Ryman Legacy Chapter 11C


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Ryman Legacy Chapter 11C

  1. 1. The Ryman Legacy<br />Chapter 11C <br />Back to School – the secret lives of children away from their parents…<br />By Mzyra<br />
  2. 2. Monday morning. Most people, whether adults or children, dread it. It means the beginning of what can feel like an endless week of school and/or work. However, some people look forward to it (regardless of how sleepy they are at first) for different reasons:<br />Some for the potential new social side; <br />
  3. 3. Some for the- uh, okay, again, the potential new social side, but also;<br />
  4. 4. For the… potential new social side.<br />Okay, within the Ryman household lately the only reason to look forward to school was for the fun with friends that could be had there, but that was better than nothing.<br />“Ugh… Why does it have to start so early?”<br />
  5. 5. Some were more visibly excited than others.<br />“Good morning Mr Flowers! You smell nice today! I think this is a sign of a good day coming!”<br />
  6. 6. “Hi Miss Bus Lady! It’s my first day of school! This is the right bus isn’t it?”<br />“Um, yes – it’s the only bus. Unless one of your parents is an athlete?”<br />“Nope!”<br />“Then this is the only bus you’ll ever have to take, we only ever bring you to and from school.”<br />“Oh, okay, that’s really useful, thanks!”<br />
  7. 7. And with the kids out of the house, the parents were left alone.<br />“So, our first day alone in the house as a married couple. No kids around…”<br />“Don’t you have work in an hour?”<br />“The carpool will wait for an extra hour before leaving though…”<br />
  8. 8. It was probably just as well the kids had left and had other things on their minds, contemplating this would not help them concentrate at school at all. Not that they were that focused on schoolwork anyway…<br />
  9. 9. Simfield Comprehensive Primary School, located on the edge of Simfield’s Bluewater Shopping District, the school day just starting…<br />
  10. 10. Liv walked into her new classroom for the first time. It was very… wooden, and bland. Not enough pink, in her opinion. Looking at the desks instead, there were two empty seats, each by a girl of about her age. How was she supposed to choose? Who your friends were could completely change your whole life, she remembered hearing. She wished she could sit next to both girls, but she could always alternate, she supposed.<br />But she had to make a choice now and the girl at the front had ringlets just like she did, so she took that as a sign that she was meant to be friends with that girl. The pirate girl would have to wait for another day.<br />
  11. 11. “Hi! My name’s Liv, I love your hair! And is that a unicorn on your t-shirt? That is so cool! If it was pink I would totally have one!”<br />The other girl smiled, pleased. “My name’s Daisy. I like your hair too.” They both giggled. “Is this your first day as well?”<br />“Yeah! I have a big brother in another class and he told me some stuff, but I’ve never been here before. Do you think it’ll be hard?”<br />“I hope not. My Mum’s especially really clever and successful so I think I should be too…”<br />“You probably got her brains, you’ll be fine! And then you can help me!” They laughed again.<br />
  12. 12. In fact there was a lot of laughter and talking between the two girls…<br />“-and then Jose said that he doesn’t think anywhere does volleyball, don’t you think that’s really unfair? I mean-”<br />“Ahem,” the teacher, who the girls hadn’t noticed had entered, interrupted. “The school bell has rung, so lessons have started and any conversations will have to wait until break time. That’s one of the most fundamental rules here and one that you’ll have to remember Miss… Ryman.”<br />
  13. 13. Liv looked down, embarrassed – she’d never really been told off before. “Sorry Miss.”<br />Daisy just frowned at the teacher. It was mean of her to make her friend feel bad, they didn’t mean any harm.<br />So for the next hour the students sat, made notes and were generally bored, but eagerly looking forward to break time.<br />
  14. 14. Over in the older class things had started off differently, both from Liv’s class and from the usual.<br />There was a boy sat next to Jose. He’d never sat next to him before, but Jose could see why he had this time – Isabel Verse had moved up into their class, along with her reputation, and so the boy had had to choose between sitting next to Jose or sitting next to Isabel and most likely winding up bruised in several places. <br />The two boys sat in silence. Jose wondered whether he should say something, but what? What if the other boy thought what he said was stupid?<br />
