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Alexis - Chapter 2 (Archived)

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Alexis - Chapter 2

I submitted the first chapter of this story a long time ago! It's summer, and brownies are cooking in the cottage. Submitted by Nim (Award 912), age 19

Chapter 2

We run around in the sun all afternoon until we are so worn out we can hardly breathe.
“Do you think we should have a break now?” I ask as my fit of panting subsides, pointing to the house to make my point.
“That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day,” Nate replies, and he goes on ahead of me, striding as fast as his wobbly legs can carry him up to the green-painted back door.
There is a window taking up the space of the top half of the old door, with a pair of little checkered curtains on the inside that we close at night. They’re open now, revealing the view of the kitchen where Maya and Leanne are. Before I even get inside I can tell they’re cooking again. They have their aprons on.
Nate practically falls through the door when he pushes it open, and me, Leanne and Aunt Maya are all laughing. I’m tired too, but I don’t think I’m THAT tired!
“Deary me, boy, what has she done to you?” Aunt Maya chuckles, slicing off a slab of butter.
“What are you making?” I ask Leanne, helping myself to a small handful of dark chocolate drops from the packet on the side.
“I need those!” is her reply, trying to pinch them back off me jokingly. “Double chocolate brownies. You want to help?”
“Of course I do!” I exclaim, and rush over to the apron drawer, gently kicking Nate – who is lying on the cool flagstone floor – in the stomach.
“Ow…” he moans faintly, sounding so tired I think he might fall asleep there and then on the kitchen floor. “Do you mind?”
“If I did, I wouldn’t have done it.” I say, bending down with apron in hand and tapping him on the nose.
“You cheeky thing,” Maya says, evidently to me, finding a pan and putting it on one of the Aga’s hotplates. It is still as hot as it is outside in here, because the fire behind those cast iron doors is on full blast.
“You sound very tired, Nate,” I observe. “Are you actually going to sleep there?”
“Sounds like a good plan,” says he, and fakes snoring.
I roll my eyes and stand up again, making my way over to Leanne and slipping the black and white stripy chef’s apron over my head. I’ve had it for years, so it’s endured other things besides cooking, including painting – hence the bright green splodge on the bottom right-hand corner.
“Do you want me to tie it for you?” Lea asks.
“No, no, I can do it,” I answer, pulling what is probably a painful looking face as I reach behind my back awkwardly, trying to tie a bow with the stringy pieces of fabric.
Eventually I succeed.

I stare at the wind-up timer sitting on the kitchen table in front of me, waiting – PATIENTLY – for it to go off.
“When are they done? …Is it ready yet? …What’s taking it so long?! …Come on!” I say to whoever’s there every five minutes.
“Honestly, Alexis, you’re as bad as a two year old,” Aunt Maya tells me. “Patience!”
I am not sitting on a chair, but kneeling on the lovely cold floor with my chin on the table, and the timer is about three inches away from my face. I see now why Nate found the floor so relaxing.
The timer looks like a speckled egg, and Aunt Maya found it in a charity shop a couple of years ago. It doesn’t look very old – it was practically new when we first had it. I do my best to keep it looking practically new, because I really do love it. Unfortunately a few months ago I dropped it on the hard kitchen floor, but thankfully it survived. Tough stuff!
‘DDDRRRRRRRRRRIIIIINNG!!’ I suddenly hear as I am trying to remember which charity shop it was, falling backwards and almost smashing my head on the cupboards behind me.
“Aaargh!” I yell a split second later. My goodness, that jumped me!
“Has it gone off?” Leanne calls from somewhere in the house. I’m presuming that she’s guessed exactly what just happened, especially as you can hear that timer from about a mile away (which somehow I forgot, otherwise I would have put it a little further away from my face).
“Finally!” I call back, and I pick myself up and turn the din off.
I can smell the aroma of chocolate swirling around the kitchen from the Aga oven, which is enough to send my taste buds mad. I grab a tea towel and open the door of the oven, carefully reaching in with my tea-towel-clad hand and pulling out the black tray, heavy with cooked brownie mixture. I manage to carefully lift it out with my one hand and close the door again with the other, before plopping it down on the tiled side with relief. It is one massive brownie in the tin, and after it’s cooled down we cut it up into squares (or eatable sized portions). I lean down and sniff.
“Awww,” I groan, closing my eyes. I honestly can’t wait ‘til it’s cooled down! If you haven’t tried homemade brownies before then I suggest you do so this instant. That is, if you are a very chocolate-inclined person like myself.
The only problem is that once it’s out and you can see it with your own eyes, you immediately want to eat some. But that is not possible, because you have to let it cool down for half an hour after you take it out the oven. So it’s best to just try and not look at it for as long as you can.
I drape the tea towel over the tray so that the flies can’t get to it before I do, and rush up the stairs before the urge to ‘EAT SOME’ gets any greater.

