posted on 1-Apr-2002 2:10:34 AM by melli
Title: Not Just A Girl
Author: Melli (me!)
Category: AU, M/L, CC
Disclaimer: I didn’t do it!
Summary: Liz and Michael are brother and sister who live with their widower father in Maycomb county. Read the rest and find out.

Prologue

"You take that back, Cecil Jacobs!" she shouted at the poor boy, her hand pulling tightly on his shirt collar.

"I'll do no such thing!" he replied, the slight tremble in his voice betraying his facade of bravery.

She threw him roughly to the ground causing a large cloud of dust to surround the both of them. Jumping on his back, the young girl grabbed the hair on his head and yanked his face of the ground.

"Take it back now!"

"Okay, okay!" he responded to her. He took in a deep breath, "Elizabeth Parker is not a wussie girl. Now get off me!"

"Scout!" Elizabeth cringed at the sound of her brother's voice, 'I'm in for it now!'

"Yes, Michael?" she said calmly as she turned to face her brother.

"What did Jeffrey tell you 'bout fightin'?" Michael chided his younger sister. "You don't wanna make him disappointed with you, do you?" Elizabeth shook her head in response.

"But that Jacobs boy just got me riled up so an' I couldn't take it no longer! You know what he called me Mickey? A wussie girl! He had it coming!" she told her brother, frustrated and annoyed.

"What a silly boy to think o' you as a girl!" Michael chuckled to his sister as he grabbed her hand and led her to the gate. "Come on, let's go home. Jeffrey said he had a surprise for us when he gets home."

***

The two walked side by side down the dusty strip of road towards their home. They talked of trivial things, what they thought of their new teachers, rumours they had heard about Boo Radley and how they wished summer hadn’t ended.

“What do you think Jeffrey’s surprise for us is?” asked Elizabeth curiously.

“I dunno, he didn’t give me no clues ‘tall, Scout”, Michael replied, just as curious as to what their father had in store.

They reached the Radley house and sprinted towards their own house, both avoiding looking at the creepy old house. When they arrived at their front porch, both stopped to catch their breath.

“What have you two been up to now?” Calpurnia’s voice questioned them.

“Nothing, Cal. Scout here was just spooked by the Radley house I couldn’t have let her run off on her own now could I?” Michael answered responsibly.

“Liar! You was the one I was runnin’ aft’r!” Elizabeth spat back at her brother, swinging a punch at his jaw. Michael saw it coming and swerved out of the way just in time. Moments later the pair was rolling around on the porch floor punching and kicking each other.

“Hey! You two!” Calpurnia shouted at them from in the kitchen.

“MICHAEIL JEFFREY PARKER! ELIZABETH ANNE PARKER!” Miss Maudie from across the road boomed out to the two children.

Michael and Elizabeth abruptly pulled apart and stood up. The dusted the dirt of their clothes and looked to Miss Maudie with guilty looks on their faces.

“Now, that’s better, isn’t it?” Miss Maudie spoke calmly, “Why don’t you two come over here and try some of this cake I just made?”

***

Later that night, after Jeffrey had returned from work and dinner was just a memory, the family sat in the living room together.

“Now you two kids and I have been handling things right well e’er since your mother passed away. But I’m getting old now and I’ve got a lot of work to be done now that there’s only two other lawyers in town. I can’t be here all the time to look after you and Calpurnia can’t raise you. The folk in this town don’t think it’s proper for a Negro to be bringing up white children so that’s why I’ve come to this decision. Your Aunt Stephanie will be coming to stay with us for a while.” Jeffrey rationally told his children. He thought it best for them to have a mother figure in their lives. He’d tried his hardest for seven years after the passing of his wife but Jeffrey wanted the best for his children and if that meant his sister coming to live with them, then that would have to happen.

“Oh no! Not Aunt Stephanie!” Elizabeth cried incredulously, “She’s mean! She calls me Elizabeth all the time and, and she makes me wear dresses!”

Elizabeth threw herself into her father’s arms and buried her head in the crook of his neck as she cried softly.

“Come on, Scout!” her father spoke calmly trying to sooth his child. “It’s for the best. Try and be nice to her, do it for me?”

Elizabeth mumbled her okay as she pulled away from Jeffrey and headed to bed.

“We’ll make you proud, Jeffrey” Michael spoke confidently to his father as he followed his sister to bed.

Michael and Elizabeth had adjoining rooms with a door to the other between them. Michael tucked his sister into bed telling her not to let Aunt Stephanie aggravate her. He told her that in a year’s time when she’d be seven like him, she’d understand. Michael closed the door between the rooms and settled himself down for the night. He waited until he could no longer hear his sister tossing and turning, satisfied that she was asleep, he closed his eyes and drifted off.

***

Like it? Hate it? Do I continue? FEEDBACK PLEASE!!!

melli xo

[ edited 10time(s), last at 3-Jun-2002 4:23:34 AM ]
posted on 2-Apr-2002 5:34:44 AM by melli
Thanx for all the FEEDBACK!! Keep it coming please. I don't know when a new part will be out 'cos I'm sick but I'll try in the next few days. This part is bascially just an intro into a few things but I promise you'll meet the rest of the characters in the next part (yes Max'll be in the next chapter)

abbs007> Yeah, I stopped writing My Emancipation 'cos I didn't know if anyone was still reading it.

LuckyStar> hehe hooked after the prologue??

pandas2001> I just finished reading To Kill A Mockingbird (I'm still ⊕ school) and I thought it was sooo good. I'm not gonna follow along with the book I just thought I'd use it as a setting, backdrop sorta.

TD DreamerBehr> hold your horses sweetie Max's coming soon!

LiLEvEe> I can't believe ur leaving FB to my fic! I love your stories esp. Accept the Challenge!! OMG! The other characters are coming!!

the better twin> I wasn't sure if anyone would notice that it was To Kill A Mockingbird but anyways... Like I said before, I'm not gonna follow the storyline so don't expect too much!

Anywayz, on with the fic and FEEDBACK PLEASE!!!

Chapter One

TEN YEARS LATER

“Scout! Scout! Slow down!” Alexander shouted out to his friend. He stopped running and bent over with his hands on his knees trying to catch his breath. Elizabeth looked over her shoulder and when she realised that Alex was no longer chasing after her, she too stopped.

“Alexander Whitman. I hereby knight you a disgrace to the male population of Maycomb County!” Elizabeth teased as she jogged back to Alex. She inwardly chuckled when she noticed his flushed face and the wheezing noise he made as he struggled to take in breaths of air.

“Hey!” Alex managed to get out, “At least… I … try!”

“Come on. We’ll walk the rest of the way back.”

Elizabeth and Alexander trudged along the creek bed talking about their plans for the summer. There was to be the arrival of a new family in town that night and Alex was excited. Elizabeth was not bothered; a new family meant more people for her Aunt to judge and gossip about. Aunt Stephanie annoyed Elizabeth to no end and despite the constant reassuring words from her brother it was no use. The two would just never get along.

The two friends reached the shed at the back of Jeffrey’s property. They creeped along the fence, hiding behind the bushes so as not to be spotted from the house. Aunt Stephanie did not approve of Elizabeth’s ‘gallivanting’ of with Alex, nor did she approve of Elizabeth’s attire. Scout was not one for the restrictions of a dress or skirt and, when not in the presence of her Aunt, could be found in the altered slacks of her brother and old mens shirts. Whenever Elizabeth went off to play with her friends she would leave by the back of the property. She would walk in a very ladylike and proper fashion to the shed at the rear of the property. Once entering the shed, Scout would quickly remove her dress and pull out the braids in her hair. She would then exit the old shed with the trousers she had worn beneath her dress and her hair flowing behind her. The reverse would occur when returning home; Alex and Michael were now quite talented at braiding her hair.

“Goodbye Alex!” Elizabeth said as they reemerged from the shed.

“Bye Scout!” Alex replied as he commenced his walk home.

***

“Elizabeth! Come here dear! I have a gift for you,” Aunt Stephanie called out to her niece.

“Yes ma’am?” Elizabeth asked suspiciously as she furiously rubbed the dirt off her hands.

“I saw the most delightful journal in town today and I decided it was the perfect present for you. Every lady needs a diary!”

“Why thankyou Aunt Stephanie. You really shouldn’t have!” Elizabeth replied as she looked down at the leather bound journal in her hands.

“Nonsense my dear. You are a lady now and its about time you started to behave like one!” she told Elizabeth with a suggestive tone in her voice.

Deciding that if she didn’t leave now she would get into an argument, Elizabeth walked quickly to her room and pulled out her ink.

//This will be my first entry into this journal and I think it will be best for me to write down simply everything about me. Well, maybe just the important things. My name is Elizabeth Anne Parker and I am sixteen years old. I live with my brother, Michael Jeffrey Parker, who is a year older than me. I also live with my father, Jeffrey Atticus Parker and my Aunt Stephanie something or other.

