Erase and Rewind

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Rewind


(Flashback – 14th August 2008)

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Soapy water trailed slowly down the car; I leant across the body and started to swipe the sponge down the windshield. I could feel the sweat trickling down the back of my neck as the sun beat down on me and the heat was becoming unbearable. I dropped the sponge into the bucket next to me. Using the back of my hand, I wiped away the beads of perspiration on my forehead and only managed to get soapy water on myself.

"Fuck." I quickly rubbed my forehead so I didn't get soap in my eyes. I dug my hands into my pockets searching for a tissue but came up empty-handed.

"Hi." I spun around at the sound and found myself face to face with a girl who looked about my age.

"Hey."

"Leah, right?" I blinked as the sound of my name rolled off her tongue and looked at her warily.

She laughed lightly when she noticed my reaction. "Don't worry I'm not a stalker. I live at number 68." She pointed towards a house on the opposite side of the road, three doors away from mine.

"Right and how'd you know my name?" I asked.

"Your grandma told us."

I frowned, puzzled by her answer. "My grandma?"

"Yeah, she's been telling all the neighbours how her granddaughter was going to be living with her for a while."

Her smile seemed sincere as she said the words but I was sceptical. I didn't like the thought that people had been talking about me before I'd even got here.

"That's terrific," I replied sarcastically.

I tried to imagine all the things that might have been said about me. The fact that I was coming to live with my grandmother when I had only one year of school left before I took my GCSEs was strange and bound to create some gossip. It was the worst possible time to move and yet here I was.

The first time I'd laid eyes on my new home I'd prayed that I could just turn round and go back. From the sign that read 'Primrose Place' to the fresh green gardens with the pretty flowers it had screamed nightmare, my nightmare. I was a city girl who was used to falling asleep with the sound of cars as my nightly lullaby. I thrived in the commotion of a million people all going their different ways – London was in my blood; it was where I was born and it was where I would die, but a hasty decision had changed all that.

"So what'd you hear?" I forced all the errant thoughts out of my head and instead focused on the current situation. I had a source here in her. I could hear firsthand what people had been saying about me and if she lied well that was fine too. I'd always been good at reading people and could spot a lie a mile off.

"That your parents are travelling around the world – taking that second honeymoon they've been wanting to go on for years."

"Uh – huh." I wondered whether she bought that explanation because to my ears it sounded lame, but the look on her face didn't hide anything and she didn't push me for any extra info. "So, you know who I am, but I still don't know who you are."

She slapped her forehead and I winced at the sound of skin hitting skin.

"That hurt?" I asked.

She smiled and nodded her head. "I guess I don't know my own strength. I'm Mary by the way."

"Okay, Mary, I think I should tell you that your forehead's now red." Her cheeks grew darker as she laughed at herself.

"I'm so embarrassed." She bent her head to hide behind a curtain of her hair; pausing to tuck a stand of hair behind an ear before continuing. "Connor's always telling me that I'm a ditz – he'd have a laugh if he was here."

"Connor?"

"He lives a few doors down from me," she clarified and pointed to the house with the red door. "He was going to come with me, but he spilt his drink all over himself. He stayed back to change his shirt – so really he's got a nerve calling me a ditz when he's the one spilling his drink like a baby."

I stared at the girl as she rambled about some guy I'd never even met.

"Sorry I'm going on, it's a habit of mine. Connor always says it's amazing that anyone ever gets a word in when I'm around, but I like talking. I can start on one topic but then the next second I'll be talking about something completely different. "

"Uh-huh." I was starting to see just what she meant when she continued to chatter. "Want some gum?" I held out a piece of cola flavoured Hubba Bubba in my hand.

"Thanks." She took the piece of gum I offered and popped it into her mouth. I breathed a sigh of relief at the momentary silence – gum always had a way of shutting people up.

I looked at the girl who was now one of my neighbours. She was the perfect definition of the girl next door; with her shoulder length sandy blonde hair and that sunny radiant smile. Her fringe was swept to the side and was held in place by a pretty butterfly clip keeping it out of her eye. She had a chin cleft and a light smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks. She wasn't wearing much makeup, just a touch of mascara and lipgloss, and was wearing a simple white dress dotted with blue polka dots. She'd never be considered gorgeous but she was still pretty enough that she'd never be overlooked.

"So what do you do for fun around here?"

"We get together for meals and other stuff. You've actually come at the perfect time; this Saturday we're all going to get together for a barbecue at Mr Peterson's. He makes some mean burgers."

