Sophie, from The Sunshine Series is about to celebrate her birthday!
That's right! and she's here with us today for a bit of pre-partying.
In honour of her birthday let's see how she celebrated her birthday in Sunshine!
Everyone Wears a Mask
Chapter 8 - Sunshine
“Good, good things happen in bad towns.”—Yeah Yeah Yeahs
I’m officially living in Stevie and Jade’s spare room, and I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep for a while—mainly because my piano is now in their garage, unreachable, until we clear out what’s supposed to be the basement-apartment area. Ever since Stevie and Jade moved into this house, the apartment has been a big, junky mass of junk. Not that I’m really complaining about the no sleep thing: I’d rather not sleep than fall asleep only to be woken up by nightmares.
There’s a knock on my door at noon, and I’m still in my pajamas.
“Happy Birthday,” Myles, Boo, and Trei all say as I open the door.
“Uhm, thanks.” I’m not sure why they’re here so early. We weren’t supposed to hang out until later.
“Go change—we’re kidnapping you,” Trei informs me.
I sigh, ready to protest. I was planning on eating ice cream and watching Lifetime all day, but my friends are trying to cheer me up, so I obey.
I throw on jeans and a T-shirt, sliding on my trench coat and glasses. They’re waiting in a huge van I’ve never seen before, when I go outside.
“Hey, happy birthday,” Adrienne says from the window of the driver’s seat. He’s wearing huge shades and smiling at me.
I’m kind of surprised to see him there, but I go with it. “Thanks,” I reply, opening a door and climbing into the back, next to Boo. Trei and Myles sit in front of us.
“Happy birthday, Sophie!” Alex turns in the passenger seat. She’s wearing a plain white V-neck and a short, black skirt. It would look trashy on most people, but with that round, baby face, it looks cute on her. “Where to?”
First, we stop at a costume store, where they’re practically giving stuff away. It’s the kind that’s only set up around Halloween, and the rest of the year it’s a thrift store or something. We split up, and I go straight for the candy. Adrienne seems to have the same idea. I make the most of a situation. I don’t know why I care, but I want this guy to not hate me.
“So, hey.” I pretend I need to add gummy body parts to my already growing pile of Reese’s and candy corn so I can get closer. “Thanks for bringing our stuff back from the school and everything.”
Adrienne waves a hand in front of him like he’s swatting at a bug. “Don’t mention it. A friend of Myles’ is our friend too.”
So, maybe he doesn’t hate me. Maybe he was having a bad day or something yesterday.
Adrienne pats me on the shoulder as he follows Alex to the checkout counter. I’m not sure why, but I’m only a tiny bit uncomfortable when his hand touches me.
Then we head back into town to get Leena. It’s kind of weird picking up my sister from her friend’s house without seeing her all day. She’s been living with Adam at my Gram’s house. He has enough money to get an apartment, but he hasn’t. The only reason I can think of is that he doesn’t really think it’s over. The only time I’ve talked to him since he left was to ask if Leena could come over tonight.
He seemed preoccupied.
Too preoccupied to talk to me.
We go back to Stevie and Jade’s house after that. When Stevie opens the door all the way, I can see that he’s dressed almost completely in drag. He’s wearing a silver sequined top and black pants with a pair of my old combat boots underneath. He’s wearing red lipstick and black eyeliner. Top that off with a sprinkling of glitter all over.
After I introduce everyone, we all go to separate rooms to get changed. When I emerge as Columbia, Myles is back in his spider costume, Boo in his Geisha one, and Trei is Alice once again. Alex and Adrienne change things up by dressing as Dorothy and The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. Stevie poses us in various ways so he can take pictures. Jade shows up dressed as Johnny Depp in Cry Baby, a single tear painted on his cheek.
“Hey,” he interrupts, “you guys don’t have any pillowcases. Do you think you could go downstairs in the hall closet to get some?” he asks me.
I head downstairs and straight to the closet. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see that someone has left the door to the unfinished apartment slightly open. Jade or Stevie must have wanted something and probably left the door open in order to escape the pile of hoardings before it swallowed them whole.
There’s a white envelope with my name on it taped to the door when I go to shut it. Inside is a birthday card with cartoon animals on it meant for little kids. All that’s written inside is Happy Birthday, go inside.
Why would they want me to open the door to the junk apartment? Is this some kind of Halloween trick where I open the door to a bunch of stuffed snakes popping out at me like those fake cans of peanuts? I take my chances.
I open the door cautiously, and I’m surprised it isn’t blocked by anything when I look inside. The surprise turns to shock when I take in what’s in front of me. Nah, shocked is definitely not the word here.
I can’t even find a word for what I feel when I open that door.
Inside, there’s what looks like a living room. There’s a TV and a green L-shaped couch. Behind the couch, there’s a kitchen with a fridge, a stove, and a sink. I walk inside and open another door. It’s a bedroom with a black-and-white-striped comforter on the bed. I’ve seen enough.
Heading back upstairs, I’m convinced that I’m hallucinating. Stevie is blocking the way up with everyone trailing behind him. I back up so that everyone can fit.
“Surprise!” they all shout.
“Uh, what?” leaves my mouth.
