July 13th, 2016.
I love the sound of Kal’s voice. It’s the best thing to listen to after a blaring argument with my parents. I would prefer to hear it in person, but hearing it on the phone is as close as I’ll get at this point. A few days after I got to Jamie’s house, he texted me again, wondering once again if I was OK. I felt bad sort of neglecting the one guy who helped me get out of one of the many messes I had created for myself. Besides, he really is attractive. Nobody sane would pass up an opportunity like this one.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been keeping in touch. Mainly through texts and calls; the facetiming can be saved for the future, if things eventually get corny and gooey. I don’t like to think too far, as it’s been shown. I just sort of live in the moment, and that’s what I’m doing with Kal. It doesn’t mean he’s a momentary thing, but he’s filling up my moments, and that’s all I need to distract me from my whirlwind of a life.
“Tell me what it means.” I ask Kal about his tattoo on the phone after having analysed it in a few photos on his Instagram account.
“It’s just a Koru pattern. You know; representing new beginnings, growth and harmony.”
“That’s beautiful,” I reply. My heart pangs slightly, and I’m not sure why. It’s like a wave of melancholy just hits me, but it’s gone before I can really register it. I sit on my bed, leaning back on the headboard and staring at the ceiling with my phone clutched to my ear. “I’m afraid of needles. Anything of the sort. Which is kinda dumb, considering I’ve had my body cut open before.”
“When I was eleven. Appendicitis.”
“Well, wow. I mean, my tattoos garner a bit of attention here and there. Especially girls.” He laughs. “But I think going under the knife is always worthy of a lot of appraisal.”
“Even to get double D’s?” I chuckle.
“I think there’s a scale, here. And I would say aesthetic purposes is somewhere at the bottom. Hence why my tattoo isn’t necessarily the most deserving.”
“No, but it’s a traditional thing, right?”
“I suppose. But I really didn’t have to get it. I’m somewhat of a Polynesian mishmash; my father’s mainly Maori but there’s a sprinkle of Samoa there. My mom’s also from New Zealand. But she’s white. So the culture isn’t running strong at this point. Generations just getting a little diluted. I feel like I got the tattoo out of somewhat of a personal identity and a trend.”
“Ahh,” I sigh, pretending for it to be completely new information to me. I’ve become the queen of scouring people’s accounts for revelations of sorts, and I found a few family photos Kal has up. At his older sister’s graduation, he poses with both of his parents and other siblings as she stands proudly with her mortarboard placed on her head like a crown. His mother’s short and blonde, with a soft closed-lipped smile, and his father a giant with a huge beam on his face. You can see where Kal and his siblings meet in the middle of his parents. “So where do you prefer? N.Z. or America?”
“I like both. I moved here like five years ago, and there’s still a freshness about it, which I enjoy. But home is home. I’ve got family there. Nostalgic memories… you know.”
“My mom’s family is mainly from Texas,” I respond. “I hardly ever visit them, though. I never have the time, and my parents are too old to make frequent trips.”
“Oh. Right – that reminds me. For whatever reason, your name just rang a bell in my mind. Don’t think I’m a stalker or anything. But I did a little digging. Found out your mom’s the founder of the Middleton restaurants. And my older brother – he’s into retro film and TV. He watched that TV series that your father was in. Pretty cool.”
“I’m not used to people pointing it out, ‘cause most people know that over here, and most kids have parents with similar professions or past lives.”
“I’m aware. Bluebeach seems like the land of the elite.”
“It’s the land of something,” I scoff. “I’d say entitled assholes.”
I bet he’s still wondering why I ran away all of those weeks ago, and I know there’s no way I’m telling him. It’s the itchiness in our conversations, the elephant in the room. The reason why we even met in the first place. I’m sure if he found out about my parents and he knows where I live, he knows about the Bluebeach shooting. Surely he knows about One’s highly-publicised death just before the millennium. So I decide to bring it up – not necessarily the brightest of conversations, but it can just be a distraction from current issues.
“I’m sure you’ve heard about my older sister, right?”
“The one who passed away? The shooting?” he asks, a bit more quietly. “Yeah. I saw a few articles. There was a documentary about it, online. One of those speculative ones, where they interview friends of friends and whatnot.”
“Yep, there are a lot of those.” I roll my eyes. My parents shrunk out of the public eye after her death, turning down interviews and one-hour specials, leaving it to the busy-bodies and those who wanted to freeload off of the P.R. that came with the tragedy. “I was born a year later, so I never got to know her or anything. I was a replacement child, you could say. Nothing can replace a child, but you get the sentiment.”
“I mean, that’s crazy to think. You may not have been born if it wasn’t for such a tragic incident. I don’t mean to be morbid-”
“No. that’s not morbid at all. I mean, you could say I’m a miracle child. It was all IVF, creating me,” I dance around the truth. I almost want to tell him the real truth, how things really are. I’m sure he’s noticed the similarities. “I’m lucky to even be here, really.”
“Most definitely,” I can hear his smile. “You must be a blessing.”