Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Chapter 18: Blasted cookies
Chapter 18: Blasted cookies (Wattpad)
Why isn’t the world cooperating with me in this crucial situation? I just need an answer to why. Both of my parents were still looking at me expectantly, hoping for an answer. Crap, crap, crap. I obviously can’t wriggle my way out of this one. My teeth clenched and I forced them to unsnap so I could speak.
“Travis is a good…listener.” Fuck. If I said he was a good kisser, my Dad would pop an artery and Mom will be out of sorts and my entire life will be in shambles.
Where are you, guardian angel?
“What do you tell him, honey?” Mom asked curiously. Gah. Why are they so nosy? Why do they want to know? Why is this happening to me? I licked my lips and answered vaguely, “I tell him stuff about…myself.” I nodded slightly, “Yeah, that’s about it.” Dad destroyed my life by saying,
“Do you think he can come tomorrow?”
Bloody hell no.
“I dunno, Dad. Maybe. I’ll just, you know, ask him.” I shrugged my shoulders, “He’s kind of busy.” Dad nodded and replied, “Good, that’s okay.” Mom was still smiling at me in that weird way that makes me think she knows something. She probably does, but all she said was, “Can you help me tidy this up?”
After everything’s been taken care of, I went to my room and shut the door. The package from this morning stared up at me from the bed. I approached and sat beside it, fingering the lid. I was saving this for tonight – a.k.a. right now – because frankly, I don’t know what to expect. It’s from his mother. From Mrs. Warner.
I sucked up my courage and opened it, and there before my eyes was a cocktail dress. My brow furrowed. It’s colored caramel with swirly designs all over it. It’s really…cute. But atleast it’s not pink. The dress is modest actually, considering what it is. But when I turned it around, I scowled deeper – from the waist up, the place where a normal zipper would be was replaced by a criss-crossing type of tying and the ribbon is at the bottom.
Why a dress? Why not a bomb or something?
Suddenly, there was a knocking on the door and it swung open, showing Mom in her pajamas. Her eyes instantly lit up and appraised the dress, while closing the door behind her.
She smiled and sat down next to me. “I like the dress.” I chuckled a little and replied, “Yeah, it’s nice.”
“I just came here to check on you.” She stood up and planted a kiss on my head, “Goodnight, Avery.”
She walked back and shut the door close, leaving me alone. I pursed my lips, deliberating. To hell with the dress; I have another thing to do. I carefully placed the item back and covered it, and then I put it inside my cabinet. I pulled out my stationary and my ballpen and looked at what I wrote so far –
Things I hate about Travis Anthony Warner
He makes my blood boil.
He thinks he rules the world.
All of those things are sort of true, up to this very moment, but the list looks lacking somehow. I need to write more.
He’s impulsive. The bloody tree incident would stay with me forever. I wrote again, He’s a bad influence. Three words for that – cutting bloody classes. My record is destroyed.
I sat on my bed for several minutes and just wrote down everything. It feels like some weight has been lifted from my shoulder actually. When I was done, I looked at all my additional entries.
He spends too much money.
He’s used to dominating people.
He wants you to answer his orders.
He always has surprises.
He’s just the bane of my existence, okay?
He likes to break the bloody rules.
His smile is bright. Too bright.
He can make people laugh easily. It’s unfair.
He thinks he’s a good kisser.
I looked at the last entry. I know that I’m slightly lying when I wrote that, but…Jesus Christ. What am I supposed to do, then? I furiously grabbed my pen and crashed out the last one and wrote below it,
He’s a good kisser. So what?
Several miles away, the same kisser was hunched over a paper, pen in hand.
She can be a good kisser. Can be.
“Mom, where the hell is the baking soda?”
“Your father’s still at the supermarket, he’ll have it.” She was creaming together the butter, brown and white sugar. “Honey, can you pass two eggs to me, please?” I automatically opened the refrigerator and got out the eggs. I tossed them to Mom, one at a time. “Thanks, hun.” While she beat them and stirred in the vanilla, I heated two teaspoons of water.
If you look around the kitchen right now, you wouldn’t know that we’re preparing a dessert for ten people. It’s still ordered as much as possible thanks to my mother’s uncanny ability to wipe out as much as a splat of liquid. Dad has gone to the market, buying anything that we still need and Mom gave him a list, so he couldn’t be long. We’re actually expecting him right now.
