Beth entered the theatre out of breath. She had just avoided being knocked over by a bus, and was still in a bit of shock. She was angry too, 'Doesn't that driver know it's six feet between him and a bike,' She thought as she wheeled her bike in. Tom saw her as he left the bar area.
'Hey! You okay Beth?' Tom asked. When Beth saw Tom, all the anger inside her disappeared.
'Yeah, just some stupid bus driver nearly knocked me flying. And he had the nerve to beep at me!' Well, almost all the anger. Beth struggled to put the bike upright in the props room. When she thought it was steady, it fell down again as they walked out of the room, 'stupid bike,' She said.
The both walked into the bar area, and sat on the sofa. Beth threw her rucksack on her lap and rifled threw it until she found her script, and several pieces of coloured paper, and she pulled them out.
'What's all that?' Tom asked curiously.
'Oh.' She held up the coloured paper, 'it's an entry form for the London Bike ride. I got the papers today and this is the first chance I've got to look at them. It's a charity ride for Cancer Research,' Beth explained. She got up and sat on a stool at the bar counter, 'diet coke please AJ.' Tom pulled up a stool and joined her. Once together they couldn't be separated for long.
'You seem to be doing a lot of work for cancer re-'
'Yeah well it's pretty self-explanatory,' Beth interrupted. Although a big talker, she didn't want to talk about that particular subject. 'Hey! You should do it with me! The bike ride I mean,' She added off Tom's confused face, 'it'll be so cool! I'm doing it in fancy dress, as the dark fairy, y'know, black leotard, black tights, black tutu, black face, black nails, black ballet shoes. You could be the grim reaper or something!'
'I'm not sure, especially since you got knocked over this morning...' Tom did not want to do this bike ride. He couldn't ride a bike, and didn't want to, his reasons were very complex.
'It only happens once in a while. No come on it'll be fun...' Beth's enthusiasm faded as she saw the beat look on Toms face. 'What's up?'
'Beth, I don't want to do the bike ride. Well it's not that I don't want to,' liar, he thought, 'But I don't know how to ride a bike.' Tom looked at Beth, and saw the look of astonishment on her face, so he quickly added, 'Well, there was no one around to teach me, cause no one else knew how to ride either, and...' Tom trailed off, almost ashamed, but Beth came back as bouncy as ever.
'Well, I'll just have to teach you then won't I? I know how to ride!' Tom didn't have anytime to object, 'You have to learn sometime! Come on you're fourteen, you're still young enough.'
'I never said I was too old,' Tom pointed out.
'That's beside the point. I just think you should learn how to ride a bike.'
Tom considered her proposal for a few minutes whilst she rattled on a bit more, but he didn't listen much. For a nineteen year old she didn't half sound like an old granny gossip.
'Well?' Asked Beth, breaking Tom's chain of thought.
'Well what?' Beth stared at him,' oh! Umm, yeah look I don't know, I'll have to get back to you.' Tom turned around in on his stool, Beth left him to his thoughts and started chatting to AJ who was behind the bar. Then Tom remembered something he did in primary school. An agreement. He didn't want to learn how to ride a bike, but he felt that if he let Beth teach him, then he would let him help her with her refusal to talk about her work with cancer research.
'Beth! Had an idea! I'll let you teach me how to ride a bike, but only if you let me do something for you.'
'I don't need anything.'
'Well in case you do, let's make a pact,' he grabbed Beth's hand before she realised what was going on, 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. You do something for me, I'll do something for you, guaranteed, whenever you need me.'
Beth pondered, then shook on it. AJ, who had been watching and listening to them shook his head. Although it was a good idea, he knew why Tom was doing it, and it was for the wrong reasons.
It was settled then. Tom was to go to Beth's after rehearsals the next week, and every week after that until the event, to borrow her sisters bike. Apparently she did not use it much so she wouldn't notice. 'Breathe girl!' Thought Tom, 'She could talk for England!'
Someone swung his head around the door shouting, 'Where's my dockers? Get on stage, we need to practise you song!' The head disappeared as all the boys, and Beth, got up and went to the stage, except for Tom, who was pulled back by AJ.
'Tom mate, I know why you've made this pact. Let me just tell you it isn't worth it. I wouldn't interfere, you'll just end up ruining a great friendship.
'What? How would it affect us? I want to help her and she wants to help me. That's what friendships are all about. I don't think she'd let our relationship slip away over her work with cancer research.' Tom walked off to the stage, leaving AJ talking to himself, 'I tried the exact same, but our friendship is close to ruined...'
~ ~ ~
Tom opened the door to his house, but as soon as he took one step, his mother, Emilia, started shouting at him.
'Where the hell have you been? I've been worried sick!' Tom tried to ignore her as he threw his rucksack in the cupboard under the stairs, but she grabbed the collar of his shirt and hit his back onto the wall. He winced in pain. 'You've been round that grubby theatre again with that Beth haven't you?' He said nothing and she hit him against the wall again, 'haven't you?'
'No! I mean, yes! I was at the theatre, but I wasn't talking to Beth.'
'You're lying! I told you not to go near her! She's gay! Gay people are evil! If you get too close to her she'll take you away and give you to her male gay friends!'
'Gay people aren't evil! Beth is the nicest person in the whole world! Don't call her evil!' Tom struggled in his mothers grip, but she hit his back on the wall again.
'Don't you even think about going to the theatre next week!' She threw him on the floor and walked into the kitchen, ignoring her sons objections.
~ ~ ~
Jordan drove into the cemetery, Beth in her passenger seat. She parked when she got to the section of graves where Kiri was buried. This was Beths first visit to her girlfriend's grave. It had been over a year since she died, but Beth couldn't bring herself to see her.
'Are you sure you're okay, babe? Do you want me to come with you?'
'No, I'll be okay... I think,' Beth's eyes welled up, and Jordan hugged her, 'Come with me please...'
They both got out of the car and walked to the graves. Jordan put her arm around Beth as they tried to find Kiri's grave. When they found it, Beth put down the flowers she had brought with her, and cleared the old ones away. The grave was beautiful. It had a small fence around the perimeter, with flowers and incense sticks at each corner. The head stone was made of marble with Kiri's picture on it.
Beth circled the picture with her finger as she read the inscription on the stone, '"Here lies Kiri Sorensky, aged eighteen. Born twentieth March nineteen eighty two. Died sixteenth April two thousand. Victim to lymph cancer, daughter to Emilia and James Sorensky, sister to Alex, Tom, Lucy, Matthew and Mark Sorensky. We'll be with you always and forever." What a beautiful inscription. That was a big family!
Five brothers and sisters, Tom's the youngest. The others are all in their twenties, moved out of home quite a while ago.
Tom and Kiri were closest to each other as brother and sister though, now he's on his own with his mum. His dad left home when he was seven, last time he saw him was at Kiri's funeral. He died a few months later.'
Beth sat down next to the fence, lit one of the incense sticks, and started talking to Kiri. Jordan decided to walk away and look at the rest of the graves. This was Beth's time with Kiri, and she didn't want to intrude.