"That sounds exciting." She didn't miss the sarcasm in my voice judging by the darkening of her cheeks.

She shrugged her shoulders. "It's a tight community, mostly families. There's a few guys who're around our age but everyone else is either a lot older or younger."

I didn't bother to ask how she knew my age, trusting the neighbourhood gossip to have done the job for me. It was easy to see that this was the type of street where everyone knew everyone else's business.

"That's too bad, guess we'll just have to make our own fun."

Mary stayed outside with me filling me in on all the neighbours who lived on this street. I had to feign interest as she went about reassuring me how friendly everyone was and that I was going to love living here. I rubbed my forehead to ease the dull ache behind my eyes as she prattled on about school; it was a touchy subject for me, it reminded me of all the friends I'd left back home and how I should have finished off my last year of schooling at Mulhouse Secondary School, not here.

When she finally ran out of steam she headed into the house to say hello to my grandmother. As I saw her disappear through the front doors my shoulders relaxed and I breathed a sigh of relief at the reprieve. Mary sure liked to talk. I hoped that it might have been down to nerves or something, but I was pretty damn sure that wasn't the case.

Once she was gone I grabbed the bucket and continued to wash the car. I was just scrubbing the hood when a sound from behind me caught my attention. I groaned, wondering if fate was out to get me because I really wanted to get this chore done. As the footsteps got closer, I turned round to see who was interrupting me this time and found a boy standing in the driveway.

I raised an eyebrow as he just stood there wordlessly. He smiled hesitantly when he found me staring at him and cleared his throat a couple of times – now this boy was nervous.

"Is Mary here?" He rubbed the back of his neck and shuffled his feet when I continued to fix him with my gaze.

I broke into a big smile. "You're Connor?"

He nodded his head. "Yeah."

The sun shone brightly blinding me momentarily. I held my hand over my eyes and when I was able to see again I found he'd walked deeper into the driveway until he was standing right in front of me.

He held his hand out towards me but I shook my head; I noticed him flinch at the snub and then he took a cautious step backwards.

"That's not such a hot idea," I explained and held out both hands so he could see the sponge. "Not when you've just changed clothes especially for me." I eyed his impeccably crease free shirt, it was rolled up to his elbows lending him a more relaxed look. He looked cute, in a straight-laced sort of way.

"I didn't."

"I'm kidding," I replied in the same tone of voice and watched amused as his cheeks grew red. I got a kick out of his reaction. None of the boys I knew blushed.

"Mary's inside the house saying hello to Grandma," I switched the topic as I casually slid the sponge along the hood of the car. He nodded his head and just waited.

I could see him out the corner of my eyes, standing there with his hands in his pockets and rocking on the balls of his feet.

"Are you nervous about starting school?"

I felt my back stiffen when I was reminded of my current situation. I forced myself to relax my shoulders and carried on with what I was doing. "Not really."

He nodded his head. "If you need any help..."

I stopped and cocked my head towards him. "I've got it sorted."

"That's good." He rubbed the back of his neck again, it was pretty obvious that he was uneasy but he didn't push the conversation any further.

I dunked the sponge into the bucked and started to wash the back doors.

"It's nice of you to wash Grandma's car, usually me or Teddy do it for her."

My ears perked up when I heard him call my grandmother Grandma; as the only child of her only son, I was the only one entitled to use that title.

"Why wouldn't I wash her car?" I swivelled on my heels to face him and glared at him. "Are you trying to say something?"

I honestly wasn't that beat up about him calling my grandmother Grandma, but all the anger I'd felt since I found myself here less than 24 hours ago came tumbling out of me. He was just the unlucky person to find himself on the receiving end of my temper.

I could see him do a double take as I continued to glare at him.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you. I was only – I – it was a throwaway comment. I didn't mean anything by it," Connor swore. I felt all my anger deflate as he tripped over himself trying to apologise .

"I'm joking." My grin got bigger when I saw him purse his lips. "Besides...Grandma's paying me twenty quid to wash her car." I winked as he spluttered and then turned my back on him as I carried on with my chore.

I don't know whether he remained in his spot watching but I never heard him leave, nor did I turn round to check if he had. I happily carried on with my chore, in a lighter mood than I had been earlier, even when the sun was beating down my back and sweat trickled down my chest. Thankfully I didn't have to suffer for long because Grandma came out of the house carrying a tray of drinks, closely followed by Mary who also carried a plate full of some goodies.

"Let me get that for you, Grandma." I watched as he walked over to my grandmother and took the tray from her.

