“Come on Olive, get off that phone and grab me some rosemary from the spice rack will you” Arielle asked as she prepared the evenings dinner.
“Mom I don’t get why you’re going to all this trouble just for stupid Jake!” Olive whined as she searched trough the various spices and herbs on the opposite counter.
“You’re only saying that because you don’t like salmon and you know it.” Arielle laughed, “Don’t worry, I’ll do you something else for you, but for now help me with this. You know come here, I’ll teach you how to cut it just right.”
“Why, you do it perfectly.” Olive plonked herself down one of the stools, pulling out her laptop and logging onto Facebook.
“Well you need to know how to cut sweetie.” She busied herself with the salmon as she spoke, “you know, for the day when I’m not around any more…” Olive didn’t detect the anguish that flitted across her mothers face.
“Oh mom! I’m not moving out just yet, you’ve got a few more years of me yet. Oh my god! Milly Orkenfor just changed her relationship status from ‘in a relationship’ to ‘it’s complicated’!”
“They have relationship status’ on there?” Arielle asked, still preparing the salmon.
“O.M.G! I have to call her this instant, oh she’s online, I need to find out what happened!” Arielle smiled at her daughter as she typed away furiously, she couldn’t help but think what would happen if the cancer took her life from her, how would her daughter cope without her here to listen to the the snippets of her life that were so important right now?
“Oh Kitty you’re here! And you look lovely by the way.” Arielle smiled at her oldest daughter as she walked into the room, dressed for dinner. She was so proud of everything she was achieving, both in her personal life and her school life. Class president, and now she had a boyfriend! Arielle wondered if her own life would have turned out differently if she had experienced everything her children were experiencing, the childhood memories of sibling rivalry, boyfriends and girlfriends, teenage parties while the parents were away… It didn’t matter, she was extremely grateful for the way she had grown up, after all if it wasn’t for that she may never have been at the club on that fateful night that Noah walked in the door.
“Kitty can you go and put the washer on? I want everything to be done before dinner so I don’t have to do it afterwards.” Arielle asked as she rushed around the kitchen. Kitty smiled and sighed theatrically,
“Ah, if I must!” Trudging off to the pantry/laundry room Kitty tried to keep her nerves at bay. What if her parents didn’t like Jake? She liked him so much, and just wanted everyone else to feel the same. Olive was okay with him, they had talked about it as they laid in Olive’s bed watching The Notebook and eating Ben and Jerrys from the box, she loved having her sister to talk to about the relationship stuff, it’s not like Tommy would have been interested!
“Hey mom!” Oliver yelled as he walked into the kitchen, dumping a stack of easels in the sun room, which had became his domain ever since he started painting there as a child.
“Hi son, how was the art class?” Arielle asked as she poured herself a cup of coffee. She was so proud of her youngest son, he was so unlike his brother, which she loved. All her children were different, and she loved that about them.
“Meh,” he shrugged his shoulders, “it’s okay, the kids in there are total crap though. Today someone painted a house! I swear I painted a similar thing when I was 8.”
“Well not everyone is as good at art as you Oliver, that’s why they’re in the class!” Arielle said.
“I suppose. Can I have a sandwich?” He bounded over to the fridge, about to make his favourite turkey sandwiches.
“No you can’t have a sandwich! We’re having dinner soon. Close the fridge.” Arielle chided from her position on the island. Oliver was still searching the fridge, obviously still about to make his sandwich. “Oliver! Close it.” His mothers warning finally got through, and with a sigh he slammed the fridge door closed. If she was no longer around who would stop Oliver from gauging on his favourite foods? Who would instil the importance of family meals into him? They were slight, and in some ways silly things that she was fretting over, but she couldn’t help think about every aspect of their lives, and all the ways in which they needed her. She looked downwards, her children couldn’t know that she was ill, at least not yet, not with Noah’s big party coming up, and Kitty’s dinner to introduce them to Jake, Tommy’s football game this weekend, Oliver’s art show at the school next Wednesday, the shopping spree Olive had planned for the both of them coming up, and little Cora’s birthday on the horizon.
