– Arielle –
“Now you know that you had some irregular cells Arielle… Arielle?” Of course I knew my cells were irregular, it was the results of the next test that I was dreading.
“Yes, yes.” I answered slowly, could she just get a move on?
“Well the samples that we took for your second tests have came back.” Oh God, what was it? I was dying, I had to be, why would she be going so slow with the news. Just tell me! I wanted to scream, this part was worse than the actual results, gosh. “The prognosis is not good Arielle, I’m sorry.” She stroked the back of her neck awkwardly.
“Arielle, I’ve known your family for years, you know I diagnosed your mothers pregnancies, this is hard for me.”
“Hard for you? What about me? Can you please just tell me?!” I was being a total bitch and I knew it, but I just couldn’t help it.
“It’s lymphoma Arielle.” Oh God, cancer. The big C. It happened all the time, but not to me, how could this be happening to me? What about my children? Kitty could probably handle it, she was strong, Tommy would also be strong and silent, but I knew he relied on me, oh and the little ones, and newborn Cora, who was at home with Noah right now. I’d told them I was going to Lily’s, I couldn’t deal with Noah sat at home, worrying.
“Um – How do we proceed.” I could barely get the words out, my throat was so dry.
“Unfortunately it’s spread to other parts of the body, putting it at stage 3.” Couldn’t she have told me that in the same sentence?! Now my chances of survival were even less. At least it wasn’t stage 4. I could hear that she was speaking, but I had no idea what she was actually saying, everything was a blur. I stared downwards in disbelief.
“Arielle! I know it’s hard to take in but you really have to listen. Now there are options, we can go the chemotherapy route, or there is a new experimental treatment that has had good results, although the risks are higher.” This was too much to think about right now, I had just found out that I was dying! What should I do?
“Doctor what do you recommend? I have to survive, I have 5 children I -” She interrupted me just before I started my rant.
“Arielle I can’t tell you what to do, all I can tell you is that the sooner you make a decision the better.”
“Doctor please – I don’t, I – I can’t do this!”
“Arielle as I have said I’ve known your family for years, please don’t ask me to make this decision for you, however much I want to, I can’t.” Her face was set, I knew she wasn’t going to tell me, I’d have to make this decision on my own.
– Tommy –
I swam up and down, keeping everything even, keeping myself at a decent pace. I had a lot to do yet, couldn’t exhaust myself at the first hurdle. If I wanted to make the team I had to be perfect, physical perfection. Coach only accepted the best, which was probably why Austin got on the team. 197… 198…199… I muttered under my breath as I touched the end of the pool and spun around to go back. 200. Phew! I was panting a little, and my muscles were aching from all the hard training I’d been doing, but I had to keep it up, hauling myself out of the pool I stood for a few minutes and stretched my aching muscles.
My gym clothes were tossed on one of the loungers, quickly throwing them on I felt sick, they stunk! I’d forgotten to wash them after my last jog, whatever, they’d do. Mom knew I was going for a jog but she still shouted to me as I ran through the archway onto the front lawn and down the street. The gym wasn’t far, so I took a detour around the town. I had to do at least an hours jogging per day, stamina was one of the most important parts of making the team. I wish I had as much stamina as Austin, damn!
I felt like I needed to take a little break before I hit the weight machines but I couldn’t afford to take a break right now, I had to make the team! If I could make the team then everyone would stop focusing so much on my grades. Kitty had offered to write my English essay, Kitty! She was younger than me and she could write essays better than I could myself. Mom couldn’t find out that I was struggling so much with the academics, it would be the perfect excuse for her to pull me out of school and join Kitty at the private school, I still didn’t know how she’d convinced dad, well Noah, to let her go there.
“Unnghhh!” I clenched my jaw as I exercised my legs, they had to be strong! It was tough work but it would definitely be worth it in the long run.
When I got home I ran straight up to my room, and after a quick shower I threw myself straight into bed, this bunk was so annoying, mom promised me I could get a new one soon though. Sleep was such a welcome release, all day long I never got a break, I was always training or hanging out with my friends or babysitting one of the little ones, I loved being asleep, but it felt like I’d only had this welcome release for 5 minutes before moms voice was ringing in my ear.