  15. 15. Jose glanced across the classroom. There were two other boys who he did know – his cousins Ivan and Joey Wong, but they were twins and always sat together. And it was their birthday that day, so they’d be moving up to secondary school anyway. He could hear them talking about it already.<br />“I hear they have workshops and stuff in secondary school, maybe we’ll get to make stuff like robots!”<br />“Robots?”<br />“Yeah, wouldn’t that be awesome?!”<br />
  16. 16. Jose stopped listening to their discussion of the different sports they might play and looked down at the windowsill to avoid the other boy’s eye. He still wasn’t saying anything and Jose wondered whether he didn’t prefer sitting on his own – it felt lonely, but at least it wasn’t awkward.<br />Looking out the window at the playground, he focused on the break time to come, then he’d be able to play with Liv and it wouldn’t be all awkward like this, it’d be good for once.<br />
  17. 17. But then the teacher arrived, everyone was made (or at least attempted to be made) to be quiet and the learning could begin. <br />If he was honest, Jose wasn’t that interested in the learning itself, but it was clean, it was fairly simple, it was a distraction from everything going on around him and he got attention from the teachers and his family for doing well. That was what made it enjoyable, and that was why he was so good at it. But for once he was looking forward to break time.<br />
  18. 18. “I can see freedom…! Just over that wall…! So near… yet so far… I wonder if I could use the swing-set to jump over it?”<br />Break time had begun and the children were unleashed.<br />
  19. 19. Jose was a little late out, having collected the textbooks for the teacher as usual, but among the scattered children he could pick out Liv, fairly central on the playground.<br />
  20. 20. But she didn’t see him as he approached her as she was focused on playing with another girl who must have been in her class. From her look, the two of them could have been twins.<br />So. Liv had made a best friend already. Well, that was good for her, he supposed. He wished he’d made a best friend with the same hair as him on the first day. But he could find somebody else to play with, he didn’t have to disturb them. What had happened to that boy he’d sat next to earlier?<br />
  21. 21. He looked around and spotted the light blonde hair- stood by the two girls from the next desk over. That explained it; if they could have fit three people on a desk, that boy would have sat with those girls instead. He already had friends – two, in fact. <br />There had to be somebody else alone, though…<br />
  22. 22. He glanced across the playground. Ivan and Joey were still together and the younger kids from Liv’s class playing catch in pairs together. His heart sank a little lower.<br />But still, when all else failed, there was always one other person who’d be alone and Jose guessed that perhaps bad attention might be better than no attention for once…<br />
  23. 23. “Hi, your name’s Isabel, right? You want to play catch?” Clearly this girl was new and didn’t know what she was getting into, Jose thought, but Isabel agreed, probably thinking of how much bruising she might cause the girl, and the two walked off to find some space.<br />So. Everyone else in the whole school was in a pair or a group - even Isabel, who was, to all intents and purposes, the school bully. Everyone but Jose.<br />
  24. 24. He walked away, neutral smile still plastered on his face.<br />So nobody would notice if he disappeared. Probably nobody would care. Except that somebody else would have to collect the textbooks. Big deal. Apart from that, everybody would probably be better off without him. Just like every other school day.<br />
  25. 25. “I wonder what happened to Jose? He said he was going to come play with me at break times.”<br />“Does he have brown hair? I think it might have been him who I saw here earlier, but I didn’t see where he went.”<br />“Huh. He probably went off to play with his older, cooler friends instead. It’s okay, we’ll just play together instead.”<br />
  26. 26. Jose wished this was the first time he had sat around the corner of the school wall, crying, away from everyone else. When Lyle had been there Jose would play with him and his friends, but ever since he left Jose had had no-one. Nobody ever noticed when he was gone. Nobody ever cared what he did or where he was, they all had other friends.<br />What was so bad about him that he couldn’t get some of his own? He knew he was a bit of a geek sometimes and the teachers tended to like him and he didn’t like getting dirty while playing and he was rubbish at sports, but… he didn’t know how else to be!<br />
