Do You Think I'm Pretty?
Captain Llewelyn pulled the car into the drive of The Yews and looked up at the house.
“And I thought you were exaggerating about how big the house was,” he exclaimed as he parked the car and looked up at the huge house.
“Since when have I ever been prone to exaggeration,” she giggled as she got out of the car.
“Athene!” screamed Mark out the attic window.
He had clearly been up there keeping a watch for her because he and Julie were hanging out the window waving frantically.
“Hi, Mark! Hi Julie!” she called.
“Tony’s on his way down!” he called again.
“Athene!” yelled Anthony as he came running out of the house.
“I’ve missed you!” he exclaimed hugging her.
“I’ve missed you too,” she laughed.
“Next time maybe spend the whole Summer together if you’ve missed each other so much,” muttered Captain Llewelyn as he tried to get the trunk out of the car.
“Let me get that,” chuckled Anthony as he got the trunk out of the car.
“Don’t be silly Uncle Davy!” she beamed giving him an even bigger hug, “I love being with you too!”
“But I can’t discuss Latin declensions and French verbs with you, hmmm?”
“That’s about the gist of it,” chuckled Anthony.
“Do you want to see my room?” asked Athene excitedly.
“As long as you don’t mind waiting for this bloody leg of mine to catch you up on the stairs!”
Athene’s face split into a huge grin, and she practically skipped up the stairs chatting away to Anthony and Uncle Davy on their way up the stairs.
Simon and Nick were going to bring up the luggage later, and it had been left in the hallway downstairs.
“It’s just up here,” she said pointing up the attic stairs.
“Not another ruddy staircase,” muttered Uncle Davy as he started to limp his way up the stairs to the attic.
“It’s the last one,” Athene giggled, “I promise!”
Athene and Anthony waited patiently at the top of the stairs for Captain Llewelyn.
“This is my bathroom,” she said pointing to the bathroom as they passed.
“You’ve got your own bathroom,” he mumbled, “why am I surprised.”
“And then this is my room,” she finished.
Uncle Davy flopped down on top of the bed as they arrived in the room.
“I am never climbing that many stairs again,” he mumbled.
“Although this room is beautiful Athene,” he chuckled.
“It’s gorgeous isn’t it, even got my own dressing table.”
“And the best bit is,” said Anthony, “its safe away from the rest of the chaos of this crazy household!”
“My leg hurts so much I think I can hear pounding in my head,” said Uncle Davy massaging his old war wound.
“Oh no that’s not in your head,” shrugged Anthony.
“That’s Mark and Julie,” giggled Athene, “they’re practising their tap dancing.”
“You are kidding me, right?” asked Uncle Davy.
“Nope, they practise tap dancing on the bare floorboards in the attic,” chuckled Anthony, “but not before nine o’clock in the morning or after six o’clock at night.”
“Athene,” said Captain Llewelyn as he got up, “you do know your friends are crazy right?”
“Yeah,” she shrugged, “but what’s the fun in life without a bit of craziness?”
“You’ve got a point there kid,” he chuckled, “I’ll see you at Christmas alright?”
“Bye Uncle Davy!” she beamed giving him a huge hug.
Anthony and Nick carried Athene’s bags up to the attic, and Athene started to unpack, whilst Anthony talked to her lying down on top of her bed.
“Did you hear that Tolkien is bringing out more books in The Hobbit series?” asked Anthony as he flicked through one of her books.
“Yeah according to Dad they brought out the first new book a few weeks back.”
“Well seeing as your Dad’s a publisher I suppose we’ll have to take his word for it,” chuckled Athene as she finished her unpacking.
“There something up Anthony?”
Anthony’s mind had been wandering again.
“Athene, what do you want to do after school?”
“That’s not for five years!” she pointed out.
“I know, but what do you want to do? Do you never think about it?”
“Anthony,” she sighed, “I’ve known you for two years, and in the last two years I’ve lost my Father and my two grandparents.”
“Anything could happen within the next five years, I’d rather live each day as it comes rather than worrying too much about the future.”
Anthony supposed that Athene may have had a point.
Athene flopped down on the bed next to Anthony, with her shoes still on. They were both staring up at the ceiling, Anthony with his dark hair and round glasses, with Athene next to him, her waist-length auburn hair lose today and spread out over the top of the bed.
“Have you ever thought about university though?”
“Until a few months back no,” shrugged Athene.
“But now I suppose I could go.”
“What would you want to study?” he asked curiously.
“Why are you asking me all these questions?” she asked incredulously.
“I’m just curious.”
“Well I don’t know,” she muttered, “I like English, but I think languages or my thing. Maybe French or Latin?”
