Betty waited for her parents to leave the kitchen before slinking out of her bedroom with her breakfast dishes. It was pointless sulking - there was no one to sulk in front of. She couldn't quite believe that her parents had forgotten her birthday...Betty knew that she'd spent a lot of time away from home recently, but forgetting her birthday just wasn't something that her annaly retentive mother would do. Still, she needed cheering up so decided to do what all girls do in these situations.... shop.
As soon as Betty left the house, or rather... flounced out of it - Fatima snuck into her daughter's bedroom to read her diary. This was something that Fatima only did once a year, around the time of Betty's birthday... she had no good reason to do it, but managed to contain herself for the rest of the time - so decided that she was doing Betty a favour by only invading her privacy in this way on one day each year... she was fairly sure that other mothers read their daughter's diaries on a daily basis - by this reasoning, she figured that Betty was lucky to have her - Fatima - for a mum.
Fatima discovered that although she hadn't seen him around for a while, Betty was still in touch with Bob Newbie and was now quite happy that they were just friends. She also shed a tear over her daughter's heartbreak at discovering that Dallas Shallow had outgrown her. When she read of her daughter's daring deeds abroad, Fatima had no clue whether to lock Betty up for her own safety and throw away the key, or to tell her daughter how very proud of her she was!
Finally, several engrossed hours later and counting her lucky stars that Betty hadn't come home and discovered her mothers perfidy - Fatima decided to phone Bob Newbie and enlist his help in surprising Betty with a Birthday Party.
Bob was more than happy to oblige Fatima, having developed a slight crush on her - and later on that day he phoned Betty and asked her to meet him outside her house with her Glad Rags on. Having nothing better to do, and wanting to tell at least one person that her parents obviously didn't love her anymore - Betty agreed.
"Ummmm... you look really nice, Betty" Bob managed, before becoming a little tongue tied. He wasn't used to seeing Betty in anything but jeans.
"Thanks, Bob" she did a quick twirl "I went shopping today - you like?"
Betty laughed "It's okay, Bob - I'll take that as a yes. You look pretty dapper yourself, are we going anywhere special? Only it's my -"
"WALK" he suddenly blurted out as if he'd been shot - having spied Fatima at the living room window waving frantically and mouthing the words "BUGGER OFF NOW!" at him."Yes, lets g-go f-for a walk!"
Betty took a step back and stared at him a moment, lips pursed. She was just about to ask him what was going on when he grabbed her hand and all but dragged her down the street. Surprised - and now more than a little curious - Betty went with him at break neck speed until he calmed down and started to stroll rather than run. She figured he'd eventually tell her what was going on - Bob couldn't keep a secret if his life depended upon it - unknowing that this time it actually did.
They did a slow circuitous route around the town, making small talk. All the while Betty getting more and more fidgety at Bob's lack of forthcoming and Bob looking more and more like a tomato that was going to explode.
Eventually they arrived back in front of Betty's house.
"Right then... " she said, trying to keep the question from her voice.
"Yes, well, errr... that was nice".
Betty couldn't help herself "Is that it then? Just a quick walk round the bloody village then home again?" she huffed at him. "Is that what I put my new outfit on for? Mmmm? Is it?"
"Blimey Betty, you don't half sound like your mum!" Bob gawped at her, momentarily fascinated by the similarities... he suddenly remembered his mission, and just how much trouble he would be in if he didn't carry it through - to the letter. "No actually, that's not it. Turn around, I'm going to blind fold you!"
"I beg your pardon?" It was Betty's turn to look shocked. "You are NOT!"
"For gods sake Betty! For once in your life will you just shutup and do as you're told! Now TURN AROUND!"
She was so shocked at his sudden metamorphosis from mouse to man, that she did.
Bob gently tied one of her mothers scarves across her face (which instantly rang alarm bells... what had her mother got to do with this?), then linked her arm through his and gently lead her up the garden path. She could hear lots of muffled noises around her and finally began to suspect what was happening. Bob pulled the blind fold off and...
"SURPRISE!" Everyone chorused together.
