Faye’s idea to go to Glasgow turned out to be a little ambitious; she didn’t have much money saved up and with no guarantee of a job there, her parents had talked her into staying at one of the outlying towns which was close enough to commute by train, but cheaper than staying in the city proper. Her parents had set her up with a possible job, upon proving herself with a few practice shifts, by sweet talking one of their old university friends who had just bought out the local pub.
It was Faye’s job to find herself a flat, and she had found someone advertising for a flatmate on DIGS, a website specifically for these situations, and less than a fortnight after making her decision she found herself shaking the hand of Alicia Tel.
“Faye, I am so happy to meet you. I was worried no one would take the room which was vacated all of a sudden when my previous flatmate flunked out of university and decided she would go home. It’s such a relief that you applied.”
Alicia’s speech and accent marked her out as not being a native, but Faye couldn’t figure out where she might have originated from. And really, with hair like that, she must have been Scottish or Irish somewhere in her blood.
“Uh, yeah,” Faye said, a little overwhelmed by the girl.
“I shall tag you,” she said, posing. Faye quickly followed suit but knew it would look awkward with how off-guard she had been caught. Maybe this was just how people did it in the cities. Faye winced at her smile in the picture but said nothing as Alicia happily uploaded it.
“Yes, I study art psychotherapy in the city.”
“Why Glasgow?” Faye asked as Alicia prodded her towards the direction of a door.
“It’s a good city, from what my friends at home tell me. And I wanted to know more of my heritage as my mother is Scottish.”
Bingo! Faye thought as she reached to open the door Alicia was very clearly trying to usher her towards.
Faye nodded. The smoking wasn’t going to be a problem. The tidying, however…
“So where are you from?”
“The Netherlands,” Alicia answered. “But I’ve always loved Scotland. My mother never did, so she never spoke the language around me, and I don’t think she approves. But,” she shrugged, “I’m here now. Oh, do you like my tarot cards?” she asked, noticing how Faye’s eyes had got fixed to her towering pile of boxes. With a sudden pang of homesickness, Faye thought of Loxley’s derision of them.
“I’ve never tried them,” Faye said instead.
“We can correct that! I shall give you a reading tonight. Let’s talk in the kitchen, with some tea?”
They retreated to the kitchen and Alicia clicked the kettle on. Faye took a seat at the breakfast bar. The flat was filled to the brim with Alicia’s personality that Faye wondered if she’d ever feel truly comfortable here. Every piece of art or decor looked like it was hers, and everything was arranged in the way that meant it could be backdrops for any aesthetic pictures at any time. Michelle had been like that, trying to cultivate an online following, and Faye wondered if she’d traded one internet obsessed friend for another.
Faye made a mental note to attach it to something that would make it impossible to slip out of her open or shallow pockets. The kettle boiled and Alicia hoped off to fill up their cups. She passed Faye hers, but it was too hot to even hold. She slid it onto the counter and wondered how soon she could politely retreated to (and see) her room.
She tried not to think about how long she’d be here.
Faye had been so excited to get away, but now that she was away, all she wanted was to go back. Her parents had assured her that her grandfather didn’t live far away and was a half hour train ride in an emergency, but it wasn’t her grandfather she wanted. It was the comforts of home, of not being a responsible adult, of coasting by for a few more years before she got used to the idea of growing up and moving out.
At least her bed was comfy, Faye thought. It was better here than the too-old single mattress on Liam’s old bed that she had been sleeping in for the past two months.
Faye thought back to when she had said goodbye to her parents. They had both been smiling, happy to hug her and squeeze her tightly, but how glad were they to have her gone? How quickly after she had left had they celebrated? No more reminders of the disappointment living in their house. No awkward family dinners. They hadn’t even protested when she had announced she was going to leave. In fact, they had looked pleased at the prospect. The fact that her parents had got her a job so quickly was a testament to the fact that they had been desperate for her to leave.
Her dad hadn’t even offered to drive her down there with her mountain of a suitcase. Sure, it was a four hour drive, but wasn’t it worth it to make sure she arrived safely?
