Chapter One: My Vaguely Perfect Life
Author's Note: Dear readers, I'm not going to pretend that this story is anything that it isn't- I'm the type who needs to feel connected to my characters... strongly. So... if you recognize yourself in any of these characters, or at least a wildy caricatured VERSION of youself with a slightly changed name (hehe)... then yep, it's probably you. But rest assured that I am just stealing a few basics from you and will now warp your character to suit my plot needs :D This is not really what I think about you...
semi-quasi-quasi-based on reality. but not really. :D
I let off a string of curses under my breath as I half-walked, half-ran down the crowded street. It was one of those nights when everything was irritating me- I was running late, my skirt felt too short, my hair was falling in my face, I was getting flushed, and so on. I looked at my watch for the hundredth time. 5:54. I was supposed to meet my best friend, Parisa Simone, her boyfriend Max Anderson and some guy they were setting me up with at 6. I wondered if I could make it on time. We were going to our fave restaurant, the Curry Garden, for dinner and then to an all ages club to catch one of my favourite bands, Metric, in concert. I was a few blocks away from the restaurant on Richmond Street, the main street of London, Ontario. It was only May but since I came from a colder climate, I felt irritatingly hot. I was so busy complaining to myself I didn't even notice I'd reached the restaurant and walked right past it. I snapped out of it when I saw a second-hand bookstore I frequented and ran back the few steps to the restaurant. I carelessly brushed my hair back off my face and wiped the dampness from my brow, and then straightened my outfit. I was wearing a little black skirt, a purple concert tee and a jean jacket, along with some old Champions. I quickly fashioned a purple ribbon I had brought along into a headband to keep my dark blonde hair out of my face, and looked down at my watch- 6:03, just late enough to look casual. I entered the restaurant. I quickly spotted my friends and sauntered over, attempting to look cool for the benefit of the guy.
Parisa stood up to let me pass behind her and sit, giving me a quick hug and whispering, "you look hot, woman!" in my ear. I grinned at her. She looked totally drop-dead gorgeous as usual. Her dark skin was complimented by an off-white dressy tank top that had pretty embroidery, and her jeans hung off her hips perfectly. Her hair was pulled back into a bun as usual, but it suited her. Max greeted me with his usual, "Yo ," and a nod. It was his strange nickname for me, although quite a few others had picked up. I believe it started with some strange comparison of me to Jennifer Lopez… but it was a party years ago that I barely remember… and it stuck. We'd been friends for quite a while before he and Parisa had started dating a month ago. I reached out a hand across the table to the guy sitting next to Max. He looked a lot like Max himself- preppy. He had slightly shaggy brown hair and green eyes, and was friendly looking enough. Like Max, he wore a polo shirt and oversized pants. While his shirt was red and his pants were baggy jeans, Max wore a pale yellow shirt and khaki pants. Was I being set up with a clone? I shook his hand and smiled at him.
"Hi, my name's Camille Madison." I said as he smiled warmly, squeezing my hand before releasing it.
"I'm Devon Fitzgerald." He said, nodding for a second. There was an awkward silence. Parisa fidgeted for a moment and then spoke up.
"I really love this place."
"God yeah," I said, looking around our beloved restaurant. "Mmm Indian food." I grinned at her as we wiggled our eyebrows. Max rolled his eyes and spoke to Devon in a stage whisper.
"They love foreign food. If you want a burger with those two, good luck." I stuck my tongue out at him slightly.
"I thought you'd be sick of burgers by now, Burger King." I teased, making reference to his hated job at the chain restaurant. Devon and Parisa laughed appreciatively. "So how do you know Max, Devon? Are you a lackey at the same fine establishment?" I asked genially. He smiled back at me.
"Nah, I'm too lazy too work. We play on the same basketball team."
"Nice! Did you see the Raps game last night? Wasn't Villanueva hot?" I said, eyes glowing as I spoke of my favourite NBA rookie. I'm not a sporty person at all, but I like watching some sports live and on TV occasionally.
"Villllllyyyyyy!' Max intoned appreciatively, giving me a high five and an amused look. " is crazy about Villy and the Raptors. Even though they've been losing all over the place this season."
"Don't talk about my team." I warned him. Devon was grinning now.
"I was watching the Heat play the Pistons last night… a lot more action than any old Raptors game." He said, his eyes glinting. He had obviously caught on to the habit most of my friends shared- teasing me non-stop.
"Whatever! You should've seen Villy. Not to mention Mike James… when you rile him up, he's unstoppable! One foul against that guy and he starts scoring left and right…"
"OKAY!" Parisa interrupted us imperiously. "You've used up all the allotted time for talking about sports! Let's move onto something vaguely interesting, please!" I rolled my eyes.
