My first ever posting of the first chapter of my first story on BCTS …. Take care my baby.
Joe was older than his sister by 11 months, but you’d never guess. Where she was confident, he hesitated. Where she was independent, he seemed incapable. Where she thrived on responsibility, you couldn’t trust Joseph with anything. Not that he was a naughty child, just incredibly accident prone. Joe was not a boy you could leave home alone …
Pamela Petty snuck a look at her watch as she pulled up to the kerb in front of her new friend Isla’s three-bedroom semi-detached, in a quiet cul-de-sac on a 1990s housing estate, at the better end of town. She didn’t begrudge going out of her way to give her a ride home, it was an uphill trudge to the estate, rain was in the air and Isla had been a welcome companion since they literally bumped into each other in the supermarket, and then chuckled about it over a shared pot of tea in a nearby café, just over a week ago.
They hit-it-off from the beginning and have met twice since, at the same café, but today was a chance encounter and Pamela felt duty to bound to offer her friend a lift. No, she didn’t begrudge Isla the ride in the slightest. It was just that, now, she was running late for a very important meeting and Pamela was never late.
“It mean’s star.”
Pam suddenly looked across at her friend and said: “Sorry?” realising she had not heard a single word Isla had spoken in the last three minutes.
“Star,” repeated Isla. “Seren, it means star.”
Isla giggled and Pamela joined in. They might be new friends but Pam already knew that Isla’s stories always ended in a giggle, although they were rarely funny. Pam was pleased with the giggle though, on two counts, first, it meant her distraction had not been noticed and second, it signalled the story was ended and she would soon be on her way.
Isla was even now hoiking her shopping bags out the car and using the momentum to help herself follow, onto the pavement. Turning to close the car door, crouching a little to catch Pamela’s eyes, Isla chuckled: “Seren, star, can you believe it! Well, thanks for the lift Pam, saved me from a soaking by the looks of that sky. See you on Tuesday?”
“Hardly. Don’t mention it, lovely to see you, maybe it’ll pass over. Yes, same place, 11.45? Bye,”
Pamela waved as she pulled away the second the door thudded close. “What was that Seren thing,” she thought briefly, as she watched Isla in the rear-view mirror turn towards her front gate, before turning her eyes to the road and her mind back to the forthcoming job interview, the cause of her previous distraction.
Pam checked her watch again, she might just get across town and back before the traffic started, and ran through manoeuvres in her mind. She had to collect Sally from the station, pick-up Joseph from the house and then slip back in to town for the interview, dropping Sally at the paper shop on the way.
Sally Penelope Petty is Pam’s independent, strong-willed, almost 13 going on 18-year-old daughter. She’d taken a train the eight miles to the city for the nearest chain-store selling the only brand of jeans she will wear and was clutching bags holding four new pairs when she hopped into the back of the car. She wears jeans a lot.
“Where’s Joseph?” asked Sally.
“We’re going to get him now.”
“What, from the house? Your cutting it a bit fine aren’t you mum.”
“I ran into Isla and had to give her a lift home, we should be ok, had you been waiting long?”
“Five minutes. So, are you all prepared for this interview then then?”
Pam was thinking about Joseph, hoping he was back from the dentist and that all would be well when they got to the house. She’d only popped to the hairdressers for pre-interview tidy-up and expected to be back first, but had then run into Isla. Joe was older than his sister by 11 months, but you’d never guess. Where she was confident, he hesitated. Where she was independent, he seemed incapable. Where she thrived on responsibility, you couldn’t trust Joseph with anything.
Not that he was a naughty child, just incredibly accident prone. Joe was not a boy you could leave home alone and Pam’s worry that her detour meant he would have reached the house before her, was nothing compared to the concern she would have been feeling if she knew the dentist had cancelled, Joe had the house to himself all afternoon and had assumed she had already left for her interview.
Fortunately, traffic was light, the rain passed over and they were soon turning into the short driveway to their new home. It was, in fact, built over 50 years ago but was new to them. So new that none of the Pettys yet referred to it as ‘home,’ and simply called it: “The House.”
It is a posh house, in the posh part of town, and represents most of the settlement that came in exchange for Mr Petty. Pam was very grateful for the settlement, it was quite generous as these things go, but all things considered, she’d have preferred the continued presence of her husband. Unfortunately, that option was no longer available, at least not in one piece.
“Quick Sally, run in and drop your bags, grab Joseph and start to lock-up, while I turn the car around.” Pam watched Sally run to the front door and insert her key before steering the car slowly down the side of the house, past the concrete spur set for her to reverse into and three-point-turn to face back up the driveway without having to mark the grass. In the event, her nerves beginning to anticipate the interview, this particular turn had five-points. Like a star.
A blast of pop assaulted Sally’s ears as she entered the house. She waded against the noise to the kitchen where she froze in the open doorway, mouth ajar, knuckles whitening as her grip tightened on her bags of jeans, perhaps for a full two minutes until she felt, rather than saw, the presence of her mother, similarly frozen, one step behind.
In the centre of the kitchen, oblivious to his gaping audience, danced Joseph David Petty, Sally’s older brother, Pamela’s only son, dressed as a girl.
Suddenly, silence shouted as Pamela clicked off the socket powering the radio, Joseph’s head instantly lifted and tic-tacked left and right, taking in his mother and sister with eyes that widened first with shock and then fear. Sally registered the clatter as Joe lost grip of a whisk serving as an impromptu microphone and in her mind she could feel the blood run from his painted face and knees weaken beneath his black nylon pantyhose.
