It began as a high pitched scream ripping from my chest and then merged into an exhilarated laugh. Air whistled in my ears and cut my bare skin, knees were tucked close to my chest and my fingers wrapped around the clasp tightly. Even as Lana's light disappeared behind me, I began to enjoy the feeling of flying. My mouth and throat became dry but I kept laughing until my feet touched the platform on the other side. I quickly unhooked myself and stepped back, waiting for Lana. She came soon enough, both of laughed as we took the shorter latter down to the ground. My whole body felt hot and alive, so many new things had been crammed into one night.
It wasn't hard to find Thomas, he was standing outside of the main building, with his supervisor behind us. They said nothing, just lead us inside.
"We will need the equipment back now," the supervisor informed us.
"That's fair," I ceded and Lana and I began taking off the helmets and harnesses. "We're sorry about this." My cheeks flushed slightly, realising how out of character this had all been. I truly felt bad for making Thomas' job harder than it had to be.
Lana began to walk away as did the others before I asked where we had to pay, Lana told me she'd already taken care of it and ended the discussion there. We walked out into the night again, into the parking lot that held only three cars. It was rather eerie, looking around, as the adrenaline wore off.
The car ride seemed to pass in a blur as I tried not to get caught up in my mind and answer her questions. She asked many, but answered few. By the end of the night she'd told me she had a pet Collie back home named Sherlock, whom she had named after of course the famous detective — and because she'd gotten Sherlock while visiting London. Meanwhile, she'd gotten me to somehow unveil my whole life's story.
When I got out of the car at M. Tremble's house I didn't know what else to say. My mind raced, I didn't want the night to end yet but I was also exhausted. "Thanks," I said rather lamely before all but jogging to the door. The house was warm like Lana's car had been, and a moment later I heard it spinning out of the drive way. It took a moment before I noticed who was sitting in the living room.
M. Tremble bolted up the second I got through the door, and began shooting questions at me. "Amelia, do you have any idea what time it is? It's past midnight! You have work in only a few hours. I told you your curfew was ten." M. Tremble looked livid and I felt guilty because I could hardly muster up the energy to care. The night flashed before my eyes.
"I'm sorry, we lost track of time and traffic was terrible."
"Traffic here was terrible?" he asked skeptically, and I remembered that I wasn't supposed to have left Mirabel. Oops. "You and Monja both have been such trouble," he stated, sighing. He really did seem quite concerned. I apologized again and slunk from the room and upstairs.
Before turning into my room I was met by Monja, who began questioning me as well. Though far less appropriately. "Did you sleep with her?" Monja asked, raising an eyebrow and obviously hoping for details.
I shook my head, aghast at both her question and the fact that I kind of wondered what that would have been like. "No, of course not. We went to dinner and then to a driver in theater, that's all."
"You've been gone hours and that's all you did?"
"We had to drive far away, Mirabel doesn't have a drive in," I stated and ended it there. Before she could ask another question I closed the door behind me. In my borrowed-room, I let out a sigh. My hand reached back reflexively to my bra clasp and I undid it, throwing the bra on my yet semi-packed belongings. I didn't change or brush my teeth, only turned off the light and fell back on the bed. I curled under the blanket and let my mind wander.
I wondered if Lana was thinking about me like I was thinking about her.
The following day at work was little better than the first, but I pushed through. I got slightly more sleep the second night and felt relatively awake. Though that changed when I was made to clean the whole place, again, and check inventory. I occupied myself of daydreams of university, wondering about my family, and thinking of last night.
When four o'clock rolled around I waved goodbye to my coworkers and climbed onto my bike. I rode by the beavertail shop, the sweet smell of dough and sugar filling my senses. Too bad I was still broke. Oh, well, I'd be paid soon enough.
Past the side-by-sides, twice-cut lawns, and above ground swimming pools, the light breeze ran through my hair. At the intersection I climbed off and walked my bike across, the driver's obviously annoyed with my hesitance. Once across I got back on and began my kilometre journey uphill back to M. Tremble's house.
He was still very angry after last night, so I was under "house arrest"—meaning I could go to work and then had to come straight home. He kept reminding me for the summer he was my guardian and I kept reminding him that I was eighteen, but it didn't seem to matter to him.
At the small creek that ran under the road, I got off again. I took out my phone and snapped a few pictures; there wasn't anything particularly special about the creek, I just liked the way the sun reflected off the water. Mom had always said to stop once in a while to smell the roses and appreciate the little things, unlike my dad, she realized that my fanatic obsession with straight As wasn't always healthy. So, I was trying to take her advice. Maybe I was taking it a little too literally, if only Mom knew everything I had done in the last two days alone, she would ground me until I was forty.
When I put my phone away, about to walk my bike up the very steep hill ahead, I noticed someone staring at me from across the street. Just a few metres away was a small gas station and, standing beside a huge black Tahoe, stood a man very clearly staring at me. I couldn't make out his expression exactly but it looked almost as if he was trying to figure out whether or not he knew me. Off put, I began walking just a little faster.
When I got home, Lukas was sitting in the living room, his eyes fixed to the TV. It took me a moment but I realized that the disorganized mass of runners wearing colourful shirts were soccer players: the teams where Netherlands and Argentine and the score was 0-0. Honestly I couldn't understand how this sport was interesting to anyone: grown men chasing a tiny ball, going out with the slightest of injuries, and most of the time they never even scored. If I had to choose a sport, it would be hockey, and that was just to see Team Canada win against everyone—especially Team US. "Hey, Lukas," I greeted, dropping my workbag on the couch.
