hold grudges against the other for very long at all. After a short time, we would always make up and become friends again.
"Can you believe my mother threw me a going away party? She knows I'm not one for big celebrations. I didn't want to make a big thing out of this."
"Actually, I heard this was all Mathieu's idea. He wanted to give you a proper goodbye."
I was speechless. When Olivia and Mathieu started dating, I was about five. I didn't like him; the feeling was mutual. Over the two years they dated, we started to get along a bit more. They got married and shortly after Alaina was born, so I became an older sister. Mathieu and I began to understand each other a bit more, he left me to my own device and I to his. When the twins were born, I felt the need to get out of the house more. Mathieu would argue for me to be allowed out. He knew that I needed space, and he understood. Never, in my wildest thoughts, would I ever suspect that he would be the one to throw me a farewell party.
"I know, I never thought it would be true either."
"Well…wow…I have no idea what to say." I wasn't shocked per say but I certainly was surprised. "How about we go have dinner?"
"Sounds good. Is the, ah, whole family here?"
"Certainly is." Alice got along with my cousins about as well as I did. It didn't help any that my cousin Edward had a big crush on her. Lilly is the only cousin of mine with whom we both get along well. She is almost twenty-three; we go to her for advice. Sometimes we just chat with her, and on occasion, we go out for coffee or to the movies together. "The cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, all of them are here. Mathieu's parents aren't here though, nor are his brother and his family. I heard they all went to Switzerland, the whole family, and didn't want to invite Mathieu and us because the twins irritate his parents."
"Well, that wouldn't surprise me; the twins can be quite irritating."
"Still, it is rude don't you think?" It wasn't as if I wanted to go to Switzerland with Mathieu's family. It was the principle of the thing.
Alice simply nodded. We walked, or skipped rather, arm in arm into the dining room.
"Ah, here she is! The guest of honour is finally gracing us with her presence."
"I'm sorry Grandma Kate. I just had to talk to Alice for a second." Olivia and Rose's firm gaze at us did not go unnoticed. Of course, they knew how our last meeting had ended. They had been downstairs listening as we had our fight. We sure knew how to scream that day. "We just needed to sort some things out. So, who organised this gathering?"
"That would be me. Please, sit down girls." Mathieu motioned to the two empty seats at the head of the table. "I have something to say before we start eating.
"As we all know, Aurora is a bright girl." Oh god, speech. This was not going to be good. I could already feel my cheeks flushing red.
"She is very mature and kind hearted. She is also quite independent. Aurora recently made the decision to move down to her fathers.
"I just wanted to tell her that she is always welcome to come home, whenever she wishes. She will be sorely missed. As you can see Aurora, all the people here love you. Your mother requested that I tell you that you must call and email as often as possible. Have fun Aurora, and don't give your father too much trouble. Ok, after dinner, we are going to have a wonderful dessert cooked for us by Rosalie and Alice…" I looked at Alice, who smiled warmly at me, then at her mother who did the same, "…and then Aurora, you will be receiving the gifts everyone has bought for you, as a farewell."
"Aurora is thankful for you to have all made the time to come and say goodbye. She also thanks you for your kindness and generosity, bringing food and getting her gifts. Last of all, she thanks you Mathieu, for throwing her this party and giving that wonderful speech." I gave Alice a huge smile.
"Thanks for that." I whispered quietly so only Alice could hear.
"Ok, now who wants garlic potatoes?"
"Thank you everyone, for coming to this dinner. I…I had not really thought about the amount of people I would be leaving behind me. I'm going to miss you guys."
"We will miss you as well sweetie."
"Thank you Aunt Georgie. Ok, I think that dinner is over. Dessert was lovely, thank you Alice and Rose it was delicious."
"Thank you darling. I think it's time to open the presents now Aurora." Rose looked at me excitedly.
"If you wish," I replied nonchalantly. I didn't particularly like the whole 'presents' side of farewell parties. Everyone always spent too much money on me, when they all could have been saving it for a better reason. "Which do I open first?"
"Open ours first sweetie, I hope you like it," Aunt Georgie said excitedly, placing a package into my hands.
I picked up the package and removed the paper. The photo on box that came out of the paper told me it was an iPod. I stared in surprise at my Aunt Georgie, who motioned to my Uncle Tom.
"It was Tom and the girl's idea. It's a black iPod classic, one hundred and twenty gigabytes. I had no idea what to get you to be quite honest," she said with a laugh.
"Thank you for this, though you really didn't need to spend this much."
"Don't fret dear, it was nothing." Aunt Amelia walked up to me next, an envelope in her hands. She passed it to me and then took a step back. I tore opened the envelope and pulled out two cards. One was a gift card for my favourite bookstore in Robert's town, the other for a video, DVD and game shop that was next door to the bookstore.
"Edward and Lilly thought of it. Lilly sent money down to your father with a request for those cards and he sent them back. There is two hundred dollars on each, so spend it wisely," Uncle Eric said, a gleam in his eyes at his apparent attempt at a joke.
"Thank you, I will. It seems I may have to get a bigger bookshelf for my room then," I said with a laugh. I was then handed a quite large package.
"It's from your Grandma and me," Grandpa Jack said. I opened the package and was stunned by the contents. It was like an electronic and food box. A portable DVD player, Playstation 3, Nintendo DS Lite and a few games, including Singstar sat in one half of the box. The other half had chocolate biscuits and sweets, my most favourite being the caramel buds, filled the rest of the space.
"This must have cost you a small fortune!" I exclaimed. I could tell my astonishment was clearly marked out on my face.
"Sweetheart, don't worry, part of it is your birthday present as well. We weren't sure we would see you before it," Grandma Kate said gently.
"My birthday isn't for another four months. Thank you for all of this, you really shouldn't, but thank you anyway."
"You welcome dear." The table fell silent.
"Do you want to go out to the den?" Alice whispered quietly into my ear. I nodded my answer to her. I decided to break the deafening silence.
"Well, Alice and I are going to retire to the den."
"I'll join you I think." Edward stared lovingly at Alice. It was obvious that even if he had already had a girlfriend, his affection for Alice was not diminished.
"We will come also." The twin's unison was getting on my nerves, at the age of fourteen you would think they were over it.
"Is there anybody else wishing to join us?" Alice was noticeably annoyed that it would not just be her and I in the den. We liked to talk, and with my cousins in there, we would have to audit what we said. The twins go to the same school as us, so anything good or secretive that we said would be spread like wild fire.
"Alaina, Lottie, Lucas, are you coming?"
"Yes, we are coming Aurora."
"Do you mind if I tag along?" Lilly was the only one polite enough to ask. She knew that we liked to spend time with just Alice and I in the den.
"No, of course we don't. Ok, if you need us, we will all be in the den then. Have fun talking about us."
"Ok honey. Don't make too much of a mess."
"We won't Mum."
We all walked out of the back door and down the garden path to the den. The den was built when I was five as a hide away. It was also built as a place my parents could send me when I was making too much noise and the wanted me out of the house. As I grew older, I used it for different things. When I was a child, the den was my magic fairy castle. When Alaina was born, I played out there to escape her crying. After Lottie and Lucas were born, I used it to get out of my crowded house. Also I was a becoming a teenager, so I hung out there with my friends. When I turned fourteen, I asked Olivia and Mathieu to put a bed in there so I could sleep out there on occasion. Whenever Olivia had a big party, or the kids had big sleepovers, I would escape the house and stay in the den. Now I used it as a retreat. Alice and I would sit out there on weekends and play games, chat or surf the net.
"Did you bring the key Aurora?"
"Oh no, Lottie, will you please run into the house. On the key hanger by the back door are my keys. The ones with the handbag key chain. Bring them out here."
"I'll be right back."
While we waited for Lottie to come back with the kids, India and Diana started singing.
"You two are quite good singers." As much as they got on my nerves and I hated to admit it, their voices were amazing. They harmonized perfectly together.
"We take singing lessons every Wednesday and Saturday."
"Really? I didn't know that."
"Yes. Well we have been taking them for over three years."
"Oh, sorry." I quickly shut up. It was embarrassing to have forgotten that Edward and his girlfriend had broken up, but it was even more embarrassing that I didn't know about something my cousins had been doing for over three years.
