Authors: Vikki Wakefield
Tags: #JUV000000, #JUV039020
Vikki Wakefield lives in Adelaide. She writes late at night and if she can't read, she can't breathe.
All I Ever
is her first novel.
ALL I EVER
The Text Publishing Company
22 William Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000
Copyright Â© Vikki Wakefield 2011
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright above, no part of this publication shall be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.
First published by The Text Publishing Company, 2011
Cover design by WH Chong
National Library of Australia
Author: Wakefield, Vikki, 1970-
Title: All I ever wanted / Vikki Wakefield.
ISBN: 9781921758300 (pbk.)
Target Audience: For young adults.
Dewey Number: A823.4
Primary print ISBN: 9781921758300
Ebook ISBN: 9781921834387
For Margaret, who told me I could do anything.
I hope there are books in Heaven.
Happy pills. At best you're a dancing queen with a direct line to God; at worst you can fry your brain. Thirty bucks each, retail. They come wrapped in a brown-paper package that fits in your bike basket. Plain view is good because a backpack on a Dodd is asking for an illegal search by a cop.
I pick up the package from Feeney Tucker, a small man with a face like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces have been pushed together to make them fit. He has a caveman's brow and a cute, flared Barbie-doll nose. His lashes are long and pretty, his mouth thin and cruel. A thick neck, a pianist's elegant hands and a strange floating grace like a cartoon maÃ®tre d'. Dr Frankenstein could have put him together out of spare parts.
Feeney stalls before handing over the package. He makes a call, asks about the boys, and gives it to me grudgingly. After all, I'm a sixteen-year-old girl on a clapped-out, yellow bikeâhardly a convincing courier.
âMake haste, little girl,' he says in a voice like a Dickens chimneysweep.
My reputation and my conscience are going to take a hit. So far, both are clean. My mum says her princess doesn't need to be involved with âthe business'. Not with two older brothers who share a couple of hundred brain cells, eleven arrests, two convictions and a sprinkling of bastard offspring. Mum's words, not mine. But, needs must, Mum's words again. The boys have got a short stint in remand and we don't have a car. There are customers waiting and Fat Mother Doddâon a bike, with a packageâis as probable as life on Pluto.
Feeney shoves me off on my bike and I pedal hard for a few of blocks. But the sky is blue and birds are singing and what could happen?
only this one timeâ¦it's not like I'm a real
criminalâ¦just two more blocks and I'm home free.
Feeling bursts of joy that it's still summer, that there's no school for two more weeks. Anticipation is a constant, wonderful state, when my life has gone nowhere for so long and a life-changing event must be imminent. Waiting for fate to step in is almost better than something actually happening.
I hop off and walk the bike. Savour everything, even my paranoid imaginings. In my mind, the package is leaking a trail like Hansel's breadcrumbs and there's a queue of shiny, happy people skipping along behind me. I can feel my face burning brown, taste vinegar and chips, smell the odour of hot tar and old oil baked into the melting road. Hear the
of my thongs and the
of the wonky wheel. The bike rides too low, the handlebars too high like a chopper, but I don't care. I'm smiling like an idiot. Days like these I feel innocent and happy, but I don't know why.
Heat seeps through my thin rubber soles and I hop back on. Pedal in a wavering line. The neighbourhood is so familiar I could make it home with my eyes closed. Nothing changes.
I round the corner by the shops and everything changes.
there. Jordan Mullen, cool and relaxed leaning up against a wall, when my heart's blown up like a puffer-fish.
Not now, not now
. But I know I might not get another chance any time soon, so I drag my toe along the gravel and slow up.
He's smiling at me like he wants me to stop.
So I stop.
I smile back, but it's a corpse grin. My lips are stuck to my teeth and I can feel my hair doing its own thing. There's grit in my eyes but I can't rub them because I might miss something.
âI've been waiting for you,' he says, and I have this moment like in that old movie where the waves roll in and the gulls shriek and there's nothing but me and him. Except that there are no waves and the gulls are shrieking because the car park is a Macca's mecca.
