Evening beautiful people! Here we find ourselves at day two of my 31 days, and the theme given to me by my mum, Anne, is New Years Fireworks. Read on!
When children come to life. J R Manawa.
On her way home that evening, Emmeline cut through Kensington Gardens. The open park was swept with wind and intolerable drizzle. An umbrella would have been useless, and Emmeline’s coat only barely kept her from the cold as she followed the back of the Long Water toward the Italian Gardens. Her boots were assaulted by the thick wet grass that grew unkempt there, but she jumped on the path before they were soaked through, intending to duck by Peter Pan before she jumped on the underground at Lancaster Gate. In summer she avoided this path because it was always overrun with tourists and screaming children, but today her world was framed with silence and water, and little Peter Pan stood alone, his bronze cast face of eternal youth was completely unaware of the weather as he played his trumpet for his tiny fairy friends.
Emmeline glance up at him briefly like she always did, and was about to turn her eyes back to the ground and carry on when a flicker of movement caught her attention.
She jumped as an elderly gentleman, tall and slight, and dressed entirely in black with a tall hat straight upon his brow, appeared out of the shadow of the statue. Pretending instantly that she had not noticed him, she prepared to carry on.
“Lovely little thing, isn’t he?” the old man said, of Peter Pan, though he was looking directly at her, his voice carrying evenly across the wind.
Emmeline raised her eyebrows and met his gaze. She’d been caught into conversation. “Uh, yeah. Aren’t you cold?” she asked. His suit had to be soaked through.
“Tonight is the night that the children come to life, and adults cease to age,” he told her, in a hard voice, before turning on his heels and marching back down the path from where she’d come.
Emmeline turned and continued on her way. London was a haven for people who were slightly unusual, or downright mad, so she thought not much of it as the rain set in and she sprinted for the station.
Her grandfather was not at home. He’d left a birthday card on the kitchen counter that said ‘Dearest Emmeline,’ followed by the printed Happy Birthday messaged, and signed off with ‘I’ve gone to the pub. See you tomorrow.’ She wondered briefly if there was any reason her grandfather had used a birthday card instead of a post-it note, but it made her laugh so she put it back up-right on the counter and went upstairs to change into clothing that were more in line with the theme of ‘It’s freezing, I’m watching fireworks on New Years in Central London, and it’s my birthday,’.
In the end this turned out to be a lot of under layers with her favourite jacket on top and her nicest scarf wrapped around her neck. For good measure she brushed the snags out of her candy pink hair and finished the look off with a generous lick of black eyeliner.
As she ran out the door, a message on her phone told her that her current boyfriend, Luke, would not be able to join her tonight, as something urgent had come up. Emmeline guessed it was something illegal and urgent. She wasn’t particularly surprised or bothered; lately he had been more of a boy, less of a friend, and certainly not a boyfriend. He’d always been into doing things that were not entirely legal, and at first Emmeline had been attracted to his reckless behaviour and even felt pity for him, but it hadn’t taken her long to get over that. Realistically she didn’t like Luke’s chances of even making it to the two month mark. She unlocked her phone as she took her seat on the bus and deleted her chat history with him. A few minutes later she deleted his number, as an afterthought.
The bus only went so far before she had to get off and walk, the crowds in central London were growing thick and fast even with so many hours still to midnight.
Gulliver, Thomas and Poppy were already waiting by the entrance to the National Portrait gallery, their prearranged meeting point.
“Birthday girl!” Poppy shouted and pointed, before running up and throwing her arms around her.
“Not quite yet!” Emmeline laughed and fought her off.
“Happy birthday beautiful,” Thomas said, giving her a kiss on one cheek, while Gulliver ducked in to kiss the other one, and Poppy snapped a quick selfie of the moment.
“Do not put that on Facebook.” Emmeline warned Poppy, rather darkly.
Poppy made a ceremonious gesture of tapping the final button on her phone to upload the picture . “I even hash-tagged ‘selfie’,” she announced.
“Let’s just go find a good spot while the embankment is still open,” Emmeline said with a sigh.
“Where’s Luke?” Thomas asked.
“I don’t know,” Emmeline said, truthfully, “but there is a little hole here, where he used to be.” She signed a heart on her chest by putting her hands together, and then poked her finger at the upper left corner of it, “And it’s a hole that I feel less and less inclined to fill every time it empties,”
“I never liked him anyway,” Poppy said in support, adding a few colourful words to describe exactly what she thought of him.
Emmeline grinned, and Thomas put an arm around her shoulder as they walked.
They found a spot that wasn’t taken, just down from the London Eye, because there was a fence and a wharf obstructing the view, though Gulliver had been quick to point out that the Fireworks would be in the sky, not on the river in front of them.
Once they settled in, Poppy extracted paper cups from her bag and Thomas began to fill them with vodka and Coke Cola.
“To keep us warm,” he said with a knowing smile as he passed one to Emmeline.
“You know I don’t drink on New Years,” Emmeline replied, hesitating to take the cup.
Thomas shrugged, “We just thought it would be a way to pass the time.” He said it carefully.
Poppy and Gulliver said nothing, they held their cups mutely and waited.
Emmeline’s mind was full of the pink clouds and sunrise and tears, but she pushed the feelings aside, “You guys can drink, please, but I’ll just have coke until after midnight,”
Gulliver caught Thomas’ eye, and put his cup down on the wall.
“It’s even black vodka, we thought you might like it,” Poppy said softly as the crowds of people jostled and hustled behind them to find a good spot.
“C’mon, it’s fine Poppy.” Gulliver went to toss his cupful into the river.
“Screw it, I’ll have one,” Emmeline decided suddenly. Pink clouds and tears be damned, she thought roughly, aloud she said, “Let’s get this year over and bring on the fireworks.”