I’m sitting in my car, already parked. I would get out, but a song is still blasting it’s way out of my speakers and I’m in the zone. I’m not going to leave this song unfinished, and I have time to sit for a while. It’s one of those small moments of peace that I cherish so much, a moment before the frantic rush that is my day continues. Sunlight is streaming through the window, a long gash which is splitting me from the passenger seat, and I’m completely alone.
At least, that’s what I think until the snort from the seat next to me proves me wrong.
With a jump, I turn and stare at whoever has somehow managed to sneak into my car without me noticing. She’s staring deliberately away from me, and her eyes seem to be held in a continual upwards roll. She’s got bushy hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, bright blue braces trying to push themselves out of her mouth, and barely blended concealer over what are obviously teenage spots.
The girl sitting next to me in the car is me at 13 years old, and I’m pretty alarmed to be having to share the front seat with her.
I pull out my phone, my fingers hovering over the dial button, wondering who I could call. I’m unsure of the solution, but she makes her derision clear as she snorts again. I turn to stare at her, shocked at the noises she’s letting herself make.
‘You caved. Of course you did.’ she says, uttering the first words of this bizarre experience.
‘I’m sorry?’ I reply, trying to get over the feeling that I’m listening to a 7 year old tape recording.
She nods towards my phone. ‘I can’t believe you let us actually gave up your sony ericsson for that.’
I look down at my iPhone, suddenly realising. ‘Oh, well, I mean…it’s a good phone. Android wasn’t really cutting it for me any more.’
She rolls her eyes again. ‘And what is this awful sound you’re listening to?’
Something in me plunges to the floor. Even at this stage of my life I’m a little ashamed to admit what I was listening to, and I know exactly what my 13 year old self’s reaction to this will be. I don’t answer. She picks up the iPod and drops it, apparently in shock.
She closes her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose. She seems to take calming breaths. ‘Justin Bieber?’ she finally lets out. ‘You were listening to Justin Bieber? And enjoying it?’
‘I’m sorry – ‘ I say.
‘It’s too late!’ she exclaims. ‘What happened to thebandwithnoname, to Fall Out Boy, to My Chemical Romance!‘.
I remain silent. She knows what happened to them.
‘And let’s not even get started on what you look like. How much makeup are you wearing?’ she demands.
I decide my best tactic at the moment is to remain silent. I remember that at 13 makeup was the enemy. Concealer was a necessity, but only if it was from natural collection, and even then it must be used with a minimalistic attitude.
‘Okay,’ she seems to be consoling herself, ‘Okay, there must be something good here. What do you like…do?’
I smile, knowing this will please her. ‘I’m studying English with Journalism and Creative Writing.’
‘For real?’ she replies. ‘You’re serious?’
I nod, pleased to have found something that satisfies my younger self.
‘And you write actual, original stories?’
‘Yes,’ I say.
She seems to be building up to something, her excitement making her flap her hands. I have to dodge them, nervous about getting my face smacked. Finally, she lets out what she’s been building up to: ‘Oh my gosh, you could write the next Twilight!’
I sigh. Here we are. One of my biggest childhood regrets. Do I leave the topic? Do I broach it? I close my eyes, count to ten, and prepare myself for the coming battle.
‘Listen, about that – ‘