I woke up by 10 minutes past 7, to the smell of the French toast, Spanish omelette & hot chocolate my Aunt had taken the liberty to prepare for me. My Aunt Caroline could really be continental when she felt like it.
I got up from the bed. I had slept on the top bunk while my cousin had slept underneath. She had opted for a bunk bed because she considered herself to be the female ‘Tarzan‘. Her elder brother had moved out of the house at 20 and lived in Hertfordshire. I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth with the Barbie as Rapunzel ToothBrush I had won in Disneyland, Paris. (It made me feel like a pretty princess). It was cold so I counted myself lucky when I was able to have my bath with warm water.
After dressing up in weather appropriate clothes I went downstairs to greet my Aunt as she was just about to leave for work. My Uncle Matthias always left for work at exactly 6am. How they were able to stick to their separate routines, which were equally sort of rigid, amazed me. “Henrietta, come down & eat. Your breakfast is getting cold”, I called out to my 8 year old cousin. She came downstairs in her pyjamas with her dark, thick hair all about her face. She was really pretty for her age. Chocolate brown eyes, long eyelashes and an adorable heart-shaped face. “Good Morning, Camilla”, said my still sleepy little cousin. She always called me by my English name even when I told her I prefered being called by my unique Igbo name, Ola-edo which meansGold.
By the time I had washed & kept the dishes to dry on the plate rack, Henrietta had dressed up. She was awake now and politely tugged on the sleeve of my cashmere cable crewneck sweater.
I loved the sweater. My Mum had bought it for my Dad at a Ralph Lauren store in New York, the previous year. I liked it, so I had asked him for it & he had given me. Henrietta made her request. “Can we go to the park now. Please, Camilla, please.” I stifled a laugh before replying, so I would sound as serious as I was. “We will go to the park dear, but, only after we have run every errand your mum gave us”. She grumbled then complied. It made me wonder if there was anything more she could have done.
We were able to catch the 9 o’ clock route 22A Ensignbus to Lakeside. When we got there I took a look at the list of things Aunt Caroline had given me to do.
|Hair Decoration for Henrietta Personal Agenda: A bag & hat
||Lakeside Claire’s Level 1
|Personal Agenda: Nike Court Forces
||JD Sports Level 2
|Beach Print T-shirts for Henrietta Personal Agenda: Accessories & Cosmetics.
||Next Level 2
|Underwear & Accessories (earrings and hair-clips only) for HenriettaLunch. Kid’s meal for Henrietta with Pepsi
||Marks & SpencerLevel 1 McDonalds Level 1
|Frozen: Dumplings, Yogurt & Ice Cream, Seafood: Calamari & Prawns, Meat & Poultry.Cupboard: Coffee, 4 cans of Baked Beans, Custard, Spaghetti.
|Take Henrietta to the Park
||The Peddle-wing Park
As I began to think about how long it would take to get all of it done, Henrietta had already taken off to Claire’s to get her hair decorated. I was sure she would not slow me down, so like I would have tweeted it, I told myself…Get all this done correctly in 4 hours so Henrietta can go to the park! #ChallengeAccepted.
Henrietta & I had finished eating at McDonalds. As we were about to exit the Lakeside building, I saw a very tall boy (at least I thought he was a boy) with blue/green eyes like Hayden Christensen & dirty coloured blonde hair. We made eye contact for a full minute before he smiled & looked away. I knew it should not have meant anything to me but it did. I knew I would never see him again but I wanted to.
By 2.46 pm we were heading for the house which wasn’t far from the Sainsbury we had got the groceries from. I freshened up and tried to make Henrietta do the same without luck. After a much needed nap, I took my little cousin to the park.
I let her play around & hang with her school mates who had come to the park with their elder siblings and pet dogs. I quietly sat by myself on a swing though I had no intention to swing. I was happily watching Henrietta have fun with her friends brindled German Shepherd, when someone came & stood in front of me, almost purposely obstructing my view. I looked up & was surprised to see the tall, Caucasian guy from the mall. I looked closely this time and saw that he had a Celtic cross tattoo on his neck and wore a chain with a pendant similar to his chosen body art. He had smiley eyes, a firmly set jaw & a mouth that spelt desire? He was literally mouthing the word ‘desire’ and I was feeling it.
