We were back in the car, on our way back home, when I suddenly decided that I didn’t care if I set him off by asking. I removed my sunglasses, turned to look at him and blurted, “A psychic, Toby?”
“Haaaa yeeeaaaah…” he reached to turn down the music, “about that…”
“Since when do you believe in that crap?”
“Well, I dunno, Belle, but don’t you think it’s just getting kind of unreasonably strange how much bad luck we have when we’re together?”
“Oh god, Toby.”
“No! Come on! I just wanted to see what she had to say. Obviously, that was a bunch of balls, but maybe we could try another one this weekend? There’s plenty of psychics inHollywoodwe could try, that’s for sure.”
I glared at Toby with confusion. “What. The hell. Are you talking about.” Conveniently, we pulled up into the driveway just as I said that. He didn’t even look at me before getting up out of the car and making his way toward the door. “Toby, look at me.” I watched him unlock the door, throw it open, andGriffindart out at top speed. “Toby. What’s going on with you?”
“I…” he began. He spun around, grabbed my wrist with one hand and his dog with the other, and hauled us both inside. I watched as he gently placed Griff down, closed the door, and threw off his shoes. “Come sit,” he jerked his head toward the couch. I stepped out of my flipflops, slightly nervous about what he was about to tell me.
“I know we’ve been over this hundreds of times, but I really don’t think it’s safe for you here.” Toby looked into my eyes, saddened by his own words, “I thought, maybe, I’d take the advice of a psychic to see if this has something to do with fate…or a curse…or I don’t know!” His sudden sharp tone made me jump, “I need you to understand, babe. Please don’t make this harder than it needs to be.” He placed his hand on top of my head and ran his fingers down the length of my hair. “It was truly torturous; what you did to me last time.”
“GOOD.” I interrupted him. I was not expecting him to revisit this topic, I thought we had agreed to forget about this ‘bad luck’ shit. “You sent me home out of nowhere and I was not FINISHED here.” I hissed. “You can’t do this to me again, Toby.”
“PLEASE don’t be like this,” he begged. I watched his adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallowed and I was suddenly washed over with a wave of regret. I had already discovered that taking this guilt-type method to try to convince Toby to not send me home does not work. He went to extreme measures to get me out of here, last time. He even called on a few flight attendants to literally drag me onto the plane. Toby didn’t deserve this “torture,” he was just looking out for me. I needed to try to find a different route to take to keep my room here.
I was rudely awakened by a loud thump coming from outside my bedroom door. My eyes flew open and it suddenly hit me that I was on the floor. I must have rolled off the bed in the night. The thump shot awful thoughts through my head; what did Toby do this time!? I hopped up onto my feet and took a big leap towards the doorknob, but failed to get any farther than that without toppling over. Headrush. My body wasn’t ready to get up yet. I watched the room spin, and the door fly open.
“WE’RE LATE BEL-what are you doing…?”
“You’re okay? What was that bang?”
“Doesn’t matter, we’re late. Put some shorts on and let’s go.”
I didn’t bother to ask him where we were going, because he’s smart. I knew that he would have told me if he wanted me to know, and he’d been acting weird lately – easily set off. The weirdest things threw him off track and into a rant or even worse: silence. Do you have any idea how awful it is to see Toby Turner go silent? He does it for hours at a time. Last week, he walked into the living room to get to the kitchen and asked who was on the phone. My cell had rung and I guess he heard it. I told him it was my English teacher, explaining to me that he had slightly altered the class’s assignment and I needed to finish my novel for our study instead of just read half. Toby emerged from the kitchen with an Arizona in his hand and stared at me for a good sixty seconds before stomping over to the coffee table, sliding off his laptop, and plopping himself in the lovesack. He only answered my questions with head nods and shakes until the next day, and he even fell asleep in his place on the floor. I had to close his computer and take off his sweater for him before I went to bed.
We pulled up into an unfamiliar plaza, yet I still did not dare to say anything about our destination. I followed Tobes closely behind until we reached a door. He opened it and a bell rang, followed by an almost immediate “Welcome, darlings!” A lady with big, circular glasses and long, dead-straight, cream coloured hair came out from a doorway at the back of the room, which was decorated with a beautiful copper arch and fake violets. My ears picked up another bell-like sound and I shifted my focus to my right. A long-haired tabby sat on a pile of books, looking quite pleased. He had a silver chain around his neck with a bell, and he meowed in response to my look.
“You must be Rashida, yes?” Grinned Toby.
“I am, indeed!” Rashida responded a little too cheerfully, “And if you two are booked in and on time, I’m assuming you must be Mr. Turner plus one?” She clapped her hands together leaned toward me.
“Oh. Uhh…you can call me Belly.”
“Well. It is very, very nice to see you two stunners on such a gorgeousCaliforniamorning. You can still see the sun rising from my office! Come, come.” She spun around and danced her way back through the arch. I was hesitant to follow; this lady gave me the creeps. I didn’t have to say any words to tell Toby how I was feeling, because from the look on his face, he was feeling the same. Yet still, I did not ask him where we were.
“So this is your…daughter? Niece?” Rashida gestured for us to sit down on a red velvet couch facing a giant pair of French windows, like the ones Toby has for the porch, back home.
“Er, heh. None of the above, ma’am.”
“HA ha. Ma’am? Please, call me Rashida, hun.”
“You’re calling me Mr. Turner, like I’m fifty years old or something.”
I laughed. “He’s actually closer to twelve; Toby is.”