“Hmm,” he muttered.
"You know, I think when it comes down to it I might go for English. You know what I'm like when it comes to a good story."
There was quiet in the room for a few minutes as they both looked up at the ceiling and contemplated the future.
But their moment of quiet was soon disturbed by Athene’s door being banged open.
“Wake up sleepy heads!” yelled Mark
“What’s the matter?” asked Anthony still half distracted.
“Apart from you two sleeping in the middle of the day?” laughed Julie.
“We weren’t sleeping,” protested Athene, “we were thinking.”
“What’s the difference,” muttered Mark as he and Julie hopped up onto the bed.
Athene and Anthony sat up, and Athene got a proper look at Julie.
Athene hadn’t seen Julie for a month and a half, but she seemed to have changed remarkably. Julie had always been pretty, but now she seemed to look grown-up and sophisticated.
Her long sleek blonde hair had been cut, and now grew to just below her shoulders and was today pulled back into a sleek ponytail.
Julie was wearing pink lipstick, and her nails had a French manicure.
But it was more than just that! She was wearing a light blue blouse which was tucked into a long skirt which was a deeper shade of blue.
But the really remarkable thing was under her skirt, she was wearing an underskirt which was made up of layer upon layer of silk petticoats that made her skirt stick out, and they swished when she walked.
Also, unless Athene was greatly mistaken, Julie was now wearing a bra!
Julie was laughing slightly.
“It’s a bit of a stark contrast isn’t it?” laughed Julie.
Athene hadn’t even realised that she had been staring, but she clearly had. It was almost unbelievable that this was the exact same girl she had said goodbye to only six weeks ago!
“Mum took me up to London last month,” Julie explained.
“A teenage girl needs a more sophisticated wardrobe,” she explained, “school uniforms are just so drab that running around in jerseys and skirts during the hols is just ridiculous!”
Athene looked down at her own jumper and skirt and felt slightly foolish, well at least she was comfortable.
Julie’s skirt which popped out and swished when she walked looked like fun when she wanted to go to a party or dress up, but Athene wouldn’t want to dress like that all the time, it just didn’t look comfortable!
She was quite comfortable in her own ordinary jumper and skirt thank you very much!
She supposed that was the difference between her and Julie.
Mark and Julie went back to practising after a while, and Anthony went to go and read.
When he came upstairs later to find Athene, for a while he thought Athene wasn’t even there. The light was off, and the curtains were shut.
Then he noticed a small lump under a quilt on Athene’s bed.
“Athene?” he muttered, “are you ok?”
There was no answer.
Anthony sat down next to Athene on the bed.
“Athene,” he chuckled slightly moving the quilt so he could see her face.
Athene had tears streaming down her face, which were mingling with the freckles on her cheeks.
“Julie,” she mumbled.
“Oh God, she hasn’t been saying horrible things again!”
Anthony had been hoping that Julie had grown out of being horrible and saying harsh things without thinking.
“Oh no,” she muttered, “it’s just do you think I’m pretty?”
“What?” asked Anthony confused.
“Do you think I’m pretty,” she repeated.
“I don’t have pretty blonde hair like Julie, and my face is covered with freckles, and I’m not well….”
“Well, what?” asked Anthony confused.
“Developed,” she mumbled.
“Is this because Julie and Charlie have started wearing bras or something!” chuckled Anthony.
“It’s not funny!” sobbed Athene diving back under her quilt where she could no longer see Anthony.
“Sorry Athens, I didn’t mean to offend you like that,” he said gently.
“You know what, anyone can look traditionally pretty like Julie, wear posh expensive clothes, makeup and high heels. In fact, lots of people do want to look like Julie, blonde hair, nice figure, rosy complexion.”
“Is there a point you’re trying to make here Anthony,” she mumbled, “because you’re making me feel worse!”
“Just let me finish,” he chuckled lightly.
“As I said, anyone could like Julie if they wanted to, but not everyone looks like you. Of course, you’re pretty Athene, you’re gorgeous, your freckles look like you’ve been kissed by the sun, your hair, it isn’t rusty like Harry tries telling you, it’s like autumn leaves, its changes colour depending on which light its in.”
Anthony stopped talking abruptly, he had gotten carried away with himself and had been talking far too much.
Athene’s head popped out from under the quilt and looked at him curiously. She seemed to have stopped crying and there was a ghost of a smile on her face.
“And as for the other thing,” he chuckled, “give it time, they’ll grow.”
“I hope you’re right!” she said giggling slightly.
“There’s the cheerful beautiful Athene I know,” he beamed.
“Now come on, let’s go get some dinner.”