Betty found herself standing in front of her birthday cake, surrounded by friends and family, singing Happy Birthday to her, popping party poppers and blowing kazoos. She should have known that her parents wouldn't forget her birthday, and felt a tad sheepish. Betty caught her mother's eye as she smiled at the crowd of well wishers. Fatima winked at her and carried on singing.
"Make a wish!" someone shouted as Betty bent towards the candles.
She could feel the birthday sparkles rushing through her body... quickly she closed her eyes, made a silent wish and blew out the candles... just before everything around her exploded in a rainbow of fireworks and sunbeams. Betty felt her body lifting, swirling and changing...
Then it was all over.
Her feet firmly on the floor, her a legs a little longer and her boobs a little bigger... Betty was a young adult... and if she wasn't mistaken - Dallas Shallow had come to her party and although he was dressed like a Duran Duran reject - Betty was incredibly happy to see him.
Bob Newbie stood in the background, suddenly at a loss, rattling his rattler and wishing the ground would swallow him whole... Betty was suddenly out of his league and he hadn't even known until today just how much he'd wish she wasn't.
A few hours into the celebration, Betty grabbed five minutes with her dad and a slice of cake. Everyone was having a wonderful time and quite a few had over imbibed the *happy juice* that her mother pulled out of the cupboard on special occasions. Vad had drunk more than was normal for him, he'd had such a good time - and it was starting to show.
"Do you think you could stop staring at the lady?"
"But ah dunno who she ish?" he replied, nonplussed "Who ish she?"
"I thought she was one of mum's friends?"
"Your mer -hum hash frendsh?" Vad found himself very funny and giggled, then hiccupped "Whoopsh. Betty my der-haling daucher... help your dad inshide will yah? Doan wan your mer-hum to shee me luk thish... nefer hir the hend of hit.... Fatty go BANG she will!"
Betty stifled a laugh and shook her head affectionately at her father, apologised to her mum's friend and helped her dad into the house.
She left him lying face down on his bed and heard the first rumble of a snore as she shut the bedroom door and headed into the kitchen.
Dallas was there, and surprised Betty by pulling her into his arms for a warm hug.
"Happy Birthday, Betty Boo."
Betty pulled back and looked up at him, still within the circle of his arms and suddenly unable to think of a single thing to say to him. So she just smiled instead.
"I was wondering, now that you're all grown up - if you'd like to go out somewhere tomorrow?" he asked.
"I'd like that."
He grinned down at her "Okay, how about I meet you at the pub? We can have a quick drink there then go out for dinner at the Bistro."
"I'll be there."
"Great! Six o'clock? Smashing!" and he was gone.
The party wound down soon after Dallas's quick exit and it was time for bed. Betty thanked Fatima for a wonderful birthday party and helped to clear up the remaining glasses before hiting the sack.
The following morning, Betty was up bright and early and was taking a moment to moon over Dallas in her head - when her mother catapulted into the kitchen and threw a birthday cake onto the kitchen table.
"Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit!" Fatima exclaimed whilst rummaging through kitchen drawers, parafernalia being scattered everywhere. "Where the hell did I put the candles?"
"What's going on?"
"Bakery delivery this morning. Birthday Cake. Dad's Birthday. Forgot. Shit!"
"Shit!" Betty exclaimed, just to see if her mother noticed.
"Don't swear, Betty - it's unbecoming... and go find something to blow on. I think there's a kazoo in the livingroom, left from last night."
Betty entered the living room just as her father surfaced looking a little worse for wear from the bedroom.
"Morning dad." she said as she found the kazoo on the coffee table. She waved it at him and said "Happy Birthday!"
"Morning Betty... thankyou." They wandered toward the kitchen together "I take it the cakes just been delivered and she's got her knickers in a twist?"
He shook his head and shared an affectionate grin with his daughter "It's the same every year. Did she actually remember to put her nighty on this year - or did you and the delivery man get treated to a view of your mother in her birthday suit again?"
"Nighty, thank God. I think the bakery said they'd sue for emotional trauma if it happened again. It would have been the third year running."
They stopped by unspoken mutual agreement, just outside the kitchen door. Vad put his ear to it and listened for a moment. "All's quiet - she must have found the candles by now. Ready?"