When we were younger, my brother and I were the closest of friends. He never treated me like a girl; instead, to him I was simply Scout. We did everything together and not a secret was kept between us. Michael always protected me from everything, not that I needed his protection but the gesture was always appreciated. He has always been worried for my safety and I remember a few years back when I first started menstruating.

I awoke one morning when I was fourteen to find blood on my sheets and the most unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach. I screamed out for Michael and he came running into my room to find me throwing up on my already bloodstained bed. He, of course, ran to get Jeffrey saying that I was dying and needed a doctor. When Jeffrey and Aunt Stephanie came to my room they calmed both myself and Michael down before father took Michael outside. Aunt Stephanie quickly explained to me what was happening and I’m sure Jeffrey did the same for Michael on the other side of the door. \
Liz chuckled softly at the memory as she dunked her pen for more ink.

//That same year we were lucky to make the acquaintance of a new boy in town: Alexander Charles Whitman. He moved here with his family and we were best friends at first sight. He brought with him the first guitar I had ever seen and it was with him that I discovered the joy of singing. One lazy afternoon beside the creek (it was just Alex and I, for by this time Michael had decided that it was time for him to associate with other ‘men’ his age) Alex was strumming gentle chords. Without even realising it I started to hum a tune to the gentle music and before long words were sliding out of my mouth and thus, a singer was born. After that it became a regular occurrence for Alex and I to write songs by the creek, inspired by the land before us.

Aunt Stephanie would be furious if she ever found out. Aunt Stephanie came to stay with us ten years ago. We thought it would be for only a few months but that soon spread to years and she remains to this day. Jeffrey brought her here to be a ‘womanly influence’ on Michael and I, having lived without a mother for most of our lives. Aunt Stephanie brought with her: lessons on etiquette, lectures on a woman’s place and worst of all, corsets.\
“Scout!” Michael yelled from his room “Supper’s ready so hurry up so we can eat!”

//I must go now so that my brother’s enormous appetite can be sated.

Elizabeth\
“Comin’ Mickey!"

***

Melli!! xoxoxo
posted on 4-Apr-2002 7:13:33 AM by melli

Chapter Two

“Suck it in!”

“I am! I’d like to see you suck it in this much!”

“Elizabeth! How dare you speak to me in that tone!”

“Sorry ma’am! Is this better?” Elizabeth replied, trying to suck her stomach in as far as she could. Her Aunt was roughly tightening her corset at the back and she could feel the boning squeezing her ribs together. It was a Sunday tradition for the women of Maycomb County to wear a corset and their best dress to church in the morning, then retire at a friend’s house for a light lunch.

“Much better, dear. Now why don’t we get that lovely dress on you now?” Aunt Stephanie cooed to the poor girl.

The dress in particular was another of Aunt Stephanie’s ‘gifts’. ‘Instruments of torture more like it!’ Elizabeth thought to herself as she spied the hideous creation her Aunt held up for her. It was a full length gown, much too thick and heavy for a hot summer’s day. It was in the most gaudy pink with frills on the hem and a large pink bow just above the part where it was to bloom over Elizabeth’s rear end. It had puffy sleeves in a contrasting white and the bodice was highlighted with a fine trim of lace at the top. Elizabeth could describe it in one word: horrible.

“Don’t you think it’s a little too warm for that fine dress and I’ll most likely get it ruined, perhaps I could wear my blue dress from last year?” Elizabeth spoke quickly, panicking because the frilly monster was coming closer and closer to consuming her whole.

“Well, you could be right. But isn’t that dress a little too small for you now?” her Aunt replied.

‘The way you just wrenched my stomach into nothingness I’m sure I can fit into clothes from 5 years ago!’ Elizabeth thought but spoke otherwise, “We’d better try it and see!”

She ran to her closet and found the elusive dress. It was much more simple than the one her Aunt had suggested. It was a light cotton garment in the colour of the sky at midday. It came to just past her knees and had thick straps at the top, no obtrusive sleeves. The bodice was a corset in itself but tied up at the front with an extra layer of facing so that no flesh could be seen behind the lacings. Aunt Stephanie helped her niece into her outfit and started to tighten the lacings at the front.

“Well, my dear, it seems the dress does fit, although not quite as well here on your chest!”

Elizabeth blushed at the implications of her Aunt’s comments and walked over to her mirror.

“You have grown into a beautiful young lady. Look at that figure! If only I looked like you in my day I’d have all the men chasing after me!”

“They chase after me too ma’am but that’s just ‘cos they can’t run as fast as me!” Elizabeth replied with a smirk as she grabbed her shoes and headed outside.

“That child gets into endless mischief” Aunt Stephanie mumbled to herself. “Elizabeth get back here and let me do your hair!”

***

Elizabeth walked into the chapel behind her Aunt. She’d managed to convince Aunt Stephanie that wearing the hair down was the latest trend and she couldn’t bear to be seen as somewhat unfashionable. Far from the truth but if it meant no pins digging into her hair, Elizabeth was sure that the lie was worth it. They walked down the aisle and headed to their usual spot: third pew from the front on the left side of the church. All the while, Elizabeth felt a burning on the back of her neck. She turned around, half expecting to see Michael standing behind her with a match but was greeted with Jeffrey’s passive face looking straight at her.

As she sat down and listened to the preacher’s sermon, the odd sensation continued. It was almost like someone was staring at her and their heated gaze was burning a hole in her neck. She flushed at the thought of someone looking at her in such a way. When her Aunt looked at her curiously, Elizabeth silently cursed at herself for allowing such thoughts to enter her head, in a church nonetheless! But where had these sudden urges to be desired by a man come from? Men were simply chauvinistic pigs who had no care for the thoughts of women only using them to cook and clean and raise their children!

Elizabeth was still thinking of all the reasons why men should not be trusted when Michael shook her out of her reverie.

“Scout! Come on! Church’s out and its time for lunch!”

‘My brother and his appetite!’

As she exited the church, the odd sensation continued on the back of her neck. Elizabeth was tempted to search the church with her eyes to find the culprit who was igniting such emotions with her. She decided, however, not to give them the satisfaction of seeing what they did to her. Also, Aunt Stephanie was giving her strange looks and Elizabeth did not want another lecture on the ways in which a lady is to behave herself in public.

“Pray tell, dear Mickey, where shall we be dining today?” Scout asked in her best impression of a proper lady, all the while silently laughing at her voice.

“As a matter of fact, the Cunninghams will be holding a sort of Welcome Lunch for the new family in town, the Evans’” Michael replied in the same mocking tone.

Elizabeth knew little of the new addition to the townsfolk of Maycomb County. The moment her Aunt began stories, gossip really, on families in town and the way they behaved, Scout always made an excuse to leave the room. What she did know was that Philip Evans was a lawyer and that he was to be a colleague of her father. He had a wife and three children: twin daughters and a son. The kids were all around her own age and were to be attending school with her.

The town school was not an extremely academic institution but the town took some pride in knowing that all the children would complete twelve years of schooling. Elizabeth was the brightest in her class, but because she was a girl was expected not to do anything with her intelligence. Her father and Calpurnia had taught her how to read at a young age and had sparked a deep yearning to learn. Elizabeth read over a lot of her father’s cases and was well informed on the processes of the legal system. She wished to pursue a career in her father’s footsteps as a lawyer but a woman lawyer was unheard of in those days. Her brother Michael expected to become a professional footballer despite Jeffrey’s persuasions to join the law firm.

“Elizabeth, my dear, let me introduce you to the Evans’” Jeffrey called out to his daughter, breaking her out of her daze. “Philip, this is my daughter Elizabeth. She’s quite the scholar in our family!”

“A pleasure to meet you”

“And you too, Mr Evans”

“Enough of that, I’m Philip to you dear. I believe we shall see quite a lot of each other in the future as I work with you father. Here, I’ll introduce you to the rest of my family” Philip eagerly led Elizabeth into the middle of the room.

There was a large table on one wall of the room which held an array of exquisite dishes. There were freshly made sandwiches and little pastries as well as sweet lemonade, most likely the work of Mrs Cunningham who was notorious for her culinary skills. She saw Michael and Alex with plates loaded with all kinds of foods, both stuffing their faces. The room was pretty crowded and it seemed as though most of the town was here. That was to be expected though, as it was an important event when a new family came to town.

She did not notice where she was going, simply allowing Philip to lead her away. When Philip stopped she barely managed to stop her self from walking into the back of him.

“Elizabeth, meet my wife Diane. Diane, this is Jeffrey Parker’s daughter.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Mrs Evans,” Elizabeth spoke politely as she looked into the kind eyes of the woman.

