I leaned against the school gate, clutching my bag as I waited for my dad. He worked in the city, about half an hour away from my school. Normally Todd and I went home together, but tonight he was with Bruce so I needed my dads taxi services. A sleek black car parked opposite the school, and I couldn't help but watch as a older guy spoke animatedly on his phone. He seemed angry, and was waving his hands around as he spoke, and I noticed he was wearing an off white t shirt, his eyes covered with sunglasses despite the crappy weather.
'I said I'm busy. I've got shit on tonight.'
His tone was cold and I gulped, glad I wasn't whoever was on the end of the phone. He ended the call and saw me watching him, as I averted my eyes quickly.
Come on, Dad...
'Hey!' The guy called, winding his window down the full length so I could see him leaning over. I froze, praying he wasn't addressing me. He had a tattoo on his throat, of what I couldn't make out.
'Me?' I yelped as he smiled with amusement.
'Do you know Aurora James?' His fingers tapped on the steering wheel as I frowned, racking my brains to place the name. I gave up, shrugging my shoulders.
'Erm no, sorry. What year is she in?'
He blinked as though I'd asked him to perform a maths equation whilst riding a bike on a tightrope.
'What? I don't know. She's like, fourteen.'
That made sense. I didn't know many of the younger ones, especially of that age.
'I'm a senior. Final year. Sorry.'
'Final year? Nice. Bet you can't wait to leave.'
'What, to pay bills and take orders from people in higher positions than me?' I raised an eyebrow in his direction as his mouth twitched, making him laugh as he glanced in his rearview mirror.
'Everyone has to start somewhere.'
Suddenly I heard footsteps behind me as he held his hands up in mock exasperation.
'Jesus kiddo, you know I'm out tonight. What did you do, empty the bins?'
I tried to hide my smile as a younger girl came running past me, her voice breathless as she replied.
'I'm sorry Zach. Miss Raldo was telling us about the theatre session coming up, and I was so excited I totally lost track of time.'
She was like a mirror image of him, her dark blonde hair tied in a loose ponytail as she hurried around the passenger side of the car, throwing her bags in the back as he nodded.
'Actresses.' He smirked at me, as his gaze held me longer than it should've. I felt relief as I saw my dads red pick up truck in the distance, flashing its lights as he saw me. I glanced back to the black car, to see him deep in conversation with his sister.
'Hey sugar. No Todd tonight?' Came the voice of my dad as I cringed inwardly, wishing sleek black car guy didn't see me getting a ride from my dad. I smiled gratefully as I climbed in, hoisting my bag onto my lap as I hastily grabbed my seatbelt.
'No, it's the afterparty. I've got so much to do...'I mumbled as my dad pulled away, anxiously checking his mirrors before he did.
'Huh. It's a shame you didn't go. Your mom said its soup tonight.' He sent me an apologetic smile and I laughed, my head turning back to see if Mr-sleek-black-car had left. My dad peered at me curiously, glancing in the rearview mirror as we drove away. 'How was school Lucy?'
I smiled as he grinned at me, his watery blue eyes crinkling as he did. My dad was the only person in the world who knew what I did at school as Lucy, other than Mr Milton.
'Hmm, just your usual love problems. Nothing out of the ordinary today.'
He looked almost disappointed as he drove, and I felt the need to please him.
'We won the game tonight.'
He sent me a strange look, before frowning.
'Yeah? Like you care. Despite having a boyfriend on the team.' He chuckled as I squirmed in my seat. Dad loved football, and whenever Todd came over that's all they spoke about. It was boring. But I knew Dad would love to hear about his old school winning, so decided to humor him.
'It was good as far as games go.' I mumble as I rest my head on the window. The fans in the car were on warm, and I began to yawn. Something about car journeys always made me sleepy.
'Did Todd score?' Dad asked unable to resist asking for the details. I filled him in on the three goals, wondering why people cared so much about sports. All it did was make you cool and popular in school- no one actually cared about the health benefits. Todd truly believed he would be a famous footballer one day, but I didn't stop reminding him that almost every eighteen year old boy in the world harboured such thoughts.
'Lucas Knight. Sounds like he's got a bright future ahead of him.'
'Well don't say that in front of Todd. He already thinks I've got a crush on him.' I rolled my eyes as I stared out of the window, watching the city houses disappear as fields rolled into view. I loved that we lived far away from anyone; it gave me the excuse of solitude when I didn't want to be social. Dad had bought the house from his own father, and spent his life doing it up to make it his dream home. My dad and I were so similar, and I suppose that's why we got on so well. He wasn't just my dad, he was one of my best friends. He arched a brow at me, his eyes curious.
