Given that the soreness was more a nagging ache inside , and by wearing the short liners I use with baggies, the ride to school wasn't too bad. I could feel a bit of a tug getting on and off the Schauff but riding wasn't a problem in itself.
"You okay , Gabs ? " Steff checked again .
"Uh huh." I winced as I slid off the saddle.
"You gonna be okay for tomorrow?" Pia asked as we locked the bikes up.
"She's forgotten." Brid opined.
"Claudia's home? We're going to Koblenz?" Nena supplied.
"Tomorrow? I thought that was weeks away."
"It was - weeks ago." Anna giggled.
"Hey Gaby, you okay?" Max asked joining the throng.
"I guess I'll live but thanks for asking."
"Right, yeah er see you about."
His stop was short; he was off like a shot.
"Ah, true love." Connie cooed.
The bell sounded which meant we needed to be somewhere other than the bike sheds.
Fr Dürst started calling the register, "Anhauser?"
"Eh, oh Gaby, I wasn't expecting to see you today, feeling better?"
And so the pattern was set for the day.
"If we get the eight thirty we'll be in Koblenz for ten." Nena suggested.
"I'll have to check with Dad." I mentioned.
"Kay so we'll see you on the Express then."
Does she not listen?
Anna, Con and I turned off the bike trail into Dernau, sliding to a halt a minute or so later outside of Thesing's.
"Coming in?" Con enquired.
"Not for long, it's my turn to cook tonight."
"I'm going with Mum to her new father's class, there're some right hunks in this lot!"
"Anna Pilsen, you hussy!" Con giggled.
"Well, I'm only looking."
I bet that's what Nell Gwynn said.
"See you in the morning then." Con suggested.
"Yeah, nite Con, nite Gabs."
Anna scooted her bike into motion and headed for the long climb up to Chez Pilsen.
We parked our bikes and went through and up to the Thesing's apartment.
"Hi Gaby." Frau Thesing greeted me.
"Hi." I waved back.
"You stopping to eat?"
"Er not tonight, I'm cooking at home."
"Come on Gabs, I'll show you that picture." Con started to drag me towards her room.
"Er bye Frau Thesing."
The picture, or rather pictures were in the current edition of Stern, Germany's people watching bible under the headline ‘Wo ist Gabrielle?' The collection, other than one rather poor shot from outside the Dom in Munich were not of me I'm glad to say. Instead ‘I' have been ‘spotted' from Vienna to Berlin, in nightclubs and on beaches, out shopping and on horseback.
“Boy, you don't half get about Gabs.”
“That one must be at least two metres tall!” I pointed to the anonymous girl lounging on some Greek beach.
“They don't even look like you.”
“Should help keep the paparazzi off my tail.”
“Hey maybe we should send some real pictures of you in, anonymous like.”
“And just why would that be a good idea?”
“It'd be a bit of a laugh, I bet they wouldn't even recognise you.”
“Be just my luck they'd trace the envelope and be camped on the doorstep next day.”
“They pay a fee…”
“How much?” call me mercenary if you like.
“Five hundred E uros if it's published.”
Hmm, could be useful.
“We could get you all poshed up an' everything.” Con enthused.
“Leave it with me.” I could see a plan forming, a plan with Euros going into my bank account.
The sound of the local RTL evening news programme starting drifted from the living room.
“Sugar! I need to get dinner on.”
“Okay, you coming tomorrow?”
“Probably,” I gathered my stuff up, “I'll let you know later one way or the other.”
Ten minutes later I was dragging stuff out of cupboards and cursing the sharp shower that caught me half way home from the Thesing's place.
“What is it this week?” Jules asked.
“Toad in the Hole.”
She rolled her eyes, “I'll find the takeaway menu.”
“Cheeky moo, I only burnt it once!”
“You did a thorough job, we had three fire engines outside.”
“Yeah, well the oven was too hot.”
For those of you not au fait with the delicacy that is Toad in the Hole I guess you need some explanation. No amphibians are harmed in its production, the ‘toad' is actually English style sausages and the ‘hole' is Yorkshire pudding. You need hot fat to cook it and the first time I tried cooking it here in Dernau I got the oven too hot and instead of a golden brown pudding we ended up with a lump of charcoal and lots, I mean lots of smoke! Hey we all make mistakes.
“You need a hand?”
What's this? Jules offering to help?
“You could start the veg.”
“What're we having?”
“Thought we go traditional, peas and carrots with mash an' onion gravy.”
“Steady on Delia!”
My turn at eye rolling.
I started on the batter; you need to get plenty of air into the mixture for it to rise properly so I spent a couple of minutes wearing my arms out with a whisk. English sausages are not exactly in good supply in the Eiffel Mountains but the butcher in Rech makes his own würst, the pork and beef aren't bad as long as you get them unboiled – that just kills them. Oven on, oil in the baking tray, bit more beating and we'll be away.
“Dad told me about Köln.” Jules offered as I started placing the ‘bangers' into the batter, “sorry kiddo.”
“‘Snot your fault.”
“Yeah but like I've not exactly been helpful at times.”
“Jules, this would have happened regardless of what you did or didn't do.”
“Still, I'm supposed to look out for you.”
“I'm fifteen Jules, I'm a big boy well girl I guess now, I can look after myself.”
“If you say so, look, what I'm trying to say Gabs is that, well I am here for you you know. You putting that in the oven?”
I've always had a big sister, being the younger, older siblings are like a fixture from day one of your existence. Looking back, whilst I've ended up in some scrapes with and because of Jules, generally she has looked out for me. The leap from little bro to little sis has hardly been sudden and I guess the latest news won't really change things much – after all I've been ‘Gaby' almost full time for most of our time here in Germany, just over a year.
“Ta dah!” I announced thirty minutes later to a hungry father and bemused sister.
“What is it?” Dad enquired poking at the dish's contents, “ Looks like something out of Quatermass.”
“Sausage Toad!” Well okay so maybe the batter had risen rather a lot, the sausages no longer visible.
“Ah, I thought it looked kind of familiar.”
“At least she hasn't smoked the house out this time.” Jules noted.
The pair of them were winding me up, their plates were clean ten minutes later, the sausages and batter were cooked to perfection, the gravy could have done with some work but all in all I was quite proud of the result of my endeavours. We were tucking into our dessert of ice cream when Dad got my attention.
“I've scratched you from Sunday's race kiddo.”
“Da-ad.” I complained.
“Missing one or two races won't do you any harm, you've not been on a bike all week and the Doc did suggest no hard exercise for at least a couple of weeks.”
“I guess, what about Ron? You pulled her too?”
“No of course not, it might only be a chipper but it's still worth riding. I thought you could come and maybe give a bit of on course support. Take your bike, it's pretty flat, get some gentle riding in.”
“I guess. On the subject of going out, is it okay to go with the girls tomorrow? Nena's sister is home, they're taking her to Koblenz.”
“That the one with MS?” Jules offered.
“Yeah.” I agreed.
“Oh I remember now, you ended up with blue hair last year when she was home.”
Cheers for reminding everyone Jules.
“It was only temporary.”
“Girls!” Dad interrupted before me an' Goth Gurl got into too much of a squabble. “Jules, stop winding your sister up and Drew, act your age not shoe size.”
“But Dad…” we both chorused.
Well we both ended up chuckling like mad men, er women at that.
“Jules, dishes, Drew, try to stay out of trouble tomorrow?”
Jules mumbled to herself as she collected the dirty pots.
“I will, oh cool, thanks Dad!”
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 28.10.2011