  27. 27. Most of all Jose was angry at himself though. Of course Liv would make friends. She talked to everyone she could, regardless; she would befriend inanimate objects if she could. Why did he expect it to be any different today? If he hadn’t, he could have volunteered to clean the chalkboard and stayed inside and read or something. He would’ve been happier than this. <br />…And even if it all had worked today, he’d only have held Liv back, stopped her making more friends and made her as unpopular as he was. He’d have been being selfish. She was definitely better off without his presence. People generally were.<br />So, as he always used to, he sat alone and cried silently until the bell rang again.<br />
  28. 28. 1pm, a few fields awaywhere the bus comes for students…<br />“-and so the stupid old cow said she was never going to let us try to build robots ever again. Like it actually would have managed to steal test paper answers properly! I was just hoping that if it could nab teachers’ car keys I might be able to blackmail the answers out of them-”<br />“Wally? Do you understand why there are rules and laws in the world, or do you just think of them as personal challenges?”<br />“I understand that we couldn’t have a world full of people like me doing this stuff all the time, but that’s no reason I can’t bend the rules occasionally… But fine, you’ve been acting odd all day, what do you want to talk about?” <br />
  29. 29. Wally saw Lyle’s guilty glance at the group across the field. “Oh, a girl, is it?” Lyle blushed a little. “Don’t tell me it’s actually one of that group, though?” <br />“It… it might be.”<br />“Well I suppose I get the private school girl attraction; somehow forbidden, a bit ‘uptown girl’, but that only works if they’re not up-themselves snobs who think they’re a million times better than the rest of society. Bloody rich kids.”<br />“I thought you wanted to get into private school.”<br />“I’ve never said that! They couldn’t handle me in their ‘fine institution’, I’d cause a mass teacher-walkout.” Wally grinned malevolently at the imaginary scenario.<br />
  30. 30. “But anyway Lyle, what makes you think you’d stand a shot with a girl like them? I’m sure their daddies wouldn’t be at all happy with someone like us hanging around their precious little angels.”<br />“Well, um, that’s kind of the thing – I’m already friends with her. She’s really nice – nothing like your stereotype at all.”<br />“Hang on, when have you ever been near a group like that?”<br />“She walked by my garden when I was a kid and we started talking. She was really friendly, but obviously I was too young to understand how beautiful she was as well.”<br />
  31. 31. “So if you’re already such great mates, why are you talking to me about it? Talk to her.”<br />“Yeah, but… She’s with all her friends. And they’re older than us. And I don’t know any of the other girls. I- What if they laugh? What if she rejects me? And then they all laugh?”<br />“If the girl you like’s as nice as you say she is, she won’t laugh, will she?”<br />“Well, no, I don’t think so, but I don’t know about her friends…”<br />
  32. 32. “Hmm…” Wally squinted over at the group. “Ah, well you may have a bit of a problem there. That girl with the short, messy black hair looks to be Janice Andrews and she has a reputation and a half – both for being up for it with anyone and for being a right bitch to nearly everyone, who she may then get it on with. Tough girl. <br />The girl to her right… She’s pretty hot, probably one of the Jayapalan twins, though I wouldn’t know which one. My mate Billy from football practice had a massive crush on one of them, the one who went to uni, but I told him he never stood a chance… So yeah, she might be the nice or the harsher one, bit of a coin toss there.”<br />
  33. 33. “The green one’s apparently part alien and I can believe that. Apparently she used to be nice and quiet, but then she fell in with Janice Andrews and she’ll do whatever the girl says, so she’d probably laugh at you too if Janice starts. <br />As for the blonde… No idea really, guess she’s kind of cute, but haven’t heard much about her. Which one are you after, anyway?”<br />“’The blonde’ as you called her – she’s called Roxanne Raymond.”<br />“Ah, she must be Billy’s older sister! Right, well, that makes her the adoptive daughter of a famous rock star who must be totally loaded.”<br />
  34. 34. “Do you think that really matters?”<br />“Er, let’s see shall we? She’s going to be rich and used to the finer things in life while you only recently stopped living in a shack. Her mother is rich and famous, your dad is a low-level cop and is also an undead freak – no offence. She’s not far off graduating, you’re a little kid in comparison. She’s pretty hot, you’re… you. With everything she has, she could have whoever and whatever she wanted. Dude, again no offence, but you don’t stand a chance in hell. But look on the bright side, with friends like that, she’s probably a shallow cow too.”<br />
