“So what do you think its gonna be like?” Hel asked.
“Dunno really.” Bern had started the current line of discussion, my summer with BC.
“It's a long time to be away from home.” Helen observed.
“We were in America as long.” Mad put in.
“Yeah but Gab's is gonna be on her own this time.” Bern mentioned.
“I am here.” I pointed out.
“Well I wouldn't want to be away for that long.” Hel opined, “Oh shit, I didn't mean to like, oh sorry Bern, me and my big gob.”
“I guess people are going to talk about me, ‘specially now with Drea.” Bern sighed, trying at the same time to appear nonchalant.
“Yeah but I should think before I open my mouth.”
“Well I'd love to get away from home for the summer.” Mad advised.
“Especially if James was involved.” I put in.
“Well it wouldn't hurt to add some entertainment.” My cousin added with a grin.
“So do you have some sort of chaperone Gab?” Ally enquired from behind me.
“Think so, I let Dad read everything all I know is that I have to be at the ‘drome for mid day tomorrow.”
“I'd be scared.” Ally told us, “well maybe not scared exactly…stop moving your head Gab!”
“Ouch! What are you doing Al?”
“Nearly finished,” She'd been tugging my hair about for best part of twenty minutes and we were almost at the bus station now. “There we go.”
I knew that she'd been braiding my locks but there are like loads of different outcomes.
“Very chic.” Bern suggested.
I felt at my head, no weird bunches, no pretzels, two braids though.
“I bet I look a right plonker.”
“It goes with your outfit.” Hel told me.
“I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.” At least Mad had adjusted the straps so they weren't rubbing my pointy bits, at least not so much.
“You girls getting' orf or what?” the driver yelled up the stairs.
“Oops!” Mad giggled.
Mansfield hasn't changed much, same grotty bus station, same urban decay – well possibly worse, the year or so since I was last here hasn't done the place any favours at all.
“Nothings improved I see.”
“Oh I don't know, they've put up some new hanging baskets.” Ally advised us as we headed down towards the multiplex.
“You have to admit that it's a bit of a dump.” Bern put in.
It's never been great but even I can remember it being more prosperous than it is now. At one time it was a centre of leather and footwear production further bolstered by its position in the Nottinghamshire coalfield. Now most of the mining has gone, leather and footwear manufacturing has moved to China leaving Mansfield bereft of any large-scale industry.
“So what're we gonna watch?” I asked when we arrived at the cinema.
“Potter.” Hel suggested.
“First showing isn't until half eleven.” I observed.
“What else is on then?” Mad asked.
To be honest between the six screens the choice was pretty naff, two screens would be running the newest HP release, another already had the ‘cinema club' watching some kiddy film. Only two of the other screens had anything running before this evening, a Disney in one and the F&F newbie in the other starting in ten minutes.
“Tokyo Drift in ten minutes or The Lion King in twenty.”
“I thought that vampire thing was on.” Hel groaned.
“Not until later, er two thirty.” I read from the programme.
“I need to get back for Drea.” Bern pointed out.
“I am so not spending good money on a cartoon.” Mad stated.
“Tokyo Drift then?” I offered.
"That bit in the car park was ace!" I enthused as we departed the cinema.
“Don't look now but Paul and that idiot Clive are by the food stand.” Ally hissed.
“Pretend we haven't seen them.” Mad urged.
Not an issue for me.
“Hi girls.” Paul called over.
“Whatever.” Al replied.
“What've you seen?”
“Tokyo Drift losers.” Bern supplied.
“Its you who's the loser.”
This is all we need, a slanging match.
Clive decided to weigh in, “we haven't been kicked out of school.”
“She wasn't, she left.” I told them, its bending things a bit I know.
Oh boy, now Clive knows I'm here.
“She came to live with me.”
“Anyway, what do you care Paul Burgin?”
“Was just saying.”
“Well ‘just say' somewhere else.” Hel suggested.
“You fancy going out Gab?” Clive enquired.
“If I did it wouldn't be with you.” I stated.
“Aw go on, I've missed you.”
