Chapter Five

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Dear Diary,

Eventually I carefully placed the wedding album right back to where I had found it, on the top shelf, next to a row of old books. I ran my fingers across their spines and leaned forward to smell their mustiness.

I was tired after all the crying, it felt like the tears had taken all my energy along with them. I stood next to the fireplace, gazing at all the stuff along the top. The wooden clock with elaborate hands sat tick-tocking in the middle. And there, next to it, the gold-rimmed ornaments, each with a faint layer of dust on the top.

I could hear Leo stopping and starting on his guitar upstairs and as I strained to hear what song he played I heard the telephone ring loudly from the kitchen. It startled me into action and I sprang out of the room.

It was Marilyn, for Leo. I found him lying still on his bed staring at the ceiling. He looked like I felt, all I wanted to do was hang out with him, maybe listen to some music, talk about something silly. But soon after the phone call he went over to Marilyn’s to cheer her up. There’s something about Leo, he’s always been like that, people find him reassuring somehow, like a warm blanket on a cold day.

Once Leo was gone I sat around, eating toast. As I walked along the hallway I caught sight of myself in the mirror hanging on the wall and saw smudged mascara and a hazy kind of sadness in my eyes.

This is it, I decided. This has gone on for too long. How long can I keep crying over what happened? When am I going to get to the bottom of it, once and for all? With those thoughts in my head I ran upstairs and got out the box I keep at the bottom of my wardrobe.

In it, I keep all the things I've collected about Mum’s death. I even have that very first newspaper article. I took everything out and laid it all on the floor and as I started to pour over what was there, I heard the phone ring again from downstairs. I whizzed along to the kitchen to answer it.

‘Hello there!’ said an enthusiastic voice at the end of the phone.

‘Uh, hello?’ I said.

‘Damart here, from The Crystal Bowl. Just giving you a call, sweetheart!’

‘Oh, right!’ I said, throwing my head up in realisation.

‘Are you the gorgeous Amber?’ he said, sounding cheerful as a bird at sunrise.

‘I guess I am, yes!’ I said.

‘We just got your track this morning…’ he said.

‘Really? Wow! That was quick.’

‘Yes, well it’s got a first class stamp on it. Very keen you guys, we like to see that kind of dedication here at The Crystal Bowl.’

‘Great,’ I said.

‘Good thing too sweetie because we have one slot left in our local talent night,’ he said, ‘and we want you guys to fill it.’

‘Ahhhh!!!! Brilliant!’ I screamed.

He chuckled, saying:

‘You’re on at 10.30pm. See you then. I can’t wait to meet you in person. Well done doll. You've got a great voice by the way.’

‘Thanks! And yeah, see you then.'

How cool is that? Our first gig at a half decent venue! We are going to rip it up! Bouncing along, I ran to the porch to get my shoes on. I don’t think Leo would forgive me if I didn’t tell him the news the first instant I heard it.

Looking at the rain outside I grabbed my umbrella and sped off in the direction of Marilyn’s house. Up our street, down along Castle street. As I sped past the houses I got glimpses into the cosy-looking front rooms and saw the open fires flaming, the TVs flickering. The thrill of the recent news prevented me from feeling any of the cold or rain that swirled around me. I kept thinking, Leo will be so pleased.

As soon as I got to Marilyn’s door I got hold of the brass knocker and slammed it as hard as I could. Eventually Marilyn popped her head around the curtain. Leo said earlier she was ill but she actually looked pretty healthy – all red cheeks and lipstick. I waved at her. She didn’t wave back but she did come to the door a few minutes later.

‘Hi Amber, what do you need? I’m not too well at the moment–’

‘Is Leo there?’ I said, hardly able to contain my excitement.

‘Uh, yeah,’

‘Can I come in?’

I thought she might not let me past the front door until I heard Leo’s voice behind her.

‘Hey, Amber, come in, you’re getting wet out there!’ he said.

Marilyn moved aside and I bounced into the house. God, it was like an oven.

We all went into the living room and Leo said:

‘What’s happened?’

‘Ah, it’s soo exciting!’

‘What is it?’

‘You have to guess!’

Marilyn threw herself on the couch.

‘Jeez Amber, just tell us,' she said.

‘Nooo! Leo, you have to guess!!’ I said.

‘You won the lottery?’ he said.

‘No! I don’t even play…’ I replied.

Marilyn sat with her arms crossed.

‘Granddad won the lottery?’ he said.

‘Nooo!’ I said, standing in front of the fireplace as he perched himself at the edge of the couch.

‘Alright, I’ll tell you. We got a phone call from The Crystal Bowl.’

Before I even got to the good part he jumped to his feet and grabbed my elbows.

‘We’re gonna do the gig!’ I screamed.

‘Ah!’ he said.

His face lit up.

We grabbed onto each others’ elbows and started to jump up and down.

‘We got the gig! We got the gig! We got the gig! We got the gig!’

It was only when I caught Marilyn’s cat’s tail under my foot that we stopped as the cat screeched and jumped away.

‘Isn’t this cool Marilyn?' said Leo. 'We’re going to play at The Crystal Bowl in Brocksburn!’ 

‘It’s a scum hole isn’t it?’ she said, reaching down for the cat.

‘Noo! It’s a classy joint!’ he said. ‘Well, when I say classy it’s er…’

‘Nevermind that Leo, it’s better than the local pub!’ I said.

I think Marilyn might have sniggered but I couldn’t see properly. Who cares anyway? Leo and I. We’re on the road to stardom!

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