'What makes him think that?'
He swore under his breath as a car overtook him, and my heart began to pound as I noticed it was the sleek black car. Why was it going in this direction? Come to think of it, I hadn't even seen his sister once in school. Were they new? I realised my dad was waiting for an answer as I cleared my throat.
'Because I was talking to him earlier. I know, call the paper right?! Breaking news, Harper speaks to star footballer.'
'He's clearly a bit insecure about this Lucas. He sounds like he's great at football, and he must see him as a bit of a rival. Then to see you talking to him, well. Probably upset our Todd. Todd's a good looking guy, I'm sure he hasn't got anything to worry about. He knows you are loyal.' He said proudly as I half smiled.
'Looks like we have new neighbours.' Dad drawled as we passed Aurora and her older brother pulling into a long driveway that lead to the old Henderley House. 'Needs to learn some damn manners on the road.'
'Hardly neighbours Dad.'
'Closest we will get, kidda.'
A few minutes later our house came into view, and my body relaxed. It was an old barn conversion, and I'm pretty sure it was worth quite alot of money now it was finally completed. Not that it mattered, Dad would never part with it no matter how much it was worth. The engine cut out and I jumped onto the gravel, my feet making a crunching noise as I walked up to the front door. It was super cute, a thick wooden stable door that you could have half open if you wanted. I pulled it open, as a rich meaty smell met my nostrils. Soup wasn't plain or boring in this house, my mom was a passionate cook.
'What can you smell, Harper?' I heard her silky voice call from the kitchen, as I dropped my bags onto the floor.
'Rosemary.. garlic...lamb?' I questioned as I walked down the stone steps into the kitchen. A large pot sat on the hob, simmering slowly as my mom sliced thick wedges of bread from an uncut loaf. I stole one, topping it with thick butter as she tutted good naturedly. My dad kissed her cheek, wrapping his arms around her from behind as he too stole a slice.
'You two!' She scolded, her hands waving us away as she cut more bread. 'There will be none left for the soup.'
'Do you remember when you had a crush on me at school?' Dad mused, polishing off the bread.
'What? That's over twenty years ago.' She said, a small smile playing at her lips.
'So? I was the hunky footballer and you were the cool goth girl who wasn't interested in anyone.'
'Oh god, I was hardly a goth because I dyed my hair black.' Mom drizzled garlic oil into a dish, laying the sliced bread around it as she pushed it towards the middle of the table. Dad placed three bowls on the table as mom carried over the pot, placing it on the warmer. I eagerly spooned the soup into my bowl, my mouth salivating at the sight of the roasted carrots and succulent lamb that sat in the rich broth.
'And wore black. And had black eyeliner. Black boots. Mmm I loved those boots.'
I cringed as I took a sip, closing my eyes as I groaned in delight. Mom smiled approvingly as she poured her self a bowl.
'You weren't bad yourself. Why are we talking about that anyway?'
Dad and I exchanged a look as mom rolled her eyes.
'More secret squirrel stuff? We should have had more children. I'm left out with you two.' She pouted as dad winked at her.
'I'm game if you are. They are so much fun to make.'
I choked on my soup as he let out a loud laugh, clapping me on the back.
We finished our dinner and I helped clear up, my mind drifting back to the new guy I'd met earlier. I wonder where he went to college, or if he worked. I slid my finger into the hook of my bag as I ascended the stairs, grimacing at the weight. My laptop was the reason it was so heavy, but I needed it with me at all times. I walked into my room which was at the far end, and sighed happily as I set my bag on my bed. I pulled my laptop out, before pressing the button to bring it to life. Instantly I was alerted to new emails, and I grinned.
I loved being Lucy.
Hi. I've not long moved here and I'm finding it really hard to make friends. Everyone seems to have their own circle of friends that I can't seem to penetrate and it's getting me down. Any suggestions?
Ah this was awful. I didn't envy this person at all. I typed up a response suggesting they tried to speak to one person at at time rather than trying to speak to a group, which was always intimidating.
A few hours later, I realised I hadn't put the question on the main page, but I did have a response.
Thanks Lucy. It's just hard, I didn't want to move here in the first place. My mom and dad split up and mom wanted to get as far away from him as she could. So it's just us now. My brother is so angry about it, he doesn't want to speak to my dad again. But at least he didn't have to move schools. But I had to leave all my friends, my school and everything I knew to come here. I just feel so alone.
Wow. I began to feel excitement in my stomach, my mind whirring as I ran the facts through my mind. New person. Has a brother that's not in school. Recently moved here.
Was it Aurora?