  35. 35. “She’s not! And I don’t care, I have to find out for certain.”<br />“Ugh, look, this is just like what happened with Billy. The Jayapalan girl was out of his league too, but your situation is even worse – at least Billy was rich, his sister was one of the girl’s friends and they were closer in age – still too big a gap, but not as bad as yours and this Roxanne chick’s. He’s going to have had to move on with his life and settle lower and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t too. Give up while you’re ahead.”<br />
  36. 36. “I’m going over.”<br />“Okay, but I’m gonna stay here and watch. I’ll tell you where you went wrong later- And, since I’m your friend, I won’t film it on my phone and send it ‘round the school.”<br />“Gee, thanks.”<br />“See you in a bit!”<br />
  37. 37. The walk over felt very long and Lyle’s stomach was churning with anxiety all the way. What was he going to say when he got there? But he did have to know, regardless of all that Wally had said. <br />He cleared his throat, which had gone very dry all of a sudden. “Er, hey, Roxanne! Do you mind if I talk to you for a minute?”<br />All the other girls stared at him in surprise, and some in suspicion.<br />
  38. 38. Roxanne – and her apparently mean friend Janice – got up and she came over to him.<br />“Oh, hey Lyle! I haven’t seen you around in ages. You’re in secondary school these days now too, huh?”<br />“Er, yeah. I have been for a while now actually.” Wally’s point about the age gap starting weighing heavily on Lyle’s shoulders, shaking his confidence slightly. Surely the gap wasn’t that big, really?<br />
  39. 39. “You’re friends with this kid, Rox? What were you doing, helping out at the kindergarten?”<br />“Shut up Janice!” Roxanne hissed at her so-called friend.<br />“Yeah Janice, don’t be mean. He looks so sweet Roxanne!” Laura chipped in, probably meaning well, but not helping the situation.<br />Lyle was beginning to hope that this might be a bad dream and discover he’d fallen asleep back on the bench. But he had to press on, even still… <br />
  40. 40. “Er, do you mind if we talk away from your friends for a minute?”<br />Roxanne glanced at said friends; Janice was punching Laura for insinuating that she was jealous of Roxanne’s male attention. She was tired of breaking up fights anyway. “No, that’d be fine. Great, actually.”<br />“Okay…” Lyle had to force his legs to work properly again.<br />
  41. 41. “So, um…” Lyle couldn’t just jump straight into the question, even though he could feel the pressure of all the people watching him, from both her friends and his own. “What have you been up to since I last saw you? How’s private school?”<br />“Oh, you know, school’s okay. Got some good friends – some of the time, at least. Been doing okay in lessons and I don’t have that long left before I graduate. Think I’ll kind of miss it in a way and I have no idea what I’ll do once I leave. Thinking about journalism.”<br />
  42. 42. “Wow, that sounds great!” Lyle said ecstatically before reminding himself to tone it down and play it cool. He had to act mature… “Yeah, I’m sure you’ll have loads of contacts in journalism too, what with your mum being a rock star and all.”<br />“Yeeeah, but I wouldn’t want to go into that kind of celebrity journalism, I’d want to do the serious investigative stuff. What about you? How have things been lately?”<br />“Erm… My Dad reappeared as a zombie, my parents got married, we went on holiday and got a new house built. So, you know, quite a lot really. That kind of stuff really makes you grow up quickly,” he threw in at the end, hoping it might help his case.<br />“Woah, that is a lot. Erm, Lyle… I get the feeling that you didn’t walk up to me in front of a large group of girls just to chat. What’s going on?”<br />
  43. 43. “Heh, you would be good at seeing through people in journalism. No, I- I was- I just wanted- I was wondering-” Suddenly, looking somebody so beautiful and wonderful and way out of his league hit him like a ton of bricks. Oh god.<br />
  44. 44. “You know what, d- don’t worry about it. It’s nothing. Sorry. Go back to your friends.” He could already hear them muttering amongst themselves before he started walking back towards Wally. He was going to make this so hard on him now…<br />
  45. 45. Why did he ever think he could have done it? She was beautiful, clever, talented, sweet, wealthy, older… Of course he’d have a crush on somebody like that, but he never stood a chance for a single second…<br />“Lyle! Wait up!”<br />Oh no, she was going to make him admit it too…<br />