âWhat for?' I ask him but forget to bat my eyelashes or some other flirty thing that would make me sound less rude.
He's not bothered though and I remember why I've been in love with him for a hundred yearsâor at least the last fiveâbecause he looks like Leonardo DiCaprio before he got old, and his eyes are like shards of blue glass. It's a bad-boy faceâlike when your letterbox gets bombed, and you know if you stake it out for ten minutes, one of them has to come back to check out his handiwork. That's him, the one who comes back.
So I say, âWhat for?' again, but kinder this time. He winks at me and I can see myself in something satin and strappy with a freakin'
pinned over my heart which is ready to burst.
Jordan takes my bike by the handlebars, wheels it into the alley behind the shops. The act seems almost chivalrous. I follow, my eyes fixed on the smooth, brown part of his back where his jeans hang low, just so. I'm sleepwalking, reacting, not thinking. This perfect, blue day.
Jordan kicks the bike-stand down and turns to face me. His eyes search mine like he's found something in thereâback and forth, back and forth. I'm mesmerised, as if he was swinging a pocket-watch. My lips pucker even as I tell myself:
be cool, don't sweat, suck in your belly
Then he says, âGive me the package.'
âWhat?' I ask, blinking.
Jordan Mullen is looking at me like I'm something he wants to scrape off his shoe and right then my heart breaks, but somehow beats on.
He says again, âGive me the package.'
âDon't,' is all I can say, as if it will make a difference.
He takes the package anyway. He rolls my bike into the dry creek at the end of the alley. It lands upside-down and he walks away. Leaves me standing there.
Jesus, I can't do anything right.
The next breath I take fills my lungs with despair. I stare at my bike, one wheel skewed like a lazy eye. I leave it there. I leave it because that bike reminds me every day that I could hold my breath between the times I've had something I wanted, and lost itâand still live.
The summer holiday is nearly over.
This is not how it's supposed to be.
I feel like running, but I don't. I walk, because in our street everybody knows everybody's business. Someone will notice I rode up and walked down. Over fences and through keyholes, your business can pass like a Chinese whisper and beat you home, even if you're running.
Tudor Crescent, one through forty-six, an arid alley of half-houses and not a Tudor or crescent in sight. A lost street in a forgotten suburb, an hour from the city. Low, chicken-wire fences that don't keep anything in, or out. Corrugated-iron roofs that peel and flap in the wind. This hot spell has bleached the street. Everything's toast, apart from the witch's oasis at number thirty-two.
The trains run behind our side. If you stand at the top of the street and draw an imaginary line of perspective, our side hangs loose, like it's been shaken off its hinges. For as long as I can remember, we've lived here. Mum says that the other house, the one I was born in, was worse. As if that's possible.
I should have done something. Kicked or screamed or made a scene, anything but stand there and let it happen. I should have told him something trite but true, like he didn't know who he was messing with. I could have told him that I needed to rewind that scene because something was missing. I shouldn't have stopped. But I did.
Two wars will come of this.
Out of habit, I cross the road to avoid the Tarrant place. The front yard is full of wounded toys and old junk. A bare-bummed toddler gives me the finger, so solemnly I could almost take it for a greeting. Another raggedy kid that could be a boy or a girl tears through a side gate and skids to a stop. Stares at me like I'm the antichrist. Gargoyle's choker chain hangs off the porch, empty, but you can't ever chance it.
Two doors further down I wave at old Benny in his cockpit, a bashed-up dentist's chair. Next to him, a dozen empties and a kidney-dish full of smouldering butts. He waves back, his gappy teeth like piano keys.
The downside to avoiding the Tarrant house is that I have to pass Mrs Tkautz.
Mrs Tkautz tends her garden with all the love of a childless woman. Because I'm a godless child, so
says, I sometimes snap the heads off her tulips and chuck in a few handfuls of birdseed where it thrives and re-seeds in her cow poo. Just a bit of fun, because small things amuse small minds and I'll never amount to anything.