90 minutes later
“You’re late” Tate called out to Brady and the other four walking down the street
“I was gathering our fine, well trained soldiers to meet the queen, sire” Ben faked a British accent and bowed gently”
“Well, no more further rations today, for your lack of punctuality” Tate played along.
“Dear, dear” I started “A bit harsh, don’t you think Tatey. While these fine warriors lack in punctuality, they make up for with their peculiar sense of fashion”
“Pardon me, my queen” Rhi said, approaching me “but, any sense of fashion is better than yours”
“Yes, so I have been told” I looked down at my baggy blue shirt and jeans.
“Aight guys, let’s get in” Dawson spoke.
The six of us turned towards the twelve metre pond. I hadn’t been there in a while, but everytime I do visit the pond, the dirty waters turn greener in filth and the rubbish floating around the edges of the pond give off worse smells than before. This year, the government had decided to round the pond with a three feet fence, forbidding any citizens to bathe in those waters.
Yet, it is what lay under it, that held this place so close to our hearts, giving us reasons to visit it on a daily basis.
Under the fence, very wisely hidden with mud and leaves, was a metal trapdoor, the width of a person. The staircase beneath the trapdoor, lead to an empty room, originally built as a wine cellar, but was now forgotten about.
It is in this place, that the six of us spent most our times together, catching up, sharing stories, singing songs, without the knowledge of our parents.
We were the forbidden friends, sneaking into the forbidden tavern, thinking of forbidden things to do.
Brady yanked the door open, the dust causing my allergies to act up as I started sneezing.
We followed Brady down the creaky, wooden stairs, Penny shutting the door above us.
In the room that came next, the cement bore in-built shelves, with cobwebs on most of them. The room itself was circular, not very big, just enough to fit the six of us.
On one of the shelves, a deck of cards lay, waiting to be dealt. Beside that, a stack of money was folded, it’s sides crumpled and torn.
In the middle of the room the musical instruments, a guitar, a flute, a stereo and a couple of buckets used as drums, remained untouched from yesterday.
One by one, my group of friends sat down in a circle, on the floor next to each other.
“Cards first, or John Denver?” Tate questioned.
“Why John Denver again, his songs are ew” Penny stated.
The flame in Tate’s eyes sparked, as I waited for a witty reply, sure to escape his lips.
“That’s your opinion about him” he started “That’s okay, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Even though your fucking wrong”
Penny laughed at her younger brother “Okay fine, his songs are soothing. But not something you can jam to”
“Yeah yeah whatever” Tate turned to me “Cards or Johnny, your highness”
“Songs dude, been waiting to sing for months” I replied.
“Of course” Dawson said “Even I can’t sing at school, get to conscious. I feel trapped”
“At least you can sing to Rhi on Skype” I said, looking back and forth between the young couple “I wish I could Skype Tate”
“Nah, I’d be boring on camera” Tate said gathering the guitar on his lap, blowing on his fingers, trying to look professional, even though all he could play were a few songs.
“I hate becoming Allyson whenever I go back you know” I sighed “I don’t know how much longer I can keep it up”
“Let’s be real sweetheart” Rhi spoke “you been putting up this act for years. You have a couple more years till you leave that school. You’ll make new friends in college, maybe then you can be you from the beginning”
I smiled “Yeah I suppose”
Rhiannon, a year older than me, alot skinnier, and ever so wise, managed to hit people with the truth whilst giving them valuable advice. Her pixie cut hair, denim shorts, and tight T-shirts made her look lk a foreigner.
Despite me being the only one in the group living abroad, Rhi pulled off a perfect, non-bratty teenage attitude, kept up with her social media in a proper child-friendly way, and spoke the most English besides me. Her extreme knowledge in literature and art history is what inspired me to do the same.
Rhiannon, was also the most privileged amongst us. She lived in the western side of Calcutta, popularly known as the posh Calcutta. She had a very friendly relationship with her parents, something Tate and Penny weren’t able to establish with their parents.
Tate and Penny lived in a small house near a car rental store, their parents working as car mechanics, expecting their children to bring home engineering or medical degrees. Tate having an interest in film and literature, much like me and Rhi, was forced to give up on his ‘hobbies’ and study commerce. Penny, who had excellent skill in playing the violin and flute, and being two years older to Tate, had already applied in a medic school for the following semester.
They shared the same Asian, small eyes due to their part Nepali, part Paki heritage, their broad lips and curly dark brown hair. Though they argued on everything, the hatred for their parents burned as bright as Hitler’s hatred for the Jews.
Dawson and Brady barely spoke to their parents, but when they did, they kept a very formal relationship.
Brady’s dad worked as a small time banker, earning just enough to get his family through the years. His mother, ever the sweetheart, was always ready to help, despite having been in an abusive relationship herself during her first marriage. She’d been a great help to my family over several times of crisis. They tried their best to take care of their six feet, problematic son, but Brady being the notorious, criminal master-mind that he was, made it quiet hard for them
Dawson hardly spoke of his parents. Even though I’d known him for three years, I barely knew the guy. To my knowledge, his parents owned small stalls selling clothes and food. Dawson wore a loose, sleeveless shirt and half pants nearly all year. His spikey gelled hair was washed once a week due to water shortage and his skinny figure always made him beg us for food. After dating Rhi for a few months now, he always seemed to be in a better mood.
By the time I’d snapped back to present, Tate had already started strumming Be Back Home Again, John Denver, as the group of friends relaxed themselves and lay back.