“So when are we going to meet this allusive girl of yours then,” Carter asked Danny one evening while the family tucked into their dinner.
“Oh… erm….. soon,” Danny replied turning red and burying his face in his pasta.
“Leave him alone Carter,” Anna tutted. “I’m sure he will bring her round in time. You don’t want your boring old parents embarrassing you do you Danny?”
“Hmmm…” Danny murmured still not looking up from his plate.
Both Esme and Farah sat quietly listening to the conversation. While Farah sat shovelling her food into her mouth oblivious of anything else, Esme watched on surveying her brother’s uncomfortable face. She could sense that something was not quite right.
“So when are you seeing her next,” Carter continued with his interrogation.
“Tomorrow after school if that’s ok,” Danny replied.
“Of course it is. But remember we want to meet her soon. It must be getting serious the amount of time you two spend together.”
“OK OK,” Danny snapped back. Esme watched on, there was definitely something more to this than Danny was letting on.
Even though kids finished school later than the teenagers, Esme decided to skip her last period and follow Danny to his meeting with his girlfriend. She knew that the girl did not go to the same school as them but where did she come from? What was Danny trying to hide?
As Danny crossed over into the city centre, Esme trailed behind keeping a safe distance between her and her brother so he would not notice her. Every now and again he would turn his head and she would have to duck behind a pillar or post to shield herself.
All the way up through Bridgeport they strolled, out of the centre and into the downtown district. Esme was beginning to think Danny was leading her on a wild goose chase when he finally stopped at an apartment block and went in.
She ran across the road narrowly missing the traffic and followed Danny on it. When she went through the heavy doors he was nowhere to be seen and Esme figured he must have gone up in the elevator already. She peered at the intercom system for the flats but did not recognise any of the names. She considered pressing them all but then Danny would know she had been following him. She had no option other than to give up – for now.
She headed back out on the street and headed up a couple of blocks to her favourite shop, The Trinket Emporium. It sold everything and anything – knickknacks, clothes, jewellery and make-up!
The moment she walked through the door of the shop, it felt like home. She followed the same path from door to stand and glared down at what she had come here for. A beam of light appeared to shine from the casing around it and Esme could almost hear the make-up box calling out to her.
“Hey Esme,” the shopkeeper called out to her. It was Annabel her cousin who worked at the shop part time after school each day. “You’re not looking at that make-up box again are you?”
“Just checking it’s still here,” Esme called back. “My parents say that if I help out enough around the house they will buy it for me. I think it will be mine soon.”
“Well good for you kiddo. Keep up the good work.”
Esme took one look back at the make-up box and headed out. One day it will be mine, she thought to herself stealing one last glance.
She headed back out onto the street and glanced down at the apartment block Danny had disappeared into earlier. Suddenly he emerged through the doors in the company of a girl. But even from this distance Esme could see that she was no teenager, she looked like a fully grown woman. What was Danny doing?
Esme followed the twosome down the street, ducking and diving behind garbage cans and walls. Eventually they entered a small park and Esme hid behind a tree watching as Danny and the lady sat on a bench having a heated conversation.
She tried to stay as hidden as possible but as she leaned forward straining to hear what they were saying, Danny suddenly looked up and caught her eye. “Esme I can see you,” he called out. She was busted!
“Is this your girlfriend,” Esme asked moving towards her brother.
Danny and the lady let out a little laugh. “No Esme,” Danny said, “this is my mother!”
“No she’s not,” Esme cried! “Mum’s your mum!”
“I think I better be going,” Sadie said standing up and hugging Danny goodbye. Esme watched as she waltzed out the park. Good riddance, she thought. How dare this woman pretend she was Danny’s mother!
“Esme sit down,” Danny said taking a seat on the bench. Esme did as she was told and hopped on next to her brother. “Esme, you know that our mum is not my real mother. That I was born before dad and her got together right?”
Esme thought hard. She did know this. She had been told before but she had just forgotten, had pushed it to the back of her mind like a mistake she didn’t want to face up to. “So if that lady’s your mum, then where has she been all this time,” she asked.