  46. 46. “Lyle, say what you were going to say! It was obviously so difficult for you to come and talk to me in front of my friends, you shouldn’t just give up!”<br />Fine, Lyle thought as he swallowed his pride, “I’m sorry, it’s just… While I was on holiday I got to thinking about relationships and girls and… you just came to my mind and then I couldn’t get you out of it. You’re so beautiful and clever and kind and… everything. I should have known – I know now – that I couldn’t stand a chance with somebody like you, but I thought that maybe… Maybe there might be a possibility. Sorry.”<br />
  47. 47. “Why are you apologising?”<br />“… for wimping out. And for embarrassing you in front of your friends. You don’t need some kid like me getting you teased or anything.”<br />“Oh, I don’t listen to what Janice says! If I did I could never do anything. And you’re so sweet…”<br />“At least I have that going for me,” Lyle responded, deadpan, “but so do puppies and you wouldn’t date them… Anyway, sorry, I’ll leave you alone, good luck with the journalism.”<br />
  48. 48. “Lyle, I- I’m not going to say for certain that it’ll work out or mean anything permanently, but… How about we go out on a date? I’m not busy tonight and… we can see how it goes. If it goes well we can arrange another one, if it goes badly then at least you’ll know we gave it a shot and will know I’m not as good as you seem to think I am, haha.”<br />“Wow, really? That- that’d be great! I’m completely free this evening and even if I wasn’t- Yeah, great!”<br />“Okay, I’ll meet you at Red’s 50s Diner at 5pm, how’s that?”<br />“I’ll be there!”<br />
  49. 49. Wally was slack-jawed in disbelief. “Seriously? You got a date with her? Are you sure she’s going to show up, not have some kind of realisation? Well… Congrats? High-five!”<br />This could well have been the best day of Lyle’s entire life.<br />
  50. 50. “Did he just ask you out?” Tessa was eager for gossip.<br />“That’s pretty brave, isn’t it? I’m surprised he managed it with all of us here too.”<br />“Yeah, what is he, like ten years old?”<br />“I’m afraid I don’t have time to argue with you tonight Janice, some of us happen to have a date tonight.”<br />“Awwww! That’s adorable!”<br />
  51. 51. “Shut up Laura, and god Roxanne, that’s practically paedophilia!”<br />“You know what, shut up Janice – we haven’t done anything yet and as if you wouldn’t get it on with even the youngest members of the school if they came asking, it’s not like you have any standards of decency yourself!”<br />That shut Janice up for all of about two minutes which didn’t feel like long, but was a record as far as arguing with her went.<br />
  52. 52. “So now I have a date with a beautiful, smart, nice girl who’s way out of my league and I have no idea what to do, what to wear, how to look… Help me!”<br />“Where are you going for the date?”<br />“Red’s 50s Diner. I’m not sure what that really means though…”<br />“That’ll probably mean a nice meal, but you don’t have to go completely formal, or formal at all really. You’d probably be okay as you are.”<br />“But do I look old enough? I ought to look older so she won’t think of me as a kid, like all her friends do…”<br />
  53. 53. “Look, you say she’s never had a boyfriend, that means she’s roughly on the same level as you in this area. And you can’t really fake your age, if the two of you don’t work, you won’t work. Or possibly not yet, anyway.”<br />“But I want us to work. And if we don’t work now we probably never will – she’ll become an adult and then by the time I’m one she’ll have found somebody else! But I’m not really sure I deserve her either, she could do so much better…”<br />“Hey, your mother could have done so much better than me, but she hasn’t – if you want her, it’s her decision whether she wants you too. And remember, she could do a whole lot worse too.”<br />
  54. 54. “And me and Daisy spent all day talking and playing – we have so much in common!”<br />“Well if this is Daisy McCarthy we’re talking about, she is your cousin.”<br />“Really?! Wow! I can’t wait to tell her!”<br />“But I hope this talking and playing didn’t go on all day – what about in classes?”<br />“Er, um, well…”<br />“Liv?”<br />“Okay, well I didn’t see the teacher come in and I didn’t realise we had to stop talking, so I got in a bit of trouble at first…”<br />“But after you would told?”<br />
  55. 55. “Well what are you supposed to do when you think of something you just have to say to your friend and the teacher won’t stop talking?!”<br />“You have to leave it until break time!”<br />“Oh, but Momma… Did you used to leave talking until break time? Really? It’s hard!”<br />Jose watched his mum and sister talking about her day for a few minutes. It was painful hearing other people talk about their troubles being quiet because they just can’t stop talking to their ultra-amazing best friend, and Jose realised this wasn’t a conversation that was going to end soon, between Liv’s inability to stop talking ever and their Mum trying to drum the importance of education into her. Maybe Juan…<br />