If impulsiveness is Pamela’s weakness, decisiveness is her great strength and after pausing just three seconds in bewilderment she said softly: “Joseph, I don’t have time for this now, we will talk later, go and get in the car.”
Her voice woke Joseph from his trance but he had hardly uttered the first syllable of his reply, when Pamela barked: “I said get in the car! Now!”
Sally, knowing how quickly mum’s anger could ricochet from her brother to catch her in the crossfire, broke from her own trance to grab Joseph’s hand and half pull, half lead him through the hall and out the front door, automatically picking-up her purse as they passed and taking a second to realise the accompanying clicks were Joseph’s girly shoes tapping the tiled floor.
As her children left, Pamela collected the fallen whisk and placed it on the side, leant forward to press her forehead on the back of her hands and released a desperate sigh before standing tall, taking a deep breath, exhaling slowly, setting the angle of her jaw and striding to the front door to set the alarm, click the lock, slip behind the wheel, release the handbrake and move off down the drive towards her interview.
Decisiveness was her greatest strength, but focus came a close second and Pamela closed all thoughts of the last few minutes, and even the very presence of her two children but a couple of feet behind her, into a sealed compartment of her mind, turning the rest of her concentration to the impending interview, rehearsing answers to anticipated questions and preparing responses to various what-if? scenarios.
In the back seat, Joseph sat silently, directly behind his mother, knees together, head bowed, looking at pretty pink fingernails on the hands clasped lightly in his lap. Sally sat to his side, not touching but nor was she pressed into the far door as far away as possible, one hand to her mouth, stealing occasional glances at her astoundingly attired elder brother.
“Have you got your bag, sweetheart?” Pamela broke the silence as they pulled-up opposite Norton’s Newsagents.
“And your phone?”
“Yes mum,” replied Sally again, leaning forward to peck her mother on the cheek.
“Pick you up at six. Be good.”
“Always am,” chirped back Sally, surreptitiously giving her brother’s clasped hands a little squeeze as she swung her denim clad legs out of the car, adding to her mother, just before she closed the door: “Say hi to Brian for me.”
Pamela felt her blush rise as she watched her cheeky daughter safely across the road and into the shop, before pulling back into the traffic and heading once more towards her interview, with Brian.
She’d met Brian Stevens, commercial director of Stevens’ Fashions, twice before, at her first interview last Tuesday and by chance a couple of days later while window shopping with Sally.
Her astute daughter had noticed immediately that Brian quite fancied her mother and had teased her incessantly until Pamela had finally lost patience and snapped back in anger. Pam was fighting hard not to admit to herself that she quite fancied Brian. She shook her shoulders to banish the thought and shift back to professional mode as she turned into the multi-storey car-park attached to the back-end of the town’s one shopping mall.
She drove to the fifth level and finally turned her attention to her silent son as she reversed into a parking bay, tucked behind a support pillar, in a dark corner of the lot.
“Joseph, we clearly have things to discuss, but right now I have to focus on this interview. It’s very important that I get this job, important for all of us and I think you understand that. We’ll have plenty of time to talk later, but don’t worry, I love you and I’m not angry with you,” Pam clasped his hands and gave him a little smile, noticing the nail varnish for the first time.
“Now, I had planned for you to sit and wait in the office, but given how you’re dressed I don’t think that’s a good idea, do you?”
“No,” whispered Joseph, the relief in his voice almost palpable having spent the whole journey in silent terror of the humiliation he thought he was about to face, paraded in public in dress, tights and heels. Not to mention the lacy bra and panties clinging tightly to his skin.
“I’ve parked as far into the shadows as I can and if you sit quietly in the back you should be fine. You’d best not have the radio on and I’m sorry but with the rush and your little um, surprise, we forgot to bring you anything to read,”
Pam petted the back of her son’s long haired head, took her briefcase from the passenger seat and slipped her legs out of the car. “Keep the doors locked and maybe lie down out of sight and try to doze. I’m going to be at least an hour, maybe two if things go well. I know this will be really boring for you Joe, but there’s nothing I can do about it and well, you have brought this on yourself.”
“I know, I’m sorry mum, I’ll keep ....”
The loud greeting interrupted Joe’s quiet response and both mother and son turned immediately towards its source, a tall, be-suited gentleman bounding enthusiastically in their direction. A startled Pamela quickly turned her expression from fear to a faux smile and squeezed her reply through clenched teeth as she shook his proffered hand: “Brian!”
“It’s good to see you Pam. I thought I was going to be late. Come on, we can walk up to the office together and …. Who is this pretty little thing? Pamela, you didn’t tell me you had two daughters.”
Brian slipped forward the driver’s seat, took Joseph’s cold white hand and helped the stunned teenager from the car. “My, she’s even prettier than Sally and has even more of her mother’s likeness. So what pretty name do you go by my dear?”
As soon as she saw Joseph’s lips beginning to form the shape of a J, Pam gushed the first girl’s name that came into her head. “Seren! This is my second daughter, Seren. Seren, this is Mr Stevens, hopefully he’s going to be my new boss.”
“Very pleased to meet you Seren,” said Brian as he gently shook Joseph’s hand. “Right, lets the three of us head up to the office and see if we can’t bring that about shall we?” And with that he strode purposely towards the entrance to the shopping mall, still holding Joseph’s shaking hand.
End of Chapter 1
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