Chapter 4: The Girls At The Wall
“You haven’t started yet!”
“Are you serious?”
“How could you not have started?”
“Wow. I’m speechless.”
This and more buffets Ilona, question after question, peppering her ears and bewildering her senses for a few seconds, but for what feels like an eternity.
All the startled looks accompanying these inquiries finally subside, with the coda coming from the girl in the middle.
“It is one of the best books ever, and you haven’t even started it yet? What, pray tell, have you been doing all your life?”
The question seems so innocuous, but hides so many meanings right now. Ilona, very off center at the moment, and the last comment really spins her more. Responses go blank in her mouth. Something must come out, and soon. Instinct takes over, and after a split second of forever, Ilona replies.
“Breathing, eating, and making stew,” she laughs.
Leading with the truth with her friends of thirty seconds seems like a good policy, while lightening everything with humour for her own survival also makes sense.
They all laugh, which greatly relieves Ilona.
The girl at the end speaks up again.
“Okay, first rule. No more making stew till you finish the book. The books demands it. Deal?”
The girl at the end climbs over the other four, causing much grunting and whining from them, in order to shoot her hand over to Ilona. They grasp hands and shake. Ilona is excited inside, this is her first friendship handshake.
“Will you get off of me Maddie!”
“Ack, can’t breathe!”
“Book crushing ribs! Book crushing ribs!”
“Why do you always crawl across us?”
“If I lose my place…”
Madison returns to her place at the end, very happy and pleased with every result she has just accomplished.
“Goal one: You are reading the greatest book ever. Goal two: I have crushed everyone. Again.”
Madison starts pumping her legs up and down, almost like dancing a jig on the spot.
“Forgive Maddie, her sister taught her the fine art of being crazy. Someday we will bottle it and sell it to the Martians,” the girl beside Maddie states.
“They are just jealous of my moves.” Madison finishes her impromptu dance and plops her legs down. “Ka-boom!”
“She always does that. Crawls across people. Shouts kaboom. Talks in made up accents. Sometimes acts normal.” Clara has put her book down and starts counting off Madison’s misdemeanors, one by one, on her fingers. “I could keep going but I would run out of fingers.” She shrugs.
“You could always try counting with your toes.” The girl beside Clara pipes in, while pointing at her shoes.
“Yeah, but I hate using logic while describing Maddie. It feels like a universal law is being broken Collette.”
Collette is still pointing at her feet, as if she would win the discussion just because she is still illustrating her solution. Madison is giggling at the end of the group.
Clara stares at the girls arm.
“I want to see how long Collette will keep her arm up. Maybe three hours?”
Another voice, this time next to Madison, moves into the chaos.
“I am fairly certain the lunch hour will not go on for three hours this day. It has never ever done that before, no matter how much we have willed it to.”
Maddie’s giggling continues unabated, truly reveling in the fun carnage, which for their age it truly was, that she has facilitated. Her phone is in her hands, out of nowhere, and buttons are hit, all with her eyes barely looking at the screen. “You tell ‘em Suzzy!” She shouts while multi-tasking.
“Online again?” Susan turns from Collette’s toe pointing to Maddie’s finger punching, all with an epic eye roll.
“Gotta update my sister on all these fascinating developments. Texting to the high school!” Madison raises her phone up in the air, as if the signal travels better that way.
Collette swooshes her arm from pointing at her toes to aiming at the phone, seemingly adding a push to it.
“Fly! Be free!” Clara sings, urging the invisible text along.
Ilona is watching and listening and trying not to be stunned by all these shenanigans. Like well-rehearsed chaos, the girls just enter into some type of play which is quite beyond her. The jokes and the teasing make her laugh, the obvious connections make her feel the communal history they operate in, and the names bantering back and forth strain her mental energies to remember. It is a colossal amount to take in.
Her senses barely register the one anomaly at first, but amidst all the giggling and pointing and antics, Ilona notices the one girl right in the middle of the original five. After the flattening by Madison, she went right back to her book, with no outward appearance of realizing what is going on. Ilona, completely forgetting the jovial welcome she received when she joined the wall, feels twinges of discomfort. Maybe this girl resents Ilona’s intrusion? Her silence is a message of goodbye?
The sudden despair entering Ilona’s heart transmits to her face. She sees Madison’s glowing look, as she turns with triumph from her phone, change to concern.
“What’s up?” She asks.
All heads turn to Ilona, including the girl in the middle who dislikes her.
“Nothing. I don’t want to bother you all.” Ilona starts to move her legs to get up and go away, as far away as possible.
“Bother?” Susan’s mouth goes wide, with eyes betraying hurt.
“You are certainly not a bother.” Collette states emphatically.
Madison’s cell breaks into the conversation with a loud sound effect of a French horn making the waa-waa sound. She steals a glance at the screen.
“Hey Cynthia, Trac says your middle brother says hi. Why doesn’t the idiot text you himself?”
The quiet one in the middle, whom Ilona knows hates her, turns to Madison.
“Phone got confiscated. Grades sucked. And he definitely deserved it.” Cynthia speaks with a quick clip, stating everything like fact.
Her head snaps back to Ilona.
“Are you okay? You seem concerned about bothering us. You’re not. You were in my class last year. Ilona right?”
Ilona sees the care from Cynthia’s eyes, peering into her. So much love flows towards her, something she is ill prepared for. Madison may be the first friend to shake her hand, but Cynthia is the first to fill her with hope.
“Yes, my name is Ilona.”
Song For This Chapter: Yellow Submarine by The Beatles.
The Passport To The Wall is Copyright 2013 to Paul Riches
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First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.