“Mom, we really need the baking – ” I was interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell and without being asked, I went to the front gate to let Dad in. I found him laden with groceries as I swung the gate open.
“Hey, Dad. Let me help.” I started heaving one of the bags up and he did the same with the others, following me to the perfectly manicured lawn. “Thanks, honey. I needed that.”
“I figured.” I winked at him.
When Dad finally laid down the bags, Mom and I went into overdrive, doing what needs to be done as if reading each other’s minds while Dad came out to the garden to hang up the circular lantern things for light later this evening. I helped Mom stir in the flour, chocolate chips and the cup of chopped walnuts, though I felt like crumpling to the floor and just sleep.
I haven’t had a decent sleep last night. I think it would be a long time before I experience that particular privilege once again. Finally, I figured that wasting my energy on thinking about someone at night when they’re not even sparing me a second thought was downright useless. So I fell asleep at four am.
And woke up at six. Splendid.
Also, it was really foolish to have a silly crush on someone because most probably, you’re they’re only option when bored. That twisted amount of sleep surprisingly did a lot on straightening my views.
“Avery, can you shape these and put it in the pans? I’ll check if your Dad broke his leg or something.” I chuckled while replying, “Okay, Mom. Take your time.” She went out and discarded her apron on the way and I resumed my task. We’ve been doing nothing but prepare the food and the house for the onslaught of visitors in just about an hour. But we haven’t even prepared ourselves.
Five minutes later, the almost-finished cookies are inside the oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit – converting that to degrees Celsius that would be – gah. Nevermind. Dad was on the upstairs bathroom getting ready and though I insisted on keeping watch over the cookies, Mom won me over and now, I’m scanning the contents of my cabinet, looking for something suitable to wear. I always had trouble dressing up for parties of any kind.
“Avery!” I heard my Mom calling downstairs and I walked towards the window beside the cabinet and opened it, looking down. I saw Mom wearing her apron and looking up at me from the ground floor of the house. She only said, “They’ll be here in thirty.”
I quickly grabbed anything at random together with a towel and ran from the room.
30 minutes later
The sound of the van pulling up on the front of our house, followed by an SUV made my stomach churn. It’s not like I don’t love my family enough to not anticipate gatherings, it’s just the current situation that had me on my toes. Please don’t let Travis come here or anything like that to happen, guardian angel. Please.
Mom and Dad were already outside, and I could hear the greetings from my uncles, giggles and chatters of my cousins and everyone’s “how have you been” questions. In the kitchen, I removed the last batch of cookies from the oven. Right after I did that, I heard Aunt Laine say,
“Avery, come here!” Instantly, Harvey and Nique chorused together, their voices raised and loud, “Yeah, Avery, come here!” I sighed. The others I could handle, my twin devil cousins, not so much. Who knew five year-olds can be so annoying?
I walked over to the front door, noting my appearance on our wall mirror and surveyed my skinny jeans and grey turtleneck over my slim build. Skinny would be more accurate, but I don’t want to encourage myself to commit suicide. I look okay, okay? And I like the fact that the sleeves reach up to my elbows. Steeling myself, I opened the door and a sea of people was before my eyes, all talking with rapport on out front yard. I only heard the shrieks of the twins for me to recognize their arrival.
“Avery! Do you have candy? I want candy – ”
“I don’t like candy! I want your cookies!” Harvey cut his twin off. Both of them have high IQ for their age – like me – so they can already speak fluently in the age of five. Harvey is seven minutes older than Nique, but by behavior, it seems otherwise. She started dragging her twin inside and I didn’t even bother coming in after them – the last time I tried…let’s just not talk about it. I walked to the lawn uncomfortably, sending smiles of my own for those sent to my direction and I joined Mom and Dad talk with Grandpa Ian and Uncle Lawrence. Grandpa Ian came from Dad’s side and they look so creepily alike aside from the things that change the visage as age goes by. Mom is Uncle Lawrence’s sister-in-law; he married her sister, Aunt Elise, but she passed away two years ago, leaving Uncle to take care of his twins and his oldest, Delsey.
Delsey and Uncle Rence are the only one who can control the twins without raising their voices or making a fuss. They’re talented like that.
“Look at you!” Uncle began. He always begins greetings with me in that sentence and the next thing he would say would be that he wouldn’t be able –
“I wouldn’t be able to recognize you! You’ve grown so much, come give your uncle a hug.”