Betty nodded "I'll go in first, count to twenty - then you come in. She'll have the candles lit by then."
Vad watched his daughter enter the kitchen, counted to twenty and followed in after her.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" his wife and daughter shouted as he opened the door and made his way to the cake that was sat in the middle of the kitchen table in all it's newly delivered glory, candles glowing, wish beckoning. Fatima and Betty cheered and whistled in the background as Vadim bent to his candles to blow them out and make a wish before the birthday sparkles began.
A gentle array of colours and light sparkled up through his toes and out through his fingers, gently lifting, turning and depositing him back on the floor. He felt a little shorter than before, and his back was very slightly stooped.
"YES!" Fatima high fived the air "You can retire now, my darling! We can go abroad, visit my family in Sunset Valley, paint the town Mauve!"
"Well you're too old for red now, dear," she replied, tongue in cheek.
Vad chased his giggling wife from the room in the general direction of their bedroom "Old? I'll show you old!"
Betty cringed slightly, as all kids do, no matter their age when their parents get fruity. Then tidied up the flotsam and jetsom of her mother's annual candle rampage before heading towards the bathroom for a nice long shower and bit of piece and quiet.
Just after six o'clock that evening, Betty walked into the pub and found Dallas standing at the bar, waiting for her. He ordered her a drink without asking what she wanted, which took her aback a little - but she forgave him when he took her hands in his.
"You're looking very lovely this evening, Betty Boo," he pulled her close and murmered into her ear.
"Umm.. thanks - so do you!" she had no idea why she blurted that out, other than being at a complete loss as to how to reply to such an overt compliment... plus, he didn't look lovely - he was still looking like a Simon Le Bon lookylikey without the 1980's to back him up... "Nice suit."
He smiled confidently at her "I was thinking of maybe getting a medallion to sit in the neck. What do you think?"
Betty had no clue if he was serious or not... a medallion???? Surely not! "Errr... well... it'd definitely go with the suit, Dallas, " she replied as earnestly as she could without giving in to the urge to laugh. Betty relaxed and her confidence returned. Dallas was slightly stranger than she remembered, and perhaps just a touch overconfident and full of himself - but Betty was more than his equal. She'd travelled the world, escaped unscathed from many (mis)adventures, and was very probably quite wealthy (if she ever emptied her knapsack and sold the contents, she'd be worth a small fortune!) in her own right. Dallas was suddenly just the good looking guy that she'd gone to school with.
As the evening progressed, Betty was having a wonderful time dancing, drinking and exchanging stories of *daring do* with Dallas, when she noticed Bob Newbie in the background, trying to get her attention.
"Betty, can I have a word?" he glanced at Dallas "In private?"
Dallas sneered at Bob "Sure Betty, go see what the kid wants. I'll get us another drink."
Betty frowned at Dallas, disliking his attitude towards her best friend, but decided that he was probably a bit put out by the interruption, so she let it slide and followed Bob to the end of the bar.
"What's the matter Bob? Everything okay?"
"Yeah... I mean... I think... shit " Bob tripped over his words and Betty, knowing Bob, waited for him to find his voice. He rubbed at his forehead with his hand, looking more than a little confused and very slightly nervous. He took a deep breath and said "I think I love you."
"Whodawhatnow? Bob? But we're-"
"I know, Betty, " he cut her off. "We're friends, the best of friends... and until yesterday I never saw that changing - but you were standing there hollering at me and refusing to wear that stupid blind fold that your mother gave me, and it hit me. It just hit me. I love you."
Betty went almost incandescent with rage... "You're telling me this NOW?" she hurled at him "I. AM. ON. A. DATE!" she spat. "Your timing is positively shitty, Bob Newbie. Positively. Shitty!"
"Whoa, Betty what-"
"Your jealous, Bob. That's all it is, you're just jealous," Betty's voice started to break. She had no idea who she was trying to convince more, Bob, or herself. His friendship meant everything to her, and although she'd chased him (with the aid of her mother) a while back, Bob hadn't noticed and Betty had been glad because she'd only been testing the waters. She'd never wanted anything from Bob, but his friendship. "You've seen me here with Dallas and you're getting your feelings all mixed up. That's what it is."