“Tommy! Wake up now, you have school! Now Tommy, and take these dirty plates down while you’re at it.” God could she not just shut up for 5 minutes, I needed more sleep! I was about to roll over and go back to sleep when it hit me, today was the tryouts! I had to get a move on.
– Kitty –
“Kitty darling can you come in here?” Dad shouted from his study. What could he want, I hadn’t done anything wrong… had I? I tried to think as I made my way towards him, no, it must be something else.
“Kitty can you go and get your brother, I have something I want to talk to the both of you about.” He asked, not looking up from his computer. Oh no, this must be bad, he never wanted to speak to both of us together. Maybe he’d found out I’d wrote Tommy’s English essay and he was going to punish us both together, a thousand excuses I could give him ran through my mind as I went and got Tommy from the garden. Playing with that damn football again, just because he made the team he thought he was a superstar or something now, who want would to play with a dirty ball anyway.
“What’s up dad?” I asked as Tommy stood behind me, I could tell he was nervous. I was nervous too, but I didn’t let it show, well I at least tried not to.
“Kid’s me and your mom are going away.”
“What?!” Oops, I didn’t mean to blurt it out! I thought he was about to give us 2 weeks confined to the house and a chores list that would take a month to complete. Clearly we had done nothing wrong (as far as he knew).
“What do you mean Kitty?” He looked at me with a puzzled expression on his face. Quick Kitty, think fast.
“Um- well it’s just that um… you never go away!” That was it. “Yes, you never go away, and it just came as a surprise.”
“Well we’re going away now. You know your mother used to love going away, of course she met Leo on a vacation in France, and I proposed in China. Now we’re going away again.”
“Oh let me guess, Egypt? It seems like people round here only ever go to three places. Why does no one go to bloody Hawaii or something?” I ranted as dad stared at me with a glint of amusement in his eyes.
“No Kitty, just to Sunset Valley, and only for two nights. We just wanted to make sure you kids were okay with being alone for a while, we think you’re ready for that.” I probably was ready, so was Tommy I suppose, Olive was in the same age bracket as us but she was very young, that was clearly why she wasn’t here.
“But dad what about practice? Who’s gonna take me there?” Tommy asked, looking confused.
“Tommy are you missing brain cells or something, I’ll take you. You know I passed my test.” I snapped at him. Sometimes he could be so dumb.
“Kitty be nice to your brother.” He smiled as he said it. “Now that’s all, get out, I have work to do!” We filed out of his office, in relief. Home alone for 2 nights, not bad. I could probably get a lot of reading done in that time, maybe even write a few more articles for the college newspaper… I pondered my options as me and Tommy went upstairs. I was just about to go up to the third floor, where my room was, when Tommy grabbed my arm and dragged me into his room.
“What the hell are you doing?!” I fumed as I nursed my arm.
“Shhh.” I have to make sure no ones here. I stood behind him, bewildered, as he stood by the door and listened intently. What was he doing?
“What? What is it Tommy? What’s so important that you have to drag me in here like that?”
“Lets have a party.” He threw his arms wide as if he had just had the most original and fun idea in the world. A party. Just like that?!
“Ohhh no, no, no, no. Tommy – I’ve seen those shows where the kids are left alone and they have a party. In the toned down ones something goes wrong, the house gets trashed or something, and in the really bad ones, someone dies! We cannot have a party, mom and dad would kill us!”
“Kitty stop being such a geek! Come on it would be so cool, you could invite Rosy for me, I totally want to talk to her.”
“Oh my God you like Rosy, I forgot. Well if you want Rosy then I want you to invite that cute guy… what was his name?”
“No not Austin, the other one… um – Jake!” Jake, ahh he was so cute.
“Yeah, I’ll invite him. Does this mean you’re on board?” I still didn’t know… if mom and dad found out we would be dead! “Come on Kitty it would be so cool, and it would stop people thinking you’re a total geek.” Geek?!
“I’m not a geek Tommy, I just care about school. I don’t hear you complaining when I write your essays!”
“Okay, okay, forget I said anything. Party?!” I looked at him nervously, I was definitely swaying towards it…
“Come oooon Kitty. You know how fun it’ll be!”
