Georgina was at a loss for a second. Then came the mantra, ‘what would Amani do, what would Amani do?’
So Georgina smiled, and asked if Lisa would like to come inside for some tea and cake. Lisa demurred, saying, “Oh I don’t touch cake. Perfect nutrition makes perfect champions. But tea would be nice, caffeine is a fat burner!”
Georgina thought that Lisa was a perfect something, but instead maintained her smile and opened the door for her unexpected guest.
It was, curiously, not Lisa’s first time visiting Georgina’s house. She didn’t live far away at all, and when they had been in primary school they had been regular attendees at each other’s birthday parties. They had generally occupied the same classes, and when class-wide invitations were produced, there was no animosity to cause either to decline. That had stopped once secondary school began, each seeking and finding distinctly different company.
Georgina indicated for Lisa to make her way to the living room, or ‘lounge’ as her mother insisted on calling it. Once she had Lisa safely seated, she excused herself and delivered the Coconut Milk to her mother. Her mother promptly shooed her back to her guest, saying she would bring some tea and treats in in a jiffy.
Georgina found Lisa perusing the family pictures on the wall and mantle. Georgina regarded the long golden hair, the slim-fitting ripped jean shorts and strappy top her nemesis wore; what cheerleader movies did she think she was in? She must have heard Georgina return, for she spoke without turning, “You have such a lovely family Georgina, you’re a lucky girl.” Georgina didn’t know why, but she found the words a little threatening.
“I suppose so Lisa, I suppose so.” she said, thinking, “Anyway, come and sit down and tell me why you’ve come to visit?”
Lisa cat-walked to the seat, and purred, “So, we have a few things to discuss. You’ve been being a bit of a bitch Georgina.”
Slightly shocked by her rivals abrupt and open hostility, George watched slightly wider-eyed as Lisa took her seat. Gathering her wits, Georgina replied, “I think that’s uncalled for Lisa, I’m only supporting Bastian to become new student council president. That’s called democracy.”
Lisa was about to say something when Georgina’s phone rang. Taking it from her pocket she saw Duncan’s name on the screen. She apologised to Lisa and walked into the hall to take the call. There was no door, so they were both still in sight of the other.
“George, good news, Gary got it; I’ve got the essay!” Duncan’s voice was full of victory. “He wasn’t too happy about it, and said Lisa would give him hell.” Duncan remembered to breathe, “I said that it wasn’t as much hell as he’d have gotten from Mr.Stuart from nabbing test answers from his bag if I hadn’t said Bryan did it.”
Georgina closed her eyes in relief, Duncan hadn’t screwed up, they were going to make it. “Duncan, have you read it?”
“Only the title and the first few sentences George, but they are amaaaaaaazing.”
“Read them to me, please?” Georgina said breathily. She heard some rustling, and then Duncan began, “The title is ‘Grandpa’s Magic Touch.'” Georgina was not aware that she had ever made the ‘squee’ noise ever before. Duncan continued, “Grandpa has skilled hands. Here is the story of how he replaced all the door handles in my house.”
Georgina looked back at Lisa who returned her gaze steadily; in her mind seeing how this ill-judged piece of writing could be leaked to leave Bastian the last candidate standing with any credibility. It had all been too easy. Lisa was a dead-woman walking. “That’s enough Duncan, just remember to bring it with you to school tomorrow. What are you going to do with the essay now?”
“Erm, not much?” Duncan offered.
“No Duncan, you’re going to put it in your school bag now. Fold it carefully, don’t crush it. What are you going to do?”
Duncan repeated the command a few times before Georgina was satisfied, and she let him go, but not before telling him how brilliantly he had done. She could feel him preen down the phone.
The call ended, she pocketed the phone and walked back to the Living room, and took her seat; Lisa’s gaze followed her every step.
“So was that Duncan telling you he got my essay from my stupid brother?” Lisa asked, with no hint of anger or emotion.
Lisa was enjoying far too much success with leaving her open-mouthed, but Georgina recovered herself enough to say, “Maybe?”
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Lisa said non-plussed, “My stupid brother is terrible at keeping secrets. To be honest it’s a relief. Until I saw your face I wasn’t sure if it was that, or if he was rifling through my underwear.”
