Amy was kind enough to allow me to publish the first chapter here for your perusal- tell us what you think!
1. The Move
2. High School
3. A Bond
5. The Apologies
6. No Goodbye
7. Pieces to the Puzzle
8. See it to Believe it
10. Spring Break
11. Ribbons, Bows and Ties
12. The Pack
13. Truths, Lies and Cover-ups
16. True Love
17. Quiz Show
19. Surprises All Round
20. Mixed Emotions
22. Visit From England
23. The Future
24. The Wedding
27. A Princess
28. The Family
Chapter One: The Move
When I was first told about my father’s promotion, I was naturally pleased for him. Meetings were held and plans were made, that was when the sacrifice of the matter truly sunk in.
London, England had been my home for the past seventeen years. I was born there and went to school there. I’d attended Brownies, Choir and even tried Ballet. I was the average student, nothing brilliant, no one to take notice of - that was what I was good at...what I was used to.
My long dark brown hair now reached just below my breasts, which too were nothing to notice. I have always been told that my smile is beautiful and my deep chocolate eyes are amazing. My height is pretty average for a girl and so are my looks. As far as relationships were concerned, I was in desperate need of some practice. My big brother Mike, on the other hand, seemed to be entertaining a new girl every week. He was tall and thin, able to show off his six-pack and draw attention to himself. He took pride in his appearance, especially the mousey coloured hedgehog of hair.
Neither of us was particularly thrilled about moving, but kept the complaining to a minimum. The date was set for January 14th, allowing us to spend Christmas and New Year with our family and friends. My last day at college was hard. Nobody wanted me to leave, though we all knew it was too late. The lunch table was abnormally quiet. The unnecessary babble was silenced by our depressing emotions.
Fred, my chemistry partner was the first to speak. “Cheer up guys. If Layla’s going, then she may as well go with a bang!” I smiled at this, as did the others. It didn’t take long before the conversation was back in full swing.
“Promise you’ll write!” Gemma pleaded. She was a friend from my street, someone I’d known all my life. Her vibrant red hair was something I would never forget.
“Of course. I’ll send you a text the minute we land,” She jumped into my arms and squeezed me hard. Neither of us wanted to let go, though she was the first to break away, allowing the rest of our group to say their goodbyes. A few tears escaped but on the whole I behaved very maturely. I was strong for my friends, as they were trying to be for me.
As the school day came to a close all that was left was the bus journey home. My hands were overflowing with gifts and cards. I could feel the blood circulation in my fingers slowly being cut off due to the amount of bags. Of course I loved my friends so much and I would miss them terribly, but it was a relief to be free from the upset and guilt. Now I could focus on moving and being brave for my parents.
It had gone midnight by the time my head hit the pillow. Our house was empty and plain. Every sound echoed, bouncing off the bare walls. Divots sat in areas of the carpet where our heavy furniture used to live and I could now see the dark stain I’d left behind after slicing my hand open when I was younger, which we had covered over with the sofa. The light patter of raindrops hitting the window pane was very comforting; it was one of my favourite sounds. I took one more look at my naked room before closing my eyes and giving in to my subconscious.
In my opinion it would have made more sense to have stayed awake rather than attempting to sleep for two hours. The night was cold and dark; the stars twinkled above us as we drove to the airport. The four of us were silent as we left the car and made our way to the check-in desk.
Most of our possessions had already been shipped over to the new house; Dad had been over to sort out the paper work and organise a company to transport all our belongings to the correct place.
“Are you sure Lewis is taking care of the car?” Mum asked Dad.
“Yes. I rang him last night- he’s picking it up at 12:00,” he replied. Lewis is my uncle and had been given the job of collecting our car and passing it on to its new owners in a week’s time.
“And you rang the car company in Seattle?”
“Yes,” Dad snapped, “Give me some credit Mandy please. I’m not a complete idiot.” Travelling always brought out the worst in my Dad. He is easily stressed and then becomes forgetful- hence why Mum is checking, but that just makes him stress out even more. It’s a vicious circle.
After checking in our suitcases we made our way through security and into the departure lounge. “Do you kids fancy something to eat?” Mum asked us.
“Sure, we’ll go find something,” I replied taking the ten pound note from her. Mike and I scanned the various stalls, all of which were way overpriced.
“So the choice is coffee and biscuits or some form of mutated bread with tea that tastes like it’s three weeks off,” Mike commented.
“The joys of airport cuisine,” I walked towards the tea and coffee stand; at least it would be hot. “Hot chocolate?” I asked Mike.
“Yeah, go on then.”
“Two hot chocolates please,” I asked the lady behind the counter.
“That’s six pound please love,” I passed her the money in exchange for the drinks.
“What a rip off,” said Mike on our way back to the parents. I gave Mum the left over change and took a seat by the window. Our flight was due at 06:25; it was going to be a very long day.
The cabin crew, I find, are always too nice. It doesn’t seem natural. They run up and down the aisle like they own the place.
“Would you like anything to drink Miss?”
“No, thank you,” I replied.
“You Sir?” She asked Mike.
“Nothing for me thank you,” He grinned then added in a cheeky wink. The woman blushed before moving on to the next row.
“You’re impossible,” I told him.
“You’re boring,” I ignored him and took the book out from my carry-on bag. My aim was to read the whole book by the time we reached the new house. “Haven’t you read that before?”