"Thanks Alaina. Ok, rules are, you must try and stay quiet, and please, don't mess with any of my things." I opened the door and we went inside to sit down and talk. Lilly sat with us. The kids stayed relatively quiet, India and Diana kept singing, Edward and Lucas played on the computer and Alaina and Lottie played 'Truth or Dare'.
"Time to come inside kids, it's starting to get dark." We had been outside for two hours already. Time had flown by really quickly.
"We are coming." I ushered the kids out of the den and locked the door. They immediately ran to the playroom to continue what they had been doing. Lilly went in to sit with the adults. Alice and I stole up the stairs to my bedroom.
"So, it's your last night here Rora. What should we do?"
"Do you want to see if you can stay the night? Then we can have some fun, before I leave, you know?"
"That would be great. Mum is going out and I don't want to be alone."
"Ok, I'll be back. Don't go anywhere."
"I'll climb out the window before you return."
"Don't even dare climb out that window."
"You know I wouldn't after what happened last time."
Once when we were young, Alice came over upset, but she hid her feelings and didn't tell me. I, however, have always been the kind of person to register other emotions. I also have been one to want to help fix and solve everybody's problems, especially those who I cared about deeply. I wanted to know what was wrong. She asked if I could drop it and leave it until later, so I suggested she stay the night. I ran downstairs, excited about the possibility of having my best friend sleepover.
I was in the middle of asking our parents when we all heard a thud and then Alice's scream. She had not wanted to have to explain to me what had happened, so she opened my window and tried to climb out. We were use to climbing in and out of the window, but I usually went first to help her. She hadn't managed to get a good enough grip on the drain pipe outside of my window and had fallen straight down to the ground. Along with a bruised ego, and having to explain why she had climbed out of the window, Alice received a broken arm.
After that, only I climbed through the window. I would then run downstairs, as quietly as possible, and unlock the front door. Alice refused to climb through my window after that, in or out. Alice climbing out my window had become a running joke between us.
"Just go Rora."
"Ok, I'm gone." I ran downstairs and jumped the last few. I walked slowly into the living room, where all the adults were conversing,
"Rose, Mum, could Alice stay here the night. It's my last night and we won't see each other for ages. Please?" Rose and Olivia looked at each other. A clear communication between their eyes appeared to be rejoicing that we had obviously managed to get over our fight and work everything out.
"It's ok with me."
"It's alright with me also, but you have to ask Mathieu first."
"Yes Mum." I skipped excitedly over to Mathieu. I waited until he finished speaking with my Aunt. He looked and motioned for me to speak. "Mathieu, could Alice possible stay the night please. It is my last night after all."
"I don't see why not. Have you cleared this with your mother and Rose?"
"Yes, I have. They both said yes and Mum said to ask you."
"Well, I say yes as well then. Have fun, but remember in half an hour you must come back down here to say goodbye to everyone."
"I will." I ran upstairs, skipping over some in my rush to climb the stairs. I skidded to a halt outside my bedroom door and walked through.
"Alice, they all said yes! This is going to be great. That reminds me, we must go down stairs in half an hour to say goodbye to everyone. Now how about we get the air mattress out of my wardrobe and make your bed?"
"Goodnight Grandma Kate, Grandpa Jack. I'll make sure I write every month. I'll visit as often as possible."
"Goodbye dear. Do come visit, we would quite like that wouldn't we Jack?"
"Yes, we would. Au revoir, Aurora."
"Goodbye Jack and Kate. I will see you soon surely."
"Goodbye Alice dear. Don't forget, just because Aurora is leaving, you don't have to stop coming around."
"I know Kate, thank you. Goodbye Jack."
"Au revoir, Alice."
I shut the door. Everybody had slowly left, except for Rose who was still chatting up a storm with my mother and Mathieu.
"Mum, Rose, Mathieu, we are heading upstairs to the bedroom. We're going to watch a movie or two then go to sleep, would that be ok?"
"Don't make it too late; you have a flight to catch tomorrow, let alone a big drive."
"We won't, goodnight Mathieu." I leaned over to hug him goodnight.
"Night Aurora, night Alice."
"Goodnight. I'll pick you up tomorrow lunchtime Alice. Have fun Aurora, we are going to miss you."
"Goodnight everyone," Alice mumbled quietly. We traipsed up stairs and sat on the bed.
"Ok, what's wrong Alice?" Alice looked at me with tears glistening in her eyes.
"I can't believe you are leaving."
"Neither can I Ali." Alice put her arms out and reached for me. I moved closer and she pulled me into a hug.
"You had better call. And write, email and visit as often as possible." I looked at Alice's sombre expression. I could tell she was trying not to smile so I laughed. The corners of Alice's mouth turned up and soon enough she was laughing along with me.
"I promise I will call, visit, write and email. Now, what about watching a movie."
"That sounds like a great idea."
"So, what movie do you want to watch?"
A movie later, I heard a tap on the window. By then, Rose had left and Olivia and Mathieu were in bed.
"Hey, Aurora, Alice. Are you there? Are you still awake?" I threw back the blankets on the bed, went to the window, opened the curtain and opened up the windows.
"Could you be any louder? Olivia and Mathieu might hear you, or you could wake up one of the kids."
"Sorry. Now, can you help us up?" Ben, Lilly's fiancé asked.
"Yes, Alice, come and help." We helped Ben through the window and he pulled Lilly through for us.
"Lil, I'm getting sick of pulling you through windows. Next time we need a ladder," Ben complained.
"You do know there is a ladder around the side of the house."
"No, nobody told me that." I was sure that I had told Lilly on numerous occasions that there was a ladder around the side of the house. I had put it there in an effort to get Alice to climb up to my window, but she was still afraid to. I couldn't be bothered returning it to the garage, and Mathieu never uses it either.
"Now you know. What are you doing here?"
"It's your last night here. I wasn't going to let you leave without a proper girl's night in." I looked at Ben.
"What about Ben."
"Tonight I'm one of the girls. I'm going to miss you too you know Miss Rora." Since I had met Ben, he had taken to calling me 'Miss Rora'. He thought it was funny and I thought it was annoying. After a while, I couldn't tell whether he was still doing it for his own amusement or because he knew it was sure to annoy me.
"Alright then, let's get this started. I've brought some makeover products, chick flicks and a few packs of popcorn. Ben, sneak downstairs to the kitchen. Do you remember where the microwave and the bowls are?" It wasn't the first time Lilly and Ben had tried to sneak in for a night in.
"Yes Lil, just give me the popcorn." Lilly handed over the popcorn and Ben tiptoed dramatically out of the room. It took everything we had not to burst into fits of giggles.
"Alice, take the make up and set it up on the desk. We have facials and everything. I also managed to convince Ben to let us give him a makeover. It is your last night after all Rora." This was going to be a fun night.
I woke up with a jolt in the morning and looked at the time. The red numbers flashed nine o'clock. It appeared as though my alarm hadn't gone off. Either that or I had managed to sleep through it. I reminisced on the previous night's events. When Ben came back with the popcorn, we watched a movie. Then it was time for makeovers. First Alice and I did Lilly. Then Lilly and Alice did me. Lily and me did Alice and then came the fun part, making over Ben.
We started with a facial and manicure and pedicure. When that was over, we applied some make up and a wig. Lilly took some clothes out of a bag and Ben went into the bathroom. When he came out, he was wearing a mini skirt, a camisole, a top with a frilly collar and a cardigan. He now looked like one of the girls. We managed to convince him to stay that way for the night and even took photos of our 'girl's night in'.
I looked over to Alice's mattress but she wasn't there. I got out of bed and looked in the bathroom, but she was still nowhere to be found. I checked every room upstairs. My family were not in their beds either. Getting worried, I ran downstairs. I looked in the lounge and in the study. As I walked by the kitchen, a delicious smell drew me in.
In the kitchen, I found Olivia, Mathieu and Alice, cooking a massive breakfast. Rose was at the kitchen table with Alaina, Lottie and Lucas, playing cards. Rose looked up at me and smiled.
"Morning, darling. We thought we would give you another surprise and have a big breakfast!"
