Chapter fourteen: Whiskey and tennis
The season is over.
The chill of autumn is setting in meaning trains and coaches of wealthy elites have moved on to their landhouses and cabins.
Leaving us with a welcome few months of calm before the holiday season gives them ample reason to come back.
It’s night and yet my books remain shut for now.
Waiting for the sound of footsteps to come down the steps.
Things are odd still, but they’re not bad odd.
Melody is my girlfriend now, but only when the sun is down.
When the family has gone to bed and the place becomes silent.
Part of me wishes we could be together in the open. It shouldn’t need to be a secret,
But a far greater part of me feels like those are selfish thoughts.
I know that if this should come out I’m not the one with problems, I’d get fired perhaps, but she’d have to deal with the ridicule, the shame of it. The stigma and the disappointment of her family.
Humans care very deeply about who you are and who you love.
Even if it’s not their business.
It’s not all of them of course!
They’re different, just like dolls are different.
And yet they pretend everybody is the same and call it ‘social norms’ for convenience.
And then everyone who doesn’t fit the mould is lesser, scary or vulgar.
It’s silly, it’s-
The tapping of feet pulls me out of my train of thought.
“You ready?” Melody asks while pulling up the hood on her evening cloak.
I jump up from my seat
“Yeah, let’s go.” I try not to sound too eager and fail miserably at it.
I follow her out the door.
And onward to utopia
Utopia is an interesting place, especially by human standards.
The people here care less for societal conventions, which I appreciate because we can be together here without getting kicked out.
Unfortunately, they also spend a lot of time acting creepy because of all the booze they drink.
Some really strange types like to hang around here.
Luckily for us, Hope has stopped frequenting Utopia.
And so have Chess and Mallow
I guess that’s the price to pay when there is a breakup inside a friend group.
I never hear Melody complain about it. I wonder if she doesn’t care or pretends she doesn’t
I’ve learned she cares a great deal about a great many things.
But she doesn’t always like to show it.
As we come in Fervent and Sharp wave at us in a way that looks almost farcical.
I’m glad at least they didn’t buy the whole ‘Melody is cheating on me’ story.
“Hey fellas.” Melody drops down onto the big upholstered chair and pulls a cigarette from her pocket “How are you doing?”
I sit down next to her.
Fervent signals us to get closer, then whispers “Sharp’s got a big score so…” he sends his gaze over to his friend who pulls up an eyebrow.
“And here I thought you were going to make some dramatic setup for it. The man loves to talk for ages normally.
“What can I say? I just know my priorities.”
Sharp huffs amusedly, then grabs something from beneath his chair and sets it down with a clink.
“Whiskey!? no way!” Melody cries out delightedly.
“And look at that bottle,” Fervent says admiring the sculpted glass. It reminds me of crystals.
“I’m keeping the bottle Fervent” Sharp warns his friend as he pulls the bottle close to his chest.
“You better.” Fervent huffs “Throwing it out would be a crime.”
“What is it?” I ask suspecting what the answer will be already.
“Proper booze that will actually get you buzzed instead of just giving you a headache,” Sharp explains as he opens the bottle. He then takes a big swig from it and passes it on to Fervent. “I’m sorry you can’t enjoy it Delaylah.” He adds only a smidgen apologetically.
“That’s all right.” I don’t think I’d even want to.
“You know if there’s some doll inebriate I don’t know about you can tell me. I might even be able to arrange it for you.”
“Yeah, things like drugs, alcohol, smokes that sort of thing. The stuff you can put in your system to feel different than you would otherwise.”
“We read fairytales and listen to music?” I try.
“Not what I meant but cute nonetheless.”
“How does it work?”
“The booze, and the…Dio, it was?”
Fervent laughs before cutting in “Oh it just, messes with your head.” He explains.
“Well, that doesn’t sound safe.” I look at Melody as she takes a gulp of the amber substance and follows it with a drag on her cigarette.
“Temporarily messes with your head.” Sharp specifies. “You get back to normal again after a time.”
“What’s the appeal?”
“Oh I dunno, it’s fun. Gets you out of your thoughts for a bit and enjoying the world instead.”
“Really?” I’m not entirely sure about that. I think back to the drunk partygoers I toss into cabs and I’m not sure they’re having fun necessarily.
The bottle goes round and round, fast first, then slower as people start loudly chatting and leaning into their chairs more.
Melody slumps into me, head resting on my lap.
I watch the conversation while my fingers play with her hair absentmindedly.
“I think parents want what’s best for their child-” Fervent states.
“Most of the time.” Sharp cuts in.
“Sure whatever, but because their childhood was so different from ours they have the wrong frame of reference. They think getting married and kids or a wife and a job is ‘the thing’ to make you happy.”
“And that’s why you walked away from home?” Melody asks.
“What no? My old man found me Frenching with the tennis coach and kicked me out until I ‘learned to be normal’. Never got the hang of it so here we are.”
“You play tennis?” Melody cackles.
“Like the red devil herself.” His face cracks open into a smile.
“We should sneak onto your old man’s lawn and have a go!” Sharp shouts.
“Oh, that’d be great!” Melody agrees.
“Is that a good idea?” I wonder.
“Yeah sure, what’s he gonna do, kick me out more than he already has?” Fervent shrugs.
“I guess that’s a fair point?”
Sharp picks up the bottle and we all grab our coats.
Before walking back into the night.
“We should probably grab a cab it’s like two miles to the rich neighbourhood.” Fervent comments.
“I could do a walk, can you do a walk?” Melody looks at me and I nod “I don’t get tired easily.”
