at the end of the day

An hour after Zac passes his driver licence test he ends up at the local police station. Is he worried about being arrested? Nah. Is he worried about missing the festival and letting Winnie down? Yep. Very. || cover by @NamesFromGraves||

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1. One [pagan writer]

Winnie lay on the floor of her bedroom, her feet up on her bed, arms aching from the heavy book she held up. Who knew Celtic Mythology could be so interesting?

Beside her, her phone buzzed. Glancing over, she reached for it, remembered too late that the book needed two hands. Deflecting it before it broke her nose, she rolled onto her stomach, grabbed her phone. Smiled.

got it see you in an hour

Zac knew his defiance of punctuation and gramma drove her nuts, but she couldn’t be angry when she was so damn happy for him.

Jumping up, she shoved her phone in her pocket and ran out into the hallway. ‘Mum, Zac got his P’s.’

‘Mum’s out at the stables.’ Pipa called from her bedroom.

‘Zac got his P’s.’ Winnie grinned as she skipped in, dropped onto her sister’s bed.

‘I heard.’ Bent over a book as thick as Winnie’s Celtic Mythology one, Pipa scribbled in a notepad snugged under her computer’s monitor. ‘Tell him I said well done.’

‘I will.’ Winnie scanned Pipa’s room, looking for anything new she could borrow.
Five years might separate their age, but at seventeen, Winnie had already caught Pipa in height.

Of course, not sharing a drop of blood probably had something to do with it.
‘Is that why you want to do counselling?’ Winnie cocked her head, tried to read over Pipa’s shoulder.

‘Because Zac got his licence?’ She scribbled more notes. ‘I hope he won’t be that bad on the roads, but I’ll open my door to anyone who needs therapy because of it.’

‘No, I mean us.’

‘I know I need therapy from us.’ But she stopped writing, sat back and looked at Winnie. ‘You mean because even though we’re sisters we don’t share any DNA?’

‘Yeah.’ Wishing she’d kept her mouth shut, Winnie shrugged. ‘I just wondered.’

‘It’s part of it.’

‘Oh.’ Her heart gave a thump. ‘Okay.’ 

It had never been an issue when they were kids. They’d been the Ryder girls, or, with Zac, they’d been those three. Mischief had never been far behind them. And when one landed in trouble, they’d all put their hands up for the punishment.

Winnie couldn’t remember a time when Pipa hadn’t been there for her.

She’d grown up knowing Pipa’s mother and father weren’t Kelsey and Ethan, as Winnie’s were, but it hadn’t mattered.

They were sisters.

Now, for the first time ever, she felt a gap opening up between them. A gap she hadn’t felt when Pipa had passed her own P plate test, gained that freedom. They’d still traipsed around, the three of them. They’d just been able to spread their mischief further afield.

And when Pipa followed her love of psychology to Uni, the contact had been long distance, but still as close as if Pipa sat across the table from her, instead of another state away.

Home for the last few weeks of the Christmas holidays, though, Winnie had felt a drift pulling Pipa just out of reach.

Now it seemed she’d been right.

Pipa had figured that though their hearts and souls were as close as two people’s could be, the fact that Winnie’s blood differed from her own set them apart.

Rising from the bed slowly, she headed for the door.

‘Win?’ Pipa stood. ‘What just happened?’

‘Nothing.’

Beating her to the door, Pipa blocked escape. ‘I don’t have to be studying all this stuff to know you’re lying to me.’ Reaching out, she gripped Winnie’s shoulders. ‘What just went on in your head?’

‘You don’t see us as sisters.’ And it hurt, so much that she wrapped her arms around her waist. ‘That’s why you do psychology and want to be a counsellor, so people don’t have to go through what you have.’

‘That’s what you think?’ Pipa shook her, then shoved her back so she fell on the bed. ‘You think I’m doing all this,’ she shot a hand out towards her desk, ‘because I’m unhappy with the way my life has gone so far?’

Feeling stupid, and close to tears, Winnie picked at her thumbnail. ‘I don’t know.’

‘What?’ Pipa leaned close. ‘You know I hate it when you mumble.’

‘I said I don’t know.’ She pushed Pipa back. ‘I don’t know. You’ve hardly talked to me the last few weeks. You won’t come for a ride, won’t watch a movie with me. You passed up going to the Mount to see how many Santas we could get photos with. You don’t want to do anything with me.’ She rubbed the tears from her cheeks with the heel of her hand. Knew it was more than that. ‘What if Zac does the same now he can drive wherever, whenever he wants?’