“Tommy!” Arielle exclaimed as she heard the back door open. “How was practice?” She kissed him on the cheek before she took his dirty gym clothes out of the backpack he had dumped on the floor.
“Fine.” He went and looked over Olive’s shoulder at her laptop.
“What the hell are you doing?” He asked.
“Connor cheated on Milly! But she still wants to be with him!” Olive got into her element, “Okay so I called Stacy who told me that she had seen Connor at the movies with – you’ll never guess who -” She paused for a few seconds as Tommy stood scowling at her “-Mindy! The girl you brought to the party!”
“Tommy brought a girl to that party you guys threw!?” Arielle exclaimed as she washed her now empty coffee mug.
“He totally kissed her too,” Olive continued, “because Stacey wasn’t in the same theatre as them so I called Michelle who works there, and she was doing that thing you know where they come in with the glasses and spy on you, and she was just looking then she got to Connor, and he was kissing Mindy!! Oh my God, biggest news ever right?!”
“Yeah biggest news ever.” Tommy said sarcastically, scowling.
“Come on, it is big news! They were like the perfect couple! Kitty don’t you think that’s big?” Olive asked when she saw Kitty walking out of the laundry room.
“Definitely. I mean, especially seen as she wants to stay with him. What woman would do that to herself? She needs to get some pride and leave him.” Kitty replied as she dried the mug Arielle had just washed.
“I knoooow right! She needs to get a grip! This is so exciting I have to call Clara right now, mom can I?” Olive pleaded.
“No you can’t, dinner will be ready in a few minutes. Tommy will you go get Cora from the den and put her in the high chair?” Arielle asked as she peered through the glass door of the oven to check her salmon.
“No!” Tommy said as he stormed out of the kitchen.”
“Who put a stick up his ass?” Oliver joked.
“Oliver, don’t swear! Although you’re right…” Arielle craned her neck to see if she could see Tommy in any of the rooms that were visible through the large glass doors in the den. “Go get Cora would you Oliver.” She said as she brought the huge plate of salmon out of the oven. She was thankful for Oliver as he came back into the room with Cora on his arm, but she worried about Tommy, maybe was just in one of those moods but what if it was something serious? If she wasn’t here who would he talk to?! None of the children would talk to Noah about their problems, they always came to her. It would be even worse for Tommy, as Noah wasn’t his biological father, and she hadn’t heard from Leo in years.
The whole family was seated for dinner, as well as Jake, who Arielle insisted on seating at the head of the table, which made it even worse for him as everyone could gawk at him freely. Kitty sat next to her father, who was next to Jake, and spent the entire dinner wishing she could swap places with her father, the stern looks he was giving Jake were beginning to make her nervous! Everyone else stayed mainly silent as they ate, it was always polite conversation during the beginning of dinner (and Arielle had sternly told them to be extra polite due to Jakes presence), school work, football, that sort of thing. Olive played with her BlackBerry under the table as she ignored the salad her mother had made for her. Oliver tried to talk to Tommy, who was having none of it, and furiously wolfed down his dinner before he asked to be excused, which Noah stopped with a few stern words about having guests and being polite, which instantly shut Tommy up. Cora was, in Kitty’s opinion, the saviour of the dinner. Every time she felt a little awkward she could talk about how big Cora was getting, or how sweet she was in her high chair, which would always result in huge giggles from Cora, making the entire table smile.
“So Jake, what are you interested in?” Noah asked as he took a sip of water.
“Um – Sports mainly…” Jake smiled lightly, he was understandably nervous, and Noah’s stern gaze wasn’t helping calm those. “Oh and your daughter, very interested in your daughter!” The corners of Noah’s mouth turned up in a half smile as he watched this kid squirm with nerves in front of him.
