Nothing was said about the lovebirds' disappearance when we all reconvened prior to departure although I'm sure Aunt Carol was having to bite her lip.
“Nice seeing you again Gaby,” James grinned.
“And you.” Well politeness costs nothing even though in truth I'd barely spoken to him all day.
“I'll mail you about Salford Mad.”
Mad was doing the ‘shut up' thing with her eyes, which James of course failed to see.
“Er yeah, I'll just walk James to his car, ” Mad advised us.
“We're off now too, ” her dad stated.
“I'll be quick,” she pouted.
The two of them made good their escape, the rest of our party following behind.
“I was thinking of stopping off at Tickhill to eat?” Uncle John proposed.
“Good for me, ” Aunt C agreed, “Gaby?”
“Eh? Sorry.” I was lost in thought.
“You okay with a restaurant for dinner?” she prompted.
“Er sure.” I replied without really thinking about it.
We exited the building and started the walk to the Peters' car.
That's it . “I need to go back in, I forgot to do something, I'll be really quick?”
“Go on, we'll be waiting for your cousin anyhow; give us your bags,” Uncle John directed.
I hurried back towards the complex but instead of going inside I headed off to the side, yup, she was still there.
“What choo want, Miss lardy dar?”
“I saw you earlier.”
“So? S'free cuntree innit?”
“You hang around here a lot?”
“Nuffink else to do like, you've got a funny accent, you forrin like?”
“Not really, do you go in?”
“Ain't got no money like, I watches froo the windas s'better than nuffink.”
“So what's wiv the frills an' the twenty questions?”
“I've been at the con.”
“Wass that then?”
“Everyone dresses up like comic characters or people in films, there's stalls to buy stuff and prizes for the best costumes.”
“Wondered what all the weirdo's were doing here, so wot you dressed as, never seen nuffink like that before.”
“It's from a Japanese book.”
“Glad I'm not wearing it.”
Wish I wasn't but there again what she was clothed in wasn't exactly haute couture, a washed out yellow t-shirt over pink leggings that I'd possibly use for cleaning my bike – if they were washed first.
“Wasn't my idea either.”
“So wotcha want, you ain't the social an I don't do smack like.”
“Look, would you like to go in?”
“Told yuz, ain't got no moolah like.”
“But if you had?” I pressed.
“Yeah but like I ain't got a cozzie so what'd be the point?”
“Look, I won the costume thing earlier,”
“In that?” she interrupted.
“In this.” I confirmed, “Anyway part of the prize was a pass for this place and like I don't live round here so I was wondering if you'd be interested?”
“Don't do charitee, ” her eyes gave away her desire.
“It's not charity; it'll only go to waste if you don't want it.”
“Told yerz, I ain't got no cozzie.”
“What if you did?”
“But I ain't.”
“Look,” I dug the pass and a twenty note out of my handbag, “one pass and this'll buy a swimsuit inside.”
Her eyes hungrily followed my hand.
“Because you need it, I'm Gaby by the way.”
“Well Aisha, you want?”
She gave the slightest of nods. I could be just throwing away twenty quid but I don't think so, I bet she hangs around the place all the time, watching through the glass as Doncaster's middle classes enjoyed the facilities, feeding off her more affluent neighbour's enjoyment but slowly dying inside.
“Look, I have to go, take it eh?”
She hesitantly took the proffered gift, “Fanks, Gaby.”
“There you are Gabs, what've you been up to?” Mad enquired when I reached the car.
“A bit of first aid, ” I supplied rubbing my foot.
“Yeah, those shoes do rub a bit.”
I shot a look back to the Dome, Aisha had gone from her perch by the windows, I hope I did right with that.
I'd almost forgotten how I was dressed, that was until we got to Tickhill and the restaurant. Not that Mad was any better off, in some ways my Lolli outfit was easier being less revealing - not normal for a teenage girl, which is what I look like, but I've ended up in more embarrassing outfits .
"You can leave the brolly Gab,” my cousin suggested as we unloaded.
"Oh right, I forgot I had it." I noted dropping it back in the car.
"Come on you two, the restaurant's just up the road," Uncle John told us.