At that moment, Georgina’s mother entered with a tray of tea and a plate neatly arranged with slices of cake. She set it down with a satisfied sigh.
“There we go girls. So good to see you again Lisa, it must have been years. I hear that you’re doing very well with your dancing from your mother.”
Lisa smiled beatifically, “Thank you Mrs. Murray, yes, dance and cheering have been very rewarding.”
“Well,” her mother said glancing between the two girls, “I’ll leave you to your chat. Hope to see you back soon Lisa. Give my best to your mother.” With that she made her escape back to the kitchen.
“As I was saying,” Lisa continued, “I’ll take mild fraternal betrayal over incest. So, the question is, what are you intending to do with it?”
Georgina was readjusting, her wits returning, “Well Lisa, think what you would do if you had something like that on me, or one of my friends, but classier.”
Lisa smiled, though not with her eyes, “Oh Georgina, what did I ever do to make you hate me so much?”
“Hate, “Georgina retorted, “I don’t hate you Lisa. I just don’t think it’s healthy for you to have any power. It’s, how can I put it, not safe.”
“Not safe?” Lisa responded, no animosity in her tone, “and would things be safer with Bastian in charge? You know, the boy, who leaves his mucus to biodegrade wherever he goes?”
“Bastian may be nasally challenged,” Georgina fired back, “but he’s a good person. He looks out for his friends, not like you and the twins for example.”
Lisa grimaced, “Oh those two, and their trip. Yes, it seemed like a great idea, but then I overheard them planning to sneak booze along with them. I just couldn’t trust idiots like that being even remotely responsible for other students”
“Couldn’t you have just had a word with them? Told them their plans would spoil things for everyone?” Georgina offered, knowing even as she said it, that it was a lame suggestion. Lisa just looked at her, and eventually Georgina nodded in concession.
“Well, even allowing that you did do the right thing there,” Georgina bowled on, “You still ruined Chess club for Bastian and the others.”
“I ruined chess club?” Lisa retorted, not without some passion creeping into her voice. “After Miss.Toolin and her wonderbra vacated the school, numbers magically dwindled. Then you struck up your debate and academic quiz teams, and that was it for the girls too.” She looked at Georgina pointedly, “Maybe if your would be president Bastian could keep his fingers out of his nose, straighten up and flutter eyelashes that we would both kill for, things would have been different. He just gave up.”
Georgina wasn’t sure that sex-appeal was the way to save Chess club, but she saw Lisa’s point. Perhaps changing venues had been a symptom, not a cause, of Chess club woes.
“By the way” Lisa asked, “were you considering letting any boys onto any of the teams this term? I know that Miss. Dolan oversees selections, but we all know she dotes on your opinions.”
Well that stung, Georgina was nothing if not open opportunity. Wasn’t she supporting a boy to become president, and not herself? Why was she questioning herself, anyway, everyone knew that Georgina Murray was a friend to all. All except Lisa.
“If a boy, or boys,” Georgina offered with some dignity, “trial and show sufficient talent, they will make the teams. Andrew Jones is first reserve on debate squad, or didn’t you know?”
Lisa did not look convinced, “First reserve, I’m sure he’s super excited about that.”
Georgina was getting agitated. She stood and began to pace, eyes flicking to Lisa. “Well you certainly did nothing to help Chess club. Did you? Didn’t you realise that mattered to some people? Don’t you think a good president would at least try?”
Lisa leaned back in her seat, she shouldn’t be getting more comfortable! “Georgina, I’m not mother to everyone who wants to have a club in school, that’s just not practical! Plus he’s never actually asked for help. No all he does is do an impression of Eeyore giving sniders.”
Now Georgina knew Lisa was being a bit careful with the truth. “Oh come on, Lisa. When I did start trying to get the debate and academic quiz teams started, you were not helpful!”
“Oh sue me, so I prefer sports and dance teams.” She pointed a finger, “You want to big up your stuff, fine, get yourself on the student council. Like it would even be difficult for you. But no, you just want to complain.”
Georgina was far too busy for that sort of thing, she had no interest in entering the court of public opinion. “No thanks, Lisa, I’ll leave getting everyone to like me, but being actual friends with no one, to you.”