“She's taken slime ball, her boyfriend's a Baron.” Mad told those listening.
“Shut up Mad!”
“I could be your bit of rough.” Jones offered.
“And I could be your nemesis.”
“She laid him out last time he tried something.” Ally told Helen.
“Come on, let's leave these scumbags to watch their kiddy film.” Mad suggested.
We made good our escape not slowing until we reached Maccy D's.
“You alright Bern?”
“Yeah, thanks for saying that Gab.”
“'s what friends are for, when did Paul become such a berk, Clive's been one for years but I thought Paul was okay.”
“I've never seen him like that at school.” Al offered.
“I reckon he secretly fancies Bern.” Helen opined.
“She might have something there.” Mad suggested.
“So why was he picking a fight?” I queried.
“For an excuse to talk to her.” My cousin surmised.
“Weird way of doing things.” Bern noted.
“He's a boy!” Hel stated.
"In case you've missed something so am I." I huffed.
"Not from where I'm standing." Mad stated.
"The boobs are a dead giveaway." Al added.
"They're not wrong." Bern agreed.
"Not you too."
"Gab I've seen you with the girls in Germany and how you treat Max and his cronies, we might have thought you were a boy but you really are such a girl." Bern pronounced.
"We eating or what?" Hel enquired.
"We've missed the twenty to bus." Al pointed out.
I doubt if I'll get the opportunity again for a few weeks.
"Count me in."
I splurged on a Big Mactm meal - the only thing other than a plain burger I recognised, like where is the Chicken Royaletm and the salads? Not only that but it was decidedly puny compared to what I get in Bonn. I suppose it'll stop me getting fat!
"You ready Gab?"
"I guess." I allowed before slurping the last of my lemonade.
Everyone collected their gear together and it sort of felt like old times as we walked back to the bus station, me, Mad, Ally and Bern with Helen replacing Em. So much has happened since we were last together like this; will life always be so eventful?
"What're you thinking Gab?" Bern queried.
"This and that."
"We've changed a lot, all of us."
"Yeah, I suppose we have."
"Nothing stays the same Gabs, you're gonna be some kick ass cyclist, I've got Drea to look after, Mad's is chasing that James lad, Ally and Rhod seem to have some sort of understanding and whilst I don't really know Helen that well, she's clearly not the same girl that arrived from Holland."
"Come on you two, the bus is in!" Ally shouted back at us.
“Race ya!” I challenged as I set off.
I might have mentioned before that Bern never was much of an athlete; a couple of months incarcerated at HM's pleasure and a recent pregnancy had done little to improve that situation. Whilst I'm no runner I easily out ran her, skidding to a halt behind the others as they queued for the bus. Bern slowed to a walk long before reaching us.
“Either you're fit or I'm out of condition.”
“Both?” I suggested.
“You're probably right.”
The ride back to Warsop seemed to pass at twice the speed of the outward journey, hurrying us towards the end of our excursion far too soon.
“So what are we doing now?” Mad asked as we arrived in town.
“Feeding the baby.” Bern sighed.
“I'll come with you, I want to see her before I leave anyhow.” I stated.
“We need to practice some cheers.” Ally put in.
“I promised Gran I'd do her windows if it stayed dry.” Helen mentioned.
“We'll get off here then.” I stated ringing the bell.
“Okay, see ya Gab, bye Bern.” Ally told us.
“What was all that about?”
“Seemed a bit over the top.” Bern observed as we headed towards the Rose's place.
“Maybe its Drea?”
“Come on Bern, I've seen them cooing over other babies, no there's more to it.”
“Like me, they don't want to associate with a jailbird.”
“I'm sure its not that.” I encouraged.
Its what came from my lips but deep down I'm not so sure. Maybe it's the baby, it does change the whole dynamic, without Drea's presence we would still be out trawling the shops. Instead we cut the trip short so Bern could get back to feed the new arrival. I think maybe they could be uncomfortable around both of us as we are neither in their ‘loop' anymore – you'd think all of our past experiences would count for something though.
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 15.06.12