“…Yes.” Yes? Had I just said yes? Yes! “Yes, yes! Okay, let’s do it. Party!” I smiled widely at Tommy, I was actually excited now!
– Olive –
“Kitty?” I said as I peeped my head around her doorway.
“Ah!” She screamed, falling onto the floor by her wardrobe. I didn’t mean to make her fall, but I suppose it was kind of funny!
“What the hell is your problem Olive?! Why are you sneaking up on me?” She was livid, I hadn’t even done anything wrong!
“Can I get ready for the party with you? We’re gonna look so great, this is gonna be the best party ever!” I was in my element, ignoring everything she was saying back to me. Gosh I couldn’t wait for the party.
“OLIVE!” I finally stopped talking and stared at her, what?! “You can’t get ready with me. You’re too young!” Too young?!
“I’m not that much younger than you Kitty!” I followed her into her en suite bathroom, sitting myself down on the side of the bath. Wow I wish I had all these things that Kitty had, she made mom buy her every product in the world, she didn’t even go to parties though! “Why do you have all this, people say you’re a geek Kitty.”
“Not after tonight they won’t.” She murmured, checking out her pores in the mirror. I stared at her intently, did she have something special planned?
She walked off to her bedroom, blowing the nails of one hand to dry the nail polish and reading the politics section of The Evening Standard with the other hand. She was so weird. I might as well get ready here, she couldn’t exactly throw me out. I applied a thick layer of mascara and plenty of eye-shadow, I wanted to look older than I actually was. Maybe there would be a cute boy at the party, but I doubted it. The only boy I liked was Austin, Tommy’s best friend. He was soo cute! His grandmother was Korean and hen had these really interesting ethnic eyes, wow!
“Olive what the hell is on your legs?” Kitty asked, averting her eyes from an article on the economic downturn as I paraded out of the bathroom.
“My new tights! They’re soo cool don’t you think?” They were totally cool I loved them! Mom had bought me a whole load of new clothes when I started to grow out of my little blue dresses, these new ones were so much cooler.
“They’re cool if you’re living in 2003 dancing around to an Avril Lavigne song, maybe not so much now.”
“Shut up Kitty, you’re just jealous that I can pull off such an interesting look.” I huffed as I walked up and down the room, breaking in my new flats.
Kitty was trying on so many outfits it was unreal. Clothes were flying across the room, Dolce, Halston, Gucci, Prada, DKNY, Ungaro, jeez how did she have so many?
“When did you get all these?” I asked, picking up a black Marchesa gown that she wore to Lily’s premiere last month.
“I don’t know, I just use moms credit card.” She replied, searching through her cardigans and jackets for the perfect one for tonight. I was definitely borrowing some of these. One of the perks of having a big sister – free clothes!
“Okay, okay, I’m ready. Come.” She dragged me to the huge mirror beside her door and we both stood staring at ourselves. Yep. Definitely ready for tonight.
– Kitty –
“Hey Kitty!” Jake waved to me from across the room. Oh no, he was talking to me, no, no! I was too nervous to talk to him yet. Mom always had a drink when she was nervous so I ran into the kitchen and took a huge swig from the vodka bottle that was always kept in the fridge. Yuck! My throat was burning, but I did feel a little calmer. Okay just breath. Olive and I began dancing together in the den, where the party seemed to be centred. Jake was right behind us, and I kept looking over and smiling, but I didn’t dare speak to him, what was wrong with me?!
“Kitty! Go dance with him, he totally likes you!” Olive whispered, nudging me towards him.
“No, no! Stop!” I whispered in anger, what was she doing?! Oh no, too late. My face turned from a frown to a huge smile as Olive practically threw me on top of him. He was talking to me, asking how I was doing and stuff, but I just couldn’t stop staring at him. He was so cute, even the eyebrow piercing didn’t put me off, it was kind of hot actually.
Oh no. I know he’s cute but really, the dancing? Could he get any more uncool. I didn’t care, the vodka had been found by Kirsty Allaham (the party girl of the school) and she was weaving around the room with a tray full of shots, screaming with joy every time someone downed one, usually followed by a lot of spluttering and choking. I looked up at him, would he just get his arms down? We weren’t down and dirty in the club, we were at a teenage party.