  56. 56. “So am I expected to pay for the meal? I mean, I am the guy, but then she technically asked me out and she knows we have less money than they do, but I don’t want her to buy me food out of pity or anything-”<br />“I think on the first date at least, you should each pay for what you have, though you could offer, but if you offer and she accepts you can’t then say that you can’t afford it, so bear that in mind.”<br />It was also roughly as painful to listen to people complaining about what they’re meant to do when they go on a date; at least they were popular enough to have dates. It looked like Jose wouldn’t be able to talk to Juan or Lyle either…<br />
  57. 57. But then, Jose thought, what were individual fathers for? Lyle could talk to Juan, Liv could talk to Rodney, and he had a father of his very own who had no other children to distract him. His Dad would be able to give him some advice.<br />
  58. 58. “Hey Dad, it’s Jose.”<br />“Oh, hey Jose! I wasn’t sure you were all back from holiday yet! How was it?”<br />“Oh, you know, it was okay. Nearly everything was outdoors though. And we had to go back to school today…”<br />“Ah, that can’t have been fun after a holiday, all that work…”<br />“No, no, the work was fine- Um, listen, Dad, can I come over? Or you come over? It’s just we haven’t seen each other in a while…”<br />
  59. 59. “Ooh, sorry Jos, not tonight. Your stepmother’s holding a big political party thing and I have to be here to support her – she might even make me give a speech about zombie rights and things – but, you know, maybe another time? It gets pretty hectic being married to the Mayor.”<br />“Oh. Right. Okay. Another time maybe.” <br />“Sorry Jos, but I promise another time-”<br />“Sure, don’t worry about it Dad. Talk to you later. Bye.”<br />“Bye Jos.”<br />
  60. 60. Tears were already running down his face again as he trudged up the stairs to his room. Nobody ever had any time or interest for Jose, everyone’s lives were happier and more interesting than his. <br />
  61. 61. “Okay, at least I’ve got no spots at the minute… Hair as good as usual… Clothes relatively clean… Guess this is as good as it’s going to get!” Lyle said hopefully while trying to pull a suave face in the mirror. “Okay, never give anybody that look ever again, but, other than that, good to go!”<br />
  62. 62. Lyle dialled the local taxi company to get a lift downtown and then bundled up for once before it arrived – he normally didn’t bother with coats and stuff, but he didn’t want to be shivering with cold in case it looked like he was shaking out of fear or anxiety. He wanted to be playing it cool, but not freezing.<br />“Red’s 50s Diner please! … I have a date!”<br />“Yay for you.” Apparently taxi drivers weren’t much for empathy.<br />
  63. 63. But unenthusiastic taxi drivers couldn’t bring Lyle down – he had a date!<br />Roxanne arrived just as he did, though she had walked. Maybe he should have walked, but then he would have been late… Doing things right was hard!<br />“Aren’t you going to be cold like that, Rox?”<br />“Hm? I guess it’s a little chilly out, but I didn’t think we’d be outside for long, and walking keeps you warm.”<br />“Oh. Well if you do get cold you can borrow my scarf or jumper if you want, I don’t mind.”<br />“Um, okay, thanks.”<br />
  64. 64. “I don’t suppose much has happened since we last spoke, huh?”<br />“Well you say that – my little brother just left for college! It’s weird, he’s taller than me now… But not for long! He’s been looking forward to it since forever, practically. Hey, are you going to university?”<br />“Me? Oh, no, I wasn’t offered a place. Not many of my friends were either.”<br />“No, nor mine, except Karen. But it would have been handy if you had, it’s less… odd for adults to be in relationships with university students.”<br />“Yeah…”<br />“Um, anyway, shall we go inside?”<br />
  65. 65. “Hey, this is a nice place.”<br />“Yeah, me and the girls have come here a few times – played pool, taken pictures in the photobooth… And they do some pretty good food. Have you had any dinner yet?”<br />“No. You?”<br />“A little, but I could manage some dessert or something. Shall we?”<br />“Yeah, sure, if you’re okay with it.”<br />