“And these are my two daughters, Maria and Isabel. They are both your age.”

“Hello Elizabeth” they spoke simultaneously then giggled when they realised what had happened.

“You’ll have to forgive us, Elizabeth,” Maria said trying to suppress her laughter, “Isabel and I are fraternal twins and sometimes we just…”

“Do things without even thinking about it” Isabel finished off for her sister then began laughing again.

“And this, my dear Elizabeth, is Maxwell, my son”

Elizabeth tore her eyes from the twins who had been reduced to a fit of laughter and gazed upon the new arrival. The most stunning pair of amber eyes she had ever seen greeted her. They seemed to pierce her very soul as they twinkled with happiness. The heated feeling she had experienced in the church came back tenfold as the burning spread from her face to her very toes. This was the mysterious man who looked at her with such intensity.

‘Where the hell are these feelings coming from? I’m Elizabeth Parker, foe of the male species. Hater of all men’

“It’s lovely to meet you, Elizabeth” Maxwell spoke softly as he continued to look at the beauty in front of him. She was the same princess he had spied in the church and could not take his eyes off. And now being so close to her he could see how truly beautiful she was.

“You too, Maxwell,” Elizabeth managed to get out, retaining her control.

“Scout! You gotta come see this! Kyle and Sean are out the back having a punch up!” Michael shouted from the other side of the room.

“If you’ll excuse me,” Elizabeth said quickly as she left her new acquaintances. She loved a good fight but always made sure that no one got too hurt. She was the resident mediator and when someone was getting too hurt she stepped in and broke the fight up.

She walked quickly out of the room to the scene of the fight but didn’t notice Maxwell following her. Outside a group of boys had gathered around the two brawling. They shouted out to them, cheering them on and Elizabeth joined in. The fight turned ugly when Kyle tripped over and Sean started laying into him, kicking him and punching the defenceless boy on the ground. Always one to stick up for the underdog, Elizabeth moved out of the crowd and attempted to separate the boys.

Maxwell was enthralled by this petite girl. She appeared so frail and beautiful and didn’t belong in a punch up and when he saw her try and break up the fight he moved forward to protect her. An arm in front of him stopped him from going any further.

“She always does this. Let her be” the boy said to him and he watched in amazement as the scene unfolded.

Scout had her hands on Sean trying to talk him into stopping but when that failed she resorted to physical persuasions. She grabbed the back of his collar and pulled him off Kyle. He was still throwing wild punches and one caught her on the jaw which only pissed her off even more. She spun him around and gave him a right hook on the jaw and a few quick jabs in the stomach before kicking him to the ground.

She wiped the blood from her split lip and bent down to stare Sean in the face, her foot pinning him to the ground.

“Ain’t your mama never told you not to hit a lady” she retorted moving away from Sean and helping Kyle off the ground.

Max’s jaw was on the ground. He’d never seen a girl act in such a way, he’d never met anyone like Elizabeth before but one thought continued to cross through his mind ‘I want her’

***

This part didn't turn out exactly how I wanted but anywayz! Thanx for all the FB PLEASE KEEP IT COMING!!!!!!!!!!
I don't know when a new part will be out but I'll try!!

Lotsa Luv, Melli!!! xoxox

posted on 8-Apr-2002 5:04:59 AM by melli
G'day all!

Thanx heaps 4 all the feedback, its really, REALLY appreciated!! Anywayz, I will hopefully have part three out in the next few days. I have a lot of school and I'm recovering from the Warped tour yesterday so not much time to write! But I do have Autumn holidays starting next week so I'll have more parts out then.

Thanx again for the FB and keep it coming!!

Lotsa Luv,

mel xoxox
posted on 11-Apr-2002 3:52:22 AM by melli
G'day All!! Thanx every1 for the feedback and please keep it coming. Sorry it took so long for this part to come out but I've been really busy. I hope you enjoy it and remember, the more feedback the sooner I post!

Chapter Three

Well here it is my second entry into this journal. I never thought I’d be the type to write down all my feelings but in an oddly strange way, its therapeutic. Today was an unusual day for me, for more than one reason. Its started off in the usual way with Aunt Stephanie and me bickering but what happened next was, how should I put it, peculiar? In church I felt someone watching me, not simply making sure I behaved myself but more intimately. No one has ever looked at me in such a way before and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. The day only got weirder when I finally met the owner of the heated looks.

Maxwell Evans.

Doesn’t the name just say it all? Strong, determined, powerful, upper class, handsome, loving. What has happened to me? I’m normally one to shun the male species yet one boy, only a year my senior, has conjured up such emotions in me that I’d never dreamt of feeling. Why does he have such power over me and why do I not mind? Maybe this is what that spoiled brat Tess Harding means when she talks about those romance novels she reads. You know the ones; those trashy books that completely undermine the literary excellence great authors have spent years accomplishing. The books your Aunt tells you to steer clear of but has a stash in her closet.

I can just see the cover now “An Unexpected Love” with a picture of a woman with the wind blowing her hair, whipping up the red silk skirt she’s wearing. In the background is the silhouette of a man who appears to be watching her and she knows it. A small smile graces her lips and her eyes shine with happiness.

I’ve just read what I have written on this page and you must be thinking what a naïve, foolish and pitiful girl I must be. But that’s where you’re wrong because I’m nothing like that. And that’s why I’m so scared that I feel this way. I can’t control these emotions and I’ve always been in control of everything. That’s why I’m so terrified.

Elizabeth.


Elizabeth put her pen down and blew gently on the page, drying the ink. She reread her entry and became only more confused about her emotions. Content that the ink would not smudge, she closed the journal and put it in her special hiding place. She couldn’t bear if someone found it and gave her grief over it, especially if it was her brother.

Elizabeth looked in the mirror and stared at her lip. It was still swollen where Sean had punched her and there was a small piece of dried blood on the corner of her mouth. She knew her Aunt would be furious with her when she found out what she had done but nothing could be done now.

Michael could be heard in his room thumping around in the way only boys can. Looking at the time, Elizabeth slowly undressed and put on her nightclothes. She lay down in bed and tried to sleep but her attempts were in vain because when she finally fell asleep, her dreams were haunted with his image.

***

Maxwell awoke from a peaceful sleep filled with wonderful dreams of the girl he’d begun to fall in love with: Elizabeth. From the moment he lay eyes upon her he was bewitched, enchanted by her beauty. When he continued to observe her in order to gauge what she was like, his feelings for her grew even stronger and he realised how truly special she was.

He’d never wanted to move to this town but all of a sudden the idea seemed brighter. He had something to look forward to in this town. Maxwell’s father was a successful lawyer yet he decided to move to this small town to help the dwindling legal system. It was pure luck that the man his father was to assist was also the father of the intriguing Elizabeth. This meant that Maxwell would be, hopefully, spending quite some time with his dream girl.

It was also fortunate for Maxwell to have befriended her brother only yesterday. The boy who called Elizabeth ‘Scout’ was quite a larrakin and was a promising best friend for Maxwell. In fact, the two were meeting today so Michael could show Maxwell what Maycomb County had to offer. Who knew? Maybe the day could also include a sighting of the beautiful Elizabeth?

“Max! Some boy with crazy hair is at the door for you!” Maria shouted to her brother, wondering who on earth this boy was. It wasn’t that she didn’t mind a nice specimen like him standing on her doorstep.

“Coming, ‘Ria!” Max replied as he threw on a shirt and jogged to the front door.

The two boys exchanged formalities before heading off to explore the town.

The whole day was spent walking along the streets with Michael explaining what was what, who lived where and what the people were like. It was obvious to Maxwell that Michael knew the town like the back of his hand and had no doubt gotten up to lots of mischief that utilised his knowledge. They met up with other boys their age and introductions were made. After no time at all, Maxwell and Michael had gotten to know each other and were the best of friends.

But the day wasn’t over yet and Michael intended on showing Maxwell his favourite place.

“Michael, where are we going? Haven’t we seen everything yet?” Max asked, slightly out of breath from walking all day.

Michael smiled as he looked towards his new friend and said, “Trust me, Max. This part is worth the wait!”

***

Elizabeth had woken to discover that Michael was gone somewhere and her father and Aunt were busy in town. That left Elizabeth alone in the house and bored out of her brains. She had stopped around at Alex’s only to discover that he was gone too. Before long, lunchtime rolled around and when that had passed, Elizabeth still had nothing to do.

‘I’m always left out of everything’ she thought begrudgingly, ‘When the boys don’t tell me where there going it means they don’t want a girl there. To make matters worse I don’t have any girl friends cause they all think I’m improper!’

Annoyed and upset, Elizabeth marched down to the back shed, put on her slacks and headed to the one place she felt whole.

