Denise peeped over the banister and heard the faint hen-clucking of her mother, Valerie, entertaining Beverly in the living room. To Denise’s dismay, she heard the unmistakable slosh of a chardonnay entering another glass.
The teenager retreated back down the hallway into her dim room. A scent of artificial pomegranate wafted over the from the candle on the radiator. She observed herself in the mirror and backcombed the last remaining unknotted sections of hair. Pouting, Denise drew two stark streaks of orange blusher across her cheekbones.
‘Niiiis-y’ her mother trilled from the bottom of the stairs. ‘Niiis-y’.
Denise stomped back to the top of the steps and viewed the identikit blondes at the bottom.
Fiddling in her bag Valerie rebuked: “Oh. Nissy, say ‘pardon’ not ‘what’”.
‘What. Did you want to tell me?
‘We’re heading to the meeting now’ Valerie looked up at her daughter.
‘Oh, Denise, you’ll go bald before your time. And I wish you wouldn’t wear that ghastly make up’.
‘See ya then.’
Valerie shook her head ‘Why can’t you be more like Hannah?’
Beverly whipped her beaten hair.
‘Never mind my handful, let’s go we’ll be late…we don’t want to end up in the cheap seats.”
Forgetting Denise, Valerie erupted into shrill laughter
“Oh stop!” as she playfully hit her friends shoulder.
The sound of the heels on the gravel had barely dissipated before there was a rapping at the French doors at the back of the house. Denise glided over excitedly and let Hannah in.
“They took their time! Did you see how dressed up my mother was?”
“Ha” Denise snorted. They’re both an embarrassment. Still – what do you expect from the woman that puts on lipstick to get the phone?
Hannah circled the middle unit of the kitchen and glided her hands across the black tiles. She squeezed her hand around her tight denim pocket and pulled out a crumpled and deflated 20-deck of Malboro lights.
“De-licious. Smiled Denise.”The scented candle works a treat. It goes straight over her head”
Hannah inched closer, almost tentatively, to Denise. She squeezed her shoulder and commented that they were for afterwards.
“Well…I told my mum I’d be doing chemistry homework all night’
Hannah raised a sly eyebrow.
“Doing…?” She asked coquettishly.
“My desk is upstairs…”