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Megumi By The Firelight - A Book Chapter Excerpt (part 1)
The idea of a sleep over for 8 girls was great. The fact that it was going to be 8 girls with wayward sexual tendencies - was even better, and being 16 years old, and bursting with hormones, we were all looking forward to it. It was happening at Ronda's house. It was only my third time to visit there. Her folks were loaded. And I was ashamed that despite her being a friend, and sometime more than-friend, she seldom invited me inside. This was one of those invites. And she wanted it to be more than the usual thing. Little did I realise - that was exactly what was in store for us.
There was - to my then innocent mind at that time - the usual fun and games we got up to... like dressing up, make-up, music, games, stories, magic, chit chat and gossip about boys, about girls. The things we were all into when we were sixteen. We were no angels. Besides palm-reading, shopping comparisons, art, jokes, flirting, and later probably some drinking, smoking and card games and then some naughty stuff - experimenting with people of the same persuasion was a kind of norm for us - as we girlies liked to do. Being Sixteen, naughty to us was kissing and sleeping over sometimes. Basically it was a weekend of teenage delinquency and debauchery and a get-together to see who would snog who. Some of my friends were a gas. Some of them talked about stuff and never really did the crap they said they did.
My friend Penny told me that a last minute change had been made and that a new girl was being added to replace a sick friend. I was surprised to find Ronda tell me “It’s the Japanese girl”. There was a Japanese girl in my class, a very quiet girl who spoke to no one. I was surprised; I knew the kid was gay-ish, from Gym Class, but not much more than that. She didn’t mix much, if at all. So why we invited her was a mystery. She wasn't the only one. Marla was another surprise guest, as Ronda knew her more than any of us knew her. Marla was surprisingly large for sixteen.
I had asked one of the girls about Megumi, and I was curious. Ronda snickered, “Cassy, you always like the quiet ones, don’t you?” I was wary of Ronda – she was always the first to interject with one of her biting satirical remarks, or back-handed compliments.
“Why - do we get ear muffs this weekend, Ronda?” I quipped loudly, so everyone could hear.
“Since you get all the noisy ones...?”
Some of the girls giggled, and some of them laughed loudly, (which kind of surprised me) and Ronda glared at me. Even though the stay-over was at her house, correction, he parents’ near-mansion sized house – Ronda didn’t have the intelligence to try using that to exact some kind of revenge on me. I never figured her to be that smart or random. We used to be much closer in earlier times. To tell the truth, I think the girls would have kicked up a fuss if she did. Ronda wasn't evil, just... weird sometimes. Ronda and I were always colliding with each other for some reason. She always tried to wind me up. Either way, nothing was going to stop this girly weekend happening. Not even the quiet Japanese girl. “We don’t even know her name,” said Debra, the American girl that everyone loved. “Yes, what IS her name, anyone know?” Wendy joined in. No one spoke.
“Her name is Megumi,” I announced, clearing my throat. “She’s from Kyoto, Japan.”
All the girls looked at me.
”Ka-ching!” Ronda smiled like a devil. “Always the quiet ones, Cassy!”
You could feel the oxygen being sucked out of the air by her snide humor. Oh how I wanted to punch that smile of hers into oblivion. For the first time, I began to wonder just what kind of weekend I was in for...
