I went to bed crying. I don’t remember why.
But it didn’t matter, because everything was better now. Apart from the occasional clink of cutlery, the breakfast table was silent as usual.
There was a tapping sound. Tap tap tap tap. Coming from the window? Perhaps, but it was too dark to see outside.
From my right, the butler poured the tea. I lifted the steaming cup to drink and frowned at the tadpoles swimming lazy circles inside. Mother and Aunt Vega didn’t seem to mind though, they sipped their tea with perfect poise.
Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap
Sighing, I put down my tea and reached for the bread instead. It was perfectly cut and soft to the touch, yet when I tried to spread the butter, it scraped away as hard, dry earth. I glanced over at Gem. He was doing it just fine. Why was this so hard?
The tapping sound was getting more and more insistent. Everyone could hear it, I knew; their postures were tense and their brows were furrowed. Yet no one acknowledged the sound.
My eyes fell on the basket of eggs on the centre of the table. One, perched on top of all the others, had a long, jagged crack running down its side.
As I watched, the crack widened as pieces of the shell fell away.
I reached for it –
and jolted awake. I had been dreaming.
I turned my head towards the sound, and shrieked. Alistair had his face pressed against my window. He grinned and made frantic gestures, his breath fogging up the glass.
Annoyed, I marched over to the window and without opening it hissed “What?”
“Let me in,” came his muffled voice.
I rolled my eyes but complied. He might fall out of the tree if he tried anything drastic, and I didn’t really want that on my hands. “Gem’s not here tonight,” I said as he slid ungracefully from the tree into my room. “Did he not tell you?”
“I know, but I’m not here to see Gem,” said Alistair, out of breath. “I’m here to see you!”
“Why?” I was unable to filter the suspicion from my voice.
“Because you were upset?” He shrugged. “I also thought you might be hungry.”
I hadn’t noticed until he had mentioned it, but I was, in fact, hungry. “Did you bring food?”
His gaze dropped to the floor. “No.”
“What?” I glared at him indignantly. “Why even bring it up then?”
Watching him shuffle his feet on the carpet, I relented. “It’s fine. Come in and… sit down?” I was a little lost on what to do. I wasn’t used to spending time alone with him. What did mother do in these situations? Offer biscuits?
Alistair was just as awkward as me. He settled cross-legged on the floor. “Um, so, hey. I was wondering. Are we friends?”
No was the obvious answer, my knee-jerk reaction. But that was also the unkind answer, so I sat, torn between truth and manners, at a loss of what to say.
“Because if we’re not, I think it’d be better if we were. We could go fishing together, and build treehouses together, and when I drop by at night like this, all three of us can hang out.”
The struggle must have shown on my face.
“Look,” he said, “why don’t you tell me what the problem is.”
No use hiding it, honesty it is. “You’re always off with Gem. He’s hardly around anymore. We’re best friends, we used to do everything together.”
“That’s why I’m saying we should all be friends.”
“It’s not the same. Gem and I are twins. It’s something special. You wouldn’t get it.”
“I sure don’t,” he agreed, “but I don’t want to take over as his best friend, or anything. I can just be that other friend. I’d like to be your other friend as well.”
As I tethered on the edge of a decision, he made his final argument: “I can teach you how to tie those sailor knots I showed Gem?”
It sounded like a reasonable compromise, one I could work with. Fishing was boring but a treehouse, not so much. I laid down my own terms: “Only if you promise that Gem is my friend first.”
He nodded solemnly.
“And yes to those sailor knots.”
“That’s easy. Promise.”
“Then it’s a deal.”
We shook on it.
Author’s note: I had COMPLETELY forgotten everything that has happened. So I went back to read some old chapters I wrote, to get me up to speed. And wow. Why is the stuff I wrote so SAD? I really was going through it huh.
Anyway, here we are. Here we go again. Once more, with feeling.
4 thoughts on “4.3 That Other Friend”
Oh, I’m so glad this story is back. Your writing is simply beautiful and rich and deep!
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I’m still trying to get into the swing of things, so this one took a while. Hopefully I can pick up my pace from here!
As always, thank you so much for reading. 🙂
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Great chapter! I was so excited when I saw this in my reader! Once again, welcome back!
Also… I may be hopeful, but I couldn’t help but think of Buffy with the closing statement of “Once more, with feeling”. If so, <3…
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I didn’t think of that while writing but yes! Buffy was my childhood! I miss the shows from back then…
Thank you so much for reading and commenting, it means a lot to me! 🙂