“Hey, Uncle Rence.” I hugged him tightly. He used to give me ten bucks just for hugging him and as he pulled back now, he gave me a wink. That probably means that I’ll get it later. I grinned at him hugely then turned to Grandpa.
“Hey, Grandpa. Uhm, what’s up?” We were never really close, so it’s achingly awkward when we greet. But unlike others of his age, Grandpa doesn’t use a cane, saying that they’re “a complete waste of money and energy.” I couldn’t agree more; when he was still in his thirties, he exercised an awful lot, went to the gym, had swimming and jogging activities, every single thing. He turned to me and a slight frown was on his face, “Why do you ask what’s up?” he demanded snappily, “In our days, we don’t ask what’s up or down or to the side – we ask properly. Now, my child, let me hear you do the same.”
I told you it’s awkward.
“How’s the Himalayas adventure, Grandpa?”
I could tell he wasn’t expecting me to know that, but he smiled genuinely, looking pleased. He smiled toothily and said in response, “It was wonderful, honey.” I took my cue and pecked him on the cheek and turned to the others just as Mom said, “Let’s go inside, what do you think?” As we all followed her, Elaine took my arm and smiled at me. I chuckled and said, “Long time, no see.”
“I have something to share with you later.” She looks excited already and I could tell she’s going to share a lot. At this rate, I know I should be explaining my family tree to you so you won’t get confused and be out of track.
Elaine is my cousin on my Mom’s side and she has two other sisters – Lorraine and Kathlyn. El’s the oldest, followed by Lorraine and Kat. I used to tease them being Charlie’s Angels, but that was a few years ago. Their father, Uncle Zedrick, is Mom’s brother. He’s divorced but Elaine and the others still see their mother at Christmas and on holidays.
So that’s about it. The others are back home at Raleigh, and others still, moved out of the country. We’re a little bit scattered across the globe, so we’re always grateful when we have some guests over. I heard Kat say, “Uncle Charlie, do we have to get our bags from the van?” As my Dad said no and explained why, I marveled at the fact at how a seven year-old could sound so cute.
Once everyone was in, Dad discreetly turned on the music and the house became alive at once, the jazz music flowing smoothly through the room as everyone took places at the couch, stood around and caught up with one another. Knowing what to do, I went to the kitchen and got the softdrinks and passed them around.
“Avery!” I turned around and faced Uncle Zed, his salt and pepper hair the same, like his lanky build and easygoing manner that accented his eyes. He said, “You shouldn’t be serving drinks like a bloody waitress!” he took the softdrinks away from my hands before I could protest and told me, “Nuh-uh. No buts here, Avery. Let’s sit down here.” I just smiled, giving up and I seated myself next to my closest uncle in the whole family.
We’ve been close as far as I can remember – he brought me my first bike, taught me how to play cards, gave me money for no reason, things like that. Uncle Zed is fantastic.
“So.” He said.
“So.” I just nodded, repeating what he just said. He chuckled and came straight to the point, “Sylvia said something interesting to me.” As my posture turned rigid and I froze, his eyes shined. His expression looked like he was finally attaining his inner desires. Fuck.
Look here, since I turned fifteen, his number one priority for me had been to get me a boyfriend. I managed to avoid it until now. But I knew this would happen. No one can hide anything in this family. He said, “So.”
“So.” I echoed faintly. Uncle chuckled and turned to me, “I just want to know some details and it might not spread around this party.” He winked conspiratorially.
“But – but – It’s pretty complicated – ”
“What? Is that your new status on Facebook or something?” I gave him a knowing smile. “Nice try. You know I don’t have an account.” He laughed jovially and took a swig of softdrink. “I was trying to be in-the-now but nevermind that. So what’s his name?”
“Shh!” I said hastily. Uncle Zed knowing is better than someone or anyone else. I wonder what would happen if the twins find out?
Too ghastly. I won’t think about that again.
“Okay, okay.” He amended slightly in hushed tones, “So what’s the gent’s name?” he whispered. I rolled my eyes and replied, “Travis.” His eyebrows pitched up and his comment was, “He sounds handsome,” he have exactly no idea, “And his last name?”
Okay, deep breaths. Do I tell that his family is a multi-millionaire and producing hundreds of thousands on every tick of the clock or just shut the hell up?