I could feel the vodka going to my head quicker than I anticipated, oh no, I had to stop drinking and I knew it, but I could tell that everyone was changing their opinion of me, Kirsty even came over and said she ‘never realised how cool I was until tonight’. Wow. I mean it’s not like I looked up to her, she was kind of dumb, but she was the most popular girl in school.
– Tommy –
Mindy was cute I suppose. At least I finally got to dance with some girls, I never usually had the time to go to parties. Mom was always pushing me on the sports, I mean it wasn’t her fault, I had made her promise to keep pushing me, and she had agreed. I was glad that she did it, but I still needed a break, and this was the perfect opportunity.
“I heard you made the team!” Mindy shouted over the music.
“Sure did.” I smiled back at her, guys on the team were targets for girls like Mindy. She might not have the cleanest reputation in the town, but at least she was fun and would give me something to do. Oh, there was Austin, he came!
“Excuse me Mindy.” I said, softly touching her arm as I side stepped her and went to see Austin, it had been a few days since I had seen him, we usually hung out everyday.
“Hey man! Cool party!” Austin shouted over the music, giving me a friendly slap on the arm.
We moved through into the kitchen to get a beer, Mindy looked a little peeved that I was leaving her hanging but whatever, Austin was my best buddy!
“You came with Mindy?” He asked as he cracked open the beer with his teeth.
“Yeah I invited her, she’s cute right?”
“Yeah, if you don’t mind having an STI. She’s been around the block and then some man!” Woah, he really didn’t like Mindy.
“Listen it’s not like I’m having sex with her or something!” I could feel myself going red as I said it, he knew I was still a virgin, which was kind of embarrassing.
“I’m just saying you want your first time to be special.” What was this!? I wasn’t going to have sex with her or anything, I didn’t even want to. I might not have even kissed her.
“What is this Aunt Austin’s help line? Leave me alone!”
“Okay, okay. Sorry I mentioned it!”
“I’m just saying you don’t wanna just throw your virginity away!”
“I DON’T EVEN WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH HER!” I shouted at him, luckily the music was too loud for the people through the half open doors of the den to hear, would he just leave it!
“Sorry man, really I am.” Hopefully he’d stop talking about it now. “So do you like anyone else?” He looked at me intently, what was the big interest in my love life, he knew I never had time for stuff like that.
“Me? I dunno, do you?”
“Well yeah actually, there’s something I wanna talk to you about…”
“TOMMY!!!!” Jesus, what was with the screaming?
“I gotta go Austin, talk to you later.” I walked into the den, a lot of the kids had left by now, Kitty was flirting with Jake, I suppose he was a good guy, but I still worried about my little sister, even though she acted twice my age.
Oh. That’s where the screams were coming from, Olive slumped in the front hallway, clearly drunk out of her mind.
“Okay, shh.” I said as I picked her up into my arms and carried her upstairs. “Where are your clothes Olive?” Why was she in her underwear? Good job someone had put a hoodie on her.
“We went swimming…” She mumbled almost incoherently. Good job I was strong or we would have had to dump her on the sofa.
“Tommy I don’t feel good.” Olive groaned as I laid her down on top of the bed. She better be okay by tomorrow, mom and dad were supposed to be home tomorrow, maybe Kitty was right, maybe this was a bad idea.
“Is she dead?” Oliver asked as he stood by me next to the bed, both of us staring down at her as she shielded her eyes from the light.
“No kid she’s not dead” I laughed as I ruffled his hair. “Now get to sleep, you’ve got school in the morning.” That night was a restless one for me, huddled uncomfortably in Olive’s chair in case she woke up and was sick again. It was as if she had cancer or something, I was being so vigilant. God if someone had cancer I don’t know what I’d do, I was worried sick about Olive, and she’d only had a bit too much vodka. The next morning I was roaming around on the upstairs landing, picking up old bottles and other crap from last night when I heard the door open.
“Hello?! We’re home early!” I heard mom shout. Oh God, no! What were they doing back!!
“What the hell has happened here?!” Noah fumed… oh no, they were going to kill us.