Her and Michael had been playing in this section of the creek since they were little and had loved it ever since. There was a large willow tree that spread over the creek and provided shelter from the scorching summer sun. The water was crystal clear and not too deep. Elizabeth would spend hours here, swimming, reading, singing with Alex or just mucking around with her friends.

Today it was just Elizabeth, not that she minded, so she just leaned back against the trunk of a tree and slowly closed her eyes.

“Hey Scout! What are you up to?” Alex said as he approached his friend, guitar in hand.

Elizabeth opened her eyes and looked at Alex “Nothing much since my brother and friend deserted me!”

“Awww, come on Scout! I was spending some time in town and I ran into Mickey and that new boy, Max?”

“Well I s’pose that’s OK then but you still have to make it up to me” Elizabeth pouted.

“How’s about a little music then?”

“Sure, only if you play that new song I wrote!”

Alex nodded his consent and sat down beside Elizabeth. He started to strum the strings on the guitar and the soft music broke the silence of the creek. Soon Elizabeth’s voice joined the guitar

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
I'm exposed
And it's no big surprise
Don't you think I know
Exactly where I stand
This world is forcing me
To hold your hand

'Cause I'm just a girl, little ol' me
Don't let me out of your sight
I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don't let me have any rights
Oh... I've had it up to here!

The moment that I step outside
So many reasons
For me to run and hide
I can't do the little things
I hold so dear
'Cause it's all those little things
That I fear

'Cause I'm just a girl,
I'd rather not be
'Cause they won't let me drive
Late at night
I'm just a girl,
Guess I'm some kind of freak
'Cause they all sit and stare
With their eyes
I'm just a girl,
Take a good look at me
Just your typical prototype
Oh... I've had it up to here!
Oh... am I making myself clear?


Neither Alex nor Elizabeth noticed the intruders of their secret place.

I'm just a girl
I'm just a girl in the world...
That's all that you'll let me be!

I'm just a girl, living in captivity
Your rule of thumb
Makes me worry some
I'm just a girl, what's my destiny?
What I've succumbed to
Is making me numb
I'm just a girl, my apologies
What I've become is so burdensome
I'm just a girl, lucky me
Twiddle-dum there's no comparison

Oh... I've had it up to!
Oh... I've had it up to!
Oh... I've had it up to here.


The sound of applause broke Elizabeth and Alex out of their musical stupor and they turned to face their audience.

“I see you convinced Alex to write music to your song. It sounds ok, alright it sounds pretty darn good!” Michael congratulated his little sister.

“It sounded wonderful!” commented Max as he stepped from behind Michael.

Elizabeth let out a gasp when she realised that Maxwell had been listening to her singing. No one besides Alex and Michael knew she sang so she was very nervous to have someone she barely knew hear her. But then again he had said she sounded wonderful or did he just mean Alex’s playing? Elizabeth was to busy thinking to notice her brother’s question.

“Scout! Scout? Earth to Elizabeth!” Michael spoke, waving his hand in front of Elizabeth.

“Wh What?”

“I wanted to know whether you’d met Max here?”

“Oh, um yes at the uh lunch yesterday!” Elizabeth responded trying to regain some normality in her speech.

“It’s nice to see you again, Elizabeth,” Max said politely, never taking his eyes off her.

“’Nuff of that Elizabeth nonsense. Its Scout or Liz, don’t make her sound all pretentious!” Alex spoke for Scout, knowing she wouldn’t want her full name mentioned all the time. Normally it would be her defending herself but today she seemed awfully fascinated with the grass.

“Well, how ‘bout we go back to the house? Max and his family have been invited for dinner and you, Scout, will need to get cleaned up and dressed properly”

“Fine, fine. Just give me a second Mickey and I’ll be right behind you!” Liz replied as she stood up and brushed the dirt off her slacks.

Elizabeth walked a few steps behind the boys as they started the walk home. She didn’t want to intrude on the “manly” conversation, also from this position she got a great view of Max’s b.. ‘OK stopping that line of thought right there!’ Elizabeth silently chided herself. Before she knew it, they were at the rear fence of their home and she ran into the shed so she wouldn’t be seen in her slacks.

She closed the door and proceeded to undress as she always did. When Elizabeth put on her dress and started to do it up, she realised that it was too difficult to do up by herself, ‘Damn these intricate dresses! I mean, who would make a dress that requires two people to put it on?’

“Michael!” Elizabeth called out to her brother, hoping he could help her, “Michael!”

“Umm, he and Alex went to Alex’s house to see if he could come to dinner as well,” Max’s tentatively spoke.

‘Oh no! Who’s going to help me with my dress? There’s no way I can go inside with my dress undone, but who’s going to help me put it on?’ Elizabeth pondered the thought of asking Max but she didn’t know how she’d react to him touching her if his gaze made her melt. Deciding there was no other option, she called out to Max.

“Yes, Liz?”

“Umm, would you be able to come in for a second?” Liz asked nervously.

Max swallowed and took a deep breath. Michael told him his sister was changing in there, which meant that Liz was in that shed, half dressed, and asking him to join her. He reached for the door, hesitating slightly, then pushed the door open, averting his eyes from what he would see, although desperately wanting some glimpse of Liz.

“Could you possibly do up the back of my dress for me please? If it’s not too much trouble, I mean?” she stuttered.

“No, its OK. Maria and Isabel always ask me to do it anyway,” Max replied as he moved his hands to Liz’s back.

He started to so up her buttons very slowly, his fingers lingering on her back. Liz couldn’t deny the feelings such a simple gesture ignited in her and she barely managed to suppress her gasps. What must have been just a few seconds for the task to be finished felt like hours to the two and when the dress was done up, both felt the absence of the other’s touch.

“We should, uh, probably head inside now,” Liz spoke softly and Max followed her out of the shed.

***

Please leave me some feedback and any ideas that you'd like to see happen!

mel xoxox
posted on 19-Apr-2002 3:50:03 AM by melli
G'day All!! Sorry this took so long to get out but I've been heaps busy but hopefully I'll have more time to write stuff very soon!! Thanx fro all the great feedback and please keep it coming because it's really encouraging and gives me more motivation to write sooner!!
This part's a bit short cos I wrote it kinda quickly. It's just a fill-in chapter about Liz and Maria!
Thanx heaps for being patient with me and remember:
More Feedback Quicker Chapters!!!
Luv, melli xoxox

Chapter Four


Dear Journal,

There’s only one word I can think to describe tonight: amazing. But then again, that doesn’t give this evening justice. Jeffrey and Aunt Stephanie had invited the Evans’ to have dinner with us as a sort of ‘Welcome to Town’ shindig. An event like this of course called for a corset and Aunt wasn’t slow in getting me ready for dinner. However, the strange thing was that I didn’t seem to mind the stomach wrenching and rib popping. I even made an effort to do my hair neatly and apply just a hint of rouge. I don’t know what’s come over me; I’ve never wanted to look nice for anyone before.

I barely talked to Max all night; there was that whole division between males and females that has overtaken our society. He kept sneaking glance at me though, I caught him at it a few times but that didn’t deter him. I got to know his sisters quite well however. At first it was just Aunt Stephanie and Mrs Evans talking until Maria bubbled into a conversation that included Isabel, Maria and me. Isabel and Maria get on fantastically, but in the short time I’ve known them, I’ve come to the impression that each twin is an entirely different person, with contrasting personalities and opinions.

Isabel appears to be your typical “girl”, a description I tend to stay away from. Her manners are impeccable and the way she holds herself is incredible. I do believe that one day she will be a perfect lady with a husband and children whom she will dote on. She did appear to be a bit pretentious towards me, looking down her nose at me. She looked disgusted at the amount of food I was eating, well excuse me if I don’t starve myself to be thin!?!

Maria is the complete opposite! I don’t know how they get along so well with such conflicting attitudes! She has this lighthearted atmosphere surrounding her and she doesn’t seem concerned about what people think of her. Perhaps that’s why we both got along so well, she thinks like I do and I wouldn’t be surprised to find her running around in Max’s clothes as I do Michael’s. It wasn’t until after dinner that I got to know Maria just that little bit better. The men had retired to the study and the women to the sitting room. Not one for womanly conversations I headed to my room only to be followed by Maria.


~**FLASHBACK **~

“I hope you don’t mind me joining you, Liz. Can I call you Liz? Great! I’m not really into the whole womanly bonding thing either”, Maria spoke so quickly that Liz could barely take in anything she was saying.

“Wh What? No you’re fine. Umm welcome to my room?”

Maria stepped into Liz’s bedroom and gazed around at her surroundings. Liz’s room wasn’t much but it was absolutely perfect for Liz. It was obvious that Liz was just as untidy as Maria, her clothes and possessions strewn on the floor. The room was simple: a small bed, dresser and wardrobe. There was a drab curtain hanging limply at the edges of the window. It was evident that the drapes were unused, the view out the window was not to be hidden.