“Away,” Danny replied looking somewhere off into the distance. He went silent and then looked back at Esme. “But now she’s back you have to make me a promise Esme. You have to promise me you won’t tell anyone about her, not even mum and dad. Got it?!”
“You just can’t. It will upset them and we don’t want that. Now just promise you won’t tell anyone. Please?”
“Ok,” Esme replied very confused. “I promise Danny.”
“Thank you, this means a lot to me. Now let’s go home, I’m sure mum is wondering where you are by now.”
The next day was a Saturday. Esme rose early like she did every Saturday and set about with her chores. By the time the rest of the family were up everything was done. Her plan to be the best daughter possible was working and she knew it was high time her parents rewarded her. “Dad can I have a word,” she said pulling Carter aside after he had finished washing up the breakfast dishes.
“Of course you can, what’s up kid?”
“Well I just wanted to talk about my chores. I have been helping around the house for a while now and been a good girl like you asked. Well I was wondering when I was going to be getting make-up case. I think I more than deserve it by now?”
“Esme darling,” Carter sighed. “We never promised you that you were going to get the make-up case. We discussed this with you before and we already told you that you are far too young for makeup. Remember we said that when you are older and if you are a good girl then we will buy it for you. So until you are a teenager, I’m afraid it’s just not going to happen.”
“You’re so unfair,” Esme shrieked stamping her feet and jumping up and down. “I hate you,” she hollered pushing her dad away from her as he tried to hug her and running out the door. How can they do this to me, she screamed inside her head.
Even though she knew she was now allowed to, she got on the subway and headed into downtown Bridgeport. She sprinted up to The Trinket Emporium with only determination in her mind.
As she entered, Annabel had her back to her and was chatting on the phone. “He said what…. No way….dump him Jenny….”
Esme crept in behind her cousin and over to the display unit without her noticing. She stroked the leather casing of the makeup box and breathed in its chalky smell. Adrenalin was running through her and she knew it was now or never. She once again peeked at Annabel and then with one swift stroke she scooped the box up and shoved it into her pocket.
She then ran as fast as her legs would take her. Across the floor, out the door, down the stairs and out onto the sidewalk. She did not look back once.
“Danny can I have a word,” Annabel asked the next Monday at school.
“Sure thing cous, what’s up?”
“I don’t really know how to tell you this but I thought you should know.” She leant in and whispered into his ear.
“Esme where is it,” Anna roared storming into her daughter’s bedroom.
“Where’s what mummy,” Esme angelically replied pushing the makeup box under the bed with her foot.
“Don’t where’s what me young lady, you know what I am talking about. Where is the make-up case?”
“I don’t have a make-up case,” Esme replied. “You and daddy said I couldn’t have it remember?”
“You can stop with that tone right now. I know that you stole the make-up case Esme. Annabel saw you and told your brother. Now you have to the count of five to give it to me or I’m calling your father!”
Esme could feel her heart pounding through her chest. She was going to kill Danny for telling on her. “One,” Anna pronounced. Esme stood still glaring at her mother with extreme animosity.
“Two,” Anna continued. Still Esme did not budge. “Three! Four!”
“OK OK,” Esme cried crouching down and pulling the box from out under her bed and reluctantly handing it to her mother.
“I am so disappointed with you right now that I can’t even look at you. Stay in your room until you’re father gets home and then we will come and speak to you about your behaviour.” Anna stormed out with Esme’s prized makeup box under her arm leaving Esme fuming.
She waited until she could hear her mother’s footsteps disappear downstairs then she tiptoed out of her room and thundered into Danny’s room. This was all his fault.
“I can’t believe you told her,” she screamed at the top of her lungs at her brother.
Danny looked back at his sister and then turned off the treadmill. He gently eased himself off and picked up a towel mopping the back of his neck. Esme could tell he was being so slow just to annoy her.
“Well you should not have been stealing and lying to mum and dad then,” he finally replied.
“You’re a fine one to talk,” Esme cried.
“That’s different,” Danny replied.
“No its not. You don’t mind lies you just want to be the one to control them. You’re the one lying to mum and dad about having a girlfriend when in fact you’re really seeing your real mum!”
“You’re doing what,” came a small voice from the doorway. Both Danny and Esme spun round to see Anna looking like she had been slapped in the face.