Joy, I get to parade through the town in all this frippery.
"So where did you and Jimmy boy go, you weren't in the garden cos I looked."
"He was showing me his car," she admitted.
"Oh aye." I've got an older sister so I can translate girl speak. "Thought you had different lippy on." I observed.
"Your olds aren't stupid Mad; they know you were up to something."
"Trust me, they know and lover boy wasn't exactly being subtle either."
"I guess not."
"And what's at Salford?"
"It's another Con."
"Another tryst more like."
"Might be," she replied coyly.
We almost bumped into the elder Peters as they perused the street menu.
"Looks good to me," Uncle John announced, leading the way inside.
Now I'm no stranger to restaurants but this particular example was as weird as any I've ever eaten in.
"Whoa," I allowed.
"Thought you'd like it, Mick from Planet told me about it earlier."
Outside it looked like a twee teashop but inside the decor was a heavy dose of comic culture from around the globe, the walls covered with super heroes from Marvel, Beano and Tokyo . My discomfort at my attire disappeared, I fit right in, jeans and a T would be out of place here.
"Welcome to La Comique, table for four?"
The waitress / host was wearing Japanese Cafe Maid, they weren't skimping on things. We were seated by the front window, an old trick for quiet eateries; anyone looking in would see customers inside.
"Diet coke for me, Carol?"
"White wine, girls?"
It was tempting to ask for the same, I would've got away with it back home but this is England.
"What she's having,” Mad agreed.
I don't want to bore you too much but I'm sure you'd like to know a little more. The menu was interestingly diverse, not messy but there was something for everyone so whether you fancied Japanese noodles or American Burgers, Sunday roast or high tea there was something on the menu.
“I fancy the roast,” I offered.
“I was going to do the works tomorrow Gaby,” Aunt C told me.
“In that case I'll have Wonder Woman.” I must point out that Wonder Woman consisted of a quarter pound cheeseburger with salad, wedges and onion rings – not exactly haute cuisine but it ticked my hungry box.
The others had an assortment of global food offerings finishing with the old favourite, ice cream. It was a fun place, the food wasn't bad, the décor interesting – I spent ages trying to identify the stuff hung and displayed around the room, the prices were a little high but if you go in costume you get 10% off, me and Mad counted so it didn't hit Uncle John's wallet quite so badly.
“Are you out in the morning again, Drew?” Aunt C enquired when we got back to Warsop a bit after nine.
“Not sure, see what the weather's doing I guess.”
“Well if you do, leave a note okay?”
“Uh huh. I'm bushed; I think I'll go to bed.”
“Lightweight,” Mad sniped .
“Night Drew,” Uncle John offered.
“I'm doing washing in the morning so if you've got anything pop it in the bathroom hamper,” Aunt C instructed.
“Okay, night everyone.”
“Night, oh yeah, Gabs, remember we're meeting Helen and Al in the morning,” Mad advised.
“Sure, see you in the morning.”
To be honest I wasn't that tired but the idea of a bit of time to myself appealed greatly. Once in ‘my' room I stripped out of the frills and sugar, I forgot to mention that the dress had an appliqué of assorted cakes around the skirt, then headed to the bathroom for today's second shower. Boy, to be free of that outfit, it actually weighs a ton by the time you have the under dress, petticoats, bloomers, the actual dress and a cardigan on top.
I let the water play over my shoulders and neck, closing my eyes as the water washed away the tension I didn't realise had built up. I'm glad I'm only staying for a week; I don't think Drew would survive any longer than that. I mean, Mad has already had me in a dress for a full day and I only arrived yesterday.
Yesterday's pre- flight excitement provided some concern though, my poor left hand was now coming out in a not so nice multi-hued bruise, hidden all day by the lace gloves I've been wearing. I hope it's alright, the paramedic reckoned there wasn't anything broken, I can move my fingers but it's certainly sore. A check in the mirror to make sure my face was paint free only revealed a girl without makeup, not even a slightly girly looking boy, definitely a girl.
This summer really does look like it's going to be a last fling for Drew, the thought made me sad, enough that once in bed I found myself sniffling into the pillow.
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 0.05.12