The Inbetween

Doesn’t he realise we’re trying not to bring this up. I look at Emma’s face, she’s composed and smiling but it’s only a façade. The poor girl has had so much to deal with this year without my brother rubbing dirt into the wounds. He’s always rubbing dirt into one thing or another. I look at him in his football kit, he will not be getting in my car in that.

“So you have three holiday houses right? That’s pretty cool. Do your folks just let you go there without them or-”

“Jake.” I hiss unsubtly, shaking my head but he doesn’t get the hint. The last thing you do when someone has lost somebody is to bring their name up every five minutes. Emily’s recent loss clearly wasn’t deemed important enough to penetrate his delicate little bubble.

“What?” he asks irritated at the interruption.

When was Jacob all of a sudden so chatty anyway? He’d won today’s match and he’d just been offered a scholarship at his choice University, yet my brother was still depressed; the drugs, the mood swings, the whole shebang. Oh god he was high wasn’t he. Brilliant. Emma turns round and looks at the pair of us, just as I pinch him hard in the arm.

“Ow, what?!”

I try to look innocent, well as innocent as someone just caught jabbing their younger sibling could look. A pinch is nothing to what would happen if mum caught him.

“It’s alright, honestly,” she smiles at us unconvincingly, never one to dampen the mood although it’s painfully obvious her spirit has been dampened recently.

I step away from my brother and help her pack the car. “I’m sorry; I shouldn’t be bringing him along. I should just stay at home.”

“Don’t be silly, you have to come, it was your idea.”

“I know but-”

“She thinks I’m going to intrude on your girl time and stop you from pulling-” Jake interrupts, clearly eavesdropping on our conversation.

“Jacob!”

Emma laughs, “We’ll hardly be pulling Jake seen as we’re going to be spending most of the time in your grandma’s old beach house; which is pretty much surrounded by those over seventy.”

“Great, the beach house,” he sighs unenthused and turns to Emma. “Why can’t we go somewhere interesting, like one of your places?”

He has no grasp of the point of this weekend or that he is not the centre of attention for the trip. Anyways he used to love the beach house. I guess some things change when you get older. I remember we all used to love going down to see grandma for the holidays; my mum and dad before they got divorced, Jake, me, even Mitsy our dog. Jake and I would play cards with her and help her bake pastries for pudding, we’d take Mitzy for a walk across the beach and nan would tell us how she’d once ran butt naked into the sea. It put the pair of us in hysterics everytime. Now we struggled to even get a smile out of Jake and barely seemed to have enough time to pick up the phone for a quick hello. Time rushed past us, blurring one day into the next and before our parents knew it we were grown up and it appeared we didn’t need them anymore.

“He’ll keep himself to himself, he’s got a Gameboy and plenty of projects to get on with right?” I tease in an exaggerated parental manner.

Jacob scowls. “I’m not a kid,” he says annoyed that our mum still thinks he needs a baby sitter. It’s times like these that I think she’s partly right- but I don’t see when this became my responsibility, it’s not like I even live at home anymore. Plus Emma needs her friends around her this weekend, not a stroppy teenager.

“When are we leaving anyway?” Jake asks.

“Once you have grabbed a shower.” I tell him for the third time now. He simply pulls a face and mimics my words.

“You’re not getting into my clean car in that-” I point to his mud caked uniform.

“You sound like mum,” he mocks.

“I don’t care.” I respond almost as childishly.

Emma clears her throat and intervenes. “We’ve also got to wait for Christi to get here; she said she’s running late. She’ll probably be about half an hour.”

“Of course she’s late.” She’s always late.

With that Jacob stands up and begins moving his duffle bag into the house as though he’s suddenly decided to do what I ask him for once. I forget he’s got a crush on my friend and how completely unsubtle he is about it.

“Gross.”

“What, that he fancies Christi?”

“Yeah it’s pervy.”

“I think it’s cute.”

“You disgust me,” I joke. “Well at least he’s going to go take a shower, thank you for that. I’m sorry about the bickering; I’m just annoyed I have to look after him.”

“He hardly needs looking after, he’s fifteen.”

“Yeah but with the way he’s been acting recently- mum says someone needs to keep an eye on him. She thinks if he keeps busy- he won’t- you know-”

“I know what your mum means; it’s my plan too.”

I realise I’ve put my foot in it again. “I’m sorry.”

“You’ve got to stop apologising. This is completely what I need, some normality.”

“And me and my brother arguing-”

“It’s what completely normal families do,” she says.

“There is nothing normal about my family.” I laugh, although it’s completely true.

“Mine neither now, I suppose,” she offers me a weak smile.

 

Sometime, long after thirty minutes has passed Christi pulls up in her old heap of a car, which looks completely ridiculous next to her prim and shiny self. People say that like pets, a car reflects its owner; this car was clearly the exception. Christi always had the deluxe edition of everything which made this particular car choice extremely amusing to the rest of us. Her mother had said it would keep her grounded and unspoilt, refusing to let her get a new model for her first car. Despite the sad aesthetics of the car Christi like the rest of us warmed to it as it accompanied us on many of our little adventures earning itself the lovable title Henry. Luckily Christi’s mum didn’t cave in and let her buy the mini that she’d wanted as we later discovered Henry was sturdy and handled the knocks and bumps extraordinarily well. He looks slightly more distinguished Christi would say, stroking his newly dented exterior. It was the only new thing about poor Henry; our quirky edition to the trio.

With the help of her slave-driven father they pull her bags out of the boot.

“Alright girls,” he says friendlily, bringing the three bags she’s packed over to the car, helping the two of us load them into the boot. It’s a tight squeeze.

“Hi, Mr Curran,” we both chime in politely, always happy to see Dave in all his eccentricity. Christi and her father couldn’t look more different if they tried. Christi shuffles over, looking flustered as if we’ve rushed her.

“Got enough luggage there?” I joke.

“I’ll give you a hand.” Jake says rushing over to help, all sparkly and clean and caked in cologne. Keen much; I shake my head in embarrassment. Well at least he’s in better spirits.

The three of them pile into the car.

“Now we’re all here. Let’s get this show on the road.” I shout girlishly high with excitement.

“You’re so uncool.” I hear my brother mutter as he puts in his earphones.

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