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ejrosetta
December 22nd, 2013, 03:47 PM
How to Fake an Orgasm (and other things my Mother taught me)

Chapters 6-10. Chapters 1-5 posted in previous thread.


CHAPTER SIX - LYING TO OUR ELDERS


“Well, aren’t you going to come give your old Grandma a kiss?”


Urgh. Well I guess I have to really, so I awkwardly move myself over to Grandma Wendy, who’s sat self-importantly on the only clean chair, and give her one of my shoulders to hug.


“Welcome home darling!” Liv simpers at me. She’s putting on her posh voice again, the one that sounds like Grandma’s. “How was school?”


She says the word school like it’s stabbed her in the face. Grandma has no idea I’m unregistered and it’s sort of an unwritten rule that it needs to stay that way.


“Oh, School, yeah…” I mumble. “It was…er… learn-ie,”


Liv throws her head back and pretends to laugh. A grinding laugh, pulled from right down the bottom of her chest. I’d find it heart-warming if I didn’t know how fake it was.


“Oh, Chai, you’re so funny!” Mums eyes dart around trying to find a distraction. “Why don’t you put the kettle on and I’ll show Grandma that bag you made me.”


Oh no. Not the bag.


OK, so you know most kids have hobbies like swimming or horse riding or swearing? Well mine is UpCycling. It’s like recycling, only you take something that everyone thinks is old and useless and you up-cycle it into something amazing. I came up with it because I would rather not wear stolen clothes, so I give my old ones a makeover so that Liv doesn’t think I look bedraggled and rush out to pinch me any more.


The bag I made mum was once an old pair of jeans. I cut and sewed the bottoms of the legs closed and attached an old car seatbelt as the strap, and now we take it to the market to slip beads into for Sarah when the stall owner isn’t looking. I like the thought of something that people think is rubbish being re-used. Like I’m giving it a second chance. A new identity.


When I’d first gotten into up-cycling Sarah tells me I was a bloody nightmare .


“I’m serious, you couldn’t put a tea cup down anywhere...” Sarah’s telling Grandma the story. “Chai would have it right from under your nose and before you know it she’d be turning it into a candle using spare string and melted old tea light dregs!”


They all laugh heartily, and I have to do the same otherwise it would be at my expense. Graeme tells us all of the time he told me he needed new hooks for the coat rack.


“Little bugger.” He grins, talking about me like I’m not there. I have to shrug and grin. Oh, me! “She found a load of old cutlery and bent them round, got my screwdriver and drilled them into the wall. Now I hang my hat on a twisted old cheese knife!”


Grandma looks impressed that someone like Graeme would know the difference between a cheese knife and an ordinary knife. Like she has no idea why people would choose to live the way we do and not the way she does. Graeme has someone like Grandma Wendy out there somewhere I think. Although he gets to ignore her but we don't. Our Grandma Wendy pops by whenever she wants to, now that she knows where we are.


“So you can make candles out of tea cups then?” Grandma muses at me, condescendingly. “How do you stop the wick from falling into the wax while it sets, do you just have to hold it there?”


“Nah.” I tell her, making my voice as un-posh as I can make it. How many ‘t’s can I drop in one sentence dyu reckon? “It’s just a case of having to tie the end of the string to something like a toothpick or a straw and rest it on the rim. I use a spoon usually... If they’re not all tacked to the walls, that is.”


Raucous laughter. God how funny I am. Everyone’s eyes twinkle at cute, hilarious little me. How brilliant.


But I know this can’t last forever. There’s only one reason Grandma’s here, and that’s for me. Because being unregistered isn’t the only thing that would upset Grandma. She lives an hour away in the car but still manages to ‘drop by’ and ruin mum’s mood in one painful afternoon. I hear them arguing in hushed voices when I go to the loo.


“You simply cannot live with her like this!” Grandma Wendy hisses at Liv.