"Umm...thank you." I was lost for words. Looking at the clock, I realised that normally at this time, Mathieu had taken Lucas and Alaina to little athletics and Lottie went with a friend to netball. Alice was usually at gymnastics practice and Rose was normally at yoga with my mother, leaving me home alone.
"We all decided to make this the last breakfast you have here." Rose smiled cheerfully.
"Breakfast is almost finished everyone. Kids, Aurora, Alice, go and wash up. Rose, you might want to wash up too."
"Yes Mum," we all muttered, including Rose. Alice and I raced each other up the stairs into my bathroom. When we got inside I quickly went to the basin. I heard the lock on the main door click shut and turned to see Alice heading towards the second door to lock that one as well.
"Ok, confess now. You really don't want to be going to your fathers today do you? Why are you doing this Rora? Why are you leaving us, why are you leaving me?" Alice's eyes welled up with tears. I couldn't help it; I broke down as well.
"Ali, I'm not leaving you. I will always be here for you no matter where in the country I am," I managed to stutter out.
"Rora, I'm losing you. You're my best friend. No, you're more like my sister. I've known you since forever. Rora, how could you leave me?"
"Oh Ali, you're not losing me, not at all. You're a sister to me too, a less annoying, slightly smaller sister then my half sisters," I smiled at my teasing through my tears, as she scoffed at my teasing through hers, "I've known you since forever as well, and I will know you forever too."
"You didn't answer my first few questions Rora. Do you really and honestly want to go to your father today? Why are you doing this, what is your reason, your point?" I had to tell her the truth now; I had no other choice. I couldn't lie to Alice.
When we were younger, we took an oath never to lie to each other. We made a contract and everything, getting Rose and Olivia to witness it. We always made it a binding contract. When we turned twelve, we each pricked our fingers and put a dot of blood next to our names, making it a blood oath. Neither of us has broken it, or as far as I am concerned, I have never broken it. Alice swears to me she hasn't either and I believe her.
"No, I don't want to leave, I have to leave Ali." Alice went to argue with me, but I stopped her before she could speak. "Look Alice, I need to get away from here. I don't fit in well, you know that you are basically my only friend other then Lilly, and she is my cousin. I need space from the kids. I mean, I love them to pieces but I just can't cope with them around. I need to study, but they run everywhere. I know they are just being children but I can't handle all the noise. It's stressful as well. Robert's is the best place to get away. It's only three hours away. I won't be far away from you. I will visit you and write all the time," I whispered quickly, the tears falling freely now. "I love you Ali, I always will, I could never leave you or lose you, it would break me, you know it," I choked out quietly. This was one of the times that my emotions poured out, and this time I was grateful that they did. Alice stared wide eyed at me.
"Rora, that's one of the most emotional things I have heard you say in all the years I have known you. I love you too, I will forever and I also could never leave or lose you. Oh my Rora, I'm going to miss you so much," Alice cried.
"I'm going to miss you too Ali, I really will. Ok, let's clean ourselves up a bit." One look in the mirror told me cold water and a few tissues were not going to make us look less like the mess that we looked like. "Maybe a lot of cleaning is needed, in fact, I know this may shock you, but do you think you can cover up the redness somehow, possibly using makeup?" Alice walked backwards toward the toilet and sat down.
"Oh my, are you serious? You, want me, to use makeup, on you? Rora, are you feeling ok?" Alice walked up to me and mockingly put her hand on my head.
"No temperature present. Ok, poke out your tongue and say ah." I did as I was told, trying hard not to laugh. "Nothing wrong there, any signs of nausea or anything else?" I couldn't hold it in anymore. I burst into laughter, holding onto my sides to try to stop myself from shaking. "Ok, I will help you, on one condition. After you have been down there for three months, you are to let me fly down there, and take you shopping for new clothes and makeup."
"No deal Ali. You know I hate makeup, shopping I can take, but makeup I can't. I will allow for shopping for clothes, but no makeup."
"Ok, deal. Now, run into the bedroom and grab out my makeup case."
Five minutes later, we were finished. I couldn't believe that Alice was able to do such a good job on me; I actually looked pretty for once. Just as we were putting away the makeup, there was a knock on the door.
"Alice and Aurora, are you in there?" Rose's voice asked from the other side of the door.
"Yeah Mum, we are coming," Alice called back. We unlocked the bolts on each door and I walked into my bedroom to grab the clothes I had taken out to wear today.
"Oh, I love that top. It's going to go really well with the black jeans you left out for today. I couldn't help taking a sneak peak this morning when I got up. When we have finished breakfast, do you want me to help you have a quick look around the house and make sure you have everything?" I nodded in response. "Ok then. I am going to go downstairs, I'll see you at the breakfast table," Alice said while walking out the bedroom door.
I dressed into the clothes I had left out and walked down the stairs silently. Looking at the clock in the hall, I realised there was only four hours until my flight. Our little morning chat and fix up had taken us half an hour. I walked into the kitchen and took in what was on the dining room table. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, toast, sausages, fruit and cereal was spread out everywhere.
"I'll get drinks. What does everyone want?" Alice called. She flitted past me to the fridge and proceeded to grab four different juices out. "We have pineapple, apple and blackcurrant, orange and some weird juice that has guava, ginkgo and wheatgrass in it." She pulled a face at the last juice. I couldn't help but laugh.
"I'll have pineapple thank Alice. Do you need any help?"
"No Rora, go and sit down, this breakfast is for you."
The twins decided on orange juice, Mathieu on the apple and blackcurrant juice, Rose and Olivia on the 'weird juice' as Alice called it, and Alaina and Alice had pineapple like me. It was funny watching Alice balance a tray with eight drinks on it. If it weren't for Mathieu getting up to retrieve a fork, she would have spilt them all over the floor, as when she was almost at the table she slipped on a piece of egg that had fallen to the floor and Mathieu caught the drinks and her just in time.
"Thank you Mathieu. Who dropped the egg on the floor?" Alice scrutinized us all until she saw Lottie looking as though she would burst into tears. Alice's face immediately softened.
"Was it you Lottie?" Lottie nodded, tears welling up in her eyes. "Ok, well, next time pick up your food when drop it. It was an accident right?" Lottie nodded again. "Ok then, that's alright." Alice grabbed a tissue out of the box on the bench and gave it to Lottie before giving her a hug. Lottie smiled and went back to her food. We all ate in silence for a few minutes.
"Can I say something?" Alaina whispered, breaking the silence.
"Of course sweetheart, what is it?" Olivia said encouragingly. Alaina had always been a shy girl and needed a push to talk up or do things.
"Well, last night Dad took us to the mall and we all got gifts for Rora. We were going to give them to you last night but we decided to wait until this morning," Alaina smiled at me and kept talking, "Then this morning, Lottie, Luc and I got out of bed early and made you some things. When Rose got here, we were the only ones up. We went upstairs and raided our piggy banks and she drove us to the mall again to get something we found while we were with Dad yesterday. We didn't want anyone to know because we thought it would be a good surprise. There is another surprise as well, that Alice helped us with this morning while Rose, Dad and Mum were talking in the living room." Alaina motioned to Lottie and Luc, who got up and ran upstairs with her. I looked at everyone in surprise.
"When Mum said yesterday that you and the kids were going to the mall after the pictures, you were going to get me presents weren't you?"
"You didn't think we would let you go without getting you something," Mathieu replied with a smirk.
"Rose, you took them out this morning to get me more presents?"
"Yes Rora, I'm as shocked as you. They really wanted to get you that extra present, which turned into two extra presents and a few more from me. Which reminds me, sorry I didn't ask permission before taking them to the mall, but they wanted to keep it a secret and made me promise not to ask you or tell you what they were doing," Rose looked at Olivia and Mathieu apologetically.
"That's ok Rose. I think I'm just as shocked as both of you that they wanted to do that," Olivia said, looking just as surprised as I felt.
"And you Alice, you did something with them this morning?"
"Yes, I did, but I can't tell you what. There is two parts to it, plus some presents from me that we got while we were out," Alice said with a grin.
"Alice, you took them out of the house without permission?" Rose reprimanded.
