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Sammi Ever After by Soma Helmi
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Sep 02, 2010 03:29AM
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Sammi Ever After
About the book:
Girl meets boy. They fall in love. Girl moves across the world to be with boy. Boy dumps her at the airport…via email.
“Say hi, Sammi.”
Mum pulled me out from behind her skirt to introduce the strange spiky-haired boy. “You remember Max, don’t you?”
His green eyes looked up shyly as his Mum also coaxed him forward.
We stood facing each other, neither brave enough to say anything. We were both barely seven years old and I honestly couldn’t remember whether I should bother being his friend or not. Besides, he looked a little weird with his crazy brown hair and round glasses.
“Oh for goodness sake, Max. Just say hello.” Tiny beads of sweat trickled down his Mum’s pale skin as she struggled with the Bali heat. “Honestly, you’d think they’d remember!” She shook her head and laughed. “You haven’t forgotten have you darling? Last spring. Sammi and her Mum and Dad came to visit us in London. You two had such a wonderful time playing in Hyde Park.”
A tiny shake of the head before his Mum nudged him again.
“Hello.” His voice was just above a whisper.
“Hi.” I answered. I wrinkled my nose and retreated to the safety of my Mum’s voluminous skirt.
I was snapped back into the present by the puzzled voice. It took me a second to remember where I was.
“Oh, hi. Sorry Max, I was just…anyway, yes. Tomorrow, coffee sounds great. Where should we meet up?”
“You’re in Earls Court? So let’s meet at Hyde Park Corner and go from there.” The deep timbre in his voice was a pleasant surprise. The last time I’d spoken to him was over ten years ago.
“Sounds good. I think I can take one line from here right?”
“Yep, just look for the Picadilly line going north. So, I’ll see you tomorrow then?”
“Good night, Sammi.”
I rang off and exhaled sharply.
What’s with the butterflies? I’d been nervous throughout the whole conversation, barely able to form whole sentences.
It’s just Max.
I dithered with what to wear, tossing between a light floral print dress and a more casual jeans outfit, putting both in front of me in the mirror to compare. The floral worked well with my light complexion, but the jeans were more my standard comfy outfit. I finally settled on the jeans, not wanting to appear to be trying too hard. I compromised by putting on a pretty pink batik scarf over my top. I did wonder why I was bothering so much, but shrugged it off as just wanting to make the right impression after not seeing him for so long.
I came out of the tube station not knowing what to expect, I hadn’t even seen a photo of him since we’d last met. I needn’t have worried, I picked him out straight away.
He was huddled up close to a newspaper stand, holding the bright red umbrella he’d brought to help me identify him. His dark brown hair was no longer spiky as it had been as a little boy, but was now a slightly messy mop of curls, which fell just below his ears. He wore a camel coloured sweater in soft cotton, which gave me an unreasonable urge to reach out and hug him.
“Hi Sammi.” His bright emerald eyes smiled at me as I approached.
“Hi Max, long time.”
I had to stand on my tiptoes to reach his face as we kissed cheeks in a quick greeting. I inhaled a delicious scent of expensive citrus cologne.
He laughed softly as I took a step back.
“Nothing. You just look exactly like you did when we were kids. Same black hair and rosy cheeks.”
I scrunched my face up then laughed.
“Yeah, that’s what everyone says. I guess it made it easier to pick me out then?”
“I wouldn’t miss you in a crowd, regardless.” He gazed at me appreciatively in silence and I felt myself blush in response.
“Um, well you’re a whole lot taller now. Wow.”
And no more glasses. Nice.
He laughed at my awkward reply and asked if we should get going to the café before turning abruptly and making his way quickly down the street. I had to hurry behind him to catch up.
We walked through Hyde Park to a café in the Serpentine Bar & Restaurant. It was lovely and rustic, perched on the shore of the lake. Wooden apple crates and jute carriers were strewn amongst floral lampshades, a tin bucket held fresh flowers on the wooden table between us.
We watched the streams of people walking by, families with excited kids running ahead, couples strolling hand in hand in the sun and random sprinklings of the young and hip striding past with iPods plugged firmly into their ears.
“You have the most amazing mix of people here.” I marvelled as a group of punks walked quickly by, overtaking an elderly Indian couple.
“Yeah, they all crawl out of the woodwork when it’s warm.”
I laughed as a touristy looking couple struggled with their paddleboats on the lake and almost knocked each other in. “You must love it when summer’s here.”
Max snorted as he toyed with his coffee cup. “Well, we Londoners are very appreciative when the sun decides to deign us with its presence. It only happens two to five days a year so what you’re seeing now is a bit of a rarity.”
“Really? That sounds kind of awful.”
“You get used to it. Just a tip, always pack a brolly when you go out. It may be gorgeous out, like it is now, but by afternoon it’ll probably start drizzling.” He paused and took a sip of his drink. “But I guess you don’t have that problem in Brisbane. Tell me more about it, I’m hoping to make it to Oz one day.”
We asked each other what we’d been up to, swapping stories from our school, university then working years. A soundtrack of energetic chatter, lapping water and clinking glasses played as we lost ourselves in conversation.
“Remember that time I came to Bali and you showed me how to catch dragonflies? What was it with, some kind of twig?”