Faye already missed the comforting feeling of her father’s arms around her, and the reassuring presence of her mother. It was better this way, she promised herself. Maybe she could be successful at something and when she finally did go home (because she couldn’t face them if she didn’t have anything to celebrate) they would be happy to see her, and all would be forgiven.
Summer and Skye hadn’t been there to say goodbye. Faye shouldn’t have been hurt by that. She had done this, after all; she realised that now. But was there no chance of redemption? Did her sisters – her triplets – not care that she was leaving, and that she probably wouldn’t see them for months, years? Did they really hate her now?
Loxley had been sitting silently at the table, puzzling over some brain teaser that Bethany had found him (“here, try your hand at this and see if you still think you’re a genius! HA!”) and had looked at her with a quick nod when she turned to leave. Faye couldn’t expect a hug from him – he wasn’t an affection person – but she knew that he was close with her siblings. They had never been close. She remembered how he tormented her as a kid and could only think that he was satisfied that he had been proved right about her. She was stupid, she was selfish and worst of all, no one was sad to see her go.
And that was entirely what she deserved, wasn’t it?
“All ready for work, then?” Alicia asked, carrying her plate over to the sink. She’d promised to make dinner to ease the stress of Faye’s first shift, and Faye had happily accepted this offer until she found out that dinner actually meant salad. Who ate salad for an entire meal? And it had avocado in it. One of the most disgusting things on this planet! Still, Faye couldn’t seem rude not to eat it, and she’d need all the energy she could get from this meagre meal before her first gruelling shift, so she forced herself to eat it all and to keep the wincing to a minimum.
“You seem kind of down. Homesick?”
“Talk to me,” Alicia said, in a tone that was half commanding and half gentle. Faye remembered that she was studying art therapy of some sort. Did that make her qualified to listen to Faye’s story and give advice?
“I… I said something stupid, and now my siblings hate me, and my parents are even more disappointed in me. I don’t think I’ll ever make them proud, but I can’t go home until I have something good to tell them. I just can’t bear thinking of their reactions to that.”
Alicia made a wise ‘hmm’ from the sink. “What do you think would make them proud?”
“Go to uni. Make something of myself. Stop being such a waste of space,” she mumbled, taking her plate to the sink. “I have nothing I want to do. Everyone else knows what they want. One of my brothers is probably going to cure some form of cancer,” Faye laughed bitterly. “And then there’s me.”
“I know they do,” Faye sighed, looking down at the dishwater with stinging eyes. “My parents are so supportive of the others. Even Liam, who wants to be away from them most of the time. When it comes to me it’s always how I can do better, how I’m not good enough, how they’re disappointed I don’t get the same grades or have some useful hobbies that will make money one day.”
“You sound angry at them,” Alicia commented.
“I am,” Faye said, surprising herself.
She sat the plate on the draining board and let the water out. It glugged down the plug. She cast her eyes to the map above her, wondering what it was supposed to be of. A fantasy place or an old map of some real city somewhere? She couldn’t figure it out.
“You think that they expect too much of you?”
“No,” Faye said quickly, and then she deflated, returning to her seat. “Maybe? It’s more like… they expect me to be things I’m not, and never will be, or won’t be happy as. I don’t want to go to uni! I don’t want to travel the world or write books. I don’t know what I want to do, but they’re so – so obsessed with success and careers and grades. Even if I could do alright at something, it wouldn’t look impressive next to my siblings. Why can’t they just be happy with me as I am?” Faye asked in a small voice, staring down at the table. Alicia shrugged.
“People expect a lot from others, but it is usually in the areas they themselves excelled at. More so for parents, I think, they always want their children to do well. Are you happy as you are?”
Faye’s entire life had been obsessed with cultivating herself so that she pleased the expectations of others, and found that she had no idea what her own expectations were. As a result, how could she be happy?