"Mum, I don't believe you asked either. Anyway, Lilly and Ben came with us and gave us a lift, which reminds me, they will be here any minute now." As if on que, the doorbell rang. "That will be them, at least it should be." Alice jumped up from the table and went to the front door. From the hushed sounds of a conversation, I guessed that it was Lilly and Ben after all. Footsteps on the stairs, whose sounds went from loud to soft, told me that whoever was at the door was now going up stairs with Alice. I had not to wait long, for three minutes later Lottie came running into the dining room, a massive grin on her face.
"I have been told to ask someone to help me close off the lounge room. No one is allowed to see in there because there is a secret in there," Lottie said with a giggle. Mathieu got up and closed off the partition between the lounge and the dining room. Lottie ran out of the dining room through the kitchen and up the stairs.
A few minutes later, I could hear heavy footsteps coming down the stairs. The front door was then opened and a little while later, grunts could be heard coming back inside. I noticed that since the kids had left, no one had touched their food, me included.
After more footsteps, the door opening a closing a few more times, people continuously going up and down the stairs, Lottie, Luc, Alaina, Alice, Lilly and a bedraggled looking Ben came walking through the kitchen and sat down at the dining room table.
"Have you two had breakfast yet?" Olivia asked, looking pointedly at Lilly and Ben.
"No we haven't. We kind of planned on crashing your breakfast anyway, and offering lifts to the airport for those who want them," Lilly replied looking at Olivia. Something in her eyes told me she was hiding something.
"Well, help yourself. You know where the plates are Lilly and I'm sure you know your way around our kitchen too Ben," Olivia said with a laugh. She had once caught Ben downstairs making popcorn and almost screamed the house down because he frightened her.
Lilly stood up and walked over to the kitchen, grabbed two glasses and two plates, poured an orange juice and an apple and blackcurrant juice out, and carried it all back to the table. With that, we all dug in.
"That was the best breakfast I have had Aunt Liv. We should do this again sometime," Lilly said while clearing the plates from the table. Olivia, Rose, Mathieu and I had been forbidden from going into the lounge room until further notice. So, to pass the time, we had decided to clean up the kitchen and wash up.
We finished quickly, and just in time, as shortly after we had finished Luc walked in with a big smile on his face and one of Alice's headscarfs in his hands.
"Ok, Rose, Dad, Mum, you all have to follow Rora when I take her in there. Rora, you need to put the blindfold on," he said, walking towards me. He tied the headscarf around my head. "Ok, follow us. Rora, I'm going to lead you into the front room." I felt his pull my arm and started walking to follow him, walking into the doorframe on the way out.
"Luc, be careful where you lead your sister, you just walked her into the door," my mother scolded. I could tell she was trying hard not to laugh.
I walked tentatively, trying not to fall over anything. I only stopped worrying once Luc sat me down on the couch. I could hear Rose, Olivia and Mathieu whispering to each other, but I couldn't tell what they were saying.
"Ok, take the blindfold off her now Luc. Lilly, Ben, Lainey, Lottie, Mum, Olivia, Mathieu, come and stand over here with me. I want to get a photo of her face when she sees what we did." Trust Alice to want to take photos. Did I mention I absolutely hate photos?
"No photos Alice. You know I don't like them."
"Aurora, it is your last day here and I need something to remember you by. Plus, I want to document this day. I'm going to make a scrapbook of your move. I already took photos this morning while you were sleeping of your room, luggage and boxes. I asked Renea to take photos as soon as you get there, and to continue taking them during the day. She is going to email them to me tomorrow. I would ask you to take some on the plane, but I know you would never agree with it."
"I'll see. It depends on how good you are this morning." Even with a blindfold on, I could tell that Alice was excited. Now if only I could keep her from taking too many…and the flash went off.
"Alice! I have a blindfold on, nothing has even happened yet," I exclaimed, not happy at all.
"Rora, Rora, Rora, take off the blindfold now," Lottie chanted. I did as I was told. Lottie was worse then Alice, if that was possible. You do not want to get on the bad side of either of them.
I pulled off my blindfold and was amazed by the sight before me. There were streamers, balloons and a big banner across the fireplace that said 'WE'RE GOING TO MISS YOU RORA'. A mountain of presents resided under the banner to the left of the fireplace. They were of all shapes and sizes.
"You didn't have to get me anything you know."
"Yes we did darling. We chose to use our money to get you things, and you'll just have to deal with it," Rose said with a triumphant smile.
"Rora, open my presents first," Alaina said, jumping up and down next to me. She ran to the pile and grabbed two off the floor.
"Which one do I have to open first Alaina?" She thrust forward a small package. I tore open the paper. There was a little white box in there. I opened up the box, to find a pair of heart earrings with diamond crystals down one side.
"I hope you like it," Alaina whispered nervously.
"I love it Lainey, thank you." She thrust forwards a second package, and when I took it off her, she ran back to the pile and grabbed two more presents.
This present was flat and rectangular shaped. I ripped open the paper. Inside was an iTunes card for $50.
"Aunt Georgie told me that she was getting you an iPod, so I thought you might like some money to get music."
"Thank you Lainey, I was wondering how I was going to get music." She dropped another present into my lap.
"Are these two the last ones from you Lainey?" She smiled slyly.
"Well, from just me they are." I tore the paper off the next present. Inside were two art diaries. I opened the first art diary and all the pages were blank. I assumed that meant that both of them were, but when I went to put them down next to me with the other presents, Alaina stopped me.
"No, there is something in the other one." I picked up the other art diary and scanned through. Alaina had drawn on every page. At the age of 10, Alaina was one of the best artists I knew. She had an amazing attention for detail and could draw just about anything. When I got to the last two pages, I saw she had drawn copies of photos of us. The first was one just after Alaina was born when I was about seven. I was holding her in my arms looking down at her smiling. The next picture was one of us when the twins were born three years later, each of us holding a twin in our arms. The third was Alaina on her first day of school, which just happened to be the same day that I started high school. The last drawing was one of us now. I recognised it as the photo I had taken of us the week before.
"Alaina this is amazing. You did all of these drawings for me?" Alaina turned back into her shy self.
"Yes," she mumbled.
"Thank you, I will put some of them up in my bedroom."
"No, wait until I give you your card to decide that." She threw the last present into my lap. "Here you go."
I opened the present and inside was another little white box. I opened the box to find a handmade bracelet, made out of wool.
"It's a sister's bracelet," Alaina lifted her arm up and pulled down the sleave of her jacket. "I have one too. It's like a best friend's bracelet, but for sisters."
"That is so adorable. Can you put it on my wrist now?" I asked, placing the bracelet into her hands and my arm out towards her. She wound it around my wrist twice and then secured by putting the button on one end through the loophole on the other. When she had done that, I stood up from the couch and pulled her into a hug.
"Thank you Lainey, that was all very thoughtful and nice of you. I love my presents," I said tearing up slightly.
"Don't start the water works yet honey. You still have a lot more presents to open. We don't have time to be waiting around all day for you to stop crying and for Alice to fix up your make up," Lilly said smiling at me. I rolled my eyes in return.
"Open ours next," Lucas said as Lottie ran over to him with a box.
I put out my hands for it and she placed in it my hands. It was taped shut at the top and had paper stuck all over it that had been coloured in different patterns.
"I love the wrapping paper." Lottie started bouncing. She looked like a miniature Alice, miniature Lilly and miniature me all rolled into one. I carefully ripped the sticky tape off the box.
"Is it safe to stick my hand in the box or will it bite me?" I asked, playing up my nervousness.
"I don't think it will bite," Lucas said, an impish grin spreading across his face.
I placed my hand in the box and made a show of something biting me, much to the enjoyment of Lottie, Lucas and Alice. I felt something hard in the box and I pulled it out. The DVD case had no cover, just a little slip of paper saying "Please Watch".
"What is on this DVD?"
"There are photos and videos of the family, all your photos from the computer here and other videos and things."
I opened the cover. Inside was six discs, all labelled with years.
"Thank you." My hand dove into the box again, pulling out a CD case. On the front was a drawing, obviously drawn by Alaina as it had her signature in the corner, of Lottie and Lucas.