“Pretty sure a cab would be suspicious.” Sharp agrees.
“All right, don’t go complaining I didn’t warn you then.”
“Wait how far is it still?” Sharp asks after a while.
I look at my watch, checking the glowing green dial.
It’s only been ten minutes.
“Not even halfway there Sharp. I warned you.” Fervent rolls his eyes.
“I’m not tired I’m just bored.”
“Well, what about a song?” Melody giggles “I~ saw a guy with a stick up his ass~ stick up his ass~”
“Stick up his ass!” Sharp adds in the chorus while I mostly look baffled, by the display.
“And he asked me to stop singing~ cause~ He was a guy with a stick up his ass~” Melody grabs my hand and pulls me along waving her other hand into the sky urging me to sing along.
“I don’t know the words.”
“Those are all the words darling.” Fervent explains “Just that, but over and over again.”
“All right? In that case…He asked me to stop singing cause~ he is a guy with a stick up his ass? Stick up his ass? Stick up his ass?”
Melody cackles with joy “Yes Delaylah, louder Delaylah!”
“I saw a guy with a stick up his ass, stick up his ass. Stick up his ass!” beyond the crude lyrics, I have to admit there’s fun to be had shouting into the sky.
Melody dances around me shouting along pulling Sharp into the madness until-
“Okay shut up, shut up, shut up all we’re almost there.” Fervent hisses.
We gaze upon a giant house, bigger than I’ve ever seen, bigger than even the house I grew up in.
A tall iron gate keeps us out on the streets.
“Can you climb? Fervent asks carefully to me.
“With difficulty, but I can also do this.” I grab the knob and twist it out of the lock with ease.
“Wait so locks are only a suggestion to you? That’s so cool.” Sharp lets out with shimmering eyes.
“My dad’s gonna be so pissed…and turns out I don’t care, let’s go.”
We sneak onto the grass beyond, ignoring the well-kept path for the small stones crunch too loudly under our feet.
My heart is beating faster than normal. I hold Melody’s hand, my eyes sliding off to the massive building every couple of steps.
This all sounded very exciting when it was just a dumb plan in a bar.
But now I get a growing feeling we might be in more trouble than we anticipated.
The others seem fine with it though.
Maybe I’m being paranoid for no reason?” So instead of killing the fun, I try to keep my worries to myself.
It would only kill the fun.
“All right we’re here.” Fervent shows off a nice big patch of green with white tape stretched over the grass and nailed into place “I uh, I only don’t have any rackets?”
“Are you kidding?” Sharp hisses “Don’t you have them in a shed somewhere?”
“Do you see a shed? Look they’re in the house, and I mean…I’m not going to actually break in there.”
“I could.” Melody offers, “Where do they keep em?”
“Melody, remember what we discussed?” I look at her intently.
Melody huffs “Fine…I guess we can just look up at the stars then?” She sits down on the grass and drags me along with her.
The guys lay down with us and well, it’s odd but the stars look different here.
“Hand me the bottle will you Sharp?” Melody asks.
The bottle gets handed round a couple of times until it’s empty. And Melody snuggles up against me resting her head on my chest.
“Huh, your heart sounds funny.”
“It’s supposed to sound like that,” I assure her but I can’t help but feel self-conscious about it.
“Good.” She closes her eyes “I like it.” She pushes herself upright a little more and plants a kiss on my wooden cheek before slumping down again into my arms.
And things are peaceful and nice.
I look beside me, Fervent and Sharp seem to have fallen asleep and Melody doesn’t look far behind on them.
I don’t necessarily think it’s wise to fall asleep in a place you’re not allowed to be.
I guess they’re lucky to have me.
I should look up at the stars more, they’re pretty.
I lay there for a while as the sky slowly but surely changes colour again.
Until one of the lights inside the house turns on.
And it’s time to go again.
I gently push Melody off me “Wake up Melody.”
She groans, her eyes opening slowly but surely “Delaylah? What are you doing in my room?”
“Not your room, we’re still on the tennis court.”
Those words seem to have a very good waking effect “What? But it’s morning, hey fellas!” She jumps up and shakes the other two awake, time to bounce.”
“Shhh, I point to the window with light behind it and the three human faces suddenly lose three shades each.
Melody pulls up Sharp who pulls up Fervent and we rush to the exit and slam the gate shut behind us.
Then we run.
I have an easier time of it than the sleep-groggy humans so I slow myself down to their pace.
Then Fervent stops and starts to laugh. “Well, that was terrifying.”
I’m not sure if laughing is the right response if that’s the case.
But then the others start laughing too, as if it’s a joke they’re all in on.
I guess the tension is broken.
They’re far away enough from the house.
“Imagine us still laying there without Delaylah to wake us up.” Fervent exclaims.
“Yeah, thanks Delaylah.” Sharp adds.
Melody gives me a kiss “That was pretty cool.”
I feel pride swell up inside me then Sharp lets out a sad whine “Dammit! My bottle’s still back there.”
“Ah, shit. Well, at least it was empty.” Fervent comforts him.
“Yeah but still.”
Melody pats him on the shoulder “How about we buy a bottle together one day, then you can have that when it’s empty.”
Sharp nods at this.
We continue walking.
“We might want to pick up the pace if we want to be back before your dad finds out we’re gone.
“What time is it?”
“Half past six.”
“Oh fuck, we’re gonna run. It’s been fun fellas” Melody grabs my arm and just like that we rush home together.
Back to the hotel.
Back to work.
Back to just being colleagues…