“Jake, Jake, it’s fine.” Kitty whispered, smiling at Jake as she reached across the table and squeezed his hand whilst Noah complimented Arielle on how wonderful the salmon was.
“Kitty, hows the class presidency going?” Noah turned to his eldest daughter whom he loved so much.
“Great actually, I’ve got a committee together and we’re planning a lot of positive changes around the school, do you know they don’t even recycle!”
“Well neither did we until you practically held mom at knife point until she got a recycle bin!” Oliver said, his mouth full of food.
“You know I think this is just a test run for you – if you know what I mean.” Noah looked proudly upon his daughter, he could definitely see big things for her future.
“I wanna talk to you guys about that actually!” Kitty said excitedly, looking at both her parents. “I’ve decided I’m going to apply for an internship in jounalism! Oh and don’t tell grandpa, I don’t want to get it just because he owns the company.”
“That’s amazing sweetie!” Arielle exclaimed as she smiled at her daughter, she always knew exactly what she wanted to do, so unlike her at the same age. Noah was oddly silent at this point, Kitty looked at him with a confused expression while Arielle tilted her head to the side, willing him to say what was on his mind.
“Well Kitty wouldn’t it be better for you to apply for a political internship at city hall? I thought that’s what you wanted.”
“No, I want to write about politics, not be in it, not yet anyway. Class presidents one thing but I don’t know if I want to do it on a grander scale, writing about it would be more fun, then I wouldn’t have to tread on egg shells like I would if I was a politician.” She had clearly thought over her reasons to apply for a journalism internship, but Noah still didn’t seem happy.
“I just don’t see why you’d want to write about politics when you could be in the middle of it.”
“It’s a snake pit daddy, I don’t want to be in there.”
“It’s not like you couldn’t hold your own though sis.” Olive said, finally looking up from her BlackBerry.
“Yeah Kitty, why aim so low?” Oliver chimed in, still chewing with his mouth full. Kitty turned and glared at him, her lips set in a thin line of disapproval , she didn’t like her family always getting their own views in.
“Olive turn your stupid phone off the beeping’s annoying me!” Tommy shouted from the opposite end of the table.
“Tommy’s got his panties in a twist.” Oliver whispered to Kitty across the table, causing her to burst out in laughter.
“Shut up Oliver!” yelled Tommy, punching Oliver on the arm.
“Woah, woah, what the hell is your problem Tommy?! Did you miss a throw at practice?! Are you on your period or something, God what is your problem today?!” Olive screamed, defending both herself and Oliver.
“Stop it!” Arielle stood up, immediately shutting everyone up. “We have a guest who has came here to get to know us and you kids can do nothing but bicker?!” She glared individually at everyone on the table, excluding Jake. Olive put that phone away!” She turned on her daughter with fury in her eyes.
“But mom -”
“Now.” The phone went into Olive’s pocket with a lot of huffing and puffing. “Tommy, obviously something’s bothering you, but please try and get through it, we can talk about it later.”
“I don’t want to talk about!”
“Okay, fine. And apologise to your brother for punching him. And Oliver, you apologise for mocking your brother! And Kitty move your hand from your mouth, I know you’re sniggering behind there!” The two boys exchanged a grumpy apology, Arielle usually would have made them give a proper one but she realised she was going to get nowhere with Tommy tonight, and she didn’t want to make any more of a scene than had already taken place. They took to staring each other out in anger instead. Tommy planned ways to ruin Olivers easels while Oliver thought of places he could hide Tommy’s gym clothes and the best instruments to puncture his footballs with.
“Now let’s just finish dinner shall we?” The conversation slowed down after that, with none of the children wanting to talk due to their anger at being upstaged by their mother it all fell on the nervous Jake, who ended up telling much more about his life than he had thought would be necessary when he first arrived for dinner.
“Oh my God mom I feel sick!” Olive yelled, pushing over her chair as she jumped up from the table, standing there with her hands over her mouth.