Stevie takes my hand and leads me back inside the no longer unfinished apartment. They all stare at me as we stand in the living room.
“Wait a minute,” I say.
“Welcome home,” Jade says as he hugs me.
Just when I think I can die happy, Jade leads me into another room. I think this is the part where they show me where they stuffed all of the junk that was in the basement. I’m wrong of course.
He opens the door to the left of the bedroom that I thought was a closet. It’s a room large enough to house my piano, a new toy piano, all of my microphones, a drum set, and a violin. There’s sound-proof purple foam from wall to wall, and in the corner, there’s what looks like a closet with a window in it.
“You guys, this is way too much,” I somehow manage to say, realizing for the first time that I never thought the basement was this big, until now. It must have cost them a fortune for this room alone.
“No, it isn’t,” Stevie says, tucking a curl behind his ear that only pops out again when he hugs me.
Boo sits down at the drums, and Trei sits on the piano bench. Leena picks up the violin and starts strumming it like a guitar.
Myles, Alex, and Adrienne look around, taking in all of it.
“But what about all of your stuff?” I ask.
“Well, we sold some of it to come up with the money for some things, and we kept some of it and gave it to you,” Stevie explains.
My jaw drops.
“Oh,” Jade says, suddenly remembering something. “We got you some actual presents, too.” He opens the closet in the room to reveal what I recognize as a make-shift recording booth. It has a microphone and more purple, foamy, noise-blocking material all over the walls. There are also two boxes wrapped in obnoxious pink-and-purple-striped paper on the floor, inside.
He hands them to me, and I open them. The first one is recording software; the other, a laptop.
“Holy shit,” is what escapes my mouth.
“This is . . . mine?”
Jade and Stevie each put one of their arms over my shoulders.
“It’s all yours, Sunshine. That way you can get that music career of yours started,” Stevie says.
“We’ve been working on it for a while,” Jade says. “We figured it would happen sooner or later, and that you’d need a place of your own when it did.”
“Good thing we had it ready for tonight anyway,” Stevie laughs. “Well, except the piano. We had to get you out of the house for a few hours to lug it in.
Maybe it's the shock of it all, but I still can’t really grasp what’s going on. My mouth hangs wide open; I don’t know what to say. Then everyone starts clapping and jumping up and down, so I join in for lack of any other motor function seeming to work at the moment.
I’m thinking about my brand new home the whole time we’re going door to door, collecting our free candy. I have an apartment! An apartment that is just mine with the two best neighbors in the world! I can’t believe Stevie and Jade did this for me. I’m the luckiest person on Earth.
Leena insists that she walk between Myles and me, holding both of our hands. The people at her school had thrown an assembly on Halloween safety. They told all of the kids to check their candy before eating it, and of course, to hold hands with the person you are with when crossing the street. Leena wants to make sure nothing bad is going to happen, so Myles and I are on either side of her: me holding her right hand, and Myles holding her left. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s weird: this little space she occupies between us. It feels like something I’ve never felt before, like Leena is a wire between us, linking us together in some odd way. I’m not sure if I should like this feeling, so I ignore it.
It’s strange, but even this weird feeling that I’m ignoring doesn’t ruin my awesome mood. We loot the neighborhood for what seems like hours before we start heading back.
Then it happens.
I see them.
And they’re with him.
I try to ignore it for as long as I can. I look around at my friends, and they don’t seem to notice until we get closer. My heart starts pounding faster and faster. My hands get so sweaty that Leena lets go for a split second so she can wipe her palm onto her costume.
Barbie and her friends are all dressed as—what else?—Barbies. It’s a crowd of about six girls, all of whom are dressed as various types of Barbie dolls. There’s ethnic Barbie, there’s Skipper, there’s hooker Barbie. Barbie herself is dressed head-to-toe in pink, sparkly crap. Jack is dressed as what can only be Ken. He has a black suit on, his dirty blond hair slicked back.
Yeah, I know, isn’t there anything else to do on Halloween for us way-too-old kids besides going trick or treating? The answer is no, apparently not.
We have to pass each other.
Lenna, Myles, and I are walking ahead of everyone else. They are so close that I can’t ignore them anymore. I’m pretending to stare off into space. It’s so easy for everyone to disregard the Jack and Barbie parade besides me.
They don’t do anything. They don’t say anything. But Jack’s arm brushes mine as we cross paths on the narrow sidewalk, and when it does, his grey eyes stare right into mine.
And he smiles.
I can’t breathe, and everything is starting to slow down on me. I can feel everything hyper sensitively, and I don’t like it.
My mouth is dry.
My palms are sweating.
My skin is crawling.
My stomach is turning.
“Let’s go,” I say, semi-snapping out of it and tugging Leena and in turn, tugging Myles forward.
I need to go home before something horrible happens.
And now enter to win the birthday bash giveaway, where Sophie gives you prizes:
1 winner will get an ecopy of Sunshine & Sun Poisoned by Nikki Rae
2 winners will receive a prize pack including a signed poster, a signed tour poster, & stickers (check out pictures of the prize pack).
Contest is open to residents of Canada & the US only.
Winners will be drawn Oct 31/13, on Sophie's actual birthday!