"Actually, let's order." Max said, noting the approach of a waitress. I ordered my usual, butter chicken with delicious nan bread. Our food came quickly and as we ate we chatted casually. Devon went to the same school as us, Catholic Central High (CCH) and was also in grade 12. He was not only on the basketball team, but apparently he played on the soccer and hockey teams as well- oh great.
"The hockey team?" Parisa asked warily, glancing at me. Ever oblivious, Max asked,
"So you probably know Robbie, right?" He looked in bewilderment at Parisa and I as we simultaneously kicked him under the table.
"Robbie Montgomery? Yeah, he's an awesome player… oh, wait a second, are you THAT Camille…?" Devon looked at me suddenly, and I groaned inwardly. Apparently I was a topic of conversation in the locker room. I was going to beat Max's ass for this. Robbie was my frustratingly clingy ex.
"Probably" I said with a light smile, hoping we could move on. Devon sat up straighter in his chair.
"He talks about you all the time! You know, while you were dating he put every goal he scored in your name! And since you dumped him he's had this terrible losing streak! The guy really loves you or something. He used to be our star player" I winced.
"Watch out, 's a real heartbreaker." Max grinned cheekily at me while I glared at him, willing him to simply drop dead.
"Well look at the time, let's go pick up Al and get to the Empire." Parisa said abruptly, standing up. I quickly followed as we hurried to the desk to pay our bills, the boys dawdling behind us.
"So, what do you think?" She said when we were out of earshot.
"He's nice. But he seems just like Robbie- another jock…"
"That doesn't mean he's gonna act like Robbie, stupid." She squinted at me resentfully. "You need to start dating again. What are you, a nun?" I rolled my eyes at this. It had only been a month since Robbie and I broke up, but to Risa it seemed terrible to go this long without dating.
"Manaholic," I grumbled, but she ignored me good-naturedly. The boys had finished getting their jackets on so we left and went to the downtown dance studio where our other best friend, Al, was finishing up her dance class. The three of us, Al, Parisa and I, had been best friends all through junior high and high school and made up a cosy little trio. Al's full name was actually Allison, but God help anyone who called her that- I suppose her parents had envisioned a pretty little princess… and ended up with a sarcastic, mouthy teenager who hated pink with a passion. We waited outside, sitting on the stone wall and talking. After a few moments Al ran down the stairs, wearing a jean skirt and red Converse, along with a bright tie-die top, her white-blonde hair thrown haphazardly into a ponytail. She greeted us loudly, introduced herself to Devon, and then ate the nan bread and leftovers we had brought her for supper as we walked. We caught a bus down Dundas street, east of Adelaide- the shady part of town. Max had left his car at the restaurant to avoid having it stolen or vandalized in London's ghetto- The lucky bastard had a golden Lexus.
The Empire, an all-ages club that sometimes had good indie concerts, was run down and sleazy- but hey, it was all about the music, right? We waved hello to Daz, the bouncer, who let us past without marking our hands with the x to signify that we were underage- everyone knew us here anyway. The place was already full of indie nerds, punks etc. The opening act was the bane of my existence, this local band named Ruth's Hat which took the word 'suck' to whole new levels. I rolled my eyes and mimed stabbing myself when I saw them onstage. The others laughed and Max interpreted,
" 's a bit of a music snob."
"She has a right to be. She's been accepted to study music at university." Parisa said defensively, and with a motherly pride.
"What instrument do you play?" Devon asked.
"Voice." I said, smiling. His eyebrows shot up.
"Wow, cool. You'll have to sing for me sometime."
"I'ma head to the bar. Dev, come with." Max said, already slouching away with his comical gangster walk.
"We'll be outside!" Al called after them. "Away from this atrocious excuse for music." She added under her breath as she grabbed our hands and pulled us out onto the patio, where a dozen others were smoking and talking. "So?! Do you like Devon?" I shrugged noncommittally, watching disapprovingly as she pulled out her own cancer stick and lit up.
"Do you?" I asked, absentmindedly fixing some stray hairs of hers. She swatted at my hand.
"He seems cool."
"He plays hockey with Robbie." Risa added, nodding meaningfully.
"So?" Al said, gazing at some weird guy with dreads who was smoking a few feet away from us. Risa and I rolled our eyes at each other. She was our best friend, but Al was a bit of a tomboy. Whereas we were both girly-girl romantics.
"How was dance class?" I asked.
"Good." She said, as her attention came back to us. "We learned a hard new combo- it was wicked. I'll show you guys later. Where are we staying tonight?"
"Risa's," I responded. Whenever the three of us stayed out late on a weekend, we usually all slept at one house.
"And mom's gone all weekend." Parisa grinned.
"Party!" Al yelled. "Omg, lets, please?!" Parisa was already nodding.
"Are you two on crack? We could get in so much trouble!" I said half-heartedly, knowing it was probably useless to try and dissuade them. They were grinning wickedly at each other.