“Oh jeez shes gonna spew!!” Oliver yelled holding his empty plate in front of him as a mock shield. Beofre anyone could ask what was the matter she was gone, flying out of the room leaving everyone confused. Why was she ill?
“I guess dinners over.” Arielle said as she stood up and began clearing the plates. “Nice having you Jake.”
“How shall I sit for my interview? I don’t want to seem nervous, but I don’t want to look like I know I’m going to get it. Does this look arrogant?” Kitty asked as she sat on the comfortable chair in the corner of her bathroom, testing out poses for her upcoming interview at the local paper, which fell under the Belgravia Industries umbrella.
“Hmm.” Olive turned to her sister and gave her a once over. “I think it looks fine, just pick a way to sit and stick to it, or better yet don’t think about it at all, you don’t want to over think it.” She turned back to the mirror and began examining her pores. “After all,” She covered the beginnings of a spot with some of Kitty’s expensive concealer, “they’re looking at your journalistic talents, not the way you sit.”
“I know but I don’t want to leave anything to chance!” Kitty said as she tested having her arms folded.
“They’re not gonna hire you because you look so demure you know Kit.”
“Oh I know, I know.” She stood up and shook her arms and legs, as if to get them out of the poses they had been stuck in for the last half hour. “Do you think I should try out a new lipgloss?”
“No, I think you suit that one, which one should I wear?” Olive asked as she sat down, looking through the extensive collection which was all held in a large box. “Have you ever even worn this?” She said, holding up a stick of hot pink.
“I’ve never worn most of them, they’re just good to have, for times like now when you need one!” Kitty replied, applying some mascara and checking herself out.
The two sisters moved from the bedroom, after Olive decided to not wear any lipstick after all.
“You have such beautiful jewellery sis, can I borrow this?” Olive asked as she sat on the floor pouring over Kittys antique jewellery box while Kitty slipped into the dress she had finally chosen.
“Is that guy from school coming tonight?” Kitty asked.
“James? I guess so, I didn’t dare invite him though. His parents work with dad so I guess he’ll come with them. I’m so nervous!” Olive distracted herself with her outfit for the night, she liked James, she really thought he could be her boyfriend, if only he would talk to her.
“Why? You have to talk to him, he’s so cute, and you would be so beautiful together!” Kitty wanted her sister to have as good a relationship as she had with Jake.
“Yeah okay, maybe I will.” She had no intention of actually doing so. She’d been admiring Tommy’s friend Austin for years, she’d even tried to flirt with him once but came up against a brick wall, she felt like she must be so ugly!
“I know that means you won’t! Come on what’s the problem?!” Kitty persisted.
“Kitty just drop it! It’s okay for you, boys love you with your little stick thin body and your blonde hair and your glossy lips! Who would want me?” She was on the verge of tears as she yelled at Kitty.
“Olive! How can you even say that, you know it took me ages to talk to Jake but I finally did it and look how it all turned out! You’re absolutely beautiful sis, you have such pretty hair and your body is amazing!”
“You think so? You’re sweet..”
“.. but I have to work for it. You’re so lucky that you don’t.” Olive blinked a few times, she could feels tears threatening to spill out, she couldn’t ruin her make up and get a blotchy face a few minutes before the party.
“Hey girls is everything okay, you ready?” Arielle asked, walking into the room in her long, flowing red dress.
“Oh my gosh mom you look amazing!” Olive yelled, staring at her mother.
“You don’t think I overdid it? I know this is so important to your father, I wanted to make a good impression.” She asked as she fumbled with her dress. “Oh!” She exclaimed as she let go of the dress and took in her two daughters properly, “You two look so beautiful.” Arielle smiled down at them, she loved them so much, loved that they could have these girly experiences of getting ready together before parties, talk about boys and whatever else they did. She put her arms around their shoulders and the three of them walked to the famous mirror that was always used for posing in before heading out to a party.
