Early was an understatement, five o’clock I was rudely awoken. My mother sat perched on the end of my bed, once again attempting to make me wear the jeans or that dress, do my hair, and even apply make-up.
“No boy will like you like this.”
“Hang on, yesterday you thought I was up to no good with boys, and today no boys will like me like this.”
“Oh hush; I know what you get up to really. Come on, let me help you.”
“I don’t want help; I like my look, Mum just drop it.”
“Fine,” she snapped, stood and walked towards the door. “Get up, get dressed, and help me finish the last of the cakes. I had to bake more, as one of the women who was meant to do some, let us down.”
“Oh, you want me to help decorate them?” I looked at her, was she serious, she never allowed me to ice cakes, as they were never up to her high standards.
“You can add the sprinkles, even you cannot mess that up.”
Mess up. That was all I seemed to do in her eyes. She left the room, as I made my bed, changed into clean clothes, brushed my hair, fixing it into a ponytail. I then cleaned my teeth and made my way down to the kitchen. My mother was already there, mixing more batter.
“How many more are you making?”
“Two more batches that should do it.”
“So what do you need me to do?”
“Wash your hands, and put on an apron. You can decorate them; I have made one to show you how.”
I did as I was asked, looking at the cake, it did not look too complicated. Just add two decorations to the already iced cake. She informed me to hurry before the icing set. I added the decorations and soon came to the last one, the clock now read six.
“I’m done, what can I do now?”
“Can I trust you to ice them?”
I shrugged, I had never been allowed to spend time in the kitchen, let alone ice any cakes. Of course, my mother showed me how, and let me do two with her watching. She said, they would do, and allowed me to carry on. I would not admit it to her, but I actually enjoyed it. I had decorated sixty cupcakes, when she declared we were done, and that it was time to fill the car.
Another hour had passed since I entered the kitchen. The fete started at ten, another three hours or more away. Why we were leaving so early I had no idea.
I asked that very question.
“Because, we have to set everything up, not just our stall, the others too.”
“Just you and me?”
“No, your Dad, Lewis, and a few others, but there is a lot to do, so come on, get your shoes on.”
A lot to do, she was not kidding, it seemed I was not the only daughter that had been dragged here at this early hour. Amy and Sally were here too.
“You too,” Amy said, handing me a metal pole.
“Yeah, I have been up since five, I’m so tired, already.”
“Yeah, Mum woke me at six. Are you running a stall?”
“No way, it was on the understanding if I helped out with this, I did not have to do one.”
I sighed, helping fix the stall together, adding the material to it.
“I wish I had tried that one, but you know my mother.”
“We do, and besides, Imogen, there will be boys here.”
“Boys, girls is that all you think about?”
“Yeah,” Amy and Sally said in unison.
I rolled my eyes, that was true, they dressed to attract boys, and they were always looking for the next boy to take on that role. I liked boys, but not like that, as friends. Besides, there far too many adventures to be had. I had plenty of time for all that.
The girls informed me they would see me later, was it me, or was my best friends slowly leaving me behind. I should have seen it coming. It was my own fault for not following the same route as them, but I did not want to be told what to wear or how to look. Lewis interrupted my thoughts, informing me I needed to set up the cake stall. He offered to help me.
“Where is Mum?” I had not seen her for the past half an hour.
“Sorting out the petty cash.”
“Oh okay, thanks, for the offer, but I am sure, Mum wants you to do other stuff, am I right?”
“Don’t worry about it; I am sure I can work some kind of magic on it.”
He nodded. “Well you are a girl after all.”
He smiled, nodding. “Didn’t you know.” Cocking his head to one side, he continued, mocking our mother. “You could be pretty if you tried.”
I playfully punched him on the arm.
“For a girl, damn you hit hard.”
“Sorry,” I said, not sure if he was mocking me or not.
“I hate to say it, but Mum is right, you know.”
“What do you mean?”
“Dressing like a dude, is all very well, but are you going to dress like that forever, why not find your own style.”
“This is my style!”
“Really, my hand downs.”
“Nothing wrong with that, some stuff is new, I just hate seeing them go to waste. If I was your brother it would not be an issue right.”
“No, I guess not, tell you what, I dare you to dress like a girl for one day.”
“You dare me?”
“Yes, not today, but a day I choose, you have to dress like a girl.”
I looked at him, he was serious.
“Maybe, but I have to think of a dare for you.”
“If I am going to have to this, I want to get something out of it too.”