  66. 66. They both ordered, Lyle going for the more substantial spaghetti and meatballs, Roxanne having a lighter dessert.<br />It was still early and nothing had gone wrong with the date so far, but nothing had gone exactly right either… He’d have to think of something to do to make it more interesting, but for now conversation…<br />“This is pretty good food, huh? The pasta’s a little… tasteless at the bottom, but the meatballs and sauce make up for it. How’s yours?”<br />“Mmm, good,” she said, mouth still half full.<br />“Good…” Darn it, this wasn’t good enough!<br />
  67. 67. Roxanne swallowed and became a lot more talkative though. “The one thing that’s always really annoyed me about the menu here is that they don’t offer grilled cheese sandwiches. They offer so many other things, but not that! I mean, I know it’s not exactly the height of culinary proficiency, but this isn’t Londoste or something, nobody’s going to frown on the place because they offer grilled cheese sandwiches!”<br />Lyle just stared at her in awe.<br />“Sorry, listen to me going on about it – I know it’s just food, but there should be freedom of choice. It just makes sense, and probably makes money too.”<br />
  68. 68. With the meal over, the teens weren’t sure what to do. Other people were using the pool table, the photobooth would be a little too intimate for how things were going so far and neither of them had any change on them for the arcade games either, so they settled for a nice, traditional game of slap hands. Though Lyle wasn’t very good because his hands went all shaky and tingly when they made contact with Roxanne’s.<br />But he had something else on his mind… <br />
  69. 69. “Hey, er, you know what you were saying about grilled cheese sandwiches earlier?”<br />“Yeah, but you know, I was just rambling-”<br />“Is that just like your favourite food or something, or… Something more?”<br />“Something more?”<br />“Well, it’s just that sometimes it feels like… My mind kind of revolves around grilled cheese. I know that sounds weird-”<br />“No, no – I know what you mean! I always thought I was a bit odd too, but that’s it!”<br />“And I totally agree with what you said earlier! It’s massively underappreciated! We can’t even get it at school!”<br />“Yeah!”<br />
  70. 70. By the time they stopped eulogising on the wonders of melted cheese between toasted bread (making Lyle especially hungry again), they could both feel that something had changed. Neither of them had met anyone who could understand them and their odd ways so completely before. Roxanne’s Mum could understand desire for ‘romance’ and/or celebrity, her Mother could understand desire for knowledge and her brother could understand desire for friends and one special person, but to them food was really just food, and it was much the same with Lyle’s family.<br />Somehow, they had a deeper bond together than they’d ever found with anyone else. And serious chemistry once the ice was broken.<br />
  71. 71. “Erm, Roxanne… I … I’d quite like to kiss you. You know, if that’s okay with you?”<br />“Um, yeah. Yeah I think that would be okay with me.”<br />“Okay, but I’ve never done this before…”<br />“Me neither…”<br />
  72. 72. But it still managed to be magical, despite their mutual inexperience.<br />“Wow….” He said breathlessly.<br />“Yeah… I agree!”<br />
  73. 73. “I- I can’t believe this is happening to me,” Lyle said, compulsively reaching up to caress her face with his hand. “You’re so beautiful… So perfect… I think…”<br />“Think what?”<br />“I think I might be in love with you.”<br />“I think I might be in love with you too… I certainly didn’t expect this when I woke up this morning!” she laughed.<br />“I don’t think I ever dared to dream about quite this much really happening for me with you…”<br />
  74. 74. “But then, what does this mean?”<br />“Well, if we love each other… Would you be my girlfriend?”<br />“Oh. Well…” Lyle started to look downhearted at her hesitancy. “I want to say yes, I really do! It’s just… We’re so far apart. Once I’ve grown up we’ll be unable to be with each other properly for so long… You might find somebody else in the meantime, get bored waiting.”<br />“I wouldn’t do that!”<br />“But maybe you should. If you find somebody better…”<br />
  75. 75. “There is nobody better. I’m sure of it. What about you? Do you think you’ll meet some male journalist and want to be unattached so you can start something new?”<br />“Well no, I don’t think that would happen…”<br />“So what’s the problem? I’ll wait to be with you and be with nobody else.”<br />“And I would do the same! But neither of us can tell the future…”<br />“Okay, so if either of us becomes interested in anybody else in the meantime, we can call the other over and end it, just like in other relationships, right?”<br />“Yeah, I guess so.”<br />