The party was a formal affair. Champagne was flowing freely around the room as waiters held their trays aloft darting in and out of the impeccably manicured guests. Noah was hoping to land a master maestro for his orchestra, and the party was an attempt to schmooze him into the deal. An avid celebrity worshipper, the presence of Noah’s famous wife and her family, especially the legend herself Lily Belgravia, would go a long way to sealing the deal. The den, which had been set up with a dance floor and gobos, had became the epicentre of the youth of the party, with all the teens grinding and dancing any way they wanted.
“Oh my gosh don’t look now – Mindy is here!” Kitty stage whispered to Olive as they stood in the centre of the dancefloor.
“She’s a little cow! Why would she come here after what she did to Milly?!” Olive fumed, staring across the room at Mindy.
“Oh my God – don’t freak out, she’s headed towards Oliver.” Kitty tried to be inconspicuous, dancing in circles around her sister as her gaze followed Mindy across the room to her little brother. “They’re dancing together!”
“Is she determined to get every Belgravia male going? She’ll be jumping on grandpa next!”
“At least Oliver doesn’t look very interested…” Kitty mused as she checked out the situation in the rest of the room.
“Hey what’s up with Tommy?” Olive asked, staring across the room to where Tommy was stood scowling, the date he had brought hanging behind him.
“Oh Rosy! I forgot he was bringing her – I feel bad for her, she’s totally in love with him and he’s just ignoring her!” Kitty fretted, wondering whether to go over and save Rosy from her clearly terrible date.
“Oh. My. God. Who is that weirdo?! She came in a swimsuit…?” Olive laughed as she pointed across the room to a girl who had clearly arrived expecting a pool party. Kitty laughed along with her sister. “The swimsuits so last season too.”
“I know right!” Olive and Kitty burst into laughter as they continued to stare at her.
“Sushi ladies” Offered a waiter, holding his tray in front of them.
“Ooh definitely!” Kitty said excitedly, grabbing a few pieces while Olive stood staring at the tray. “Olive, take some!” Kitty said, her mouth full of food. Olive reluctantly took a piece.
“Isn’t it strange, seeing our girls so grown up?” Arielle commented as she danced slowly with Noah, the odd couple amongst the throngs of teenagers. “God I wish I could still dance like them.” Arielle laughed as she watched Kitty hitting the dancefloor like she herself did in her youth.
“Arielle. You have to tell them.” Noah had been pushing her to tell the family about her cancer for weeks now, but he realised how hard it must be for her, and was there every step of the way, just waiting for the day when she was ready to tell the children.
“Yes, soon. For now, lets dance.”
“Where’s Olive?” Oliver asked, joining Kitty in her wild dancing.
“I dunno actually. Stay here, I better go find her.” Kitty was worried that she was upset about James, who had been talking to Kirsty in the corner of the room all night, and hadn’t so much as glanced in Olive’s direction.
“Olive?! Olive!!” Kitty went from room to room, searching the entire first floor, which was packed full of people, the second floor, which had a couple of people hanging around on the sofas in the hallway and a few waiting for the bathroom, and finally ended up on the deserted third floor. Every room was empty, and finally she came to her own. This was the only place she could be, the furthest room in the house. As she entered she was a little scared, it was pretty much silent way up here, the light sounds of laughter and clinking glasses drifting in through one of the windows she had left open, the curtains blowing in the breeze. Olive was nowhere in sight. Marching into the bathroom she slammed the lights on, but she couldn’t see Olive anywhere. Then she heard it, the light sobs, but she still didn’t know where they were coming from.
“Who’s there!?” Kitty shouted, becoming more freaked out by the second. She looked around, her eyes becoming drawn to the open toilet. She was sure she had shut it when she left. Looking down she saw it was filled with vomit, she had no idea what was going on. Then she saw her sisters thin figure huddled under the sink, sobbing into her knees.