"Thank you, sweetheart," Grandma said and affectionately patted his cheek.

Connor walked back over to the car and placed the tray on top of the hood. He handed each of us a glass of lemonade; first to Grandma, then me and lastly Mary. His eyes lingered on Mary's face for a few seconds before he grabbed his own glass.

"Thanks," I said to no-one in particular and took a long sip of the cold drink and sighed in appreciation. "The lemonade is delicious, Grandma."

She smiled happily at my compliment. "It's homemade."

"Mrs Weston's the best cook around here – she makes the most delicious cookies I've ever tasted," Mary told me as she took a cookie from the plate and bit into it eagerly.

"Oh you." Grandma brushed off the comment, acting nonchalant, but I could tell she was secretly pleased.

It had been a while since I'd tasted Grandma's baking – probably not since I was a kid – so I was a bit dubious of all the high praise over some plain old cookies. After just one bite I happily conceded that I was wrong, very wrong. They weren't 'simply cookies'; to use a cliché they were little bites of heaven and as the as the chocolate melted in my mouth I could only hope there was more.

"These are absolutely delicious, Grandma," I threw in my own compliments and watched her beam at me as I continued to scoff the biscuit down. Within minutes all the cookies were finished as we all eagerly grabbed one biscuit after another.

"Thanks for washing my car, Leah, you've done a great job."

"No probs, Grandma. I would have finished earlier, but it was a bit difficult to concentrate with Connor staring at my bum the whole time," I remarked casually and innocently took a sip of my lemonade, acting like I hadn't said anything out of the ordinary as Connor choked on his cookie.

"Leah," Grandma scolded as Mary giggled in the background.

"What?" I asked indignantly, forcing myself not to smirk as Connor turned all different shades of red. "It's the truth, he was cle-"

"I wasn't staring," Connor defended himself in a surprisingly high pitched voice once he'd managed to stop coughing.

"Really?" I said doubtfully and folded my arms over my chest. "So the ten minutes you just stood in front of me, watching as I was bent over the boot of the car..?" I left the sentence unfinished and bit down on my lip to stop the chuckle as Connor glared at me over the hood.

"I wasn't staring at your bum okay," he bit out between clenched teeth and then turned his head in Mary's direction. "And why would I when I like..."

"You like?" I prompted him when he stopped in the middle of what he was about to say.

"I meant I'm not like that, I wouldn't do that," Connor explained.

"Of course you wouldn't dear," Grandma agreed. "Our Connor's a gentleman."

"Yeah, Connor's a good guy." Mary jumped on the bandwagon to defend Connor's honour. "He'd never hit on girls." Her comment made me smirk; I don't think that statement sounded the same when she said them out loud than it had in her head, and judging by Connor's frown he wasn't glowing over Mary's words.

"Whatever." I rolled my eyes, bored. The conversation had provided a temporary diversion to an otherwise monotonous day, but the fun was gone now. "I'm gonna go in and finish unpacking, Grandma." I said goodbye to Mary and Connor and was almost at the front door when I backtracked – there was something on my chest and I was itching to voice it aloud.

"Oh, Connor?" I waited until his eyes were was on me so I could be sure I had his full attention. "It's okay to admit you were staring at my bum – guys are just programmed that way." I strode into the house before he could reply, smirking as a picture of Connor with his mouth hanging open ingrained itself in my mind.


A/N:

So I had a stab at editing this chapter, suffice to say it didn't go very well. Rather than keep everybody waiting for an update I thought I'd post the chapter in its current form, especially as I don't know when I'll get around to doing the job properly. That doesn't mean I haven't changed a few things, as previously mentioned, I've changed the time frame of the flashbacks and it now starts from August 2008 instead of August 2006.

I have to confess that this is probably one of my least favourite chapters out of the whole story, I can't pinpoint what it is exactly, but something bothers me. I think it might be partly due to me having written it when I had yet to truly grasp the characters and the story being new, but something doesn't gel. That doesn't mean I hate this chapter, but it's definitely not one of my best.

I hope to try and edit the next few chapters and get it out asap, but I'll see what happens. In the meantime I'm busy writing the last portion of the story, moving between ch 26, 27 and 28 simultaneously, man does that hurt my brain. There are only 30 chapters in total so I'm virtually near the end.

For the record the last chapter I posted before removing the story off FP was ch 25, so from ch 26 onwards things will be completely new.

Now I'm off to bed as it's past midnight (almost 1am) and I have to be up early!

Later...