“So,” said Sunny’s mum, Catherine Clarkson, “it’s your birthday next month!”
“Yeah,” Sunny said absentmindedly as she drew her comic on the kitchen table. Her mother was often too bubbly, like she was trying desperately to be a cool mum. Sunny shaded in the nose of her monkey hero, hoping her lack of enthusiasm would be conveyed by her obvious interest in something else. The comic was of her own creation, with the help of her best friend, Caley. It was called Gay Monkeys From Mars. Mostly she just liked drawing monkeys with pink and rainbow capes. They all had little antennae growing out of their heads, so you knew they were martians. There were six of them, each with a nose a different colour of the pride rainbow. Caley had come up with the red, yellow and orange monkeys, Sunny with the green, blue and purple ones. They didn’t have a leader but the purple nosed one was particularly bossy. This was the one Sunny currently worked on.
“So, who are you inviting?” enquired Catherine. Catherine worried about her daughter. She seemed to be turning into an archetypal angst-ridden teenager. This didn’t bode well with Catherine, whose primary reason for not wanting children was that she might end up with a girl and she didn’t think she could handle raising a girl. Sunny had been a delightful surprise though, more interested in G.I Joe than Barbie, preferring CDs over the current fashion and riding her bike to putting on make-up. Lately, however, since moving to this city, Sunny had begun to act differently. Catherine felt guilty, assuming that the move was more upsetting for her daughter than Sunny was willing to admit. She’d tried broaching the subject a few times and had been met with an icy glare.
“I dunno,” mumbled Sunny, who wasn’t at all upset by the move. Yes, she certainly missed Caley, but they’d been keeping in touch with regular emails. Sunny was just so happy to be far away from her old life. She could reinvent herself here, be a different person, someone who was mysterious and quirky. Someone about whom her classmates knew nothing about. Someone who wasn’t the school joke.
“How about Derek?”
“Devon,” corrected Sunny. Catherine chewed her bottom lip, a habit she had when she’d said the wrong thing. Sunny didn’t notice as she kept drawing, “And I doubt he’ll want to come, we don’t know each other very well and he’s really quiet and stuff. I don’t think he likes me.”
“You’ve been talking about him the entire two weeks you’ve been there! How can you not know each other very well?” exclaimed Catherine, exasperatedly, “And he seems like the only person who does talk to you in that horrible school, I’m sure he likes you.”
Sunny looked up at her mum to see if she was serious. Catherine’s arms were crossed, her eyes wide and eyebrows arched high. Sunny doubted her mum would be convinced, “He’s just not very interested is all.”
“It could be a way to become better friends,” since Sunny was little she and Caley had been nearly inseparable. Catherine knew the importance of having a close girlfriend in which to confide and find support. If not for the girlfriends she had she probably wouldn’t have managed when Sunny’s dad left them when Sunny was only three, or when Catherine’s position in a small law firm had been made redundant, or when her car was stolen and it took four months for her to get a replacement. A new school was an equivalent crisis for a teenager, as far as Catherine was concerned. Never mind being in a new city on top of that.
If her daughter could only make a friend, someone in which she could confide or go to for comfort and support, she felt that Sunny would be O.K.
“Whatever,” Sunny sighed. She began to put away her drawing stuff, stacking the paper neatly, placing her pencils into their case, wiping eraser bits off the table onto the floor.
“I’ll make an invite for him O.K.?” offered Catherine.
“Fine,” Sunny gathered her things to take upstairs to her room in the attic.
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