‘Oh, Win.’ Pipa flopped on the bed beside her, wrapped her arms around her, rocked them both. ‘I had no idea you felt this way. I’m sorry.’

‘It doesn’t matter.’

‘Yes it does. You wouldn’t be crying on my shoulder if it didn’t.’ On a deep sigh Pipa nudged Winnie to sit up, reached over to her desk and plucked a tissue from the box. ‘First and foremost. I’ve never thought of us anything but sisters. Mum and dad would kick both our arses if they knew either of us ever thought we weren’t. And,’ she unstuck a strand of hair from Winnie’s cheek, ‘I’m doing a counselling course so I can help people have the kind of life I have. A good one. A loving one. One I look back on and wonder how the hell I got so lucky.’

‘Really?’

‘Really really.’ She smiled. ‘I love you.’

‘I love you too.’ Winnie tried to smile back.

‘As for Zac leaving you behind, that’s just ludicrous.’ Pipa stood, stretched her hands over her head. ‘You two are so much a part of each other, there’s never been a question of one or the other, it’s always Zac-and-Winnie, like you’re one person.’ 

‘I didn’t think I’d get so worried. I thought I’d just be super proud and happy for him, but then it hit. He’s free now, and we’ve never said anything about actually being together.’

‘Are you? Together?’

‘Not like that.’ Winnie screwed her nose up, even as her cheeks flamed. ‘I’m not ready.’ Then she tilted her head. ‘How about you?’

‘I’m not interested in Zac.’ Pipa turned away, picked up a pen and tapped it against her chin.

‘You know what I mean.’

‘I’m not interested in anyone.’

‘At all?’ Winnie started to grin. Then stopped, sprang up and wrapped her arms around Pipa when her sister started crying. ‘What is it? Did someone hurt you?’ She held Pipa away, stared at her. ‘Who do me and Zac have to bury?’

‘Zac and I.’

‘You can help if you want.’ Winnie bared her teeth. ‘Just give me a name.’

‘No one hurt me.’ Taking Winnie’s hands from her shoulders, Pipa held them.

That’s just it. I don’t feel anything like that. For anyone. Ever.’

‘I don’t...’ Winnie started to shake her head, then frowned. ‘Wait. Jex said something about that the other day. Airo... Airomantic?’

‘Aromantic.’

‘That’s it.’ She swung their joined hands. ‘So, you’re aromantic?’

‘Yeah.’ Pipa chewed her bottom lip, watched Winnie.

‘So, no romantic feeling towards anyone.’

‘No.’

‘It bothers you?’

‘It’s not common.’

Winnie couldn’t help the snort. ‘When have we ever been common?’ Letting Pipa’s hands go, she hugged her again. ‘And who wants to be, anyway?’

‘Most normal people.’

‘You’re killing me, Pip.’ Winnie let her go. ‘Normal’s as boring as common.’ She pulled a face, glad when a smile touched Pipa’s lips. ‘And define normal for me, anyway. Jex is bi, Alex is gay, Macey is demi, Biker Dude is... Well, he’s huge, so who knows what he is.’

This time, Pipa sniggered a laugh.

‘And look at Zac. Sometimes I think he’s a bit of everything mixed in. You look at the big picture, and I think you’ll see I’m the one not normal.’

‘Now who’s being the psychologist.’ Pipa rolled her eyes, but her grin stayed. 'Thanks.’

‘Anytime.’ Winnie spun a circle. ‘So, will you come to the festival with us this arvo?’

‘Sure.’ Pipa shrugged, then faked a shudder. ‘I’ll be driving myself though.’

‘Hey.’ Winnie frowned. ‘Zac’s a good driver.’

‘It’s not his driving that worries me.’ Pipa sat back at her desk. ‘It’s him not being able to hear me screaming in terror.’

‘We wouldn’t be able to hear you over the music, anyway. Unless it’s vibrating the mirrors, he can’t feel it.’

‘He’ll feel it when I punch the rhythm against his head.’ But she smiled up at Winnie. ‘I’ll meet you two there later.’ She waved a hand toward the door. ‘Close that on your way out, will you. I need to get this assignment finished.’

‘Yeah, yeah, I’m going.’ Grabbing the phone vibrating in her pocket with one hand, she reached for the doorhandle with the other. Stopped when she read the text.

got caught need interpreter

 

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