“She is MY daughter, Wendy. I will not simply change my lifestyle just because YOU don’t understand it.” Liv snaps back at her. “I happen to think your lifestyle is the damaging one. All that nonsense about salad forks and high tea…”


Grandma Wendy isn’t Liv’s mum. She belongs to my biological father, which seemingly entitles her to a say in my life. Although I’ve never met him, and I don’t think I ever will, I know his surname is Turner which apparently makes it mine too. I’ve given up trying to understand why.


Chylah Turner. If I could write, I’d like to see how that looks put down in black and white.


I come back into the room, cutting short their fun. Liv and Grandma paint smiles on their faces when they hear the door click open and turn them towards me, which is sort of creepy. And then they pretend to be best friends, which is definitely creepy. Graeme and Sarah have made themselves scarce and Spring is in the garden transforming the gravel into flowers or something. It’s just me and them now.


“Now Chylah, dear.” Grandma coos at me. “I’ve just offered your mother the chance to send you to the finest school in Hampshire, the same boarding school your Grandpa went to! I’ll pay the fees, and all you have to do is pick your favourite sport and I’ll get you all the kit…”


Liv and I exchange dark looks. Not this again.


“I’m a lacrosse girl myself,” Grandma pretends not to have noticed. “But hockey is always fun too…”


“No thank you.” I reply, bluntly.


Liv smiles with one corner of her mouth only. Sly.


We’ve agreed on this. No posh shit. If I say yes then I leave mum alone to fight our battle. But so long as it looks like I’m the one against it then we should be OK. Let’s all blame the stubborn teenager, right?


Before Grandma can argue with me, Graeme reappears in the nick of time and everyone has to start being polite to one another. On her way out, Grandma Wendy gives me a sort of wistful look and pulls me close to her, giving me a squeeze and pressing something into the palm of my hand.


A Note! It’s a tenner, I don’t think I’ve seen one in ages. We’re used to paying for things in loose change with straight faces. I have to slip it into my sleeve really quickly before anyone sees it and feel instantly guilty about that. The collective share everything! So I convince myself that I’m hiding it so that I can surprise them with something nice, before sneaking off to the Cooke and Sons newsagents later and spending every last penny on chocolate and Red Bull.




CHAPTER SEVEN - LITTERING


On the way back home from the corner shop, I see a gang of kids my age sitting on a wall. They’re all normal, with two parents and school text books and they’ve probably even tasted brand name Coca-Cola. The girls are all wearing bright neon wristbands and thick black eye-liner. The boys are spitting and dropping their litter on the ground. As I come close their voices drop and they start to whisper.


“Hey, Homeless!” The main girl, Stella, yells over at me.


That’s what they call me. Even though I obviously do have a home to live in. But there’s no point in arguing with them. Liv always tells me not to rise to it, ignore them and they’re just jealous. But what the hell do they have to be jealous of anyway? These girls have everything. Pocket money, mobile phones, birth certificates. They can be anything they want to be. I can only ever be a shadow.


“So how’s life in the dirty squat then?” Stella sneers at me as I skulk past them, although not in a way which means she wants the answer.


The group around her giggle, except for her boyfriend Dean, who used to be my best friend. Dean looks at the ground and not at me directly, which is sensible because last time we spoke I warned him I never wanted to see his face again, ever. We’d met in the play park when I was ten, Spring had taken me down to pick wild flowers and been distracted debating with a woman who’d given her daughter a Barbie Doll.


Apparently Barbie Dolls are morbid. All that make up, the perfect figure. An unrealistic representation of beauty, or so Spring says, and she‘ll kindly share her opinion with everyone who doesn’t ask for it. She was always thrilled I had no interest in them. I preferred building things out of stuff that was lying around the house. Once, I made a rope ladder out of Graeme’s ties and hung it on a tree out the front, which I thought was brilliant but Graeme disagreed. Like I’ve ever seen him wearing a tie anyway? I said sorry though, in the end.


Anyway, I’m ten years old and in the park on my own and there’s Dean and he’s only got one shoe on. He’s looking lost and scuffling around the bushes hoping to find the shoe, but I knew he wouldn’t because I’d just seen his brother and their mates sprinting off in the other direction with it. I was barefoot, because Spring believes we can channel the earth's energy by skin-to-ground contact, so we’d walked down the alley shoeless, conducting the earth's vibes.