Deep conversations had to be put on hold, however, because Faye needed to make her shift. Her father had emphasised the importance of arriving early for her first day, as if she needed to be told that, and so she quickly scrutinised herself in the mirror to make sure that first impression would be good as the taxi made its way over.
Alicia had several lush products in her bathroom, and it filled in more of the picture of this character. She was an environmentalist, probably, and didn’t mind paying out the nose for products not tested on animals and vegan (not that these were bad things, and Faye was partial to their bodywashes, but her L’oreal hair care products felt sinly sitting next to them).
Faye pulled back from the mirror with a sigh. Her uniform was garish to her, but the place was branded as Hive, so she guessed it was mandatory.
The taxi gave her a new look into the town. She lived on the other side of it from Hive, but it wasn’t that far even in a car. She watched the world go by and wondered what each of the buildings were. The main park obviously held a greenhouse and things for children to do, but there were a couple of extra huts that must have had some function. Faye had done some cursory reading up of the town when discovering that this was where her parents wanted her to go, but she couldn’t remember much about it.
Nerves? Faye chewed on her bottom lip. She’d never had a job before. She didn’t know whether she should be nervous or not. Usually she was laidback about new experiences, knowing that the worst that could happen wouldn’t bother her, but this time the fear of disappointing her parents yet again preyed on her.
So this was Hive. It had clearly undergone a recent spruce up and paint job, with how gleaming white it was, and Faye vaguely recalled her parents saying that their university friend had just bought it out after the previous owners were ready to pack it in and retire in Greece. In a small town like this, Faye wondered how the locals would take it – and they were often the lifeblood of the local pub.
There was only one car in the parking spaces at the back, but in a place where you could walk everywhere that didn’t mean it wasn’t going to busy. It was only six, however, and even this close to Glasgow people weren’t going to be in the pub at this time (she hoped).
She craned her neck to take one last look of the outside. There still seemed to be some changes underway, most notably the awnings that were black and red rather than Hive colours, but it looked good. The plants outside were all cheerful, the board pointed people inside for food and booze, and even the recycling bins looked shiny and new.
Faye couldn’t dawdle any longer and ducked into the building. A woman was playing darts, slightly unsteady on her heels, and a couple of old men were yakking away in the corner with their pints and a couple of empty glasses next to them. Faye took a deep breath and began to approach the bar, noting a few boxes stacked up behind them with what looked like new awnings poking out the top. Hey! Maybe she wasn’t as unobservant as she thought!
That was quickly refuted when she failed to notice that someone was behind the bar, even if they had been crouching down to sort things on the bottom shelves. He didn’t straighten up until she was right at the bar, and Faye had a second to admire the broad shoulders and nice arms before she thought to introduce herself.
Her name died on her lips. She couldn’t quite believe what she was seeing.
“Kane!” Faye gasped. It had taken her a second, wondering why his face looked so familiar, until she had put together the memory of her childhood friend to the man who stood before her now. She remembered hearing that he had left town a couple of years ago and wondered whether it was here he had ended up. Moving to a whole new place didn’t seem as bad now that she had a somewhat familiar face to look forward to working with.
This illusion was quickly shattered. Kane looked her up and down, surprise – and then disdain – etched across his features. “Don’t tell me you’re the new start,” he groaned, giving a resigned sigh.
Faye was taken aback. She didn’t know what to say. “I… I thought you’d be happy to see me,” she mumbled.
“Why the fuck would you think that, after how you treated me?”
Of course, Faye thought, feeling her heart sink. Everyone that knows me hates me. Why would here be any different?
A/N: soooo yeah, Faye is a little dramatic, and I hope that the reader knows her parents don’t necessary think so badly of her, but this is how she’s seeing the world and it’s affecting her emotions and thoughts a lot. It’s quite interesting to write things falling to pieces around her, though. If anything she might finally notice people around her, but I think without a support network it could also go quite badly for her state of mind. I say this like I don’t know what will happen because apart from the bare outlines, I really don’t know. Until I write it and let the characters take the lead, I just won’t know how much Faye will really change.