Chapter Three – Uncles and Throw Pillows
The walk over the sand dunes and down the beach is a long and lonely one. After they’d moved into the house and I was unable to hear them, rather than risking my neck to hear more, I’d decided high-tailing it out of there was a jolly good idea.
Who are they? They talk as if they know me and I’ve never seen these people before, at least that I remember. And what’s up with them calling Jude, Julian? It’s all too much and doesn’t make a lick of sense. I should stay clear of them, but is that the right choice? Shouldn’t I try to get closure? See what they’re talking about? And if they really are just a bunch of lunatics, wave away when they leave at the end of the summer?
So many questions yet the best, most heart racing one is: Do I tell Jude? Do I risk it for these people, who may just be nuts? He was acting weird before he ditched me; and what was up with that? He never ditches me; he’ll ditch the guys to come hang out with me but he’s never ditched me to hang out with them. I’m just jealous; that has to be it. There’s a first time for everything.
The towns emptied till the point it’s just the people out to dine in the variety of restaurants up and down the streets. They don’t give me a second glance as I roll my way down the street to my house.
I’m lucky enough to live in one of the few houses that are sandwiched between shops up and down Market Street. It doesn’t take a genius to see the reason behind the name.
To the left of my house you have the Wilson’s Shoe Menders and to the right I’m lucky enough to have a fully stocked sweet shop called: Candies. Sarah, the lady who owns it is possibly the sweetest person I’ve ever met.
Bumping up onto the pavement, I put my foot down to stop my board in front of my front door. After scooping up my board, I bounce up the three concrete steps before using my key to open the front door.
“Lotty, is that you?” Dad’s voice travels to me from either the front room or the kitchen.
“Who else is it going to be?” As I walk past the table, I chuck my keys into the pot before strolling into the living room that branches to the left of the front door; straight ahead are the stairs that leads to the bathroom and Dad and I’s bedrooms.
Walking into the front room, I see the figure on the sofa out the corner of my eye, but I don’t expect it to be Jerry.
“Hello sweetheart, you alright?” He leans forward to kiss my cheek and I do the same. He’s my only uncle, but everything I could have asked for in one. I may not have a mum growing up, but I’ve always had and always will have my dad, my uncle and my aunt. Sure, my aunt may be a bit on the rough side, but that’s just made me stronger growing up.
“I’m fine. How was your day?” I ask as I roll my board under the sofa.
“It was survivable.” When he smiles, his eyes crinkle. “Darling, you look tired; where have you been? Dad started to get worried.”
“You didn’t worry?” I sling myself down onto the sofa beside him and start to undo my trainers; my feet complaining from the walk. How long had I been walking? I don’t know when I left the house so it’s hard to tell.
“Na’ when Jude’s with you, I know you’re safe.” His gaze flitters from me to the football match playing on the telly behind me.
“Why?” I’m not about go tell him Jude wasn’t with me but still, why does he trust Jude so much? I’ve always wondered why they don’t seem to think of the same things other parents think of when a sixteen year old boy is in the picture. They don’t worry when they leave us alone for hours, sure, we don’t see each other in any other way than friends but still, I’ve known girls at school to complain about their parents putting up too many rules when they have guys over, yet my dad and my uncle don’t seem to give a monkey’s uncle; not because they don’t care but because they’re not worried. Why?
When he gives me nothing more than a shrug, I jump up from the sofa to go see dad in the kitchen.
“Want to eat out tonight?” He lifts his gaze from the laptop in front of him to look at me.
“Sure, I don’t think there there’s anything other than peas and fish fingers in the freezer.” I say wandering around behind him to find out what he’s looking at, but before I can see he minimizes the screen and gives me a pointed look.
“Where do you want to eat?” I say backing slowly out the room; he’s in one of his stern moods.
“I fancy a steak, you?” His gaze flickers down to the laptop again before returning to me.
“I could do a steak, sure.” Now back in the living room, I turn to Jerry who’s still entranced by tonight’s football match. “Steak?”
“Sounds good, your dad paying?” He cracks a grin when I roll my eyes.
“You guys can go ahead and argue about it because I’m not having anything to do with it as always.”
He opens his mouth but I interrupt him before the words can come out.
“And I’m not paying, you old mooch.” I grab a pillow off the sofa and throw it at him.
Laughing loudly, he winks at me. “I love ya’, you know that?”
“Yes, Jerry.” I toe my board out from under the sofa and whiz out the room and up the stairs.
It was warm today but it’ll be chilly tonight; a change of clothes is in order.
“Lot’, are you going to invite Jude?” Dad’s voice travels up from the bottom of the stairs.
I pause half way through tying my hair up, a strange question thrumming through me: do I always invite Jude? The answer’s yes. I’ve never thought anything of it; since I met him when I was ten; he’s always joining us at restaurants and tagging along with me if I want to go somewhere. How many times a week does he take to go see his other friends? One or two days a week? Yeah that’s about right.
“No, he’s busy.” I call out as I tug my hair through the stretchy band. After grabbing my jacket and my board of course, I bounce down the stairs.
“Are we going to stand around like lemons or are we going?” I ask Dad and Jerry when they stand looking at me. What the hell is going on?