Liz watched Maria as she looked around the room, “It isn’t much but, well I don’t really need much more!”

“No, its, how do I put it? It’s just right for you, Liz!” Maria spoke kindly. “So Liz, tell me more about yourself!”

“There’s not really much to tell”, Liz said shying away from Maria’s gaze, “How about you tell me about yourself and, if I may, I can add in anything that is similar about me?”

“OK then! Well as you know I have a twin sister and an older brother, I’m 17 years old and still haven’t made my social debut,”

“Neither have I,” Liz added, “But our town will be having a debutante ball next month that my aunt wants me to attend. I don’t think I’ll go though.”

“Why not? It would be so much fun!” Maria spoke excitedly.

“I’m just not into the whole girly thing. Dressing up, powdering my nose, dancing. I grew up with two males so you can guess that I’m far from a lady!” Liz told Maria, opening up just a little bit. “And I hate how everyone thinks that I cannot and should not do things just because I am a girl. It’s demeaning and just totally unfair!”

Maria stared at Liz in amazement, “Finally someone who thinks the same way I do!”

Both girls just looked at each other for a while before Maria broke the silence.

“We’re just going to be the best of friends I can tell. I’ll show you the perks of being a girl and you can help me forget about being a proper lady!”

“I’ve never had a friend who was a girl before!” Liz spoke quietly.

“Well I’ve never had a friend who was a tomboy before!” Maria said bursting into giggles.

“A tomboy, huh? Well if I must behave like a boy I s’pose I should just do this!” Liz teased as she grabbed a pillow from her bed, holding it suggestively in the air.

“You wouldn’t!” Maria said, incredulously.

“Guess again!”

The next moment, both girls were involved in a full out pillow war. They were jumping on the bed, running around the room and screaming at each other before falling on the floor in exhaustion. Neither had noticed the door open nor had they seen the look of disgust coming from the doorway.

“Elizabeth Parker! What on earth are you doing?” Aunt Stephanie asked her niece, an underlying tone of anger in her voice.

Both girls stared up at the intruder with horror on their faces. Thinking quickly, so as not to let her new friend get into trouble, Maria sat up and pulled Liz’s head up. She then proceeded to play with Liz’s hair before raising her eyes to her hostess.

“I’m so sorry, miss, for the noise, but I was teaching Elizabeth how to braid hair and her failed attempts were so hilarious that I could do nothing more than join her in laughing. I am truly sorry if we were too loud and disturbed you!” Maria said, putting on her ‘innocent’ voice and using the puppy dog eyes Max had taught her many years ago.

Aunt Stephanie looked sternly at Elizabeth but rather then make a scene in front of her guest she just nodded and left the room.

“Ow!” Liz whispered as she pulled her head away from Maria’s twisting fingers, “But nice save!”

“Hey! I wasn’t lying! As my first gift to you as your best friend I AM going to teach you how to braid!”

~**END FLASHBACK**~

So tonight I made my first ever girl friend. We talked and braided until it was time for Maria and her family to leave. We decided that tomorrow I would show Maria the creek and educate her in the most unladylike ways. We have so much in common but also a lot of things where we differ, but that’s a good thing. We can teach each other things we’d never have thought of and I agree with Maria: we’re going to be the best of friends!

Elizabeth

***
Like it? Hate it? Feedback please and keep any ideas coming! Who knows, maybe a bit of M/L next chapter??

melli xoxox
posted on 19-Apr-2002 11:49:11 PM by melli
Two posts in one day!!! Well actually for me its two days (I come from Down Under) but its still pretty rare for me. Did I promise M/L interaction??? Oops! Well there is a lil itty bitty bit in here but I promise (cross my heart and hope to die) that there will be some in the next chapter!!
Thanx for all the feedback and keep and ideas coming!!
lotsa luv
melli xoxox

Chapter Five

“Did you bring them?” Liz asked in a hushed tone.

“Yes, they’re right here. Max won’t even miss them!” Maria replied in an equally soft voice.

“Good! Now did you alter them to fit you?”

Maria looked down at the trousers in her hands and mentally yelled at herself, ‘I knew I forgot something! Stupid, stupid!’ She looked up at Elizabeth and saw the laughter dancing in her friend’s eyes. No words needed to be exchanged and Liz took the pants from Maria and walked to her sewing box. Finding her needle, scissors and thread, Liz headed back to the bed that Maria was sitting on.

“Nevermind, Maria. I’ll just quickly sew them up to fit you. You’re about the same size as I am, aren’t you?” Seeing Maria nod her head, still slightly embarrassed for causing them to lose time in their day, Liz began to stitch the pants.

Twenty minutes later, Maria had on Max’s old trousers that now fit her perfectly, thanks to Liz’s handiwork. The two girls then crept downstairs, their dresses hiding the pants beneath them and an old shirt hidden behind Maria’s back. They informed Aunt Stephanie that they would be taking a walk around town to show Maria the sights and then walked out the front door.

“I can’t believe we’re actually doing this! I would always try to convince Isabel to do this sort of thing but I think she loves the attention of being a pretty girl too much!” Maria spoke excitedly as they raced around the side of the house and ran to the shed at the rear of the property.

Liz smiled at her new friend and imagined all the fun they would get up to today. It was strange having another girl around but it was something Liz wouldn’t mind getting used to. She just hoped Maria wouldn’t be this loud when they would have to sneak to the creek.

Pushing Maria into the old shed and closing the door behind them, Liz stumbled through the darkness to pull the shades away from the small window, allowing some light to penetrate into the room. Liz opened the small cupboard and pulled out one of Michael’s old shirts. Maria and Liz helped each other undo their dresses and moved to opposite ends of the shed to get changed.

“Maria! This is the part when you have to be really quiet, OK?” Liz whispered.

Hearing the seriousness in Liz’s voice, Maria whispered back, “OK! Let’s go, I’m ready!”

Maria and Liz abandoned their shoes and crept from tree to tree until they reached the bushes which lead the way to the creek. They ran quickly over the dry soil, ducking under low tree branches and jumping over fallen trees. When the two girls reached the creek, their pace slowed to a comfortable walk and they admired the beauty before them.

“Wow! This place is, it’s just magnificent!” Maria said, bewildered.

“The best part is just a 15 minute walk away! Come on I’ll show you!” Liz said, grabbing Maria’s hand and leading her onward.

Soon they reached Liz’s favourite place and once again Maria stopped in her tracks, in awe of the beautiful place Liz was showing her.

“Wow!”

Chuckling at Maria’s response Liz teased her, “Can you say anything besides wow?”

“Of course I can!” Maria replied in a mock insulted tone. She stamped her foot down to add to her act but lost her footing and fell over into the mud on the bank of the creek.

Liz couldn’t contain her laughter at seeing Maria covered in mud. She was bent over, her hands on her knees as her whole body shook with large bellows of laughter.

“Oh! So you think this is funny, hey?” Maria asked Liz as her hand dug into the mug so that a large pile of mud was in her grip. “Well take this!” Maria shouted as she threw the clump of mud at Liz, hitting her squarely in the face.

Liz was stunned still for a moment but that didn’t last long before Liz had thrown her own handful of mud at Maria. This was then returned by another throw from Maria and soon there was a mud fight reminiscent of their pillow fight the night before. Minutes later neither had a patch of skin or clothing that was not covered in the slimy mud.

***

Michael had woken up to the sound of whispered voices from his sister’s room. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he trudged towards the door joining his room to Liz’s. He pressed his ear to the door to listen to the voices on the other side. He recognised his sister’s voice but the other he was not sure of. He’d heard the voice before but could not figure out where. Letting his curiosity get the better of him, Michael slowly opened the door a fraction and tried to see who was in Liz’s room.

“Where did you learn to sew so well?” Maria was asking Liz who was on the floor with a pair of trousers in her hands.

“I’ve had years of practice, mending Mickey’s and my torn clothes as well as making Mickey’s clothes fit me!”

“Well I guess you can fix his clothes but I don’t think anyone could fix his hair!” Maria said before giggling and Liz soon joined in the laughter.

Michael ran his hand through his hair self-consciously. ‘What’s wrong with my hair? I like it!’ he thought to himself before looking through the doorway once more. Liz had now finished with the mysterious trousers and Maria was trying them on. No matter how much he wanted to, being the perfect gentleman, Michael averted his eyes from Maria and focused on an interesting crack in the wooden floor.

When he finally peeked through the door again, Maria and Liz were leaving the room on tiptoes, making Michael wonder all the more what they were up to. He knew that Liz was too smart for him to follow them without being caught so he’d have to get it out of her later tonight.