"What is this?"
"Well, we went up to India and Diana, and asked if we could borrow some time in their studio. Uncle Tom said it was all right, so last week we went in and recorded some songs. The ones you love of course and some ones that we wrote for you. India and Diana sing on some, but mostly Lottie sings."
Just as Alaina is an amazing drawer, Lottie and Lucas are musically talented. They started playing instruments at a young age and they were able to pick up any instruments and learn it quickly. Lottie is also a great singer.
"Thank you, I will have to ask Renea if we can listen to this on the way to Dad's." I went to put the box down.
"No, wait. There is one more present in there," Lottie shrilled. I put my hand in the box and pulled out a smaller red box that looked like it came from a jewellery store. I opened the little box and inside was a ring, with a small ruby set into it. "Look on the inside, it's engraved."
I looked inside of the ring. Inside it had "A²L². Family forever" engraved into it.
"Wow, this is really pretty." I carefully placed the ring onto my right ring finger.
"We have to go next Miss Rora, that way I can pack the suitcases into the boot of your car, and we can leave after you have gotten all of your presents," Ben said walking over to the pile. He picked up a thin wrapped present and gave it to Lilly, who ran over to me excitedly. She passed me the present and I charily lifted the sticky tape up.
Inside resided eight aeroplane tickets, a blank cheque and some money. The top aeroplane ticket was blank, with only the departure and arrival towns listed. It was a ticket from Robert's to home. The next three tickets were the same. The last four caught my attention though. Two of the tickets were scheduled to fly at the same time as my flight. On further inspection, I realised that it was also the same flight, from the same place and to the same place on the same plane. The other two were flights to return three weeks after I had flown down there. That was confusing. As was the blank cheque.
"Ok, I'm assuming that the first four tickets are so I can fly home when ever I like. Is that correct?" I asked, continuing when I received a nod from Lilly. "So why pray tell, have I also got two tickets scheduled for the same flight today and two scheduled to fly back here and why is there a blank cheque in here?" Lilly looked like she was about to burst.
"Ben and I are coming to your Dad's with you. I organised it with Robert and Renea, so that you have someone there to be with while they are working and some people that you know for the first three weeks. Then we will fly back here," she rushed out. "The blank cheque is because Ben and I are paying for your new room. That includes furniture, paint, bedding, the lot. Your Dad said he would pay for removal of the current furniture, but first to check if there is anything you want to keep. We will be going shopping tomorrow and I have already scouted out the best shops. The money in there isn't for you just to spend though. There is a reason it's in there and you will find out when you get your next present." I felt a rush of emotions well up inside me. I could tell this was one of those rare moments.
"Oh my god, that is wonderful. I'm so happy that you guys are coming. This will be fun. I can't wait to go shopping tomorrow either," I squealed. Most everyone looked at me shocked, bar Alice who seemed to have accepted that today I might have many outbursts.
'My presents next," Alice trilled. She walked over to the pile and pulled out a simple, small, brown paper shopping bag. Within the bag were two boxes, one labelled 'OPEN FIRST' the other labelled 'OPEN LAST'. I selected the box labelled 'OPEN FIRST' and opened it. Inside were six sets of keys labelled from one to six.
"What are these keys for Ali?" I asked, confused once again.
"Ben, Lilly, can you bring them in please?" Alice called out. I hadn't noticed Lilly and Ben slip out of the room. They walked back in, Lilly dragging two suitcases and Ben dragging two pull-along sports bags. They each also had a rather large makeup case on their shoulder. They placed them on the floor before me and then Ben walked out to keep packing the boot.
"Alice, what the heck is all this?" I queried wide-eyed.
"Well, the suitcases have clothing in them, the sports bags have shoes in them, one make-up case has make-up in it and the other has jewellery in it. They are all labelled with which keys open them. I even designed ways you could wear them and Alaina drew pictures of it, so if you get up one morning and don't have enough time to decide, just grab out one of the cards and there is a great outfit already decided."
"Wow, you must have shopped for ages Ali."
"The kids helped, and so did Lilly and Ben. We finally grabbed the last of it off lay-by today. Now open up your other present, you can have a look at all the clothing, shoes, jewellery and make-up when you get there and thank me later."
I threw the paper that I had unwrapped from the second box onto the growing pile beside me. Inside the box was a gold heart locket attached to a gold bracelet encrusted with pearls and alexandrite. Engraved on the locket was 'Best Friends Forever' under which a single red ruby was set. I opened up the locket and on the left side was a photo of Alice. The other side was just gold.
"You have to flip out the gold part Rora." I did as I was told. Now on the left side was a photo of Alice, on the right side was a photo of me and in the middle was a photo of the two of us together aged ten.
"Wow Alice, this is beautiful."
"Glad you like it Rora, because I have one the same." Alice held up her wrist where, sure enough, an identical bracelet resided, the only difference being there was a sapphire set on hers where the ruby was on mine. "The best thing is it matches the necklace that Olivia gave you, so you can wear them both at the same time." I took another look at the bracelet and was about to put it back in the box when something caught my eye. I pulled the slip of paper out. It read "Certificate of Authentication". At least, the top line did. I didn't get to read much of the rest as it was torn from my hands by Alice before I could get any further.
"Ali, sweetie, what was that certificate for?" Alice gave me a guilty look.
"Ali, how much did the bracelets cost?" Another guilty look was shot my way.
"Ali, please tell me these jewels and the bracelet aren't made of the real things." Alice looked towards her feet.
"My god Alice, this must have cost you a fortune!" Alice finally looked at me, tears spilling from her eyes and staining her cheeks.
"It's all real, the gold, the pearl, the alexandrite, the ruby, the sapphire. It only took two pays of the allowance my father gives me to buy, really Rora, it wasn't that much." I stared at her in surprise. He father ran out on her years ago. He was a wealthy man and decided that he would give Alice an allowance to keep her satisfied, a way of buying her love so to speak. Alice loved the money, yes, but she was never particularly happy that he didn't actually show affection and tried to buy her off. The allowance he gave her was a pretty substantial amount of money and for two bracelets to be worth two payments was amazing.
"Alice Grace Atkins I cannot believe that you spent that much money on me. You know I don't like it when people do that," I said as tenderly as I could. Alice started sobbing.
"I'm sorry Rora; I can take them back if you like. It's ok, I don't mind." I jumped out of my seat and pulled Alice into a hug, holding her as tight as I could.
"Ali, I don't want you to return them, and I'm sorry I made you so upset. I love it I really do. I just wish you wouldn't spend so much on me, that's all. I will wear this all the time, but I had better make sure I don't lose it, its worth a lot," I said with a laugh. I heard her sniffle into my shoulder and pulled her back to look at her.
"I really do love it. Now we have to move on, ok, so dry those tears and save them for when I get on the plane." Alice nodded and pulled in for another hug. I gave her one back and then moved to sit back down.
"Ok, is there anything else I have to unwrap, or can we just get this show on the road?"
"Darling, its time for my present now. Alice, sit down next to Aurora, there is one for each of you." Alice settled down in the chair next to me, confused looks stealing across both our faces. "Now, after the song and dance you made over Alice's present Aurora, I'm a little apprehensive about giving you this one. Granted, it didn't cost as much, but it was still fairly expensive by your standards." Rose walked over to the present pile and carefully lifted two boxes from it. Olivia rushed over, took the top box out of Rose's arms, and placed it into mine. Rose gave her box to Alice. Alice and I flashed a look at each other before quickly demolishing the paper in which the boxes were wrapped. Once we had the paper unwrapped from the boxes, we shot each other incredulous glances. On the front of each box was a picture of a laptop.
"You bought us laptops?" Alice questioned. I looked at Rose, expecting an answer immediately. She was right; by my standards, this was too expensive.
"Well, a laptop, wireless internet which I will pay for every month, accessories to go with it. Yours is blue Alice and yours is red Aurora. I figured you were going to need some way to communicate once Aurora is gone, so why not get you both laptops," Rose explained, her grin never faltering or slipping from her face.
"Rose, thank you, but you really shouldn't have," I argued. Alice chose instead to leap out of her chair into the unsuspecting arms of her mother.