I told Dean about the earth's energy and he sort of shrugged and then took off his other shoe. We wiggled our toes together and laughed at how big his feet were compared to mine, and agreed that it was his brothers loss because he had shoes on. More vibes for us, right?


So I’d had a friend, at least for a little while anyway. He knew I was Homeless-girl, so when I invited him over to my place he looked confused but came anyway because we were bored of the park. And I could tell that he thought it was amazing, although I couldn‘t tell why. He met Spring first, who told him he had an old soul, and that he should grow his sandy hair long down his back.


“But won’t I look like a girl?” He asked, obviously not used to grown ups giving him such bizarre and useless advice.


“Well that depends,” I’d told him, sarcastically. “If you wear a skirt and tie your hair up with pink ribbons then maybe. But if you’re not planning on doing that then you should be just fine.”


And he’d thought I was funny and that was that, before anyone said it out loud we were real friends. Or so it was, until a couple years later when he went up to Secondary School and met Stella Watson, and, well, I guess she didn’t like me all that much because suddenly I didn’t see him any more. The next time I went to call on him his mother had shooed me away from her gate.


“Get off, go on. Get away from here!” She’d barked at me. “I’ve heard about your lot from the Watsons, thieves all of you. Now bugger off before something goes missing!”


And that was the end of that. I didn’t see him for weeks until I passed him at the bus stop one day and the shadows on my face sort of crept into my eyes. I lost it, completely, and just stood there screaming at him while his mates stared at us. The worst part is he didn’t even answer. Just stared back at me, shocked, until I burned myself out and ran off without looking back.


Well, I only looked back the once. I swear. But he was on the bus by then and we’ve never looked at each other since.




CHAPTER EIGHT - DISAPPEARING WITHOUT NOTICE


“Chai, Wake up! Lets get up and go to London today!” Liv vibrates at me as she shakes me awake.


It’s one of those days. The other side of the coin. It’s not The Trouble, it’s the opposite. It’s 6am and she’s whispering at me so she doesn’t wake up Spring, but she‘s whispering fast. Her eyes are the widest she can get them and her jaw is clenched shut so she talks through her teeth. I call this The Tigglet.


Like in Winnie the Pooh, see? When she has The Trouble she’s like Eeyore, remember that donkey with the pin on tail? Subdued and sad. But today she can’t sit still, like she’s got a spiral spring for a tail and needs to bounce around. Like Tigger. Or she’s playful and childish and her voice goes all high and fake. Like Piglet’s. So I made up the word - Tigglet - as a cross between the two. Get it?


“Come on! Get your bag! The first train leaves in twenty minutes!”


She’s practically vibrating she’s so excited. There’s absolutely nothing I can do and I have no say in this. We are going to London now that she has her mind set on it. If I say no I’ll be accused of subordination, and she’ll drop into a self-hatred spiral and get The Trouble. Although I wouldn’t be allowed to go out with Graeme for the day. I’d have to sit there on the bathroom floor and go through it with her. Because it would be my fault.


So I get up quickly, and quietly, because it would be worse if we woke up Spring, who’d try to stop us. She’d want mum to stay with her and meditate and drink chamomile tea until The Tigglet passes, which sometimes works but takes a long time and usually it’s quicker just to let The Tigglet just burn itself out. So off we go to catch (skip) the 6.22am train to London Waterloo.


We definitely have to sit in the bathroom this time. It’s a long journey to London and there’s no way we’d get away with not paying if we just sat out there on the Normal People seats. But at least it’s the first train, which means the toilet is clean, so I get to sit comfortably and not scrunch sideways to try to avoid trickles of what I usually tell myself is water. I close my eyes and pretend to be asleep, which hopefully will stop Liv from carrying on the rant she’s in the middle of at the moment. Eyes still wide and jaw still clenched, whispering desperately in a high pitched sort of whine.