You could liken our house to a rabbit warren or an easy maze. From the kitchen there is an old wooden door, and immediately to the right when you walk through this door you come to the stairs. Opposite the stairs is the wall of the pantry, which there is a door for in the kitchen. There are quite a few photos up on this wall, including one of my mum and dad’s wedding.
I haven’t properly looked at this picture in a long time. They both look so happy. My mother has a white see-through veil over her face and she looks like she’s hiding from dad, peering through the fabric and smiling. Her small tiara looks like solid gold (though I’m not sure if it actually is), and she’s holding a bunch of purple pansies in her hands. Aunt Maya said that pansies were her favourite kind of flower. I smile.
I like flowers – and I can be delicate – but I also like mud and rough-and-tumble games. I’m going to blame my masculine cousin for this, even though I’m probably into boyish stuff more than he is.
I mount the stairs until I get to Nate’s door. It’s open and I can hear music, although I can’t actually see the man himself. I walk into the room, and see him sitting on a stool with guitar in hands opposite his window, which is flung open wide.
“Hello,” I say, slumping onto his bed.
Nate has a thing about windows. He says that they separate you from nature, and the majority of the time his is always open. He doesn’t seem to mind the cold – or heights, for that matter – and I’m sure would be able to cope quite well with plummeting twenty feet down into the garden, but Maya still gives him regular warnings.
He stops strumming and turns to look at me. “Hi, Alex.”
“Have you recovered from the loss of energy now?” I ask, trying not to look directly at the bright sun beaming in from outside.
He smiles, starting to play again. “Of course!”
I listen. I wish I was musical. The tambourine is my instrument, but if somebody asked me I don’t think I’d say I played anything. I don’t know how Nate got so good on the guitar; but then again, maybe if I played it well too I wouldn’t think he was so amazing. He’s taught me a few chords, but already I see that I am not blessed with the gift of music.
“Is this a new song?” I ask him.
He looks down at his guitar in thought. It’s a shiny black acoustic, covered in fingerprints. “Don’t think so.” He’s a very forgetful type of person. But the thing is, if you ask him something complicated, he usually seems to find an answer. “Hey, you know Zane?”
“I do,” I reply, eyebrow raised.
“He said the other day we could go over.”
“Oh, cool! When?”
“Whenever, I think.”
“If you’re saying we should go right now, that’s not an option.” I say firmly. “I’m waiting for the brownies.”
Nate rolls his eyes. “Girls! Now I know what I mean when I say ‘I don’t understand you’!”
“Well, boys are ridiculous,” I say in a posh voice. “They leave fingerprints all over their grand musical instruments and windows wide open around the house! We’ll all catch a chill!”
“A chill?” he laughs. “It’s summer, miss!”
“Not for long, my dear fellow, not for long.”
I end up choking in a fit of laughter, and Nate puts down his guitar and pats me on the back.
“Calm down, Alex! You’re not catching a chill yet.”

See, sometimes I can act like a typical girl. But I can be however I want to be around Nate, because he’s like my twin buddy or my understanding brother (no matter what he says) and he’s not an idiot like some boys. At least, not most of the time.

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