"Thank you so much Mum, I have wanted one of these for ages, but just couldn't bring myself to choose one. Now Rora and I can stay in contact much easier," Alice screamed into Rose's ear.
"Ok Alice, calm down. Please, you don't need to ruin your mother's ears. It's our turn now anyway. Mathieu could you please grab the box?" Olivia walked over to me.
"Now Aurora, you father, Renea, Mathieu and I put some money together. We have three gifts, two which you can get now, and one which you will get once you turn eighteen." Mathieu walked over carrying two boxes in his hands.
"Here you go."
I opened the larger one first. It was a mobile phone, a red one that you have to flick the middle out of to get to the keypad and you have to turn it sideways.
"You got me a new mobile phone? Thank you."
"We thought you might like your old brick of a phone undated. Now you have even less of a reason for not staying in contact. It is on a plan and the bill will come to Mathieu and I until you can pay for it."
I opened the next box and was surprised and confused as to what was inside. There were two sets of keys sitting inside the box, one with a red tag and one with a blue.
"What are these to?"
"Well, the one with the red tag is to the red 911 Turbo Cabriolet Porsche that is sitting in the garage at your fathers," Olivia said, while I started bouncing in my seat. "But, because you can't drive it yet without an adult sitting next to you in the car, we also bought you a red motor scooter. Technically, you may be able to drive the Porsche for the first three weeks, if Lilly or Ben is in the front seat with you." I couldn't hold it in anymore. I jumped out of my chair and started jumping and screaming. I held onto Alice's hands, while she jumped and screamed the same as me.
"You got a Porsche Rora, I'm so jealous."
"Don't worry Alice, you can come down and visit. I'm sure we will be able to convince Renea to come driving around with us," I paused, recalling something from my memory, "So that is why you got me to get my learners permit?" I asked Olivia. I could feel my eyes shining with excitement.
"Yes, we did have an ulterior motive. Can you really blame us though?" I shook my head, too excited to speak any longer. "Aurora, we still have three more things to do before we can leave for the airport. Will you please sit down so we can get on with it, other wise we are going to be late." I fell onto the couch and Alice fell down next to me. I looked at the pile of presents. It had finally become smaller and there was only two presents left.
"Ok then, how long have we got till we have to leave?"
"Three quarters of an hour if we want to be there an hour before your flight. Lottie, Lucas, Alaina, please grab your presents so we can move onto the final one," Alice answered. The twins grabbed a box each and Alaina ran out of the room, only to return a few seconds later with three envelopes in her hands.
"These presents are from all three of us. Open my one first," Lottie said, thrusting forward a large box. I carefully opened the wrapping paper.
Inside were two boxes. One contained a digital photo frame and the other contained eighteen frames of three different sizes.
"One of the frames inside has a photo of us from last Christmas in it."
"These are great Lottie thankyou. Lucas, what about the one you are holding?" Lucas handed over the small box and I pulled the wrapping off it.
I opened the black box that had resided under the paper. Inside was a gold bracelet. Engraved on the inside was 'You can do anything, the power is within you' and on the outside my name was engraved in a calligraphy style with a piece of rose quartz and jasper on each side.
"This is really pretty. Thank you."
"Alaina came up with the saying. She said something about Grandma Kate saying it to her. She chose the rose quartz and jasper as well. She read in a book somewhere that rose quartz represented love, peace, happiness and healing emotions, and jasper represented healing, protection, health, beauty and energy." Alaina nodded her head while passing over the envelopes. I went to open one of them, but her small hand on mine stopped me.
"You have to open them once you get off the plane. Then call me on your new mobile, I have one too. I'll give you my number." I stared in surprise at Alaina as she grabbed my phone and dialled in her new number. I turned to Olivia, my surprise still evident.
"You bought her a phone?"
"Yes, we bought you one when you were ten did we not? Well, we thought that this way you could keep in contact with Lainey even easier."
"That sounds great. Well, just put your details in there, and I'll call you when I land Alaina."
"Already have. Time for the last present and then we have to get moving or you are going to miss your flight." Alaina passed me back my phone and walked out of the room followed by Lottie and Lucas.
"Mum, I just have one question. How are we going to get all these presents down to Dad's with me? I mean, I don't have a spare suitcase." Olivia motioned to Mathieu and he exited the room, returning not much longer with a large suitcase in hand.
"We bought you an extra one because we didn't know how many presents you would get or if you would need more room to pack your stuff into it." Mathieu placed the suitcase on the floor at my feet.
"It's ok Aurora, you go and get your last present. I will pack all your gifts into here and put it into the car, I think it's the last suitcase that needs packing," Ben said, walking back into the room. I hadn't noticed but he had already taken out the suitcases, makeup cases and sports bags the Alice had bought me. I nodded my thanks to him and Lottie appeared in the doorway.
"Come on guys, we don't have much time, hurry up!" We followed her back into the kitchen where Alaina was putting final additions and candles onto a chocolate cake.
"Did you guys cook this? It looks delicious." Alaina, Lucas and Lottie's faces brightened up.
"We made it this morning while everyone was in bed. Alice got up and helped us and then went back to bed when it was finished," Lucas said excitedly. Lottie carefully produced a knife out of the top drawer.
"Lottie, do you think I should be the one to cut the cake? After all, I am the one leaving." Letting Lottie cut the cake would be a problem. Normally she cut pieces that were all over the place and would then try to even it up, but we didn't have the time for that.
"Yes Rora, it is your cake," Lottie conceded. She passed the knife to me and I quickly cut sixteen pieces. I passed everyone a piece and left one for Ben. Everybody quickly ate them, exclaiming at points how delicious and moist the cake was.
"What are we going to do with the leftover six pieces?" Alaina asked eyeing them hungrily.
"I was thinking that we could wrap them up and Lilly, Ben and I could take them with us. Would that be all right?"
"All right everybody lets go and get in the…is that cake?" Ben asked walking into the kitchen, his eyes resting on the cake. Lilly started laughing.
"Yes Ben that is cake. We left you a piece and we are taking the others with us. We have to go though," Ben face dropped at the prospect of not being able to eat his piece of cake, "so I will drive while you eat." Ben's face lightened up. Lilly wrapped up the six pieces of leftover cake.
"I think we should do a final check of the house. We have about ten minutes. I think if Mum and Mathieu start one car and Ben and Rose starts the other, we can search the house quickly. We only need two cars, so Alaina, Lucas and Lottie, you can go with Mum and Mathieu, and Rose, Alice and I will go with Lilly and Ben." Lottie, Lucas and Alaina ran upstairs to look around while Lilly, Alice and I checked downstairs for five minutes, then switched over for the remaining five. We all met in the front hall.
"We found nothing, what about you three?" Three heads shaking returned the same verdict.
"All right then, let's hit the road."
An hour and a half later, we had driven to the airport and checked in. Lilly and Ben were saying goodbye to the kids and Mathieu, Rose and Alice were having an animated discussion. Olivia walked over to me with tears in her eyes.
"You know it's not too late to back out now," she whispered.
"I know, Mum. I want to go though."
"Well, you must call when you land."
"I will, after I call Alaina of course. I promised and I think she would be unhappy if I didn't."
"All right then sweetheart. Have fun and remember that you can always come home if you want." Olivia pulled me into her arms and hugged me tight.
"Mum…I…can't…breathe…" Olivia released me from her arms and took a step back.
"Sorry." Mathieu walked over and paused, deciding to put his hand out. I stepped around his hand and pulled him into a hug.
"I'm going to miss you Aurora."
"I know Mathieu. I will miss you as well," I replied. Mathieu let go and stepped back towards Olivia who had moved to stand next to Rose. The next thing I knew, my legs were being grasped and hugged. Lottie and Lucas, small for their age, were hugging and clinging to my legs. They both looked up into my eyes, their blue eyes glistening.
"Do you have to leave?" Lottie asked, her voice quivering like her chin. I removed them gently from my legs and bent down.
"Yes Lottie, but I promise I will call you and Alaina has my number if you need me." Lottie flung herself into my arms and I hugged her back. Lucas stood off at the side looking left out.