“We should get some coffee, yes, coffee Chai, that’s just what we need, which will set us up for the day because we don’t want to waste it being tired do we? Although I’m not sure about coffee for you, maybe just a tea because that still has caffeine in it after all… So it will wake you up. But not as much as coffee, so maybe we should just risk it, do you think that would be ok? I don’t know. Maybe start with half a cup, but make sure that if you seem like it’s not agreeing with you then we can stop. I can’t remember if I used to drink coffee at fourteen. HEY! How about RedBull, that’s perfect! NO! No the E-Numbers. What the hell was I thinking?! A latte is weaker than an espresso, right? We can always get the coffee and drink it near the train, then we can get you home if it doesn‘t agree with you…”


Now if you managed to get through all of that without spinning out then maybe you would have kept your eyes open on the train. But not me. Liv’s fixating. It’s one of The Tigglet’s favourite things to do. She’s going right down to the end of lots of little paths in her head. Exploring every outcome that could possibly ever happen of me drinking (or not drinking) caffeine. To you and me it would be a cup of coffee. But not to Liv. Before we’re even halfway through the journey we’ve come up with a plan for every eventuality of me reacting badly and it’s taken us nearly 40 minutes.


I don’t tell her that I don’t feel tired, and don’t actually need or like coffee. It wouldn’t change anything, trust me. That’s not the point. Neither would trying to stop her, she has to go through the cycle, otherwise she’d just obsess about it quietly and the vein would start throbbing in her neck. Best to just let her get it out.


“…I mean do you even like coffee, because there’s no sense in me buying a cup if… Chai are you even fucking listening to me?!” She suddenly shouts at me.


I jump. She only swears when she’s got The Tigglet, so I sit bolt upright and apologise and of course I was listening so please carry on. Then I have to ‘Hmmmn’ and ‘Aahhh’ so that she knows I’m concentrating. She’s not crazy, she doesn’t want to talk to herself. Like a tree falling in the forest needs someone to hear her, she needs me to be her sounding board. And she gets very cross if I’m not doing a convincing enough job. I start to nod and agree at appropriate places, so that we don’t have to start all over again.


And that’s the best case scenario, sometimes I just get screamed at.


Or she cries. That’s the worst.




CHAPTER NINE - PUBLIC NUDITY


We get to London, slip through the barriers after the people in front of us and get out of the train station as quick as we can. We get the coffee, eventually, and I hate the taste because it’s bitter but that’s not the point. I drink it all up and try to look the appropriate amount of awake while Liv sits opposite me staring intently into my pupils. Everyone walking past us must think we’re nuts, but they don’t understand the cycle. We’re so close to the end, this is the easy part.


I smile and she seems satisfied, and that’s when the fun begins. That’s when Liv springs into life.


She’s wonderful, my mother. We practically glide down the street, her long blue dress flowing behind her, and she’s laughing that soft, giggly laugh that’s actually real. We break into a run because it’s just too exciting to walk, and don’t stop until we get to the park with the river running through it. Then the dress comes off, and she throws herself into the cool morning stream and urges me to join her.


“Come on in, the waters lovely!” Her eyes sparkle from the river, long tendrils of wheat-brown hair floating all different directions around her.


And so I do. In this moment, I don’t care about my gangly shoulders or the fact that people could see me naked. I just want to be there, in her bubble, before it bursts. We frolic in the river for ages, playing Marco Polo or showing off our underwater hand stands. Having competitions over who can hold their breath for longest. And laughing, cackling, harder than I’ve ever done with anyone ever except my mother and The Tigglet.


She’s so brave. Fearless. After we get out of the water she’s off and I have to run to keep up with her. Rounding a corner she slams the door behind her as she swings into a phone booth and shoves a coin into the slot.


“Hey, Mr Turner, Guess who?” I hear her voice through the thick glass as I wait outside in the sun.


There’s a buzzing at the other end, a voice that’s definitely shouting although I can’t figure out whether it’s excited or mad. I have to put my hand against the glass and peer through to squint at my mothers face. The Tigglet is fragile and my heart pounds in my chest, hoping hard that the voice is friendly so it doesn‘t flip her over. Thankfully, her mouth bursts into a wide smile and she squeals at the handset.