The house turned out to be bigger than we imagined. Ronda’s parents were super rich. Her parents were from Berlin...and she was super-spoiled, and got everything she asked (or screamed) for. I tried to picture her screaming for something (this was easy to do!) as my Grandad pulled up the car outside the house, and I grabbed my weekend bag. “Have a nice weekend, Cassy. Don’t break anything and don’t get into trouble.” He said with his usual good nature. I kissed my Grandad goodbye, and pulling my scarf around my neck to block out the Autumn chill, I headed up the driveway to the imposing 7 bedroom house, perched on the hill. The summer was gone for this year and school was being its usual drag, so the mid-term break was just our ticket to a nice weekend holiday with a difference. “And no adults around!” Said a voice behind me. Penny appeared with a smile, her blond hair blowing around her pleasant tanned face. I liked Penny. With her was Marla. Marla was loud and heavy, and tended to drop things a lot. But she was attractive despite being big. And all the girls spending this weekend here were all gay or experimenting. We all knew, and we all understood. To outsiders we were anywhere from non-conformists, rebellious outlaws of conventions, to dilettantes, wiki fanatics, witches, or just plain nuts. We were girls who didn’t quite fit in. We were different. As we went into the house I took stock of my surroundings
The eight girls were me, Ronda (the supposed leader whenever we allowed her to lead), Penny (blond and very sweet and a crush of mine), Wendy (black and pretty, bit frail, but smart - I liked her), Marla (looked more 19 than 16, and built like a brick shit house), Avril (Irish red-head, green-eyed, had thick accent and coarse as hell, but straight talking honest, slight in appearance, yet punched literally above her weight - I liked her too, as she had a tender side to her). Then there was Debra, an American girl, blond, smart, beautiful – family transferred to the UK – I looked forward to knowing her more), and last of all, Megumi, from Japan. Except she wasn't here yet.
As the door closed behind me, I thought I’d stepped into a movie. A huge standing hall area stretched before us. There was a large imposing stairway leading up to a long landing above with a railings that went across the upstairs area. Every wall was filled with paintings. Wooden panels were everywhere. And doors downstairs that lead everywhere. The house was full of rooms. I was so impressed. I told Ronda her house was magnificent. She beamed with pleasure, and we gave each other fake hugs.
The girls called us into the kitchen. Ronda, as usual was giving orders, welcoming us to Her house, and she’d be dictating our rooms to us, and who our “partners” were to be. And the fighting immediately began. Typical Ronda. She loved creating chaos.
Marla wanted to be with Wendy. Then Wendy wanted to be with me. Then Avril told us to “go and shoite” and she was "taking her own room", and Debra laughed and said we were all crazy, then I said I wanted to be with either Penny or Wendy. I noticed no one wanted to be with Ronda. Ronda was adamant she would rule on it. Wendy said – let’s draw lots. More yelling. So the straws were drawn, and yes, we ignored the outcomes and chose our partners...all except me... I got to be with the Japanese Girl. Screw that. "She's a no-show!"
Penny ignored my pained look. And there was no sign of Megumi, as she hadn’t arrived. Didn't she get the invite? My weekend was going from bad to worse. Avril cheered me up and said if the girl didn’t show up, Avril would share with me. I looked longingly at Penny who was heading up the stairs ahead of me. I sighed and thanked Avril for that. What else could I say?
We unpacked and got to choose our rooms, or rather Ronda chose our rooms. “It’s my house, so it’s my rules...” she yelled. Avril chuckled and pushed past her and threw her bag on the floor of the first big room she found. “Avril, what are you doing? I didn’t give you that room?” Avril ignored her and kicked off her shoes, then turned and said in a mater-of-fact voice – “it’s my arse on that bed, them’s my feckin’ rules. Get over it.” I laughed! Good ol’ Avril. We pretty much did the same. I got lucky with a very lovely room with rich wooden furniture and a fireplace, and two chairs and a dressing table. “Cassy, you can’t stay there, that’s my ...er...brother’s room.” I looked at the dressing room mirror, then the wardrobe of ladies clothes. Wendy appeared in the doorway and whistled her approval. “Well, either your brother’s a cross-dresser, and likes nylons, Ronda – in which case – you guys need to talk...” (cue laughter) “or this is a girl’s room.”
Actually it was really nice. The window was a bay window and looked out and down the long driveway. I flung myself on the big soft bed. Ronda was not impressed. “My sister will not like that one bit, Cassy.” Avril barged in the room past Ronda. “Put a sock in it, Ronda. She can do what she wants, the house is empty. Jazes, I’m starvin’. Where’s the food? ...”