"Come one Lucas," I said to him, putting out one of my arms. He walked forwards and hugged me. I held onto both of them for a little while before I felt a small hand on my shoulder. I set free the twins and turned to see Alaina standing behind me.
"You promise you will call?" she asked, trying hard not to cry.
"Have a good flight then."
"I will." Her resolve broke down and she started sobbing. I took her into my arms.
"Hey, I said I would call. You can always come down and visit. That is, if Mum and Mathieu allow it." Alaina's sobbing subsided and she fiercely hugged me back.
"Remember what we had engraved inside the bracelet. You can do anything, the power is within you."
I pulled back and looked into Alaina's green eyes. They held something in them that I couldn't decipher, as though she held a secret that she couldn't tell me.
"I won't." Alaina stepped back, allowing Rose to cut in. Rose pulled me fiercely into a hug as well.
"Don't you go doing anything stupid will you? You know I will come down there if you do." I laughed at her and she laughed along with me.
"No, seriously, don't go doing anything stupid. Oh, and if you find yourself a man, call me. I want to hear all about it." I pulled back and rolled my eyes at her.
"It's not likely that I will find any friends at all Rose, so don't expect that call very soon." She stepped back and went to say goodbye to Lilly and Ben, whom everyone but Alice was farewelling. I turned to my left and saw Alice a few metres away. I moved towards her, a slight bit slow, because no sooner then I had taken my first step she was clinging to me, her tears mixing with mine. I buried my face into her long brown hair.
"I'm going to miss you Ali. I will call you as soon as I can. You have to come down and visit too," I muttered into her hair. She buried her face into my hair too.
"I really need to get in control of my emotions Rora. I'm going to miss you too honey. If you need me, I'm only a phone call away. Either that or an email of course, with our presents from Rose." She pulled out of my arms and took my hand in hers. We quickly walked over to the gate, where everybody else was waiting.
"It's time to board Aurora. Ben and I managed to get seats right next to yours. All right then, let's go." Lilly and Ben said a quick goodbye to everyone and walked up to the gate and through into the passage onto the aeroplane.
Alice gave my hand a squeeze. I turned to her and she stepped forwards, pulling me into a hug again.
"Ali I have to go now."
"I know Rora. Have fun for me. I love you so much."
"I love you so much too Ali." I pulled away from her.
"Brad just text me. He said to say goodbye." I looked at Alice trying to decide how to word my answer without hurting her.
"Tell him…tell him I said goodbye, and to treat you right while I'm not here." Alice smiled at me warmly. I obviously made the right decision in my wording. I turned and walked towards the gate.
"Goodbye everyone," I called over my shoulder, showing the hostess my ticket and joining Lilly and Ben in the passage. I turned and waved one final time before I walked towards the start of my new life.
"Did you see that air hostess? She was…" Lilly glared at Ben and he changed his tune, "so not as hot or cute as you Lilly." I laughed at them, knowing that it could have ended very badly if he had of continued. Lilly stuck her nose in the air and turned away from Ben, playing up her hurt and trying not to smile.
"You had better apologise to her Ben. I don't see her forgiving you easily any time soon," Renea advised.
Robert and Renea had met us at the airport, predicting that we would need two cars. Their predictions were correct. We had filled Robert's boot, then his back seat, his front passenger seat and then Renea's boot. We had already been driving for three quarters of an hour and had almost arrived home.
"I'm sorry Lilly, would you please forgive me?" Ben pleaded, laying it on thick. Lilly turned to him, a smile on her face.
"Of course Ben," she replied. I turned away with their next action, preferring not to watch them kissing.
"Hey, hey, ok you two give it a rest before we decide that Ben is sleeping in the car at night." Lilly and Ben broke apart.
"That reminds me Renea, where are Ben and I sleeping?"
"You, Lilly, are sleeping in Aurora's room with her and Ben will be sleeping in the guest room." Lilly looked at Ben a little disheartened but stayed silent. I turned to her and shrugged my shoulders. We sat in silence for a while until Renea broke it.
"We're here," Renea said as we began to pull up the long drive.
The fence had been painted egg white as the windows. As we drove down the drive, I looked through the trees trying to pick up the house. After a while, it came into view. I looked up at the house. I hadn't seen it in a year. It had definitely changed.
The windows frames had been painted egg white, the same as the fence, and the door had been painted a pale blue. The grass was bright green and there were flowers everywhere. The porch had been painted and the roof resprayed. A vegetable and herb garden was clearly marked out at the side of the house. The fence had been painted the same white as the windows.
"How does everyone feel about take away for dinner? I have had a hectic day today and I suspect none of you would like to cook; you are probably too tired. There is a nice salad bar down the road. How does that sound?" We all nodded our heads.
Robert had already arrived at the house and was taking our luggage out of his car. Ben quickly hopped out of the car to help as soon as Renea stopped it. Lilly, Renea and I slowly got out of the car and walked up to the front door, leaving the males to drag in the entire luggage.
The inside of the house had been redone as well, painted and refurbished. We walked into the kitchen and Lilly and I sat down at the bench.
"Would you girls like a drink of water?" Renea asked, heading to the cupboard.
"Yes please, I would love one," I replied. Renea turned and looked at Lilly. Lilly nodded her head. Renea took out three glasses and put them on the bench, then walked to the fridge and took out a jug. She walked to the bench and poured out three glasses of water.
"We cleared out your room Aurora. Tonight you two will have to sleep on air mattresses. We have two double mattresses so it should be ok. The double is still in the guest room so Ben should have a nice time in there." Lilly and I exchanged glances. It was then that I remembered something.
"Renea, doesn't the couch downstairs fold out into a double?"
"We moved that couch upstairs into the study when we refurnished the house. The only furniture that was left from last year was your bedroom furniture and that blasted couch that your father wouldn't get rid of." I knew why he hadn't gotten rid of the couch. It held many fond memories from before Renea had been around, some even from before I had been around. "Why is that?"
"Well, I was wondering if Lilly and I could sleep on that. I'm positive it would be more comfortable then air mattresses on the floor." Renea thought for a moment.
"You could if you wanted to. Wait, no you can't, we had to take the mattress out of there, because it was rotting." Renea picked up our now empty glasses and placed them in the sink. I twisted my stool around to face the entrance hall where a pile of luggage had sprouted. Robert and Ben had apparently managed to move majority of the luggage inside while we had been chatting. Robert walked through the door carrying a sports bag and Ben followed carrying two makeup cases.
"That's the last of it. Now, who says we get ourselves cleaned up a bit and go to the salad bar for dinner? I called some old friends of yours to join us." I wondered whom Robert could have called.
"Thanks Dad, that is really considerate of you. Lilly should remember where everything is, so how about I show Ben where he will be sleeping tonight, we will get ourselves changed, and then we can go. We will move all of the suitcases and things upstairs later."
"Ok then honey, sounds all right. Just be quick, there is no need for you and Lilly to be messing around with makeup. We are going out to dinner with friends, not the Queen," Robert said, laughing at his attempt of a joke.
Lilly and I jumped off the stools and rushed into the entrance hall. I picked up one of the suitcases Alice had bought me, knowing that she had prepared outfits for me already. I motioned to Ben to grab one of the sports bags for me and he motioned to his lonely suitcase, which I picked up for him. Lilly grabbed one of her many suitcases and two makeup cases, one of her own and one of mine. I walked up the stairs first and down the hall, easily locating my bedroom. I turned into the third door on the left and placed my suitcase down, the room bare apart from the two air mattresses propped up against the wall. Lilly, recognising it as my room placed her bags on the floor.
"Follow me Ben," I said, walking out of the room and to the end of the hall. Ben put my sports bag on the floor before following me and taking his suitcase out of my hands.
The guest room resided at the very back of the house. It had a bathroom of its own just as mine and Robert and Renea's did. You also had to pass Robert and Renea's room to get to the stairs or to get to my room. Seeing as how Robert was a very light sleeper, I figured they had decided to make Ben sleep in here rather then the study, which was right across from my room, so that he couldn't get down to my room, in which Lilly was staying. It was probably also to make sure that Lilly couldn't sneak down to Ben's room without waking him either.