  76. 76. “So does that mean…?”<br />“Yes, I will be your girlfriend Lyle.”<br />“Wow. Are you sure I haven’t fallen asleep somewhere and am now dreaming?”<br />“If anybody’s dreaming it would be me. But if I start hearing rumours of you carrying on with girls at school, impressing them with your cooking-”<br />“Roxanne, I almost failed to ask you out today, do you really think I’d be capable of that, even if I wanted to?”<br />“Heh, I guess not. And I like you a bit shy, so you’d better not start getting cocky on me.”<br />“Yes ma’am.”<br />
  77. 77. “Heh, but having a girlfriend with two mums – at least you don’t have a dad to beat me up!”<br />“Perhaps not, but my little brother would; he’s still older than you and training to go into the military.” She smirked further, “And don’t underestimate my Mum; she works out several hours a day to fight off the signs of aging, she could quickly kick your ass out of shape.”<br />“Oh. Okay, noted. Hey, I don’t suppose you would mind our future family holiday being to Three Lakes would you?”<br />“Planning our family already? Well, if you’re going to be like that, I’ll be waiting for you here in five years for your proposal. I’ll be here, will you?”<br />
  78. 78. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” he said pulling her in for a kiss, though they both knew she was joking. Kind of. It was like a dream – they were worried if they focused too hard they might wake up, so they would just joke, for now. “This doesn’t mean I can’t see you for five years though, does it?”<br />“Of course not! We can hang out as much as we can, especially since it’s my birthday soon, of course you’re invited to that – and my boyfriend had better have a damn good explanation if he doesn’t show up!”<br />“Okay, I’ll be there,” he laughed. “But I’d better get home now – I was so excited that I couldn’t focus on doing my homework earlier. Bye Rox. I love you.”<br />“Bye, I love you too.”<br />
  79. 79. When Lyle eventually got home, emotionally as high as a kite, everyone was still up and about.<br />Jose was watching the cooking channel, though he seemed to be more staring at it than really taking it in, but Lyle didn’t – or couldn’t – really give that a second thought in his current state.<br />
  80. 80. And Liv was on the phone to her new best friend and Lyle guessed, from the glances Juan was giving her, that she’d been on there a long time already, without any sign of stopping.<br />“Yeah, I did the homework kind of okay – I wasn’t really sure about question four until my Mum told me to work out and write down all the times tables separately. How am I supposed to remember what three times six is off the top of my head…? Really? All of them? I don’t know how people can remember so many numbers. And we have to do all this homework every night? It’s so unfair! It’s like those teachers were never kids!”<br />Despite her moaning, Lyle thought Liv looked happy though, so he was glad he wasn’t the only one, even though he had to be a million times more happy than anybody else. Possibly ever.<br />
  81. 81. And Lyle and the rest of the household were so distracted by the days’ events and their own private lives and problems that nobody noticed the giant stereo being left on their front lawn.<br />Roxanne was nothing if not generous. God knew her house was crammed full of plenty of music as it was.<br />~~~End of 11C~~~<br />
  82. 82. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Simfield:<br />Ivan and Joey Wong had their teenage birthdays, which was a godsend to their over-run parents, and they’re obviously going to start secondary school tomorrow with Lyle and the rest.<br />
  83. 83. Also aging was Briney Lum, Gina and Jenna’s half-adoptive son. He turned out very adorable, and actually looked a bit like his adoptive parents in some ways, though the green eyes never could have been theirs…<br />
  84. 84. Roxanne’s little brother Billy arrived at college, to be reunited with his desired love-of-his-life Karen Jayapalan. The wooing began almost immediately, and her friends started making bets on how long she could hold out before she would cave in to all the loving attention…<br />
  85. 85. And Rick has just gained +1,000,000 awesome points:<br />I have seen this pose so many times in other people’s stories from their games, but never in my game, to the point where I was convinced it had to be some kind of posebox move, but I was playing his house to age Ivan and Joey up and all of a sudden (for no apparent reason, nothing significant had happened to… Clark, I think he was just in negative aspiration or something) Clark was crying and Rick was comforting him!<br />All of a sudden we love you and your paternal-ness Rick!<br />
  86. 86. And we love you too, Roxanne. We just wish there wasn’t such a big age gap between her and Lyle. But one day grilled cheese babies?<br />