"Did I hear someone say party?" Max said as he and Devon joined us, each with a beer in hand.
"You're not invited." Parisa said as he wrapped an arm around her.
"I could bribe you." He said, kissing her. I pulled a face and looked around briefly before hearing the strains of some good music.
"Oh lordy, Metric is playing!" I said happily, running back into the club. Not paying attention, I ran into another person. I looked up to see a guy glaring at me. He had bright blue eyes, messy dark brown hair with blue chunks and an eyebrow and lip piercing, as well as a tat of some sort on his right arm which I could see from his muscle tee. He was fairly tall and lanky, but looked strong- he looked good enough to eat.
"Sorry." I said, a little taken aback by his cool manner and by his good looks.
"Whatever." He said tonelessly before brushing past. I shook my head before heading inside to see the band.
For the first few songs I simply basked in the music. The lead singer, Amy, was totally energetic and had this amazing smooth voice, and the music was blasting over me with just the right amount of depth and interweaving melodies. Soon the songs picked up pace and I was dancing with the others. Max was leaning against a wall watching us since he hates dancing, but to my pleasure I saw Devon was still on the floor dancing. He seemed a little bit awkward, in a cute way. He was probably used to hip-hop, pop and rap all the time. After a few songs he singled me out and we danced for the most of the night together. Parisa and Al enthusiastically nodded at me in encouragement and then constantly mouthed words or hand signalled me directions- 'move closer' 'no back away, let him come to you' 'shake your hips more'- God those two were annoying. I shut my eyes and just let myself dance with him without worrying about their nonsense. The night passed in a blur of colours and sounds as we danced almost non-stop and reveled in the music.
We were laughing like hyenas when Max pulled up in front of Risa's house with a screech. He was a terrible driver but I was too happy and tired right then to yell at him. We stumbled out of the car, and I ran ahead to find the spare key under a flower pot and let myself in- I had to pee like a racehorse! I ran through the dark house to the bathroom. I could still hear the others laughing outside- we probably woke the whole neighbourhood. I washed my hands and opened the bathroom door to find a tall man looking down at me. I screamed and turned around, about to lock myself in the bathroom, but the man grabbed my shoulder.
"Cami?" I turned around and peered through the darkness.
"" I yelled, hugging him. It was Parisa' older brother, Caleb, who should have been away at university.
"What are you doing here?"
"Sleeping over… what are you doing here?"
"I came home for the weekend, but no one was here!"
"Aww poor baby." I said, pinching his dimpled cheek. He batted at my hand, a stern look coming over his face.
"It's like, 4 in the morning! What were you girls doing out so late?! You…" I skirted around him, not eager to listen to his overprotective tirade. I stumbled down the stairs with him in hot pursuit. Parisa, Al, Max and Devon were in the kitchen.
"We thought we'd make some pancakes for a snack." Parisa called over her shoulder as I entered.
"Actually, we thought you'd make some pancakes since you're the only one who can cook." Al said, turning to face us.
"Look who I found." I said, waving a hand in front of Caleb, who was patiently watching from the doorway in his pajamas- baggy sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt. The girls rushed over to hug him as I dragged myself over to look at the mess of ingredients they'd assembled on the kitchen counter. Caleb greeted Devon and Max coolly. He didn't like any of us dating- he had this weird overprotective complex and Al and I were no exception to his paranoia. We were like his sisters too. I started putting the ingredients away to groans from Al.
"PLEAASSSEEEE !" She begged. "We want pancakes!"
"Yeah right. By the time I make them you'll all be passed out somewhere and I'll have slaved for nothing. If you're so hungry have a fruit." I said, ever the voice of reason. Al scowled and threw a handful of flour at me.
"AAH! AL, YOU HO!" I yelled, throwing a fistful back at her. She laughed and ran away. The others were laughing too as I silently fumed and shook flour out of my hair. She had switched on an old Mogwai CD to placate me and I felt slightly comforted. I stalked past them and into the living room to curl up in a chair and chill out to the sounds of the music.
"Don't you boys need to get home?" I heard Caleb asking in the kitchen. There were some grunts of assent. I was drifting to sleep when I heard someone come in. I opened my eyes to find Devon kneeling in front of me. He smiled and wiped some flour off my face.
"You're cute." He whispered. I smiled at him.
"I'm exhausted." I said, laughing. He pulled me into a hug.
"I had fun tonight. We should hang again, on our own." I murmured my assent. "Want to eat lunch with me at school on Monday?" It was such a cute request I couldn't stifle my laugh.
"Um, sure." I said, pulling away to smile at him. He was warm and smelled like boy and cologne in the semi-darkness.
"Bye." He said, not letting go.
"Bye." I responded. He pecked me on the lips quickly and then ran out as if shy. I giggled but I was already falling asleep again. I vaguely heard Max call, "Night night " before I fell asleep.