He stood up from his crouching position by the door and started to get ready for the day. With Liz gone and Alex visiting his grandfather today, Michael decided to pay Max a visit. He pulled on some clothes and headed to the kitchen for some breakfast.

Calpurnia was once step ahead of Michael and already had some eggs and toast ready for the young man. He ploughed through the food with the speed only known to growing boys and showed his appreciation to the cook with a hearty burp.

“Michael Jeffrey! What rudeness you ‘ave there! If yer Ant Stephanie had catched you doin’ that you’d ‘ave a right ol’ lecture comin’ yer way!” Calpurnia chastised the boy she had helped to raise after the death of Mrs Parker and before the arrival of Miss Stephanie.

“Sorry Cal. I’ll try not to do it again if it disturbs you so.” Michael spoke in his innocent and apologetic tone.

“That’s better, boy! Now yer Ant said to tell you to mend the fence at the fron’ of the yard that’s been broke for ages!”

“But Cal! Can’t she get one of the labourers to do it? Ain’t it their job anyway?” Michael complained to Calpurnia.

Calpurnia inwardly groaned at the laziness of the boy seated before her. She knew he wasn’t looking down on the men of her race but simply looking for an excuse to get out of hard labour. The family she worked for was one of the most accepting in town, with the excuse of Aunt Stephanie. Jeffrey had defended a Negro a few years back and had earned the respect of many. Calpurnia felt like part of the family here and although she was getting on in years she knew that there’d always be a place here for her.

Snapping herself out of her contemplation, Calpurnia turned once more to Michael, “You’ll be doin’ that job an’ if you don’t start now you won’t be finish ‘til nightfall!”

“Fine then I’ll do it!” Michael gave in and thought to himself, ‘There goes my visit to Max!’

Two hours later, Michael was still out the front, sawing new timber and hammering it in place. He was only a quarter of the way through the job and still had a lot of hard work ahead of him. The sun had gotten higher and the heat had caused Michael to remove his shirt to keep from getting too hot.

That was how Max found him a few minutes later when he walked down the street to the Parker’s home.

“Hey Michael!” Max greeted his friend.

Michael looked up at Max who didn’t look the slightest bit hot or dirty, “Wipe that smirk off your face and come and help me Maxwell!”

Chuckling, Max grabbed the mallet and began to knock down the old and worn part of the fence. The two boys worked hard and talked at the same time making the job seem less monotonous. Soon Max began to feel the heat too and removed his shirt as Michael had done earlier. Calpurnia came out and gave them a glass of lemonade each to cool them down a bit and to show no hard feelings between her and Michael.

***

“So how do you like Maycomb, ‘Ria?”

“It’s pretty nice actually, especially right where we are now!”

After their mud fight, both girls had gone for a swim in the creek to clean themselves and to cool off from their exertions of the hot day. Knowing that if they returned home wet their little escapade would be discovered, Liz and Maria lay in the sun on the bank of the creek to dry off. They were quietly talking about nothing in particular when Liz’s stomach made a grumbling noise.

Laughing for a moment then sitting up, Liz suggested they go home for some lunch. Quickly agreeing, Maria stood up and brushed any dirt off her clothes before helping Liz to her feet. They then made their way back to the shed and got dressed in dresses and braided each other’s hair to add to the pretense of a ‘girly’ morning. They crept up the side of the house to the front yard to make it appear that they had arrived from the street. Neither had expected to see the sight that greeted them at the front of the house.

Liz just stopped walking and stared at Max. She watched the way the muscles in his back and arms rippled as he raised and lowered the mallet. The sweat glistened on his bare torso and she could not tear her eyes away from. That unsettling feeling in her stomach returned and she could feel her cheeks burning up. Finally managing to look somewhere else, she glanced at Maria who seemed to be intently looking at something else also.

Maria turned to look Liz straight in the eye and both girls spoke simultaneously, “Were you just checking out my brother?”

“No!” came their joined response.

Michael turned in their direction when he heard them almost shout at each other.

“Scout! Can you help us by bringing that timber over?” Michael asked his sister.

“Sure Mickey!” she shouted in response and then asked Maria if she wanted to help also.

Max looked around to see Liz picking up one of the heavy logs with ease and couldn’t take his eyes off the goddess before him. His eyes were focused on Liz’s movements that he didn’t notice Maria struggling with a similar piece of wood and Michael rush to her side to assist her in carrying the log over.

Trying to get back to work, Max raised the mallet once more, his gaze still firmly attached to Liz.

“Max!” Michael shouted and Max stopped his movements, the mallet only inches away from the fence.

“Make sure you knock down the old part of the fence, NOT what I just put up!”

Max glanced down at the fence before him and gulped in embarrassment. He turned to Liz once more to see her laughing softly at him with a huge smile on her face.

‘What she does to me!’ Max thought, ‘What she does to me!’
posted on 1-May-2002 8:00:53 AM by melli
G'day All!!
Let me start off first by apologising for not posting a part in ages! I intended to write heaps during autumn holidays but never got around to it! And then I come back to school this week and realise that I didn't just neglect my story during the hols but my schoolwork too! The first week back and I have 3 exams and countless more in the coming weeks!! School sux!
Anywayz, I've been kinda thinkin bout my story so I have a fairly good idea of whats happening so all I have to do is find time to write it!! Hopefully the next part will be out in the next few days with the much wanted M/L interaction.
Thanx for being patient and for leaving all the awesome feedback! keep it coming!!

Lotsa Luv,
melli xoxox
posted on 2-May-2002 7:18:13 AM by melli
G'day all!
Well here it is, the promised part. I kinda rushed it to get it out to you guys so I'm sorry for any errors or stuff that doesn't make sense. And yes, there's M/L in it (if only a smidgen) just as I promised.
Thanx for all the feedback and bumpage and please keep it coming. It might inspire me to write parts quicker (lol)

melli xoxox

Chapter Six

The hot, dry weather of the summer had disappeared that morning. The sky had turned from a bright blue to a dull, depressing grey. The wind had picked up, the tree boughs thrashing wildly in the gale. It was an unpleasant day, there was no use going outside unless one wanted to be struck by a flying tree branch. Never one to let things get her down, Maria began to plan something to do with Liz so that the day was not wasted. Remembering her promise to Liz about getting her into the ‘girly’ side of life, a scathingly brilliant idea popped into Maria’s head.

Jumping up from her relaxed position on the bed, Maria made her way quickly into her brother’s room. Pushing the door open just a fraction, Maria peered in to see what Max was up to. She found him on the floor doing his morning routine. She watched him do push-up after push-up, softly counting to himself. Maria had learned her lesson a while ago and knew not to disturb Max until he had reached his set quota of exercise. The moment he rested on the floor, Maria swung the door open and bounced into the room.

“Ma-ax?” she asked in a sweet innocent tone.

“What do you want, Maria?” Max replied gruffly. He knew that tone of voice; it was the same one Maria used when she wanted him to do something for her.

“What makes you think I want anything? A girl comes into her brother’s room in search of a pleasant conversation, only to find him in a bad mood accusing her of all sorts of, all sorts of…! Damn! What’s that word again??”

Maria was all flustered and confused. Her face scrunched up into her ‘thinking pose’ and her hand scratching her head furiously. Seeing her discomfort and immediately feeling sorry for his harsh words, Max rushed to her side to calm her down.

“I’m sorry, ‘Ria,” he said guiding her to his bed, “I didn’t mean to upset you. Why don’t we start again? Hello Maria, how are you today?”

Giggling at her brother’s cheesiness, Maria hit Max at the same time responding, “I’m quite well good sir!”

“Now why was it that you came to visit me this morning?”

Maria stopped her giggling and sobered up when she recalled the reason she had to find Max.

“Well, I actually do have a favour to ask of you, put that ‘I was right’ look away now Mister!” Maria chided her brother and continued, “Liz was telling me that the town was having its debutante ball next month and I really, really want to go! And I want Liz to go too, because it’ll be so much fun but she doesn’t realise it!”

“And this involves me, how?” Max asked, ignoring the fact that at the mere mention of Liz’s name had made his heart beat faster.

“Well we need escorts and I was thinking you could be Liz’s!” Maria spoke excitedly, hoping to persuade Max.

“Do I have to dress up? ‘Cause you know how much I hate all that formal clothing and looking like a penguin!” Max whined.

Maria was aware that Max had feelings for Liz, that was obvious, and she hoped to use that as her advantage. She stood up from the bed with a loud sigh and headed towards the door. She turned her head and dramatically sighed:

“I guess I’ll just have to find some other boy to take her. Maybe that Kyle boy?”

“No!” Max almost shouted at his sister, “I’ll do it! I’ll take her!”

