I stepped out on the platform to be completely dazzled by city lights and city noises. I hadn’t realised by then what the word city really meant. It was speed in its purest expression. The speed of those lights blinding me. The speed of the crowd wave carrying me. I felt somewhat clumsy and stupid for the first time in my life, and you know what – feeling stupid turned out to be completely insufferable, much worse than being called a Crowned Bookworm. Now it seemed kind of a praise. The praise I had run away from. That’s what I did now. I ran again. Only directly. Physically. Until I pressed my back against the cool wall, thinking – everyone is looking at me, everyone sees how bewildered I am, everyone is laughing at me.
But then I realised that they hadn’t even noticed me. They didn’t know I had arrived. They had the crowd, not me. Not my story. I didn’t exist there.
Emma, you have come here to face this life, not to run away from it. You have made the first great step. An absurd, but right one, so do not let yourself regret it and hide here trembling. Go further – I was saying to myself. Nobody can ever make us move but ourselves, because we listen to nobody else. Especially at sixteen.
So – what would my next great step be?
Despite the fact that it was a hot summer day and the warmed-up park lanes and banks could be very tempting to sleep on at night, I was not this romantic to do so. But I also had no idea of where I could find a home. Newspaper advertisements were excluded – I was too an impatient sort of girl to go through them. Knocking randomly at people’s doors was a direct way to spending the night Scotland Yard and then being sent back to my parents. Impossible. I decided just to walk around a bit until some genius thought might occur to me. I was well aware it wouldn’t. But I didn’t have any other option.
After about two hours of wandering I was becoming hysterical. I was ready to kill myself for climbing out of the window at damn romantic summer midnight, having materialistic ambitions of personal growth. I thought of my parents who definitely assumed their daughter had gone crazy. Clinically crazy. They were certainly cursing me and cursing themselves. And the policemen, troubled by my parents, were also cursing me. And I was cursing me. I felt so damn cursed.
I sat on the bank and stared before me. I had been sitting so for a while until I realised someone else was staring at me during the last few seconds. I turned my head very rapidly, meaning what the hell do you want from me? But I didn’t say it aloud, for it was changed at once by a girly-curious wow, who are you?, as handsome guys always bring up such an interest. And it was a handsome guy. Dark eyes, brown hair, clean look, tall and sportive body. I raised my eyebrows, thinking – not bad. And it got even better, when he almost ran to me and asked anxiously:
“Will you be my girlfriend?” and rubbed his forehead in an obvious confusion.
I left my eyes wide open, took a deep breath and pressed out the only word I had in mind:
My ability to speak brought him into higher spirits:
“No, I mean… will you be so kind as to act as my girlfriend only for tonight?”
“A rather perverse offer, you know!”
I was talking freely. I saw that, despite his film star appearance and such a brutal pick-up line he was kind of afraid of me.
“Oh no, you’ve misunderstood me again! I’m only asking you to come to a party organized by my mother’s friends and be presented to the guests as my girlfriend. You see, my mother has made a deal with the hosts that I will finally bring a girlfriend with me. All you will have to do is to dance with me a bit and not to kill me if I kiss your cheek considering it part of the game. I just want to please my mum.”
He said the last phrase with such a genuine childish expression (although he looked a couple of years older than me), that I couldn’t help exclaiming:
“So you agree?”
What other choice did I have? At least I would meet some people who could probably help me, although I didn’t believe much in the huge quantity of compassionate souls.
“Will your mother be aware it’s only a trick?”
“Sure. I am not good at lying to her. Her friends are millionaires, you know, so we’d better win,” he winked.
“Okay. But I will also want my share,” I winked back and laughed at his being confused again.
Image taken from Daily Mail