I opened the door to the guest room and walked in. The room smelt of lavender and sandalwood. I walked over to the door to the Ensuite and flung it open. The shelves were stocked with enough toiletries to last Ben the three weeks he would be staying in here.
"Well Ben, this is your room. Get changed and then go downstairs, Lilly and I will be down there soon." I walked out, leaving Ben to get himself changed. I walked into my room, but when there was no sight of Lilly or of my suitcase and sports bag, I walked into the bathroom instead. Lilly had already been through my suitcase, picked out an outfit and the shoes and was searching through one of the makeup cases, which I figured out to be mine, when I walked in. I closed the door loudly and her head snapped up to look at me, her chocolate brown eyes boring into mine.
"Alice really did put these outfits together well. She even wrote down what makeup to use and Alaina has added it into the pictures she drew. Don't worry though; Alice took into account that you don't like wearing makeup so she put a minimal amount on here. I'll do your makeup today and I found an outfit card of hers whose outfit will go great with mine if you wear it," Lilly stated, her face pleading me to agree. I nodded my head in agreement and the challenge was on.
Half an hour later Lilly and I had gotten dressed and she had done her makeup. She was just finishing mine when a tap at the door interrupted us.
"Are you decent?" the voice from the other side of the door questioned. I determined it to be Ben.
"Yes we are, and the door is open so come in," Lilly said, still not pausing from her attempt to beautify my face. Ben walked in, looking suave in dress pants and a button shirt, a welcome change from the jeans and t-shirts he normally wore.
"Wow, you do scrub up nice Ben," I laughed.
"Stop moving Aurora, or I may slip and we will have to do this again," Lilly exclaimed angrily, trying to glare and concentrate at the same time.
"Robert and Renea said to please hurry up. We managed to move all of the suitcases and things upstairs and into our rooms while you have been in here. Our dinner companions will be arriving at the salad bar soon and Robert doesn't want to keep them waiting. How long until you are finished?" Ben queried.
"Almost finished…and…done. Ok, take a look at that." I stood up and looked into the mirror. An unfamiliar girl looked back at me.
The outfit that Alice had put together and Lilly had chosen out looked great. It consisted of little deep purple dress with a diamante neckline, leggings, a black cardigan and a pair of black heels, which had diamante studs along the straps matching perfectly with the neckline of the dress. The makeup complimented the dress perfectly while still looking natural and understated.
"My oh my, how will I survive the next three weeks with two beautiful girls staying right down the hall and being my constant companions the whole time?" Ben dramatically stated, complete with the hand on head sigh and fake fainting.
"It will be a wonderful challenge for you Ben, embrace it," Lilly teased walking out of the bathroom door. Ben and I trailed after her and we all walked down the stairs together.
"You girls do look ravishing tonight, don't they Robert?" Renea enquired.
"Yes, absolutely gorgeous," Robert replied, choking up slightly. "You two certainly have grown up a lot since I last saw you. Right, let us head out to dinner. We don't want to keep our guests waiting too long now, do we?" I followed everyone out the door and to Renea's car. Robert hopped into the drivers seat and Renea got into the front passenger seat so Lilly, Ben and I slid into the back seat together. Robert started the car and soon we were on our way.
"The salad bar is about five minutes away, fifteen if you're walking," Renea assured.
"So who are we having dinner with Dad," I quizzed.
"Some old friends of mine, you use to play with their kids. Don't worry, you'll see them soon enough." That was the part about which I was worried. I barely remembered my summers here, let alone the people with whom I hung around. Minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot of the salad bar.
"You kids go inside, Renea and I will find a car park and be right with you." I nervously got out of the car.
Having no idea who we were meeting here, and the possibility of not recognising anyone slightly worried me. I got out of the car, Lilly following me out the door and Ben exiting the other side. We slowly walked up to the door of the restaurant and entered. I moved towards the reception desk, scanning the room for anyone I knew. I was just about to turn to the receptionist and ask which table we were seated at when I saw someone familiar. I quickly walked over to the table they were seated at, leaving a very confused Ben and Lilly behind me.
"Emilie? Is that you?" I asked the girl sitting at the table. Her head shot up and a wide grin broke across her face.
"Aurora, I've missed you," the girl exclaimed jumping up from her seat and embracing me in a hug, which I quickly returned.
"My god Em, look at you." The last time I had seen Emilie she was about four foot and eleven inches. It appeared she had grown a heap over the past year.
She now stood roughly at five foot four inches, her short brown hair now grown into sweeping curly locks. Her face had matured a lot and her hazel eyes shone with excitement. She was no longer stick thin, with curves in all the right places.
"Look at you Rora, you have grown as well. Oh my, you've cut your hair." The last time I had been down to Robert's my deep brown hair had been at waist length. I had since had it cut to my shoulders.
"I felt like I needed a change," I told her honestly. We were soon interrupted by a cough and a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see Emilie's twin brother staring me in the face.
"Chase! How are you?" I exclaimed, hugging him to me as well. He tentatively hugged me back.
"Im fine Aurora, it's nice to see you too. I'm glad you remember us after all this time." I pulled away from him and turned to the table where the twin's parents sat. Alexis and Rhys were like a third set of parents to me. Either I was always at their house or they were always at mine. Rhys was great friends with Robert and Alexis was friends with Renea, and had been friends with Olivia and Rose before they left.
"Alexis, Rhys, it's so nice to see you," I said, giving them each a hug.
"Likewise Aurora. How are you mother and Rose?" Alexis asked.
"She is fine, same as always. Her and Rose have been trying a different thing each week. This week I think its book club."
"That sounds like them. Are you going to introduce us to the boy standing with Lilly, or are they both going to stand at the reception desk looking slightly confused?" In all the excitement, I had forgotten about Lilly and Ben. Lilly had already met Alexis, Rhys, Emilie and Chase, but it had been years since they had seen each other. Alexis obviously remember Lilly somehow.
"I will be right back." I ran back over to the front desk and got there just as Robert and Renea walked through the door.
"Did you see who we are meeting?" Robert asked with a straight face, his eyes giving away the fact that he was smiling on the inside.
"Yes Dad, thank you. I haven't seen them in ages so it's a great surprise. They want me to introduce Ben to them so hurry it up a little." As we walked over to the table, the confusion began to wear off Lilly's face but it still lingered on Ben's face. Lilly rushed forward and greeted everyone, introducing Ben when she was finished.
"Alexis, Rhys, Emilie, Chase, this is Ben, he is my fiancé," Lilly rushed out, enthusiasm adorning her features. Alexis and Rhys quickly exchanged glances, their raised eyebrows showing their shock.
"Fiancé, really, well Ben, you had better tell us about yourself. After all, once you and Lilly tie the knot you become a member of the family," Rhys said, looking at Lilly, who rolled her eyes and poked her tongue out at him. Before anything else could be said, a waitress came up to take orders. We all quickly scanned the menu and ordered, returning to the conversation.
"That meal was great. I suppose you lot will want to head home. I suspect you're tired from flights and the like,' Rhys said, standing from the table. Everyone else followed suit and stood up. While Rhys and Robert went to pay the bill, everyone stood up and began making their goodbyes. We all headed over to Rhys and Robert and walked out the door. We headed our two separate ways, and I was about to get in the car when I heard Emilie call my name.
"Hey Aurora, what are you doing tomorrow?" I turned around to yell back across the lot.
"We're going shopping for my bedroom furniture. Would you like to come?" Emilie ran over to me.
"Yeah, I might meet you in there for lunch. Here put your number into my phone and I'll put mine in yours. Text me when you know where you'll be and I will text you how long I'll be." Emilie handed me her phone and I handed her mine. After both quickly typing our numbers in, we switched back our phones and got into our respective cars.
The drive home was silent. It seemed everyone was either too tired to talk or just couldn't come up with anything to talk about. As soon as we pulled up the driveway and trudged into the house, Lilly, Ben and I walked upstairs and into our respective rooms. Lilly and I quickly changed into our pyjamas and then placed an air mattress on the floor. In some sort of unspoken agreement, we placed the other air mattress on top of the first and then put the bedclothes on it. We both got under the covers on top of two mattresses and soon drifted off into a deep sleep.