Once I’d got home from school, all I wanted to do was call Kasey to make sure she was OK and to try and figure out what was going on. It was simple. I would go to my room, shut the door (so I wouldn’t be disturbed) and then ask Kasey what was going on. We would talk for however long, then I would start my homework, have dinner, finish my homework and watch one of my favourite TV shows.
But as soon as I got in the door, my mother was fussing, whilst our new maid was tidying and looking rather petrified.
Mum fussed a lot, but now it seemed as if she was only capable of fussing. I didn’t see what the big issue was. With her she always had to turn something small into a big drama. It didn’t make sense. Why couldn’t things just go the way I planned them to?
“Anastasia!” She cried and she actually looked relieved.
I tried to ignore the fact that she didn’t use my preferred nickname. “What is it?”
“Miss Greyson and her son are coming round tonight!” She said, shaking me. “Everything needs to look perfect and- oh, Anastasia! Don’t just stand there! Take these.”
Of course. She had to look like she wasn’t part psycho when other people, non-related to us, come and have dinner.
“Cookies? Chocolate chip cookies? Aren’t Miss Greyson and her son a little old for this?” I questioned her, as innocently as I could. I didn’t need to anger my Mum when she was already acting seriously stressed.
“What are you talking about?” Mum growled. “The cookies are for the new next door neighbour! Now hurry. Be back in five minutes. You’re going to help me organise the living room.”
Great. Can’t wait.
Then something clicked. The next door neighbour was the shirtless guy I saw this morning. Was that why I was getting nervous? I was already losing my chill and this guy hasn’t even been here for twenty-four hours?
OK, calm, Nas. I just needed to be calm and everything would be fine. It’s not like his face looked especially great from what I could tell. He might be incredibly ugly and-
Oh Jesus. I had just rung the doorbell and I’m not mentally, physically or emotionally prepared to talk to a possibly hot stranger. I can’t even talk to average looking people without stumbling on my words!
I held the cookies out in front of me for what must have been hours before the guy finally opened the door.
It took me a little while to process what he looked like. He had a slight bit of facial hair, but it was barely noticeable. He had dark hair and fairly pale skin. He was tall and had broad shoulders. His face was appealing but it wasn’t the best I’d seen. Thank God. Maybe I could actually act like a normal person now. Who knew? Maybe me and this neighbour could even be friends.
“What’s this?” He asked me, peering suspiciously at the cookies I was holding. I thought that it was pretty obvious what they were, but maybe he just had bad eyesight.
I gave a friendly smile. He was living on his own. I may be the only person to come here in a while. He could get really lonely. “Cookies. My Mum made them. I promise you they’re not poisoned.”
“That sounds suspicious” was the reply.
OK, maybe I was wrong. He seemed rather strange. It could be his own fault if he was alone.
I started to step back, after making an awkward chuckle. “Sorry…Anyway, enjoy them” I said.
But apparently, he wasn’t done. “Wait!”
I sighed, heavily. “What is it?”
“Who are you?”
Who’s the suspicious one now, bud?
Oh well. What’s the harm in telling the truth? Doesn’t everyone say that it’s wrong to lie? “I’m your next door neighbour. Well, me, my Mum and my sister are.”
“That’s awfully kind of you to bring me cookies.”
Maybe he really liked cookies? I mean, chocolate chip cookies were even better. I guessed it was good to be grateful. But again, I had to be honest.
I shrugged. “Not really. It wasn’t a far trip.”
The guy frowned at me. He didn’t look too happy. “Why do it?”
“What?” I said, frowning back at him.
But that frown didn’t fade. It only grew. “You heard. Why bother? It’s not like I asked.”
Wait, what? How could someone go from calling me kind to sounding so ungrateful? What was this guy’s problem? I needed to remain calm or I feared I would get caught in an argument.
I decided to just grin and bear it. “They’re just cookies! It’s a friendly gesture.”
“Well take them back,” the guy told me, handing the plastic box over to me. “I’m allergic to chocolate anyway. And these have got chocolate chips in them.”
“OK, OK! I got it.” I sighed. “Gee, there’s no need to be rude.”
He flipped his thick hair back and was about to go back in his house, before he said: “Whatever, cookie guide girl.”
He was already in his house, but I shouted out “I’m not a guide girl! I just- whatever.”
I was such an idiot. I was utterly defeated. Oh well. I did get one thing out of it. Now I have some yummy chocolate chip cookies. And I decided I would happily eat them all. Stuff him.
I was in my room, sulking, feeling sick after eating fifteen chocolate cookies all at once. I had planned to call Kasey and had later decided to call Logan also. But now I felt so dead and didn’t want to do anything except watch Netflix and drink water.
It was El. She looked especially lovely tonight. Her hair was back in a swooped plait and she had her favourite silver, dangly earrings. She was wearing a red dress that came out at the waist. And for some reason she was wearing her matching red shoes. But…we didn’t wear shoes in the house.
“I’ll be down in a minute” I told El, slowly edging off my bed and getting ready to walk out the door.
But she stayed put.
“What is it?” I asked her, sighing.
“Well…” El made a face. “That Miss Greyson and her son are here already here. Mum will go mental if you don’t dress up at least a little bit.”
“Nas, please. Just…just think about it.”
I nodded and told her I’d be down in a minute. Maybe I should make a bit of an effort. Even if I do have much formal wear. I guess there was always that terribly tight dress I wore at a party in year nine. Or that puffy thing I wore at my Aunt’s wedding. Or…
There was always this old dress my Mum had once brought me, not so long ago. It was a beautiful piece of clothing – soft like velvet but had the appearance of silk. It was fairly fitted, but didn’t show my total lack of curves. It looked amazing.
But I was angered that my Mum had not got home until past midnight, leaving a very worried El and an angered older sister.
Still. It was a nice dress. And I didn’t want to make El any more anxious than she already was. She was all that I had. I couldn’t destroy our relationship over a simple dress.
As I walked down the stairs, I noticed that El had decided to wait for me. She grinned when she saw me and I squeezed her hand, whilst I whispered “thank you, lovely.”
“So…what are the Greyson’s like?” I asked her, on the edge.
El gave a smug smile. “The son’s pretty hot.”
I shook my head and walked into the dining room, where everyone else was.
The worst part of this was that El was absolutely right. The son was ‘pretty hot’ and more. He was beautiful. And I forgot all about my dress and the memories attached to that.
Because, somehow, none of that mattered.