Monday, 26 March 2012

Petrol - Part 2

Good evening :D I'm in a very good mood today because summer had come unexpectedly early in Scotland. It was a sweltering 20 degrees Celsius at lunchtime (68 degrees Fahrenheit for you American folks) and we are getting very close to breaking the March record for highest temperature! To those of you in warmer countries, it might not seem warm, but to Scottish folk, we're slapping on suntan and walking around in shorts and vest-tops :P

Anyway, here's the second part of Petrol. I hope you enjoy it! Oh, and before I forget, please vote on the poll :) I'm not sure of this background so I want your advice!

Petrol - Part 2

“There,” she said. “All done.” She grinned again and put her hands on her hips. Her eyes were still twinkling, sparks flying from the hollowed chestnut globe of her iris out into the ordinary, normal world that seemed so out of a place all of a sudden. It couldn’t be normal, not with this mad girl in it.

I looked her up and down, my brow furrowed in confusion. A tip of white paper stood up from the top of her pocket, the tip of a wave. I swallowed. “Eh, it might not be my place to ask, but why in God’s name did you do that?” The moment I had said the words, I wanted to take them back. I needed to go, not strike up a conversation with this girl.  Curiosity had no place in my mucked up life, not now anyway.

The girl grinned again. “I was waiting for you to ask me that. Everyone even remotely normal seems obliged to find out more about me, about my life. You’re not the first to investigate further, you know.” She sighed and stuck out her hand. Her nails were blood red with a line of blue glitter slicing them in half. I shook her hand, the soft flesh of her palm colliding with the sweaty, unwashed skin of mine. “My name’s Simone. And you?”

“Joe. Joe Steele.”

Simone nodded and folder her arms across her flat chest. “You have a very normal name. Do you know that? Joe Steele. I wish I had a normal name. My last name is very strange -Romanian, I think, but I’m not too sure.” She glanced up. “The toilet paper is a souvenir.  I don’t have any money, so I just take that. It’s free and you can tell a lot from a bit of toilet paper.”

She stopped abruptly and looked at me. “You think I’m strange.” She shrugged and started moving away into the main body of the shop, her feet gliding across the floor. “Don’t worry - I get that a lot. Oh well, it’s good to be unique, I think. ‘Why fit in when you are born to stand out?’ Or even better - ‘Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that’s more Youer than You’.” Smiling, she lifted her hand and brushed it along the wall of the shop. The blue veins on the back of her hand fitted into the crevasses and cracks of the wall perfectly as though they were made together, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that only she could fill. I hurried after her and we stopped at the edge of the sandwich shelf.

“Dr Suess.”

She glanced up at me, a grin playing on her lips. “You know the quotes? The last one is one of my favourites.”

I shook my head. “Sorry, I don’t know it. It just sounded like Suess. So, are you on a road trip then?”

Simone nodded and then shook her head. “Yes. No. Well, not really. I don’t have a car, you see, so I’m on a pavement trip, a grass trip and a field trip at the moment.” She examined a limp ham sandwich, which was so old it looked fossilised. “I’ve come all the way from Manchester on foot. Would you believe it? I’m quite proud of myself for that.”

“On foot?!”

“Uh-huh. Quite tiring, but hi ho, I don’t really mind.” She ambled over to a rack of postcards. She spun them and smiled absentmindedly at the whirl of colours they created. “What about you?”

“I-I’m going on a road trip around England.” I felt my face go red. What if she asked more questions. The last thing I needed was more questions...

“Why?”

I bit my tongue. Why? Oh, fantastic, great. Just what I needed. “Why do you need to know?”

“I don’t.” Simone shrugged. “But, guessing by your rudeness, your demeanour and your body language, I’d say you’re running. But from what? It’s not your mum or your girlfriend - no, it’s something bigger than that.” 

Her eyes narrowed and she cocked her head in thought. “Your future. Judging by your clothes - the tight, stylish checker top, the smart-but-casual jeans, the pointed, polished leather shoes - I’d say you were about to go to uni. Oxford, maybe? Your accent sounds right, and you’re smart enough. Well adjusted enough to be accepted there as one of the crowd. But you’re scared. You aren’t ready to leap into adult life, to watch everything you wanted to do speed away into the far and empty distance. So you’re running away on a roundtrip to nowhere, in a vain attempt to figure out your life and clear that jumbled cluttered head of yours. Am I right?” She turned to look at me, her brown eyes twinkling with knowing.

Somewhere during her speech, my mouth had fallen open. “What? Wh-How did you...”

Simone laughed. “I have a knack for these things that few people do.  I was right, wasn’t I?”

I nodded, my mouth still hanging open. “Yeah. Although I’m going to Cambridge. Or, at least, I was going to Cambridge.” I snapped my jaw shut and ducked my head. “I was going to study law.”

Simone nodded and turned back to the postcards, fingering the corners of each one. “Don’t be so quick to resort to the past tense. Things could change in an instant.” She fell silent. I just stood there. How did she do that? It was like she could read my mind and soul. But she couldn’t...could she? I gave myself a mental smack in the face. She couldn’t. That was impossible and anyway, she was a girl. A crazy, mental girl, but there was certainly nothing physic about her. She was just a girl, just a girl...

“Anyway, I’d better be heading off. I need to be in York in an hour. It was nice talking to you, Joe. Have fun figuring out your amazingly normal life.” Simone smiled and walked towards the door. Her hand curled around the handle. “Oh, and Joe? You’ll go to Cambridge, and you’ll graduate the youngest in your class. But take your road trip. You need it to figure out the rest of your life.” The edge of her mouth turned up in a warming smile and with that, she was gone.

I pushed my hands into my jeans pockets and leaned against a shelf of shapeless chocolate bars. I had no idea how I knew, even less of an idea how she knew, but she was right. It just...clicked. I was going to go to University and get my degree. How did she know? How did that odd girl know? I needed to figure her out. I cast my eyes to the door. I had to get back on the road. I had places to go, people to see, and if I casually passed Simone on the way...

I smiled and walked towards the door, my hand rummaging around in my pocket for the key to my truck. Huh. That was funny. It didn’t seem to be there. My spare hand opened the door and then I paused. A smile passed over my face and I walked out of the petrol station, my shoulders lax. My truck was parked a few metres away, its blue surface smeared with crumbs of dirt and grime. It had been second hand - my parents hadn’t been able to afford anything else, seeing as there were my two brothers to care for as well. It was small and disgusting but it worked and that was all that mattered.

I sauntered towards it, stopping just before I collided with the wing mirror. I waited a moment and the door flew open. I looked up to the window and grinned. “Are we going?”

Simone giggled and waved the antibacterial hand wash I had left on the passenger seat in my face. She gave the driver’s seat a quick pat with other hand and grinned. 

"Only if you wash your hands.”

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