The mention of food had all the girls clamor down the stairs to find the kitchen. I unpacked some of my bag and discovered there was a toilet behind a door I hadn’t seen. This house was a hotel! I looked out the window, as the rain began to beat down outside. No sign of Megumi, the Japanese girl. I was sixteen, and knew I was bisexual, liked both sexes. So maybe I was a freak. Or maybe it was something else.
Well, there was nothing I could do about that. It was a circumstance, not some choice. I wasn’t sure what life had planned for me. But life was never certain either. Now that – I could do something about. I liked my friends, despite their flaws. None of us were perfect. I turned up the song in my earphones on my CD player, it was Blondie singing "Denise Denise". I never went anywhere without my music. I looked out the window. I began to wonder had something happened to the kid Megumi? And why had no one mentioned it before?
As we sat in the cheerful kitchen, it was obvious that food wasn’t needed. The refrigerator was stuffed with amazing foods I could barely pronounce let alone spell. And as pre-arranged, we had all brought some food of our own, just in case. Crisps, fruit, fanta, coke, snacks, candy, popcorn, all the things a 16 year old girl would ever need for a weekend stay-over (Marla somehow brought an entire cake!)...and enough chocolate to sink the Bismarck. I wondered had anyone packed a toothbrush, but I kept that to myself.
It seemed like Christmas had come early. The evening wore on. Outside it was dim and cold. Inside it was like summertime, and we sat around with the TV blaring in one part of the huge sitting room. Some of us were checking out the huge music collection of CDs. Ronda ordered us not to scratch them.
"These belong to my older sister..." She yelled. Yeah yeah, whatever.
Ronda was getting on everyone’s nerves. Avril said classical music was “shoite” and gave her a headache. Debra was really nice and everyone liked her. Something told me a modelling career loomed ahead for her. To my surprise, she took an interest in me, asking was my hair really that curly and where my family were from. I laughed and told her about my Italian background, and being raised by my grandparents after my parents died while I was a baby. She made me blush when she suddenly said my black curly hair was knockout gorgeous. She called me Gypsy Rose, and meant it in a nice way. That was so cool.
She was from Wyoming. I made a mental note to look it up later. Her teeth were perfect. She said in America everyone looked after their teeth. Oh, and everyone got facelifts. I hung onto every word from her. I wished I’d brought a damn notebook. I was asking Wendy and Penny what about Megumi? No one seemed to care. Did anyone have her family’s phone number? Ronda smiled and said not to worry about it. When Ronda smiled like that, I always tended to worry, and for good reason.
It was about Ten o’ clock in the evening, and we were tired of TV now, as it was all politics and rubbish. We were deep in school gossip, asking who was dating who, palm-reading, and Marla was braiding Wendy’s hair (rather badly). Penny was doing her amazing "look at me and I will tell you your life" routine, which we all loved and took turns having our palms read. So I was going to be wealthy beyond my dreams and find true love, Debra would be a model, Avril would help starving children in Africa, Marla would be a prison Officer, (this was greeted in mute silence, and Marla didn't bat an eyelid). Penny finished, saying that Ronda would end up an alcoholic, which filled the room with laughter. Ronda was not impressed. Penny – throwing me a wink - said she was joking.
And Ronda was dishing out the drinks. At least that was supposed to be the general idea. I noticed she was drinking beer. She very cleverly poured it into a glass to make it look like lemonade, but I ratted her out, and Avril’s amazing Irish nose immediately smelled out the rest of the beer, and the fun started! Beer everyone! Booze over here!! Ronda was furious. Avril was delighted. I was smug, and everyone was downing beer and lager. We were going to be crippled numb drunk before bed time. Suddenly the house door bell rang out and we all froze.
Ronda went to the door, a weird look on her face, and with us right behind her. The heavy rain outside was very loud. Opening it, we all looked out and saw a small diminutive soaked dark-haired girl, clutching a large bag, and with glasses, and asking was this the house where the stay-over was happening. She was Japanese. And yes, it seemed as though Megumi had finally arrived. Ronda looked like she was about to begin some story or other, but Penny pulled Megumi in out of the rain. The girl was soaked.
