Wednesday 2nd July 2014
I already have plans with Gary. Sorry, Marce.
She kept staring at the text wondering why the twisting anger in her stomach hadn’t bubbled up in the form of anxious vomiting yet. That seemed like something that should happen. Marceline had been staring at the text for the last five minutes and it refused to change. She wished it said something else, but it was fairly resolute in filling her with resentment.
There was a really big part of her that absolutely loathed this Gary fellow. It was upsettingly offset by her delight that he made Keila happy. But no, mostly she just wished he’d vanish or something.
Her fingers tapped against the edge of her phone, deliberating. She could just chill in her room again today. She could go and sit under the tree on the hill – although it was pretty darn cold now and that might be a little too extreme. Marceline sent a text instead.
As per usual, she didn’t really expect a reply. Instead she flopped backwards onto her bed, pulling her banjo up off the floor and onto her stomach. A few notes leapt from the strings as she plucked absently. Her phone beeped and she snatched it up.
Not much, Bonnie had sent back. Hanging out with Ellen and Pippa. Why? Do you need something?
Marceline sighed. Nah, just bored.
Why don’t you come over then?
They don’t like me.
Because you’re a grump. They’d like you if you were nice for a change.
You calling me a bitch, Banner?
No. I’m calling you a grump. Do you want to visit? We’re just watching movies and Ellen’s trying to engage us in a discussion on boys.
Marceline rolled her eyes. Sounds like a bad teen drama.
You have no idea.
She smiled. If I swing by, am I allowed to mock Eleanor?
There was a pause between texts then. Possibly Bonnie was working towards an answer, or it might have been to mimic a hesitation in conversation. It was a little on the dramatic side, but given the response, it was enough to make Marceline laugh.
Only if you do it quietly and with lots of subtlety, Bonnie replied.
I think I can manage that.
Should I expect your imminent appearance then?
She rubbed at her neck, thinking about it. What could it hurt, right? Sure. Is there a dress code?
Warm. My air conditioner doesn’t know what ‘reverse cycle’ means and is stuck on cool.
Sounds painful. Be over in a bit.
I wait with baited breath.
That also made her chuckle. She had no idea why, but Bonnibel was really good at dry banter and it was always so unexpected coming from her. She whipped a jumper over her head, running fingers through her hair in a vain effort to tame it and then headed out.
Given the biting cold of the day, she figured it might not be the best idea to try and get her car to start. Besides, the walk would warm her up nicely. Rolling her fingers into fists, she tucked her hands into the pockets of her coat, hunching her shoulders up around her ears in a vain attempt to keep them from freezing off.
In Minton’s drive, Pippa’s yellow punch buggy sat happily beside his grey thing. Marceline wasn’t sure what brand of car it was; possibly it was some Frankensteinian monstrosity that had long ago ceased being one specific type of car. If that was the case, Marceline supposed she could understand why it always looked upset about something: it was having some sort of identity crisis.
“I feel you,” she muttered, patting the bonnet as she walked past. She didn’t bother knocking on the main house; Bonnie would be in her flat. Marceline tugged her sleeves down over her knuckles before rapping on the door. In the cold, it hurt to knock on the wood so her hand was stuffed swiftly back into her pocket.
The door opened to reveal Bonnibel grinning at her. “Hurry up, you’re letting the warm out,” she said cheerily, stepping aside. It was much warmer inside, Marceline was pleased to note. “Do you want a drink?”
“No thanks,” Marceline whispered. “I was just bored.” She shrugged. “Figured I could do with some company.”
Bonnie’s smile was knowing. “Sure, sure. What you mean by that is Keila ditched you again and you’re feeling a little unloved because it’s her birthday today and you had something planned. Am I right?”
Marceline sighed in concession. “As always. Hey, Pippa.”
Penelope threw an arm across the back of the lounge to peer over at them. “Oh, hi, Marceline. What brings you around?”
“Got nothing to do,” she mumbled. “Bonnie said she didn’t mind if I crashed your little party.”
“Yeah that’s cool,” Pippa said, patting the cushion next to her. “Pull up a seat. We’re just watching movies anyway. Enjoying a day without boys.” She winked.
“What about Kendall,” Eleanor’s voice called from down the hall. It was followed not a moment later by the woman herself. “He’s easy on the eyes. And he has this amazing – oh. Abadeer.”
Marceline exposed her teeth in what she hoped was a wicked grin. “Scott-Parker. What a pleasure it is to see you.”
Eleanor clucked her tongue. “If you say so. What are you doing here?”
“Obviously I’m here to bask in the joyous radiance that is your company,” Marceline said dryly.