“Coconut frond and a bit of bubble gum on the tip.”
“And you fell into the rice field when we were chasing them!”
“I was completely covered in mud, head to toe! Mum was not pleased!” He laughed. “I always loved going there. I still remember all those crazy stories your Dad told us about growing up in the village, the days before electricity.”
“Yep, he still loves telling them. And Mum too, how when she first arrived in Bali they only had a little hut in the rice fields and that I was born on a dirt floor.”
“I remember her telling us that.” He shook his head. “Incredible what people can deal with. But still, what a way to grow up. Running around the village all day. You were such a tomboy Sammi! I could hardly keep up with your gang of mates.”
I laughed. “I guess I was. But that’s what you get when you’re the only girl in a group of boys. It was all about bamboo forests and jumping off trees. Which, by the way, hurts like hell when you misjudge the height.”
“I know! I broke my coccyx doing that up in our country house.”
“Me too! Well, not country house bit. I jumped off a coconut tree into a small ravine.”
“Coconut tree sounds so much more adventurous and exotic than a boring old oak.”
“I wouldn’t say boring at all. I was so jealous about your life here. To me Europe was the land of cobblestone streets and princesses in ancient towers.” I smiled as I remembered my favourite childhood fairytales filled with dragons, magicians and brave knights.
“Yeah, we have plenty of those mouldy old towers around. Although, not sure how many princesses you’ll find these days.”
“I’m more interested in the princes to be honest.” Did you really just say that? I mentally head slapped myself.
He laughed again and I couldn’t help notice how his eyes sparkled through his half closed lids. “I’m sure. And would you prefer he ride around on a great white horse?”
“But of course.”
“Well, you could certainly have the part of the fair maiden.” He blushed then coughed before taking another sip of tea.
Stop blushing Sammi!
A vision of Prince Max rushing through a castle to rescue me played in my head. I looked down and around the room to try and hide my grin.
He let a couple of seconds go by in silence before changing the subject again.
“Do you remember Chamonix?”
“Of course I do! That was one of my favourite holidays.”
“Yeah, finally it was my turn to show you my turf.”
I laughed as I remembered Max trying to teach me how to ski on the baby runs. He was incredibly patient for a 14 year old.
“I can’t believe you didn’t ditch me. You must have been itching to go off to the black runs.”
“Hah, and miss watching you tumble your way down the bunny slopes?”
“Thanks! I knew there was a good reason for it!”
He chuckled. “We were pretty much inseparable then eh?”
I nodded. I remembered how my teenage crush had bloomed as soon as I saw him again, and how it stayed with me the whole holiday. I had blushed each time he spoke to me and he was equally tongue tied as we bumbled our way through countless conversations. It was awkward, sweet, but above all innocent.
“But Mum, I’m never going to see him again!” I’d been snivelling to my Mum as we packed our gear for the trip home.
“Don’t be silly Sammi. We’ll probably see them again next year!” She shook her head in bemusement. “Besides, my darling, you’ll forget about him soon.”
“No I won’t! I’ll never ever meet someone like Max again. It’s so unfair that we have to leave!”
“Oh stop it Sammi, you’ll be fine. As soon as we’re back in Bali, you’ll be going back to school, playing with all your friends and this will all be like a dream.” She smiled and gave me a big hug. “My darling Sammi, this is just the beginning,” she whispered more gently.
She was right of course. The many distractions in a teenager’s life came and went and with them the strong feelings I had for Max. Sometimes my parents would talk about his family and I would wonder what he was up to, but the crush had passed.
“Your Mum and Dad split pretty soon after that didn’t they?” he asked quietly.
“Yep. It wasn’t a big shock, I knew they weren’t happy for a while.”
“I’m sorry, Sam.” His eyes softened as he frowned slightly.
“Don’t be. I wasn’t one of those devastating splits. No custody fights, or any fights at all actually. They’re still really close and I just went on with things. I followed Mum around the world after that. California, Santa Fe, Italy.”
“Yes, I heard about it through Mum. She was always so amazed that Edda could move around so much.”
I shrugged. “Itchy feet I guess. Or some gypsy genetic kickback. It was fun, but I was glad when we settled in Oz. I think I really needed to finish high school in one place.”
“Understandable. All that moving must get tiring.”
“Yes, especially introducing yourself to a bunch of new friends every single time. Hi, my name is Sammi, and I’m from Bali. I hated doing it. Each new school meant another introduction and having to stand in front of the whole class trying to explain where Bali was.”
“They didn’t know where Bali was?” Max was incredulous.
“Are you serious, half the time I had to explain where Indonesia was! A lot of the time I had to walk up to a map on the wall and point it out.”
Max laughed. “I guess it is a pretty tiny island.”
“Yeah, but not knowing where Asia is, inexcusable!”
“Yes!...And then having to move just as you got close to a few people.”
“Yeah. But you know it wasn’t all bad, it was actually mostly fun. Experiencing all those new places. Gallivanting around with Mum.”
“It must have been great. I’m quite jealous really, I’ve only ever lived in London.” He was quiet for a moment.
I fiddled with my teacup and examined the delicate lace pattern on the napkin in front of me. I was lost in my memories of all the different cities I’d lived in.
Oct 23, 2010 07:22AM
totally love the teaser! well done
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