When mum calls me down for dinner, she immediately begins to question me about what’s wrong.
“You look sad, Jess, what’s wrong?” placing the bowl of pasta in front of me, mum sits down herself and puts her intent gaze on me. My eleven year old little brother stares up at me quietly, nodding a long to mum. When its apparent mum isn’t going to say anything else for the moment, he decides to take over.
“Yeah, what’s wrong Jess?” he teases. “Did you stub your big toe or something?” snickering to himself, Stevie begins to eat at his own dinner, laughing every few seconds. I almost snort out loud when he laughed and nearly choked.
I stab a bit of pasta, and shake my head. “I’m fine, mum, honestly. It’s nothing.” I didn’t want to tell her Owen and I had broken up yet. All I’d hear was a smug “I told you so” from both her and my brother. Neither of them were big fans of his.
Mum nods, and places her fork down. She replaces the fork with a glass of wine. “Is this about Owen?” she questions, taking a sip. “What has he done now?”
I shrug. “Nothing,” I say, in a quieter voice I mumble: “I just broke up with Owen and he isn’t exactly pleased about it, that’s it.”
“Come again?” Stevie questions, looking at me with both brows rose. Leaning forward, he stares at me with unblinking green eyes. “Did I just hear you say that you broke up with Owen? Oh, that’s dramatic!”
“Maybe,” I mumble, stuffing my mouth full of pasta. I was hoping they’d get the point that I was more interested in my food than talking about Owen, but I guess not. My mother is definitely where I inherited my stubbornness from.
She places down her wine. “Good riddance, Jessie, that boy is no good. You deserve someone better.”
“You’re my mum, you’re meant to say that.” I tell her, giving her a pointed look. I guess it wasn’t the ‘I told you so’ reaction that I was expecting, but her response wasn’t exactly the one I wanted to hear. Maybe something like: ‘Oh that sucks Jessie, want to eat some ice cream and cry about it?’ that would have been a much better response. On the other hand, mum wasn’t one to filter her responses or sugar coat it. She’d tell you how it was upfront. There was no beating around the bush with her.
“Geez mum, don’t sound too happy about it,” I tell her, standing up, “It wasn’t the easiest thing for me to do you know, so maybe if you could calm down with the pep for a moment and just feel a little bit of sadness that would be great. Now, do you know where the Locke’s live? I need to talk to Brendan about our cooking assignment, but he forgot to tell me where he lived.”
Mum sighs. “I get if you don’t want to talk about this just yet, Jessie, but I’m here for you when you need me, okay?” She holds her hand up firmly in Stevie’s direction, stopping him from saying anything. “But Brendan lives on the end of the road, near the sign. You can go just don’t be late, okay?”
I nod, “thanks mum,” before she can say anything else to me, or before Stevie makes a remark that’s guaranteed to piss me off, I scurry out of the room and out of the house.
Now, time to find Brendan’s house.
I walk aimlessly down the street, my hands shoved in my pockets, lost in my thoughts. Thankfully, no one from school was wondering these streets. I could not be dealing with their whispers, or them stopping me to have a conversation. A simple “hi Jessie” could turn to “so, you broke up with Owen?” in a matter of seconds. People at my school had a talent of conversation topic change. If my mum was still a high schooler then she’d fit right in.
I stop in front of the house that my mum described as Brendan’s. The lights were on, showing that someone was in. Whether it was Brendan or not served as a whole different story. There’s only one way to find out.
Striding up the garden path, I pull both my hands from my pockets. The cold air attacks my hands, and I wince at the sudden change from hot to cold. All I want to do is shove them back into my pockets, but first, I must knock.
Raising a curled fist, I swiftly knock a few times and then shove my hands into the warmth of my coat pockets.
A brown haired woman answers a smile on her face as she opens the door. “Hello?” she questions, throwing the tea towel onto her shoulder and placing her hands on her hips. “Can I help you?”
“Erm,” I try to peak behind her to see if there as any sight of Brendan, but I have no luck, there’s nothing, “is this where Brendan lives?”
The woman quickly nods, her smile returning in the fall. It had fallen slightly as she was waiting for me to talk. Now it had returned, bright and radiant. She can’t be Brendan’s mum, that’s just impossible. He can’t be related to somebody who smiles like that.
“Brendan!” she shouts. “Brendan, there’s a girl here for you!” she looks at me, raising her eyebrow.
“Ugh, my name’s Jessie.”
“A pretty girl named Jessie! Hurry up!” she finishes shouting and turns back around to smile at me. “Come in, it’s cold.”
Trust me, I know.
“Thanks.” I tell her, stepping inside. Brendan’s mum leads me into the living area, just as Brendan comes bounding into the room.
“Jessie Miller,” he grins, his blond hair a rumpled mess, “What an unexpected surprise.”