“So Toby then? Toby and Belly? Couple of rednecks, are we? Hee. Great. Let’s get started.”
“Excuse me? Rednecks?” I was taken aback. I never would have thought those unkind words would come from this well-mannered old woman.
“Babe, it’s oka-” I lay a finger over his mouth.
“No. Why are we rednecks? We’ve got the same accent as you and we’re both properly groomed. Where did that come from? You have no knowledge of our backgrounds at all!”
“Well, you both paraded in here twenty minutes late without an apology, for one. You’re wearing quite obnoxious…and matching…clothing,” she almost gagged on the word matching. This was absolutely absurd. I could not believe Toby wasn’t saying anything. I turned a bit to take in his expression, which was pretty much identical to mine, still: disbelief and disgust. “Not to mention the age difference between the two of you is quite revolting if I don’t say so myself, and your names are Toby and Belly. Can you blame me for making this assumption now?” She sat in her chair and waited for a genuine answer. Toby shifted his position so he was leaning on his knees and squinted at the woman.
“Age difference. Age difference? You think we’re together?”
“You aren’t? What are you then?”
“Are you really so ignorant that you honestly believe the only possible relationships we could be in are father-daughter, uncle-niece or dating?”
“No, listen. This girl is my best friend.” Toby grabbed my hand and twisted my fingers neatly between his own, “She saved my life. She’s done it multiple times now, but she really did take a bullet for me back when we were strangers. Someone that brave and that bold cannot go unnoticed, so I took her in.” I smiled at the lady’s burning cheeks.
She looked down at the ground and mumbled, “I’m sorry.”
Toby stood up and pulled me up with him. He grabbed a pillow from the couch and threw it at her. I laughed a lot louder than what was intended, but this lady was a bit of a bitch and there was no one else around. “And you call yourself a psychic.” Toby scoffed.
I sat at the end of my bed, caressing and tracing the patterns knitted into the throw hung over its foot. I could hear voices; lots of them outside my door. I knew there were people here, and I knew I was technically in charge of the house right now, and I knew that by sitting in my room all alone while everyone else hosted themselves was extremely rude of me, but quite frankly, I did not care. My ears perked up at the faint, distant sound of my boy laughing again. I knew it was Olga who made him laugh; I could hear her laughing with him.
We were home again, and everyone who’s friends with Toby but didn’t get to go on the trip with us was here visiting him in bed. His mum and dad, his brother and sister and niece, and all the local YouTubers like Kate and Cory and Olga and Jess and Phil and Lisa and even Jack were here again. I had let everybody in when they arrived, but then decided I really didn’t want to talk to any of them shortly after and ran away to my room. I got out my laptop and started replying to tweets again when there was a rapid tapping of a long nail on my door.
“Yeah.” I didn’t bother trying to hide the annoyance in my voice. There was a pause before the door opened. Very slowly, an unfamiliar head poked its way through the small crack in the doorframe.
“Can I come in?”
“Uh, yeah. Sure, I guess.” I responded, still just as rude-sounding. The girl had very, very long brown hair and a round face. She was very quite pretty. She looked about my age and my height.
“I know you’re probably not in the mood to talk, so I just wanted to drop this off.” I watched as she pulled a neatly wrapped box from behind her back and gracefully placed it beside my knee. She gave me a look, kind and soft, before spinning around on her heels and walking straight out of the room. I had immediately regretted not thanking her, or offering her a seat, or even my name. I felt dirty. But yet again, my curiosity took me over and I gobbled up the gift as soon as I heard the click of the doorknob. All it took was one good handful of blue paper off the up-facing surface of the little box to see exactly was it was. A camera. A simple Canon HD in black. When I went to go pick it up, my fingers noticed something stuck to the bottom of the gift – a note. I couldn’t help but grin while I read it to myself:
It’s seriously time you started your own channel.
I rolled out of the bed and looked at the time. 6:57am EWWWW. Today was the first day of Vidcon and I needed to try to make myself look presentable ASAP. I picked myself up off the floor and shuffled into the shower. I let myself stand there under the hot water for about twenty minutes – it’s not my water bill, it’s the hotel’s. I stepped out and went to find my Tobuscus tee. I threw on my turquoise one, grabbed my carryon bag, and flew out the door. I knew that there must have been a Starbucks around here somewhere, because it’s Anaheim. They’re all over popular cities. Sure enough, I found one within ten minutes of leaving my room. I grabbed a coffee and began to edit. I am such a procrastinator. I left this Cute Win Fail way too long. I wasn’t going to end up releasing it on Monday, I ran out of time! Vidcon takes up my entire weekend, and then I’ll be traveling back home in my car on Monday. I was hoping to finish it early using a coffee house’s wifi, since it’s a well known fact that all hotel routers suck, but then I ended up sleeping in.
“Shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit,” I muttered to myself as I ran to sit down with my drink and ruffled though my bag looking for my computer and such. I was all set up and ready to start at around 7:50am. I shouldn’t have taken such a goddamn long shower. Good god. I had already started this scene the night before and was almost finished it. I was a few frames or so from the beginning of the next scene, when something caught my eye. I spun my head to face the door and saw my logo. I smiled as this tall redhead with wide green eyes sauntered toward the order line wearing a grey t-shirt with gray-stone text across her bust. She was with an older woman; must have been her mom. I’ll go say hi after I finish this scene, I thought to myself. Little did I know, I was not going to be saying hi the way I imagined I was.