He pursed his lips, “Hmm. Sounds like you’re keeping something from good ol’ Uncle Zed.” Aaargh. I cannot tell him that they own Gedi Institute. I just can’t. That would be too…overwhelming, cliché and comical and just about everything I don’t find appealing. I turned to him.
“I’ll just tell you some other time. Just not now, please?” he chuckled and asked his own question. “Who else knows?”
“Everyone at school, Mom, Dad and You. Do I have to mention that you’re the weak link?” As I said that, he just seemed more amused.
“Don’t you trust me? I’d very much like to meet this Travis.” He grinned at me excitedly.
The party went full blast as the clock ticked by. Every now and then there would be a peal of laughter followed by another joke which would make us crack up. The adults were on the table with a bottle of wine and they’re talking about our relatives in London. Meanwhile, my cousins and I are sprawled on the living room floor.
It’s Nique’s turn now to use the speed stacks. For someone her age, she can already play it as well as me and better than Lorraine and Kat. Everyone in the family has a forte.
Unfortunately, my skills don’t fall on the lie-right-now-it-would-save-your-neck category.
2 hours later
“Avery, I deserve him, right?” Elaine held my hands, while we stood alone in the bedroom. Everyone else was downstairs and I can even hear the twins running and screaming their lungs out, but here I am. For full forty minutes, Elaine fed me information about this guy named Ethan, who was apparently sending her emails and met her last week. She’s lovestruck.
No, she’s obsessed.
“Avery, answer me! I do deserve him, right? I always get As, I always get the top spot in class and I’m always an honor student!” her eyes were wide and she prattled on before I could say a word. “Not that I exert effort to have a boyfriend, but the point is that, I worked hard! Then this guy comes along and – what the bloody hell should I do? Let the opportunity slip?”
“Actually, I’d – ”
“Bloody hell no, right?”
I stifled a sigh and tried to search for a right answer. She’s fifteen and I think this is her first time…like me. Unfortunately.
“Listen, El. Just take it slow, all right? Make sure what you really want is…that guy.”
“Ethan.” she reminded with an eyebrow raised.
“Right. Ethan. So, just keep your emotions in check before you rush into anything, okay?”
“But, just listen! Okay, Ave.” she took a deep breath, “Okay, just picture this for a moment: your life was dull. Grey. Not much of anything. And you’re always surrounded by friends! I love my friends, but I’m looking for something else. Get me?”
I more than see what this long-haired blonde means.
“Yeah, I see. So what happens – ”
“So, this guy comes so suddenly and…everything went perfect!” she was smiling so hugely now and she said the following words with so much emotion, “Everything changed! Your life isn’t dull and grey anymore! It's colorful and it’s just perfect! Ave, I feel so wonderful for no reason and I feel perfect all the time! Isn’t that amazing? Ave, I am so happy. I hope you meet him!”
Her eyes were shining so bright now and with it, came the sparkle. She looks so…in love.
“Ave, you okay?”
I blinked rapidly. “Yeah. I’m fine.”
Elaine seemed hesitant, “You know, you seem different today. I just can’t point my finger on it.” Her forehead crinkled in thought, “I saw you laughing with Lorraine earlier.”
That was odd. “Err, and what’s wrong with laughing?”
“Ave, when we have parties, you stick your nose on a book and never resurface for hours.” Damn, she’s sharp, “I find it fishy.”
“I just laughed – ”
“Whoa, you’re blushing!” she said incredulously. “Avery, are you in love with a guy?”
“No, I’m not! Why the hell would I be?”
She was smiling, “You know, I’ve studied the signs of lying and you’re displaying every single bit of denial I can find – ”
“No. Seriously. I’m not – ”
“So, what’s his name?”
This is not. No. I’m not in love with that crazy, son of a –
Absorbed in my own mind, I muttered absently, “You know, why don’t you just grab some cookies downstairs and call Ethan?” At the mention of his name, all other thoughts flew out of her mind and she hugged me, “Thank you, Ave!” Without further ado, she let go and raced downstairs.
I swept my hand through my hair and bit my lower lip, but seeing nothing at all. This is scary. I’ve been very careful not to think about the l-word around him and El just shoved it to my face.
I felt my heart rate getting faster and faster as my mind came to one certain, obvious conclusion. Moisture gathered.
Avery, are you in love with a guy?