Lukas smiled and nodded in recognition and then returned his attention to the game. "I was gonna go in the pool, wanna come?" I asked. Monja and Stephen wouldn't be home for a while, and I oddly didn't want to be alone.
Lukas shook his head. "N-no thanks. I'm w-watching the semi-finals, if you want t-to stay," he replied, duking his head so he didn't maintain eye contact. I sighed, I guess it would take more than two days to get him to warm up to me, but at least this was a start.
"That's alright, enjoy your game." Luckily I didn't run into M. Tremble on the way to my room, I slipped out of my work uniform into my more comfortable bathing suit. My pale skin looked ghostly against the black fabric, and I couldn't remember why I'd thought this was a good idea to buy a black bathing suit. My ama had once commented how pretty and youthful my pale skin was, holding tight onto the "pale is beauty" mindset, but I thought it made me look sickly.
The sun was hot on my skin but the breeze was cold, my bare feet padded against the damp ground and I felt squishy mud between my toes. Goosebumps raised on my skin and I tried to smooth them down. As I got into the warm pool water I wondered what it would be like if this were my life. We weren't poor by any means, but with three children and only one working parent we had to stretch. My mom had been a nurse practitioner at the hospital, and she had been paid very well—well enough that we used to take yearly winter vacations to South and Central America. But now my dad's wages as a school district trustee had to cover everything, which meant a smaller house and no vacations.
But this house... It had to come with a certain lifestyle. House parties with wine, cheese, and caviar; bonfires by the volleyball court; home-grown pesticide free vegetables; kayaking in the river. That's what I wanted, which was why university was so important, why I needed to always be the best and anything less wouldn't cut it.
One day, when I was well off, I would buy my mom a hot tub like she always wanted and get my dad one of those cameras he was always ogling.
I contented myself with thoughts of my future generosity until my peace was broken. Monja sped down the gravel path and stopped her bike just before crashing into the shed. "Hey, Amie!" she waved and ran to the pool. She began stripping before I could even say hello in return.
"What are you doing?" I demanded.
"Relax, I have a swim suit on underneath." Monja pulled the bright pink strap of her bikini top and let it snap back to her tanned skin and tucked her hair into a bun.
"You wear a bikini all day?"
"I work at a day camp, our last activity of the day was swimming," she explained, climbing into the pool.
"They let you work with children?" I asked skeptically, I couldn't imagine Monja as the kind of person to like children or be very appropriate around them.
She scoffed. "Well that's rude, and rich coming from you. You're the one who stole M. Tremble's money and bought underage teenagers alcohol, remember? Besides, I can be professional when I want to be, it's just not as much fun."
I made a loud shushing noise and looked around to see if anyone had been close enough to hear, the yard was still empty. "Can you be any louder?" I had begun to realize that I didn't like Monja very much, she was pushy and slightly racist. At one point she had asked me if my parents had disowned me when I'd come out of the closet. That had really annoyed me because A) my mom had been very supporting, though I believed she still didn't really understand, and B) my dad refused to acknowledge that I'd even broached the subject.
"So how was your date with Lana?" she asked suddenly, a smirk crossing her face. I'd hoped after last night she would have realized that I didn't want to discuss it.
"None of your business," I replied shortly.
Monja's eyes wandered behind me for a moment and she smiled again. "Well if you won't tell me I'll just ask her." I followed her gaze behind me and couldn't believe my eyes. Beside her very glossy car stood Lana, her arms where crossed and her keys dangled from her index finger, she wore an easy smile.
"L-Lana! What are you doing here?" I stuttered, she began walking over and I watched her hips as they swayed with each step. Was that intentional? I surely didn't walk like that, then again I didn't really have hips.
"I've come to surprise you, Amelia!" she replied.
"Ugh, doesn't she speak English?" Monja grumbled. From what I'd seen, Monja was making the least effort out of all of us to learn French.
I leaned against the edge of the pool, trying to hide my lackluster summer body with the wall. "If M. Tremble sees you here, he'll freak out. I'm under house arrest."
"What? But you are eighteen, oui?"
"I know, but while I'm here I have to listen to him, or he could send me home early."
"Hey, Lana, why don't you come in the pool with us?" At my expression Monja put up her hands in mock defense. "M. Tremble doesn't come home until five thirty, it's only four forty now," she explained.
Lana looked at me, confused. "What did she say?" I guess Lana really didn't speak any English. I paraphrased what Monja said and translated but Monja shook her head. "That's not what she said."
"Veux-tu nager avec nous?" The broken words came from Monja, who then grinned at her ability.
"Oh, you do speak French! I would love to stay, but I do not think Amelia wants me here, and I would not want to impose." I knew she was playing me, it was clear in her tone, but I couldn't help myself.
"No, that's not it. I'm just worried about M. Tremble, he was so angry last night," I quickly explained.
Lana beamed, and tied her curly hair back. "I do not have a swim suit, but I shall sit on the pool edge. Then I can see how cute Amelia looks in her swim suit."
"Well, there's not much to see," Monja commented. I shot her a glance but my anger dissipated into anxiety once again.
If M. Tremble found her here I'd be sent back to BC for sure, and then I'd have to somehow explain this whole situation to my parents.