“What do you fancy doing this afternoon?”
“Dunno.” I turned half heartedly to look at my older brother, who was standing in the doorway.
“We should do something outside. Dad said we should get some fresh air if we’re bored.” For God’s sake. My brother is seventeen, only two years older than me, but still acts like he’s a carbon copy of our father, with a complete responsibility for me. Mum left years ago, and Dad tries really hard but he has to work a lot to support the family financially on his own, so he isn’t around a lot during the week. My brother and I get on well a lot of the time, but it’s times like this, when I just want to stay inside and read or something that I find him a right pain.
“Alex, do you really think I care about getting fresh air? There’s nothing to do outside but walk.”
“There’s nothing to do outside but exercise.” He corrected. You’ve been hunched over a laptop doing homework all weekend, you’ve only been out of the house twice to buy chocolate. Can you really not agree that you need to get out properly Skyler? I could teach you how to skateboard?”
I yawned pointedly and stretched my arms out above my head. “Whatevs. If it really means so much to you then I’ll text Cam, see if he wants to go for a walk or something. You know full well how daft I would look learning to balance on a flipping board with wheels.”
“Well if that’s how you feel, you’d best just go for a walk with Cameron then. Stay distanced.”
“I’m not twelve Alex, I’m a fifteen year old girl who is about as far away from rebellious as you can get.”
“Just be sensible.”
Does he really think he needs to remind me to be sensible? Since I was seven years old, I’ve always been known as the rule abider of the class, the one who’s a right geek, and doesn’t know how to be cool, which has resulted in me having a grand total of one good friend after all these years. Cameron lives directly across the street from me, and I’ve known him since we moved here when I was five. I couldn’t stand him at first, being the typical boy hating five year old back then, but he shared his box of raisins with me at snack time after about a month of knowing me, and we’ve been inseparable ever since.
‘Hey,’ I texted, ‘fancy a walk? A nagging me again. SO annoying.’
‘Give me five,’ he replied, ‘meet you at bus stop.’
Cam looked particularly good today, I thought as we strolled along the tree lined streets of our estate, his curly chestnut hair gleaming in the sun. He was effortlessly good looking, naturally tanned, with high cheekbones and deep blue eyes emphasized by a pair of dark grey clubmaster style glasses. As you could imagine, he was well known across our year group, and all the girls fancied him like crazy. Including me. No one could ever understand why he was mates with me, but I’m very glad he was, though I would have loved to be more than that. All of the cool gangs of kids in school were constantly treating him like he was one of them, though he made it plain that he never had time for any of that. Inside he was as quirky a geek as me, and only fitting other people’s definition of cool on the outside.
We chatted as we walked, then I nipped into a nearby supermarket for a pair of almond magnums, and before long we were basking in the late spring sun on the grassy field of the park, licking or ice creams as we sat.
“Are you any further forward with your piano piece? The recording you sent sounded amazing! I can’t wait to hear the whole thing, I really wish that the Easter concert was still going ahead.”
“I’m about ¾ of the way through now. At least that’s something to keep me occupied while I’m stuck in the house with Alex and the cat. Hey, you should learn an instrument. Drums? I could see you pounding out a beat behind some handsome boy band leads.”
“How about I learn the tuba? That’ll be a nice one to practice late at night.”
“Or the double bass. I’ll hire a wrecking ball to make a hole it’ll fit through.”
“Tambourine? Smaller than a double bass, and requires minimal brain power to play.”
“I know! I’ve got the perfect instrument! You would be so good at it!”
“What? I’m dying to hear what you’ve got in store for me in the next sentence of this conversation.” I could tell he was humouring me, as always. I had been about to say guitar, as a serious suggestion, but since he was playing me at that game…
“How about the triangle?”
“We’d best be getting back now, I know what Alex is like. He’ll accuse me of purposely allowing my dinner to go cold, as if he’s been slaving at it for hours in the kitchen, when the reality is that I’m ten minutes later than he expected for reheated takeaway leftovers.”
“I want to buy my cousin a birthday present but I’ll walk you home first. It’s getting dark now.”
He was right, and I realised I was glad of his company. I wasn’t scared of much, but wandering home alone in the dark did not sound appealing, and I didn’t have a proper torch. It somehow felt easier to go without speaking when the stars were out above our heads. The silence was comfortable, until Cam began to speak.
“Let’s not talk right now. I’m taking in the stars.”
“But I- Skyler, look out!”
Those were the last words I heard as we stepped out at the crossing, before lit up green men and headlights flashed, pain burst through my whole body, and my vision went dark.