December 7, 2012
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My lips pucker as stray strands of copper hair fly between the gap, and I try to spit them away. Anyone with frizzy hair will know what I’m talking about – it’s simply uncontrollable. As the wind taunts it, teasing the strands into a limp dance, I slide my tiny, rusted key into the equally rusted lock, fumbling with woollen mittens which just seem to make the task harder on purpose. Finally, I stumble into the small hallway.

The shower is running. Katie must be in the shower, getting ready before her ‘big date’. Don’t get me wrong, I love my twin sister, but it does put your life in perspective when she will be spending the night being taken out on a date and you are stuck home looking after a stroppy fourteen year old and heating up mac and cheese. But then again, what else do I expect? Katie is the gorgeous one, who inherited Mum’s silky blonde hair and statuesque figure. And me? Well, my head is surrounded by wild, random copper coloured hair, I have eyes the colour of dirty dish water and my figure is virtually non-existent.

Bopping along gently to the creaky hum of the radio, I roughly shove a plate of ready cooked something or other into our geriatric microwave, before loading up the dishwasher. Do the laundry, feed Mel, clean the house, and then I can finally sit down, until around one o’ clock, when Mum may or may not come stumbling through the door, and I’ll wait until she stops throwing up so I can put her to bed.

“Cassie, how do I look?” It’s Katie, wearing black skinny jeans and a white shirt that is so tight around her chest I’m expecting one of the buttons to come flying off. She looks like a supermodel. Next to me, with no makeup straggly hair and sweaty clothes, it’s hard to tell we’re related.

The door rings and Katie rushes off to answer it. I hear voices in the corridor, and then they move closer towards me. Sighing, I walk over to the washing machine and unload it, hauling a pile of soggy clothing out. I turn around, about to make my way down the corridor, when I hit something hard and the clothes go flying.

“Now look what you’ve done!” I cry out. Fuming, I start to gather it all up, when a strong hand beats me to it.

“Allow me.” My eyes trail upwards, to see a boy. Not just a boy. A gorgeous boy. Dark hair and chiselled cheekbones frame brooding, stormy eyes.

And now I’m blushing. Great.

“I’m Joe,” he offers me his hand, which I refuse.

“Where are you taking Katie tonight?” I ask, my tone more chilled than I intended.

His brows push to form an amused expression. “I thought about La Fommazzi, the new Italian on the high street,” he replies. “Why?”

I ignore the question. “Listen,” I growl, “Katie is my sister, which means if you mess with her, you have me to answer to.”

His mouth forms a smug grin, on corner creeping up. I try not to look at it. “Well, there must be some other way to get your attention.”

“Joe, I’m ready now!” Katie’s voice trails along to us, and I stand up sharply. He offers her an easy grin, and wanders down towards her. I follow, and close the door behind them, wondering my breath is suddenly short.

It soon becomes clear that Katie is not the girl for me. Sure, when I asked her out I only saw a hot piece of ass and a pretty face. I was sure that she’d be worth all the trouble. After all, I was taking her to La Fommazzi, which isn’t exactly cheap.

But that was before I met Cassie.

She had just been so – so fiery. And so strong, standing up for her sister like that. And unlike Katie, who’s a blonde bombshell, Cassie was simply beautiful, even in ratty tracksuits and her hair pushed back off her face. She had possessed a depth, a strength that Katie could never achieve.

I ask Katie out again, although I’m not sure why. This time though, I arrive early, to find Cassie in the kitchen, cooking. We chat, just about light topics at first. By the next time, we are both joking and laughing, until, a couple of days later, I finally pluck up the courage to ask her a couple of questions.

“How come I never see you doing any schoolwork?”

The question seems to shock her. “Oh – I dropped out.” She clearly doesn’t want to talk about it, but I press on.

“Why? Katie still goes to sixth form – she told me so.”

She sighs, and it occurs to me just how tired she might be. “I dropped out because we couldn’t afford for all of us to continue. This way, Katie and Mel can still finish their education and I can look after us.”

“But what about your Mum?”

A dry laugh bubble out from her lips. “Mum doesn’t care about us. As far as she’s concerned, we’re enough of a drain on her purse as it is!” She sags slightly, and I rush forward to support her. Her laugh has turned to tears.

Despite myself, I have started to look forward to my conversations with Joe. He always arrives early, sometimes a whole hour before scheduled, and we retreat to the kitchen. So far we’ve talked about all sorts of things; his plans for the future, music, how I look after my family, how when he was little he wanted to be Kermit the Frog, our favourite flavours of ice cream, and on and on. I’ve never been able to talk to anyone so easily before. He doesn’t look down on me, or pity me, or even take me for granted like it feels Katie does sometimes.

And then he leaves with Katie. And I have to sit down for a second, the ghost of a smile still haunting my lips.

Joe has been steadily dating Katie for three weeks now. She’s completely besotted by him. He brought flowers last time. They were tulips. I remember thinking it was odd, because had told him only two days ago that they were my favourites. Katie prefers lilies.

I hear the knock and give my face a quick scan in the reflection of the saucepan for a moment, before answering the door. I have made the effort to put makeup on.

No reason why, of course.

Joe walks in, and looks at me for a second, and I think I see a flicker of something behind his eyes as he takes in my face. But then it is gone. I try to smother my disappointment, and then stop short. Why should I be disappointed?

In the kitchen, Joe is preoccupied. He is not his usual, carefree self. I catch him gazing at my face several times, only to look away suddenly. We don’t talk much, and when he and Katie leave, I feel a pang of something in the back of my throat. Loss? That’s ridiculous. You can’t lose something you’ve never had. Especially when it belongs to your twin sister.

They arrive earlier than usual, and Katie goes to bed, saying she is tired. I walk to the door with Joe, but before reaching the end of the hallway, he catches my hand. Before I can protest, his lips are on mine, locked in a passionate embrace.

Several seconds too late, I pull back. “What do you think you’re doing?” I demand furiously.

“I could show you again,” he offers, that playful grin back again.

My hand lashes out, making contact with his cheek. His eyes darken. “You are going out with my sister,” I fume, “who has just gone upstairs after going on a date with you! What gives you the impression I’m going to allow you to cheat on her with me?”

“You think I’ve been coming here for Katie?” he retorts. “Every date, every night I came, was because of you. It was you I wanted to see, to talk to. I’ve been dying to kiss you ever since the first night, only I couldn’t stand it any longer! Why do you think I brought the tulips? They were for you not for Katie!”

I am speechless. Words cannot for in my mouth, and I see the disappointment contort his features. “I’ll just go,” he mutters, turning towards the door.

“No!” I shout, not meaning to be so loud. My hand grasps his, turning him to face me. I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s crazy, it’s wrong, but I lift my mouth to his. He responds, and we are a breathless embrace, his hands running through my hair, mine clawing at his chest, both of us trying to hold enough of each other. Guilt is pooling in my stomach, but it is not enough to stop us as I pull him through a door into our spare room and close the door.

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taylor.bugThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 17, 2012 at 7:56 pm
Great job. This leaves me thinking about what will happen next. I love how you left some of the scenes open for the reader to decipher themselves. Great job!!
HannahLouise1321 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm
Wow. This is really good, it really drew me in. The ending was a really good clincher.
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