“Why are you reading it again?”
“Have you had sex before?”
“Well Duh! Yes!”
“Why do you do it again?”
“Because I like it...”
“I like the book.”
“You’re a freak Layla.”
“Just because I read, it doesn’t make me a freak.”
“Hush it you two,” Dad called from the seat in front.
“Ugh,” Mike grunted turning up the volume on his iPod. I took the opportunity to settle back into the world of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett.
We arrived in Amsterdam at 08:45 local time. We followed Dad to the baggage belt, collected our cases and proceeded to find the check in desk.
“The next flight is at 11:00,” Dad announced.
“Why so long?” Mike moaned.
“...because it is.”
“That gives us some time to catch up on a few zeds,” Mum commented.
“I’m too awake for that,” Mike complained.
“Stop with the constant moaning and whingeing!” Dad shouted at Mike, “I’m sick of hearing it!”
“Dad?” I asked.
“Why are we in Amsterdam? I mean, it’s in the other direction to Seattle.”
“It was cheaper somehow and that’s what the website told me to do.”
“Ok,” I sat down, satisfied with the answer and took to reading Pride and Prejudice once again.
How on Earth I managed to survive a ten and a half hour plane journey sat next to Mike, I will never know. Perhaps it had something to do with Jane Austen’s hypnotic words, or maybe it’s simply down the fact he fell asleep half way through. We landed in Seattle Airport at 12:20 local time. Of course our body clocks were still running at GMT, making us very close to falling flat on our faces. All that was left now was a three hour car trip to the house.
“Wow,” The elegant object waiting for us was somewhat on the opposite end of the ‘cool’ scale to our previous car.
“Is it ours?” Mike asked stroking the bonnet.
“No, it’s for the pixie behind you. Yes, it’s ours you donkey,” Dad took his case along with mine and placed them in the boot.
“It’s a company car,” Mum explained as we got in.
“Nice move,” I smiled nodding.
As promised I sent a text to Gemma. Knowing that she is now eight hours ahead I asked how her day had been and what life was like without me for the first time. I told her about our flights and how nice our new BMW was. It cost me a fair whack in credit; I would definitely need to buy an American phone to text people from my new school, it would become oh-so-expensive otherwise.
Our three hours started with a ferry to Bainbridge Island. The locals I had been expecting weren’t quite so local. Men and Women of all shapes, sizes, colour and language boarded the ferry. It felt odd at first, to be able to move around but after a few minutes we were back to normal.
The road took us along the Olympic Highway, we followed it past Port Angeles and then for an hour down to Forks. Everywhere you turned your head you saw green. It was such a contrast to the bustling city of London I was used to. Trees, bushes and fields covered the landscape. The trees here I was unable to identify, they definitely weren’t the garden apple trees we found back home.
“Well this is lovely,” Mum smiled peering out of the window. “It’s so peaceful and natural.”
“It’s certainly different,” Mike commented. It was twenty minutes from Forks to Hoh.
“Right, just another ten minutes and we’re there,” The bendy narrow track led us down to a small town. The houses looked older and smaller than those in London. They were further apart too and decorated with beautiful gardens of luscious green grass and flowers.
We passed a corner shop, the window was cluttered with posters and adverts; perhaps I would be able to find a job here. The locals watched as our conspicuous car drove down the main road. At the bottom of the hill was our new house. It was old and beautiful; full of character. The sweet patch of grass set the house back a few feet from the road. It looked like a setting from a book or a film, not somewhere I would have pictured myself living.
The town was pretty quiet. I saw one or two teenage boys walk back up the way we came. Perhaps everyone was still at school? Or maybe there just wasn’t much to do here.
“The first thing is the kettle. Everything else can wait,” Mum marched off in search of the kitchen. Mike and I helped unload the car and dumped the cases in the living room. The walls were a cool magnolia and our furniture was already in place. The dark brown suite carried through the nature theme from outside.
In the kitchen, the cabinets were wooden and the walls were a pale blue. The moving boxes were piled in the center of the room, so when I walked in I caught Mum rummaging for mugs and spoons.
“We’ll go up to the shop for some basic bits,” I told mum, grabbing Mike’s arm.
“Actually, could Mike come and lend a hand in here?” Dad called from the living room; he was attempting to set up the television.
“Ok, I’ll go on my own then,” I put on my trainers and stepped out the front door.
As I walked the ten minutes to the top of the hill, I took in the new surroundings. The houses were all very similar, some with a garage and some without, others with large trees to the side and others with delicate flower beds. All the cars were pretty basic and old - ours stood out a little too much for my liking.
The smell of home cooking wafted down the street along with the clear scent of rain. The ground was patchy where it had rained early that day. Inside the shop I picked up a carton of milk, a loaf of bread, some cheese and a box of tea-bags. The man at the counter was middle aged, his skin was a rich copper colour and his hair was dark and long. He gave me a smile, which I returned.
“Liking Hoh so far?” he asked as he added up the cost.
“It’s beautiful,” I answered, adding, “Much greener than London.”
“You wait till you see the beach - it’s one of the best sights there is.”
“I’ll look forward to it,” he passed me a bag filled with my items, “Thanks,” I smiled again.
“Have a nice day,” he replied as I left. Clearly the whole town had been expecting us. I welcomed myself to the ways of country life, where everyone knew everyone else’s business.