Her phone beeped quietly in her pocket and she used it as an excuse to look away from Eleanor’s indignant face. What the newly received text said was almost enough to make her laugh.
I told you to be subtle about the mocking.
So sorry. I’ll tone it down.
Thank you kindly.
Bonnie was very good at covert texting, Marceline discovered, courtesy of that little exchange. The redhead had her feet tucked up beneath her on the single seat sofa beside the one Marceline shared with Pippa. And Marceline hadn’t seen her move her hands. It was as if the text magically appeared in her phone.
“Who was that?” Eleanor asked, unable to mask her satisfaction. “A new beau? Some mysterious friend nobody knows about?”
It took a lot of effort for Marceline to not look over at Bonnie. “The latter,” she said quietly. Out of the corner of her eye, Bonnibel smiled delicately.
“How’s Keila?” Pippa chimed in, clearly hoping to change the topic to one less dangerous. “I figured you’d be in Blackwater together raising some metaphorical form of hell. Have you mellowed, Abadeer?”
Penelope’s tone was teasing, but Marceline couldn’t suppress the spike of ire in her gut. “She’s in Blackwater with her boyfriend,” she said sourly. “Possibly doing exactly as you said.”
Pippa’s expression crumpled. “Sorry. Allow us to be your not-as-exciting surrogates for today.” She smiled to show she meant it, which was completely unnecessary because Pippa was never anything but genuine.
“You’re too kind,” Marceline said softly. “So what were you guys doing before I so inconsiderately interrupted?”
“Bonnie and I were watching a movie,” Penelope supplied; evidently glad a less morose topic had been selected. “And I think Ellen was trying to come up with an eligible bachelor for dear Bonnibel.”
“I don’t need a guy,” Bonnie asserted, clearly not for the first time.
“There’s nothing wrong with being single,” Marceline concurred.
“See?” Bonnie piped, jerking a thumb at Marceline. “I have back-up.”
“Kendall,” Eleanor repeated, returning to what she’d been saying earlier. “He’s a nice guy, Bonnibel. You’d like him.”
“Have you dated him?” Marceline asked, lifting an eyebrow.
Eleanor was quiet, one long fingernail pattering on the arm of the sofa. “I might’ve gone out with him a few times,” she acceded grudgingly.
Marceline turned an apologetic expression towards Bonnibel. “You can’t date him then. Isn’t it in the Girl Handbook that you’re not allowed to date guys your friends have been out with?”
Bonnie’s smile in reply to that split her face in two. “I think you might be right, actually. Alas I left my Handbook in Ormeau so I can’t look it up.”
“You can borrow mine,” Marceline consoled; glad she was going along with it.
Pippa cackled at that. “Oh you’re good,” she chortled. “Why don’t you visit more often?”
“I heard girls’ nights were invite only,” Marceline informed her gravely, shrugging one shoulder. “And the IGCA lost my address.”
Finally, Eleanor joined in their silly conversation. “IGCA?”
“International Girls Consolidated Association,” Marceline clarified. “The union, I mean. I don’t get any pamphlets or anything.”
Pippa bumped their shoulders together. “Yeah, you should come to these things more often. Bonnibel will give you all the dates on her IGCA calendar, won’t you?” She leaned around Marceline then to direct the tail end of her question at Bonnie.
“Oh sure, definitely.”
“On a more serious note,” Penelope went on solemnly. “You do realise that by invoking Rule 43 in the Handbook wherein ‘no girl may date a guy who went out with a friend’ there are very few guys left in the county for Bonnie to date. She could be single for a while.”
“I would stop worrying if I were you,” Bonnie cut in. “Being single doesn’t trouble me in the slightest. I don’t want to date so the lack of viable prospects doesn’t bother me.”
“Crisis averted,” Marceline proclaimed. “Whew, all military personnel may stand down now so we can watch a movie.”
“All in favour of withdrawing our forces and watching some trashy chick flick say ‘aye’,” Pippa demanded.
Bonnie and Marceline were in quick with their affirmatives. Eleanor took a little bit longer to give in, but when she did Pippa declared their status no longer required a Defcon 1 alert. She stuffed a movie in the player before collapsing back onto the seat next to Marceline, flashing her another grin as she did so.
In her pocket, Marceline’s phone beeped.
“Phones must be on silent during the movie,” Eleanor informed her tartly.
“Sorry,” she muttered, trying not to roll her eyes. A text had come through that made a smile tug at her lips.
Covert Bonnie strikes again. She looked up but the redhead’s attention was fixed on the screen, a gentle smile curving her mouth up. Marceline switched her phone to silent mode and relaxed.
It turns out they weren’t such bad company after all.