“You Megoom-ee?” Asked Avril, looking the Asian girl up and down. Megumi nodded in a very polite manner, taking in our appearance. She apologised, saying she got lost, as she seemed to have been given the wrong instructions. Avril looked at a piece of paper Megumi had used for navigation.
“Those instructions were written by a gobshite. Who gave you this?”
Megumi hesitated, then pointed at Ronda. Some of the girls tittered and chuckled at this news. Ronda went red.
“Look, I can explain...” she spluttered.
We all rallied around the poor girl and got her out of her coat. Her shoes and stockings were drenched. She was told she’d be saying in my room. She was gasping at the huge house around her. She was overwhelmed. I pitied her. I took her upstairs, made her strip in the bathroom, and as she had no replacement clothes, I found a spare T-shirt and pants of sorts in the wardrobe. (“Screw Ronda’s sister,” I thought) Megumi spent ages in the bathroom. I knocked to see was she alright. The door opened and – smelling of talcum powder - out she came.
Megumi was shorter than the other girls by a few inches, quite slight and slender in appearance. She looked good in a T-shirt, and the baggy track bottoms would just have to do, and she wore slippers. I made her sit in front of the fireplace that I lit. But here now, without her glasses, she looked quite different. She had large dark friendly eyes, and a thick mop of straight dark hair falling over her eyes, still not quite dry. Her hair gave her an almost cute appearance. She had a pale, slightly fragile yet almost doll-like face. Her skin was smooth and clear, not a blemish or wart. For sixteen, that was impressive. Her expression was always very neutral. She was pretty as a picture and strangely implacable. Seeing her here in this bedroom up close and personal, and not in some school classroom, was quite a contrast.
She nodded as she saw her clothes drying in front of the warm fire, where she now warmed her hands. She thanked me in a way that somehow made me feel important, though I didn’t know how. Her English was excellent though she had a Japanese accent. It had a slight American twang to it. Her parents were teachers. She was polite to a fault, and good-natured. She never spoke unless asked something. I suspected she was very smart. I told her that she was supposed to be my room-mate for the weekend, although she could choose another room if she really felt like it. She looked carefully at me then asked me did I like butterflies? I was taken aback by this. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I have always loved Butterflies, as our garden lit up with them each summer back home. Megumi smiled at me, and said she would be delighted to stay the weekend with me sharing this room. What a curious girl she was.
Megumi looked at the bed, and asked where she was sleeping. I smiled and told her we were sharing, did she mind? She looked at me for a few seconds, then at the bed. Then me again, then said that would be okay. Again, that implacable neutral expression on her face. I asked had she shared a bed before? She said yes, just not...
“Not with a British girl before?” I offered. She smiled, and nodded. I told her I didn’t bite. I gave her a friendly wink, then told her there was food down in the kitchen. She perked up immediately. As she went down the large staircase, marveling at the size of the house, I wondered how the weekend would go? I wondered was she really gay, as the girls had said? What would she think of sharing a bed?
I made my mind up that I would not make any moves on her, just in case. Maybe it would turn out to be just an ordinary weekend, with my friends, and this new girl Megumi. I told Megumi to watch out for Ronda. “She has this thing for being in charge...” I said. Megumi just looked quizzically at me. I said not to worry. “She gave me the wrong directions to the house...” she whispered.
“Why did she invite me here, so?”
“Because Ronda was trying to be her usual uptight self, messing stuff around,” I replied. “Be on your guard with her, but don’t let it ruin things, Megumi. The girls will like you...”
Megumi shot me this wonderful smile. Wow, she was really impressed because she suddenly thanked me for looking after her. She said I was very nice to her, even in class. I was? That kind of brought a lump to my throat.
One thing was for sure, with so many different personalities here - it was going to be fun. I felt a strange trembling in my tummy with excitement. And I was looking forward to seeing who would end up snogging who, and who would be fighting with whoever. With my friends, even the new ones - anything was possible...
To be continued.
Read Part 2 of Megumi by the Firelight.
All Contents Copyright (c) 2010 - 2014 Cassandra Mantis. All rights reserved.