“Olive! Are you okay, come out of there!” Kitty leaned down, tugging on her sisters hand, begging her to come out and talk to her. “You’re scaring me Olive, did you make yourself sick?” She had thought about Olive’s behaviour that night, she could have been drunk, but she hadn’t had a drink. She either must be genuinely ill or had made herself sick. Kitty’s instincts took her to the latter. After much coaxing Olive finally crawled out from under the sink, resting her head in her sisters lap as they laid on the ground.
“I’m sorry Kitty, I didn’t want you to see me like this.” Olive said, finally standing up and wiping away the tears from her face.
“Why would you do this to yourself?” Kitty questioned sternly. She felt bad for her sister, but she knew that this was no way for her to live her life. Kitty was expecting a heartfelt confession, maybe a few more tears, but what she got instead was Olive’s fury.
“Oh Kitty you have it so easy don’t you!” She screamed, throwing her arms wide.
“What?” Kitty was too shocked to argue back, and she didn’t want to upset her sister any more.
“Everyone in this family has something! Tommy’s the sporty one, Oliver’s the painter, even Cora is a little musical genius already – and you, the star of the family with a job at that pathetic grocery store, debate and newspaper club, published writer, political extrordinare, ‘destined for great things’ as Noah said! Well what about me?! I don’t know what I want to do – I’m not interested in things the same way you guys are! I wish I was, I really do, but it seems all I can do is shop and gossip, nothing else!”
“Olive, what – where is this coming from?” Kitty stuttered, Olive’s fury seemed to know no bounds, her arms were flying everywhere, threatening to whack Kitty in the face.
“All of you have it together, you’re all perfect!” She knew little of Kitty’s underlying insecurities, her fear of failure, of Tommy’s battle with his sexuality and his academic struggles, or of Oliver’s loneliness. “My body is what I can control! Something goes in, I can get it out, if I’m thin at least I can look pretty, I may not have my life planned out but I’ll look good figuring it out!”
With those words she stormed out of the room, bringing down several shelves on the opposite wall from the force with which she slammed the door. Kitty was speechless, still cowering in the corner. How could her sister be doing this, bulimic? Eating disorders were dangerous, people died from them! She had to find her mother and get her help.
“Mom I need your-” Kitty cut her sentence short as she ran into the kitchen and was faced with her entire family facing her mother and father, who clearly had an announcement. She joined the children in line, standing as far as possible from Olive, who had been planning on escaping into the hedge maze but had been dragged into the kitchen for a family meeting.
“Can we hurry this up?!” Tommy yelled. Austin was on his way to the party and he couldn’t decide if he wanted to run away from him in shame or run straight into his arms. He was about to complain again before Noah put him down with a stern glance, standing behind his wife, her protector.
“Kids I have something to tell you, now I don’t want you to be upset…” She wondered if she was making the right decision, about to tell her children about her cancer in the middle of a party. She had decided to do it, and she knew she had to do it now or she never would, but the words were just so hard to say. Once she did it, everything would change. The kids would be worried about her, they wouldn’t be able to lead such full lives as the weight of their mothers life would be hanging over their heads until she got better, or, God forbid, died.
“Mom?!” Oliver urged his mother on with a scowl, there was a girl he wanted to talk to in the next room, he thought she would be perfect to paint.
“Well the thing is, I’m ill kids. I have been for, a while now.” They all stared back at her with shock, exchanging worried glances between themselves.
“That’s why your mother and I went to Sunset Valley, to explore treatment options.” Noah explained as Arielle gathered her composure.
“It’s bad kids, I don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s -” She felt strange, her heart was pounding in her chest, her throat felt like it was constricting. Her eyes widened as she turned to Noah in panic. The children exchanged more worried glances, they still didn’t know the extent of her illness. Time seemed to slow down as the family watched their mothers eyes flutter shut and her body go limp as she began falling, her red dress cascading around her as her body hit the floor.