“Brilliant! Well, you’ll find me and Chylah at Camden Park.” Liv calls before slamming down the phone and sweeping out towards me.


“Come on, Chai!” She’s still grinning. “Let’s go to Camden Park and get some frozen yoghurt!”


We skip through London, stopping to listen to a busker with a violin playing jumpy tunes. Liv starts dancing and grabs me, whirling me around and around right there in the middle of the busy street while people watch us. But I don’t care. I just love watching her smile. She’s practically glowing, her eyes still wide as saucers.


The busker gets tired before we do and thanks us for helping him. Apparently he got double the amount of coins than usual. Liv takes this as an invitation to share. He shouts angrily at her as she dips downwards and grabs a handful of his change with one hand, and my arm with the other. By the time he’s realised what’s happened and tried to chase us we’ve ducked round the corner, panting and laughing, full of the blood rushing around our ears.


And then we see him, a tall man with almost black hair wearing a leather jacket and blue jeans. Liv spots him at the entrance of the park and her face changes. She pulls me down behind a parked car and we peek over the bonnet at him. Her face scrunches and she looks confused, like she’s changing her mind about something.


“No. No I can’t” She says this to herself, and not to me, so I don’t have to react.


The man is so close to us I can hear the music blaring through his headphones. Suddenly, Liv jerks me sideways and we run into a cool alleyway and as fast away from the park as we can, although she won’t tell me why. Once we reach the end she shakes herself off a little and we spend the rest of the hour in silence.


On the way back towards the market I remember the man with the leather jacket, and his deep brown eyes. Slim shoulders. Like mine.


And I think that’s the first time I ever saw my Dad.




CHAPTER TEN - CONNING A FREE DINNER


We get back to Camden Market and Liv keeps looking back behind her as though she’s expecting someone to pounce on us. But they don’t and so we wander aimlessly around in the sunshine pondering over all the different stalls. There’s so many! I don’t know how people come up with all the ideas for them. One sells jewellery, another Indian spices, and there’s even one full of platters of hot noodles and you can buy a little or a lot, depending on how hungry you are. Or how much money you have.


When we pass one selling clothes, the woman behind the table looks me up and down and then smiles and curls a finger, beckoning me over to her. She has soft, black skin, is elegantly dressed and the make up she wears looks almost invisible, yet perfect. I pull on Liv’s dress, and because she’s sort of in a trance now we wander over to the stall.


“Hey, I like your bag!” The woman says to me. “Where did you find something like that?”


I’m wearing the cut off jeans and seatbelt bag I made for Liv. I tell her this and she raises an eyebrow, seems interested, and asks if she can take a look. She has long, corkscrew curls for hair and dark brown eyes, and wears so much jewellery that it looks like it must be weighing her down.


“Amazing stitching, so neat!” the woman mutters, turning it over and over in her delicate hands. “Are you telling me that you made this yourself?”


I nod.


“Well, you’ve got quite a talent, little lady! Got any more?”


I tell her about a skirt I had that used to touch the floor. When it got too short (or I got too tall, whichever way you want to look at it) I pulled it up around my chest, sewed straps to it and it became my new dress. And the old blazer of Graeme’s that I cut panels out of to make a cropped jacket. The woman’s eyes widen like Liv’s.


“Those sound very unique.” She’s got this tone in her voice, like she’s hungry for something.


“It’s not just clothes either.” I boast. Half because I like up-cycling and half because no-one ever asks me about myself. “I make other stuff for the house too. Like turning baked bean cans into painted herb pots, and old ladders into shelves. It’s Up-Cycling.”


“Up-Cycling?” She’s starving now. “I’ve never heard of anything like it. Wait here will you? Watch the stall for me please.”


So she leaves me there with Liv, who starts stuffing scarves from the table into her dress. When the woman returns, she’s got a short, chubby man with her who’s impeccably dressed in vivid colours and has on women’s wide rimmed costume glasses.