He sat on the swing next to me & in a thick British accent, he said, “Hey, fancy meeting you here. I wanted to have a chat with you at the mall, but you seemed like you were in a bit of a hurry. I’m Lucas, you can call me Luke. What’s your name?” “It’s a pleasure to meet you Luke. My name is Camilla.” I said with a half smile on my face. Luke asked me so many questions like, what country I was from. Who I was living with? What my favourite food was? What my best colours were? What kind of video games I liked playing? Who my favourite Hip-Hop artists were? And what kind of Novels or Magazines I read.
I asked him similar questions and by the time I was done I felt I could sum up who Lucas Greyhound was. His favourite colours were red & black (one point for everything we had in common). He adored Jay Z, Common & Drake. He liked Rihanna and thought her music was pretty awesome as well (2 points there). His favourite food was Pizza (Score!). He loved the FIFA series, GTA IV, Saint Row I-III and God of War: Hero of Sparta.
He was an ardent John Grisham reader. A time to kill was the best Grisham novel he had read; in his opinion it had been the most compelling read. On the other hand, I was an aficionado of Sidney Sheldon, especially, Master of the game. The author whose work mesmerized us both was Anne Rice. The Vampire Chronicles was the most amazing Vampire novel series to have ever crossed our paths. The way she brought to life The Vampire Lestat was gripping. His comeback in Rice’s fourth novel in the Vampire Chronicles, the Tale of the Body thief was unforgettable. Lestat is utterly bored of his existence and suffers from languor. A psychic, who can swap bodies, offers to assuage Lestat’s boredom by allowing him to trade bodies with a human, for one day. The body thief runs off with Lestat’s vampire body and he has to track him down in a feral game of Tom and Jerry.
I could not believe that I had so much in common with Lucas. It was past 6 by the time Henrietta was ready to leave; I was the one who was still not ready. I was having so much fun and when he told me he had enjoyed my company, I felt myself blush. My heart was beating like a talking drum when he leaned in closer to me. I thought he was going to kiss me even though I knew it was an impractical thought. He merely whispered into my ear, “We should hang out for real sometime. Tomorrow, not here, meet me at the Stoned Beavers by 8pm. It is 10 minutes away. If anyone asks you, just say you’re with G”.
This was a petty crime; they were street rats, its how they survived and all I could feel was pity.
I walked in with Ashari, I was literally boring her with Historical facts and poems which she described as “being written by men in the categories of insane, love sick, demented, deprived or utterly miserable”. I could tell she wasn’t a fan.
We quickly walked over to Magazine stand. There were so many to choose from. I preferred the American stock; Elle, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, Vogue, Allure e.t.c. We decided on the Elle magazine because the cover model was Kristen Stewart and she looked really good. Suddenly Ashari snatched the Magazine from me & was screaming, “It’s mine!” I became really upset and was yelling at her to give it to me because I saw it first. It turned into a tug of war but, the shop keeper refused to come to my aid. I noticed he was reading a book in Italian, so, to get his attention I shouted, “Ragazza, faresti meglio a stare attento, dammi la rivista maledizione prima che me ne strappare dale tue braccia!”
The speed with which he responded to the words “rip” and “magazine” then, did not surprise me at all. As he was trying to sort us out, D&G made their way to the cash register and were out before you could say “pound the alarm”, I mean, call the police. Immediately they had split from the crime scene, Ashari & I made up and apologized to one another for fighting over a magazine. The aging man looked proud of us as if we were his own children, my heart was racked with guilt but I couldn’t back out then.
It was clean, we were long gone before the man found out he had been robbed, the police had no suspects, the man could not explain where we had come from but he had given almost precise descriptions of us. The girls were happy with their stolen fortune. 600 pounds was a lot of money after all. Ashari looked at me and said, “What was that all about in there? You just started speaking tongues, I was almost scared you had cracked & were preaching!” We all laughed before I replied, “I picked up a bit of Italian with my translator, 2 years ago, when I went to Milan with my family”. They seemed impressed but the truth was; I just loved showing off. Saying I had “picked up” implied that I probably could speak a bit but what I had said proved I knew more than a bit.
Italian: “Ragazza, faresti meglio a stare attento, dammi la rivista maledizione prima che me ne strappare dale tue braccia!”- “Girl, you had better be careful, give me that damn magazine befor I rip it from your arms!”.