"Stop jittering, Erin!" My mom scowled at me harshly from across our mahogany dining table.
"Sorry mom, I'm just.....excited," I apologised to my breakfast of fruit salad.
I couldn't stop my legs from bouncing under the table, though, and my fork was tapping a punchy rhythm on the side of my bowl.
"Are you going out with that girl again today?" My dad sat to the left of my mom, and a look of disgust passed his face as he spoke.
"If by that girl you mean my best friend, then yes - I am," I replied curtly, my anger suddenly flaring. Who was my father to speak so badly of someone he barely knew?
My parents shared a look.
"Erin, as your parents, we feel it is necessary-"
I dropped my fork into my food and it clattered against the ceramic. "Save it." My wooden chair scraped against the marble floor as I stood up quickly. "I don't give a shit about what you think is necessary."
My mom visibly gasped and looked between my father and I.
I coolly watched them for a few seconds - seeing my dad's face redden slightly - before shoving my chair out of the way and storming from the room.
This had been happening more often recently - my parents and I disagreeing. The past few months, it seemed we couldn't go through a day without someone loosing their temper and without a massive family blowout occurring. We had never actually discussed the core root to the problem, but we didn't need to as we all knew what was the cause of our most recent feuding.
Lizzie - and my new 'lifestyle' was something my parents wholeheartedly campaigned against. They didn't like my staying out till all hours, nor my absence from their controlling grasp. They didn't like, instead of obeying their orders and being glued to their sides, that I was slipping away from them faster than a wet bar of soap in a shower - but I liked it.
Recently, I had very suddenly found myself in a situation where my parents wanted to distance themselves from me: the day they first met Lizzie.
I had invited Lizzie round to my house for dinner and - long story short - it didn't go as well as I'd hoped. One thousand dollar antique china plate from Ancient Beijing being smashed to disintegrating pieces later, my friend was practically tossed out the door, never to be seen again. Or so my parents thought when they scolded me for making friends with a 'downee.'
Then, after I protested, they attempted the whole 'silent treatment', 'holding your child at arm's length tactic' which, honestly, was the best week of my life. It didn't last though - they finally gave in when my mom almost had a mental breakdown at the sight of my appearance arriving home one evening. I didn't even look that bad; I'd been hiding in bushes and a few branches were sticking, trapped in my hair and my pale face was streaked with mud. Nothing a shower couldn't fix.
So, here we were. Square one, once again. Mom and dad now desperately trying, and failing, to get me to stop being friends with Lizzie and go to university instead.
My reasons for them, admittedly, were pathetic. If I were them and I had a daughter in my position there would be no way on earth I would let her stay, relaxing at home, when there was a place at New York University waiting for her.
I told them I wanted a gap year of rest, that I had lost inspiration towards doing journalism - which was a complete lie, I still absolutely loved writing. I said I needed the year to prepare and recuperate.
Pathetic, yeah, I know. My parents sympathized with me at first, and even bought me official NYU merchandise - thus, the hoodie - to try rekindle my passion for journalism.
It was all lies. There were two reasons I didn't want to go: one, the business Lizzie was involved in made you mega-bucks. I was promised I would be allowed to tag along to deals and such and, I figured, after a while of volunteering I could ask to be paid. It wasn't that I needed the money - my family didn't, I wasn't that blind. But I felt that I had to at least be raking in some money for the household, now that I was taking a gap year. Reason two wasn't as justifiable.
Reason two: I was having too much fun here to leave. What my parents didn't know was that I was participating and helping out with heists, thefts, deals, mad outbursts of revenge and I was savouring every moment of it like ice cream melting on my tounge. I simply didn't want to give this lifestyle up.
I turned the keys in the ignition and my Range Rover that my parents had bought me for my sixteenth grumbled to life.
The automatic roof to our garage lifted at the click of a button and I reversed out into the blinding white of snow, the crunch of my tyres rolling over the element as I went.
It was weird, that – the snow. LA doesn’t really come to mind when someone says sub-zero wintery storms, which is what we’d been having for the past few weeks. As freezing as it was though, I wasn’t complaining. It was side-splitting watching the sun-worshipers wandering about like lost sheep, baffled over how they could make ski jackets look fashionable.
When I arrived at the pier I left my vehicle in an empty car park beside the boardwalk, before strolling under the fair’s signature candy cane archway and searching for my friend, which I figured wouldn’t be too hard, due to the fairground’s abandonment.
The fair was always a riot; I could distinctly recall that every time I had visited the annual summer Santa Monica Pier fair the day had ended with my loosing something or getting lost myself in the pressing crowds.
Today the fair was deserted, and would be for the next few months – until June, at least.
It still gave me shivers seeing the pier like this. It shut down throughout the year, and resembled something from a horror movie, and then, come summer, a switch would be flipped and the machines would power to life once again, the ferris wheel squeaking as it completes its rounds like it never stopped.
This was why it was the perfect place for today’s deals. Lizzie hadn’t given away too many details; I knew it was meth we would be dealing, and that was about it, but I was beyond excited.
I practically skipped towards the ferris wheel, its looming figure towering far above me. I was to meet Lizzie at the entrance, which, as I knew from my years of attending the fair, was just around this ‘Shoot The Hoops’ stall.
I rounded the corner sharply, bashing my hip of the wooden stall’s corner just as I spotted my friend, leaning against the main event’s rails.
Lizzie’s head turned sharply at my sudden break of quiet, but, as she realized it was me, flashed me a quick smile and pushed herself of the rusting metal.
I sped up to meet my friend halfway.