“I knew you’d say that,” Maria muttered to herself as she returned to her room. ‘This is going to be so much fun! I can’t wait to tell Liz. But there’s so much to organise…’

***

Liz hated days like this. She couldn’t go outside which meant she couldn’t go to the creek, she couldn’t be wearing her comfortable clothes and she was stuck inside with her aunt. She was seated in the living room, as far as she could from her aunt, reading a book. Liz’s corset was starting to dig into her back, making sitting extremely uncomfortable. She tried to ignore the pain and concentrate on the book in front of her. It was “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway. Liz didn’t really like the novel but it was the only one in the house she had not read more than twice.

Aunt Stephanie was in her own seat, silently knitting away. She had previously attempted to persuade Elizabeth into joining her with some needlework, but as per usual, Elizabeth had quickly declined. This had led her to the other end of the room, her nose buried in a book. ‘Ah, the days of youth when one did not have to feel the burden of responsibility and social obligation. To be young again and free from this monotony.’

Unable to bear the silence, nor the taunting words of the literature, Liz put the book down and headed to the front door.

“I’m going to pay Maria Evans a visit, Aunt Stephanie. I shall be home before dark!”

Liz grabbed her coat and was outside before her aunt could say a word.

***

“Liz! I was just about to go see you! Come in, come in! I’ve got something to talk to you about!” Maria spoke quickly as she ushered her friend indoors and away from the furious winds of outside.

“Is something wrong, Maria?”

“No nothing like that! Come up to my room and we shall talk!”

Liz followed Maria to her bedroom. As she passed a closed door, Liz felt herself drawn to what was inside. She stopped in front of the room and could hear the faint sounds of music, creeping out from inside. Liz could hear the strumming of a guitar and the gentle, soothing sound of a man’s voice. Not just any man’s, Max’s.

Maria broke Liz out of her stupor by clearing her throat rather loudly.

“MY room is this way.”

Liz could feel her cheeks burning with embarrassment and she quickly caught up with Maria and entered her room.

“D’you remember the other day telling me about that debutante ball your aunt wanted you to attend?” seeing Liz’s nod of acknowledgement Maria continued, “Well I was thinking we should go!”

“Maria! It’s just, it’s not really my sort of thing!” Liz argued, “I mean, how are we supposed to get dresses at this late notice let alone any escorts and besides I can’t even dance properly!”

“Whoa slow down girl!” Maria breathed, raising her hands in the air, “Maria has everything under control, well at least I have everything planned, kinda!”

Liz realised that Maria had put a lot of thought into this whole thing and she felt obliged to give her an opportunity to convince her, before entirely saying no.

“Well go on then!” Liz sighed, “Persuade me!”

Taking a deep breath Maria began, “First of all dancing! I will be honoured to teach you, but I’m pretty sure you’ll catch on soon enough and be an even better dancer than I am. Secondly, dresses. I’ve seen your ability with a needle and thread and thought maybe I could design us some dresses and you could make them. I’d help with the sewing of course but you’ll need to do the tricky parts. And finally, escorts. Well I’ve already asked Max and he said he’d take you! So there, no reason for you not to do it!”

“You already asked Max? I haven’t even said yes yet!” Liz said exasperated and slightly angry at Maria’s presumptions.

“Was that a yet you just said? As in I am going to say yes but not yet?” Maria hinted, once again putting on her innocent face complete with puppy dog eyes.

Unable to say no to her friend, who was so obviously excited, Liz sighed “Yes I’ll do it! But don’t make me regret it!”

Maria squealed excitedly and grabbed Liz into a tight hug. Both girls started laughing and hugging as they bounced around the room.

“Maria?” Isabel spoke nervously; shocked at the sight she had been greeted with upon entering her twin’s room.

Both girls broke apart quickly. They had been caught in quite a few predicaments lately.

“Umm, yes Isabel?”

“I couldn’t help but overhear you talking about the debutante girl and was wondering if you’d mind if I did it too?”

“Of course we wouldn’t mind, Iz! It’ll be so much fun with the three of us doing it!” Maria said as she pulled her sister into a hug, minus the bouncing.

Pulling out of the hug, Isabel asked “But who would I take? Maybe that Michael boy from the other night?”

“No!” Maria practically shouted, “I mean, have you seen his hair? God knows what creatures inhabit that spiky mass of hair! And his manners, what manners? I don’t think you should go with him, Iz. Imagine what he could do to your image if he’s your escort. You’d be forever remembered in this town as ‘the girl who dated the creepy unwashed boy’!”

Isabel looked suspiciously at her sister but said nothing about her strange behaviour.

Liz realised what Maria was doing. She had caught her staring at her brother, at the same time Liz was checking out Max, and decided to play along with Maria’s idea.

“Perhaps you could take Alex?” Liz suggested, “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, plus he has a very good reputation around town and, he doesn’t smell!” she quickly added at the end.

“OK! I think I will! Thanks Elizabeth.”

“Please call me Liz.”

“Well I’m going to go back to my room, I’ll see you later Liz. Maria.” Isabel said as she left the room.

“You like my brother, don’t you?” Liz pounced on Maria.

Maria was furiously denying by shaking her head but she couldn’t get a word out before Liz cut her off.

“Don’t play the naïve girl with me Maria. I know you like my brother so here’s the deal. I’ll go to the ball with Max, if you go with my brother!”

Pausing for a moment to think about her options, Maria finally agreed to the proposition, never admitting that she did indeed have a thing for Michael.

“Don’t think I won’t get you back for this Liz! In fact, why don’t we start those dancing lessons, in shoes with heels!”

***

An hour later, and numerous records on the gramophone, Liz was exhausted and sore. No matter how hard she tried, Liz couldn’t seem to stay upright in her shoes. She had fallen over countless times and was trying to convince Maria that her ankle was broken. Limping over to the couch, Liz sat down and breathed a sigh of relief as she relaxed into the soft cushions.

Maria was frustrated, she couldn’t remember the boy’s part of the dance and Liz was never going to be able to dance properly on the night if she didn’t know how to follow the male’s lead. It was, however, amusing to see Liz struggle with the shoes as Maria had done years ago. She just wanted the ball to be a lot of fun for Liz and to convince her that being a girl can be fun. Maria heard a noise that is besides Liz’s groans of pain, and looked towards the sound.

Max had finished playing his guitar a few minutes beforehand. He had heard to soft sounds of music coming from the lounge room, along with the occasional thump. Max had gone to investigate the disturbance and was surprised to see none other than the girl of his dreams, Liz.

“Max! Max! Earth to Max!”

“What Maria?” Max asked, finally tearing his eyes from the beauty before him.

“I’m teaching Liz to dance but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some things only a boy can do. So quit staring and be Liz’s partner for goodness’ sake and teach her to dance!”

Max saw the determination in Maria’s eyes and knew not to argue. He walked towards the now standing Liz and looked at her apologetically.

“She gets like this sometimes!” he whispered in her ear.

His breathy voice sent shivers down Liz’s spine and she stared up into his soulful eyes.

Maria wound up the gramophone and Max and Liz got into position. She counted the couple in and they began to do the waltz. Maria noticed a distinct improvement in Liz’s dancing. Satisfied, that Max could play teacher for a while; Maria snuck off to draw some designs for their debutante gowns.

The feel of Liz in his arms was extreme pleasure for Max as they gently swayed to the music. Their bodies moved in time and they were staring at each other. The close proximity was making it even easier to see Liz’s beauty.

The moment was shattered when Liz lost her footing and started to fall towards the now familiar fall. Max’s strong arms stopped Liz from hitting the ground but at the same time brought their bodies even closer. Liz’s torso was pressed up against Max’s and her legs tangled loosely with his. Max’s face was centimetres from her own and his brown eyes were staring straight at her, full of concern and something else.

“Are you okay?” Max asked, Liz could feel his breath on her face.

“Umm, yeah, thanks,” Liz said softly.

Realising the compromising position they were in, Max helped Liz to her feet. He quickly regretted that decision when he felt the loss of her body against his. He led her to the couch and proceeded to remove her shoes.

“They’re ridiculous things these!” Max said, indicating at the shoes. “They’re just lawsuits waiting to happen!”

Liz laughed softly at Max, “Thankyou for doing this, I mean the deb. ball.”

“No problem. Besides, it should be fun!” Max said, restarting the staring contest.

“You are meant to be dancing, not sitting around chatting!” Maria shouted as she entered the room.

Max and Liz just looked at each other before bursting out into laughter.

***

FEEDBACK PLEASE!!!!!!
posted on 3-May-2002 7:02:03 AM by melli
G'day All!
Thanx for all the incredible feedback! Please keep it coming 'cos it's really encouraging!
I'm glad u all seemed to like the new part! I'm actually being presented at a debutante ball in late June, so that kind of inspired me. And just like Liz and Maria, I'm making my own dress so my own little 'incidents' might come into play in the story, lol!
Anywayz, the next part should be out in the next few days cos I'm a bit busy, but I will try my hardest!
Also, do u guys mind if each part is just a bit shorter so I can post a bit more often??
Thanx for all the feedback!