“Again, what did I ever sodding do to deserve how much you hate me Georgina?”
“Oh like you don’t know!” Georgina wasn’t feeling her usual composed self, “In primary school you were more than happy to hang out, and be friends. The second you got to secondary you changed. We were the two kids from Simpsons to be in the Multrees catchment. You couldn’t wait to ditch me, you couldn’t bloody wait!”
Lisa froze half risen from the chair, just staring. “Georgina, we were never, like, proper friends.”
Georgina was in full flow now, she simply carried on, “No shit sherlock, but you could have hung around, we could have supported each other while we got to know other people. Duncan was the first person I got to know, and then you decided to make a joke about him, just cause he’s a bit slow?”
Lisa, it seemed, was surprised, mouth agape. Well it was her bloody turn, thought Georgina, who carried on, “So you don’t give a crap about anyone, and you think it’s hilarious to make fun of people. You are not the sort of person who should be in charge of anything. I’ll not have it.”
Lisa finally seemed to find her tongue, and straightened up, eyes still wide, “George, I didn’t think you were interested. You didn’t say or do anything to make me think you’d want to be pals. As for Duncan, did you see the other jokes that got made? I think having my one stick was a blessing!
“Even if that was true, you enjoyed the attention that got you Lisa, I saw you!” Georgina hissed.
“Oh come on Georgina! Of course I did, I made a silly joke that made a lot of people laugh. I felt as new, and alone, as you. The attention was nice.” Georgina huffed in some exasperation, “Did you ever ask Duncan if he actually minded?”
George realised that, no, she had never asked Duncan. If she were honest, she wasn’t aware that Duncan had ever mentioned it. Was it possible he thought it was ok?
Georgina came to a disturbing conclusion, her rationality refused to be cowed, “Lisa, are you suggesting we could be friends?”
Lisa looked aghast, flicking her blonde tresses, then laughed, “Oh God no, I hate you and your friends. Just not in the way you think I do!” George felt sure she had lost charge of this exchange, she did not like it. Still she never backed down, and offered up a huffy, “Oh yeah, do tell why then!”
Lisa took a moment and then walked to the other side of the room, admiring herself in the mirror over the mantelpiece. She turned and looked at George squarely, “You’re just not my sort of people. You’re all a bit serious, you think fun is having a debate on something dull. You’re all for growing up, just not in the fun ways.”
Lisa turned back to the mirror, gloss appearing from her pocket, and carefully applied. She spoke again, this time without turning, “You would have stopped those moron twins from helping lead that trip, and you know it! Thing is, it’s because you think all drinking is for morons. Me? I’ll get hammered this Friday and love it. All the same I don’t want anyone getting hurt.”
Georgina felt herself relax, the natural order was restored, she would not have to explore her conscience and seek enlightenment. “I knew I was right to want to stop you Lisa. Thank you for clearing up just why it’s so important. You’re … a bad influence!”
Lisa faced her once more, chuckling, “Well as long you hate me for the right reasons. I think we’ve probably said all we’ve got to say, wouldn’t you?”
Georgina found herself agreeing. With that Lisa walked up and offered a hand. Georgina shook it without thinking, and seconds later, Lisa was gone. Georgina was left to think, eat cake, and take up the sword of justice once more.
A few days later, campaigning had begun, and Lisa and Bastian were deep in competition for the crown. Georgina, Lisa observed, had found some way to keep Bastian from digging for gold with his spare hand, whilst shaking hands with the other. That was quite an achievement she had to admit. After a tiring day in school, encouraging her chums to “decorate” Bastian’s posters, and trying to woo the remainders of the chess club with promises of cheerleader attendance if they voted for her, she returned home.
Gary had been in her room again. The hair she had stuck across the entry had fallen. Please god, don’t let him be in there wearing my hot pants she thought. She entered, no one was there. It took her a second to realise there was something different; a piece of paper lay on the bed, a large yellow post-it attached.
She pursed her lips and advanced on the paper. It was her essay. Grandpa’s magic touch was hers again! The post-it read:
“Dear Lisa, we’re going to beat you. But we’ll do it fair-ish.
P.S. “Grandad looked so proud every time he finished polishing a new knob” …Lol.”
Lisa just laughed.