“Here she is. Look at the bag!” The woman gushes towards me, pulling at the seatbelt strap.


“Wow. Fabulous!” Rim-Man says with a lisp. “I’m Lucas. This is my business partner Angela.”


I shake the podgy hand he’s stretching towards me, and watch as he does the same to Liv. She looks suspicious for a minute and I can see in her head that she’s trying to resist the urge to slip his designer watch off his wrist.


“Have you ever thought about selling those designs?” Lucas asks me. “I love this, I think we could sell a lot of them. So unique!”


“Yeah,” Angela the stall lady agrees with him and they nod knowingly at each other. “The artsy crowd would eat this up. Recycled junk, non consumerist products. Make something out of nothing, the new shabby-chic. It’s just what we’ve been looking for!”


The pair muse excitedly over me as I tell them about tea-cup candles and cutlery hooks. Every word that comes out of my mouth is golden, I can’t seem to please them enough. Which is when they insist on taking me and Liv out for a really posh dinner. And they don’t have to ask us twice, we are so in. So Angela stays behind to pack up the stall as Lucas bundles us into the back of a taxi and we head into the posh part of Kensington.


“I’m going to order the biggest, juiciest steak I can find!” Liv whispers excitedly at me. “This is brilliant Chai, well done!”


She’s proud of me. I mean she’s shocked, and thinks these people are idiots. Who’d want to buy my botched together junk anyway? But she’s happy with a free dinner so reckons we can string them along for a bit longer before they realise we’re just two hippy outsiders from the country. We hold hands in the back of the taxi until we reach a restaurant, then climb out of the car when it stops. I feel instantly small as a man opens a door and we’re swept through it and into a stylishly lit room full of cushy chairs, skeletal women and the smell of dense, expensive perfume.

yaythisisavailable
December 30th, 2013, 06:01 AM
Interesting title, but it is completely inappropriate for YA/Children's literature.

ejrosetta
December 31st, 2013, 05:05 PM
That's the idea. Thanks for reading :-)

TMFlynn
March 18th, 2014, 09:57 AM
Hey there was lots to like in there. Lots of energy in the dialogue and you capture the youthful tone really well. Some adverbs in the dialogue attribution can be stomped out I think. Also the character's uncertainty about the things she is seeing (and so describing) can alter the rhythm. Just a little more assertion in the descriptions would do it for me, but there are some great observations in there. And I suppose the character's situation is erratic so I definitely felt a tension throughout. I haven't read the previous chapters and am interested in the title too. What is the age range? What are your plans for the book? I don't mind a little controversy myself so I am not against the title, but a little context would be great.

KindaNice
April 10th, 2014, 08:01 PM
I smiled a lot reading this. You've done pretty good with keeping the exposition entertaining all the way to the first plot point (at least, I assume this is going to be the point at which the plot kicks off on a grand adventure or something), and I can offer no improvements for what you've written, save the title.

Here's the problem: I started reading this because it's a great title, completely attention grabbing (every chapter title is fantastic, too), but the story has nothing to do with the title past the bit in the first chapter. The first chapter is a strange introduction, because it feels like the only reason it was put there was to justify the title which made me read the thread. And while that totally makes sense to do as a writer, it sort of feels like you're manipulating me as a reader. Maybe try removing the first chapter, and switch the title to something like "Why Larceny is Best (and other things my Mother taught me)".

I'm waiting on the edge of my seat for more!

NerdyMJ
April 14th, 2014, 04:35 AM
This is really well written. I love the energy your characters and dialogue has. Honestly, now that I've actually read it, I would never buy it if you were to publish it. It feels classest and judgemental. It is perpetuating negative stereotypes about environmentalists and the mentally ill or disabled, IMO. Maybe this will change in future chapters. I don't know. I also find it ironic that Chai seems to disagree with Liv's alternative lifestyle, but has chosen up-cycling as a hobby, which is a popular hobby among environmentalists.

Anyway, it's a good story, but I completely disagree with the message it seems to be conveying.