Lotsa luv,
melli xoxox
posted on 1-Jun-2002 11:28:21 PM by melli
G'day All!

First off, I am so so soooooo sorry for not posting in ages! Real life is hectic at the moment cos I have sooooo much going on which means I have neglected my lil story. I can't say when the next part will be out but hopefully soon. I will try my hardest to start writing more parts but I can't promise anything!
Thanx heaps for all the feedback and bumpage and I'm apologising once again for lack of updates but hopefully you won't be waiting much longer!

melli xoxox
posted on 3-Jun-2002 4:28:56 AM by melli
Well, In my last post (which no one replied to! *sob sob*) I said I didn't know when next I could update but I was so anxious to get a part out that I spent a good part of last night and today writing this new chapter! I have no idea when another part will come out but you know what they say More feedback, quicker posts! *wink wink nudge nudge*
Well here it is:

Chapter Seven


Do you ever just lie on your bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering why things happen? Memories fly through your head as you relive every moment, every emotion and try to find some reasoning behind it. The paint on the ceiling becomes more than a peeling piece of timber, it transforms into a backdrop for your life. You watch and watch, trying desperately to understand, why? Why did you have to leave me? Why did I never get to know you? Why is it that the one thing every child deserves to have, I was robbed of? Why, why did you have to die Mum?

Today is the anniversary of my mother’s untimely death. Fifteen years ago to the day my mother passed away before I even got the chance to really know her. Michael and Jeffrey are always somber on this day, reliving every moment they spent with Nancy trying desperately to cherish the tiny strands of her influence of their lives. This is the day I feel most cheated, most left out. I have no one to mourn for, no one I can sincerely say that I will grieve for. That must sounds harsh and I hate that I feel this way. I hate how I never knew my mother.

When we were little, Michael used to tell me everything he could remember about her. What she looked like, how she smelled and the little things that only she could do. When I was a little older I began to ask Jeffrey about her, he’d tell me how much he loved her, how she made him feel but soon, he couldn’t bear to talk of her anymore. It was then, at the tender age of 9 that I understood, I understood the pain of loving someone so much and when they were lost to you forever, the overwhelming hurt and anguish. I have no doubt that had my brother and I not have been alive, my father would have died right along with my mother.


Liz removed her pen from the journal and took in a deep breath. She wiped at her teary eyes and chided herself, ‘tears are a sign of weakness!’ Rereading over her entry, Liz sighed and dipped her pen once more into the ink.



I do not want to leave my bed this dismal day. I do not want to see my family but I know that life must go on. Fifteen years have passed, nothing can change the past but we can determine our future. We are all shaped by our past and when the pain becomes too much we either face it or ignore it.

Elizabeth
Glancing out her window, Liz saw the sun trying to shine from behind the few clouds remaining from yesterday’s miserable weather. Remembering what she had just written, Liz got out of bed and started to get dressed, ‘face it or ignore it’.

***

Maria sat at her desk, furiously rubbing her pencil onto the piece of paper before her. Mumbling to herself and pushing the strands of hair in her eyes behind her ears, she finished the last detail of her sketch. Smiling triumphantly, Maria sat back with her hands behind her head and breathed a sigh of relief and contentment.

She had been working for the better part of yesterday and this morning on her ideas for debut dresses. Liz was forced to stay home the day before and, having nothing to do, Maria began her work. It was merely a month until the debutante ball and since their dresses were to be handmade, they must be started at once!

Grabbing her few sketches, Maria ran out of her room and bounded out the front door, yelling her farewells as she took off towards Liz’s house. She slowed down only when she reached the end of the Parker’s street to catch her breath. Trying to regain some composure, Maria started to walk towards her friends house, anxious to see what Liz’s reaction to her ideas would be. Walking down the path that lead to the front door, Maria saw Michael walking out. He looked unusually depressed and Maria, ever the begetter of cheeriness, tried to lighten the situation.

“Hey Michael! Who died and made you so glum?” she teased him lightheartedly.

Expecting some sarcastic remark, Maria was shocked when he looked up at her, the pain evident in his eyes. She immediately regretted her words and before she could apologise, Michael had disappeared.

“Excuse me dear?” a woman’s voice called out from across the road.

Maria turned around to see who was talking to her when her eyes fell upon the old woman from across the street. Walking across to her, Maria replied.

“Yes, ma’am?”

“I couldn’t help but overhear your unfortunate conversation with young Michael. You’re Philip’s daughter aren’t you, dear?”

“Yes, I’m Maria Evans, ma’am” Maria replied politely, curious as to what this lady would say to her.

“Enough of that ma’am nonsense! It’s Miss Maudie to you sweetie. Now what was I saying? Oh, that’s right, you and master Michael! I’m assuming you don’t know what day it is today, do you?”

“I’m not sure I understand what you mean, ma’.. Miss Maudie” Maria said, confused.

Taking a deep breath and pausing for a moment, Miss Maudie lifted her face towards Maria and spoke in a solemn tone, “Today is the anniversary of Mrs Parker’s death, dear”

Tears began flowing unabashedly down Maria’s cheek as she realised what pain her careless remarks must have caused Michael. He must hate her now, she was so callous towards him on this dreadful day when she should have been there to support him. Bursting into another onslaught of tears, Maria found comfort in the gentle arms of Miss Maudie. Sobering up just a fraction, Maria removed herself from the old woman’s embrace and tried to regain her composure. It was then that a thought struck her.

“What about Liz? I…I should go see if she’s OK! This must be terrible for her!” Maria exclaimed, swiping away the tears that remained on her face.

Miss Maudie looked at the stricken girl before her and spoke of the undoubtedly more upset girl only across the road. “I fear that this day is the hardest for dear Elizabeth! She doesn’t remember her mother, did you know that? She finds this day so hard, to mourn for someone fate cruelly tore away from you before you got to know them!”

“I should go see how she is better I? Maybe apologise to Michael as well! Thankyou Miss Maudie, you’ve been very kind!” Maria said swiftly as she rushed off to see Liz.

***

Try as she might, Liz couldn’t handle to see her family so upset on this day that she made up some excuse and ran off to the creek. She just couldn’t do this, not today. She was so strong every other day of the year, she was allowed this display of sadness, this show of emotion. Collapsing at the foot of the weeping willow tree, Liz started to cry. Tears streamed down her face and it was hopeless to fight them.

Quite some time later, her tears subsided, but her sadness remained. Tears lingered on her face but she left them there, she did the only thing that ever made her feel complete: she began to sing.

It didn’t matter that Alex wasn’t there to accompany her or that her voice was hoarse from crying. All that mattered was that she was singing from her heart, she was doing what felt right. It was a song she’d begun writing exactly two years ago. Every year on the day of her mother’s anniversary she would add just a bit more and this year she would finish it.




Isn't it funny how you never really screamed at my face?
But your anger so unspoken and unchannelled
Permeates my essence to the point where I
Don't want to see you hear you, be anywhere near you,
You probably think I'm threatened by you
But your illusionary power doesn't threaten me

Actually I think it's kind of funny
That you create an illusion that is a mirror,
I don't appreciate you and I know that that surprises you
I suppose you see that those who follow their heart always win,
Those with integrity have won the match before it's begun

So rather than being kicked around, I'm going to kick you to the curb
So rather than being pushed around, I'm going to push you away first
So rather than trying to protect you, I'm going to cover my basses first
So rather than trying to open my heart, I'm going to lock it with a key
So that only the special ones can ever get through to me

Some can see beyond the barrier of threshold
Whereas others can't see beyond their sculptured mould,
You could offer me nothing, you could offer me nothing that I need
Do you think I'm asking too much?
A kind of respect and trust that shouldn't even be questioned,
How can I open my heart with dishonesty sitting next to me?
I've honoured your honour to the point of embarrassment,

But innocence in the hands of the guilt-free is kicked to, is kicked to the curb
I was ashamed of my innocence, I was ashamed of my innocence
But now with clarity I see that your bullshit is just not worthy of me
I don't want to be angry....
This is not worthy of me and now with clarity I see that I can walk away, I can walk away
So rather than being kicked around, I'm going to kick you to the curb

So rather than being pushed around, I'm going to push you away first
So rather than trying to protect you, I'm going to cover my basses first
So rather than trying to open my heart, I'm going to lock it with a key
So that only the special ones, so that only the special ones
Can ever get through to me
The slight echo of her final note echoed through the peaceful creek. Exhausted physically and emotionally, Liz lay down by the tree and drifted off into another restless sleep.

***

like it? hate it? FEEDBACK PLZ!!

melli xoxox