The Charm – Chapter 10


They flee, following what Jemma hopes is the way they’d come in. Her mind isn’t as clear as it could be. With relief she recognises a corner store up ahead with its 7/11 bunting. Confident she can find her way back to the motel from here she stops to catch her breath. Traci flops against her and hangs off one shoulder, gasping.

“We shouldn’t have to run. We didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Get off me. You want to wait around to explain that to the cops? We’ll miss our plane. Hope you’re right though. I’ve still got a bad feeling …  something happened … just can’t remember.”

Jemma notes the shifting shadows and glances at her watch. An already confused expression is not improved by the blood draining from her face. That can’t be right. That much time couldn’t have passed.

“Traci,” she says, keeping her voice even, “what time is it?”

“Christ, has your watch died already? I told you they were bogus.”

“Just tell me the time, dammit!”

Her control slips a notch.

“OK, OK, don’t be so grouchy, it’s about one o’clock.”

“One o’clock! Our plane leaves at two thirty!”

Suitably horrified they run hard back to the hotel. Traci grabs their bags while Jemma hails a taxi. The tense trip to the airport turns into a nightmare of clogged roads and crawling progress. Traffic is completely stalled within sight of the airport. Despite the danger of being a pedestrian on an elevated roadway the join other people who have bailed out of taxis and are walking along the shoulder. The girls follow suit at a fast hike. They curse the extra baggage they’ve accumulated as exhaust fumes threaten to choke them.

The Charm bounces against Jemma’s chest. Every time it touches her skin she feels its heat and vibration. She never considers removing it.

Hot, tired and irritable they reach the airport and run to the check-in desk. By an incredible stroke of luck their flight has been delayed. Unfortunately that also means their baggage can’t be checked. They dejectedly shoulder the packs and make their way to an unoccupied row of seats.

“Crap. Ran all that way for nothing. I’m dying of thirst. Wanna drink?”

Traci pulls a small case out of her backpack and got up.

“Yeah. Water please.”

Jemma knew Traci would head straight to the toilets to fix her makeup. She decided her own looks would have to take a back seat to a nice, quiet sit down for the moment. She was done-in.

Sure enough Traci took fifteen minutes to return with two bottles of water; make-up immaculate. Even her hair was damp and clean. She looks critically at Jemma.

“You should have a wash. There’s concrete dust in your hair. You should change your clothes too. How do you get so dirty? I thought I was dirty but you’re filthy.”

“Gee, thanks a bunch.  I will, after I have a rest.”

Traci is recovered enough to begin teasing Jemma about their total loss of dignity on the desperate dash. Jemma smiles but inwardly remains deep in thought and can’t really see the funny side yet.

“Something isn’t right.”

“Yeah, I know. We’ve got the worse luck.”

“Did we do something bad or…did something bad happen to us?”

“Huh? Like what?”

“That house, dummy. What happened in that house?”

“Wasn’t our fault it fell apart. It was old. Anyway, it’ll be cool telling everyone. Whadidya do in Bangkok? Oh, went shopping, got our nails done, knocked down a house. You know, just the usual.”

Jemma examines Traci’s face. It shows no trace of the unease Jemma feels. Traci misinterprets her scrutiny.

“Thought you’d never notice. Genuine Clarins makeup. It’s so bloody cheap. Should have gotten more. You can try mine if you want. Look good don’t I?”

Jemma blinks then runs a cursory eye over Traci’s flawless face.

“Yeah, you look good.”

Traci grins, totally happy.

“I used my new Kerastase shampoo too. Wait till my hair dries. Actually I better go fix it.”

She disappears towards the toilets. Jemma elects to bury her head in a magazine instead of going with her.

It takes Traci another fifteen minutes to achieve perfection. Her hair is shining and floating lightly around her face. Her beauty drains Jemma further. She knows any attempt to match her looks would be a waste of time.

(Chapter 11)

Published in: on Thursday, 30 October, 2008 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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