Bob shook his head and smiled sadly at her. "I'm not. But you're right - my timing is off. I'll leave you to your..." he paused pointedly " ...company. " He straightened his shoulders and walked away without a backwards glance.
Betty stood stock still. Dazed and disorientated by the conversation. She turned towards Dallas, who was waiting, watchful, at the other end of the bar. He raised his glass and gestured to the drink he'd bought for her. Betty wanted nothing more than to go home and hide under her duvet - but she was on a date with Dreamy Dallas. Misery would have to wait.
Though distracted throughout the rest of the evening, Betty put on as interested a face as she possibly could and Dallas, after giving up on asking what Bob had wanted - was a wonderfully attentive date. So attentive, that he started to get on Betty's nerves. Which never took much.
They ended the evening with a meal at the Bistro, the conversation had become a touch stilted in the bar, but began to flow again with the good food and wine. Yet for all the conversation she was having with Dallas, Betty was having her own conversation, with herself, in her head, throught the remainder of their date.
When it finally came to an end, Dallas walked her home and asked if he could see her again. Betty surprised herself when she didn't jump at the chance, but instead said she was going to be away for a while and would get in touch when she got home.
She didn't realise that she'd made the decision to go away again, until she spoke the words to Dallas. It wasn't running away, Betty convinced herself as she packed her bags and phoned for details of the next flight to China. It was taking time out. Time out to think about all that was going on around her, and to work out what it was that she actually wanted at this stage in her life. She'd chosen China as her destination because this was the place that bought her the most peace. Though Egypt was the home of her heart.
She left a brief note for her parents, on the kitchen table where they'd find it in the morning - and took off for the airport immediately.
As soon as she arrived, Betty knew that she'd made the right decision, and the right choice. China was the place to get her head on straight. After a brief investigation into the most beneficial local custom to aid her on her quest for peace of mind and control of her thoughts, she decided to learn martial arts.
Her first class began that morning, and involved beating the living crap out of a strategically placed log. All well and good but the log won the first three fights.
As she progressed through the stages, Betty had very little time to consider her life back home in Riverview - and even succumbed on more than one occasion - to eyeing up the local talent.
She spent many an evening, mullering planks of wood with an intense ferocity that often sapped her of all energy, and she slept the sleep of the dead.
Eventually, Betty felt confident enough to enter sparring matches. She lost more often than she won, but it taught her grace and humility... and finally... finally...
... she learnt to meditate. That amazing state of mind when one knew nothing of the outside world and felt as if one's bum was no longer touching one's floor.
China was beautiful, peaceful, restful... and it was almost time to go home. Betty had learnt all that she could on this trip, and as time began to run out on her visa, she decided to spend a night in the hills, overlooking the city Shang Sim La. She'd found an old shack to spend the night in, away from the rest of the world and all it's worries.
Tonight she was going to give herself the time she needed to make a few decisons about her life back home. As she roasted a piece of fish over an open flame, she contemplated the people in her life and what they meant to her. Did she really need to have them all catalogued neatly as Best Friend, Boyfriend, Mother, Father etc.... after all, wasn't her mum also her friend? Was Dallas really what she wanted, now that she too was able to choose for herself what path she wanted her life to take? Or was it the idea of Dallas - the image she had of him inside her head not necessarily being who Dallas actually was. Was Bob just her friend, or could he be more?
Betty knew that only time would tell, and she currently had plenty of that.
She felt an urge to play her guitar for the first time in months. The moment her fingers thrummed over the strings and she felt the instrument hum gently to life beneath her finger tips, she knew that she had at least made one decision - music was the path that she wanted her career to take - it always had been, and she'd lost sight of that in recent times. Pushing against her mother's wishes for her future had become more a habit, than what she actually wanted. Betty wanted a life filled with music and so much more.
Before she bid her goodbyes to China, Betty made one final, life altering decision... it was time to let her parents spend some time alone together...
... so when she returned to Riverview. Betty bought a house.
To Be Continued...