Twenty Two: Challenges

“Well...maybe we should start with...what you’re good at?” Gerard suggests a few days later as we settle down on the living room floor with cushions, a supply of biscuits and a mug of tea for me and a mug of coffee with him. There’s a thick notepad in front of him and he’s twirling a black biro round his fingers as he considers what jobs I may be able to do.

For a few hours today we have the whole house to ourselves while my mum goes grocery shopping, my sister’s at work and my brother’s at college.

The house, for once, is incredibly quiet and’s a nice change.

“What I’m good at...” I shrug. I’m sat cross-legged on a cushion while Gerard lies on his stomach with his elbows and arms on a cushion. “I don’t know. Nothing really.”

Gerard frowns. “I’m sure that’s not true.”

“Oh, it is. There’s not much else I can do other than posing and stuff...” I smile at him.

“Can you sing?”

“Uhhh. No. The last time I sang our old cat started humping my leg. We think he thought it was a mating call, or something.”

Gerard snorts and crosses out one of the items on the list in front of him that he’s been making over the past few days.

“Umm...can you write?”

“Well, yes, I can, but I’m not a particularly good writer...”

“Okay.” Gerard nibbled his pen. “Could you work in an office?”

Again, I frown. “I don’t like offices.”

Gerard shrugs and sighs. “Work in a supermarket?”

“I suppose...”


“I’d need qualifications.”

“Easily done.”

“Hmm, not so easily done.”

Gerard reels off a list of jobs that I could possibly attempt (including a secretary, actress, journalist, photographer and a nun).

“A teacher?” he suggests.

I laugh out loud. “Oh yeah, I can really imagine me being a teacher... ‘Today class we’re going to learn about...’ No, I really can’t see it.”

Gerard rolls his yes. “You, Layla, are far too picky.”

I laugh again, but then I go serious. “I could teach modelling...” I suggest myself.

“Modelling? I’m sorry, but what’s so difficult about modelling.”

“Hey, there is a technique to it!” I argue. “I mean, you pretend you’re walking down a catwalk. There’s training to that, y’know!”

He looks doubtful and scrambles up. “Okay, I’m going to do that!” And he does. He pretends he’s on a catwalk and walks up and down the living room, hands on hips, stupid expression on his face. I start to laugh because he looks completely ridiculous and he’s getting it all wrong.

“What are you laughing at?” he asks in a hurt voice.

“You! You couldn’t do a catwalk to save your life!”

“I could.” He pouts childishly. “You couldn’t do better!” he says in a challenging voice.

“Is that a challenge?” I ask.


I nod and stand. “Fine then,” I grin. I walk over to where Gerard’s standing and nudge him out of the way. He sits cross-legged, watching me.

I flip some hair over my shoulder and out my eyes and then, I strike the pose that I’ve always been taught to do on a catwalk, and I walk. Then my foot catches on one of the cushions we’ve spread out on the floor and I stumble, but regain my balance and go back into my pose. When I look at Gerard, he’s watching me with his mouth slightly open, his eyes slightly glazed. I move my position nervously and run a hand through my hair.

“What?” I ask.


“Stop staring at me!” I request in a loud, childish voice, attempting to make him laugh doesn’t work. He looks very serious (more so when he closes his mouth). Gerard is staring at me in a way he’s never stared at me before; in a way no one has ever stared at me before.

As if I’m ... As if I mean something to them.

My cheeks flush red and I slowly sit on the floor, drawing my legs up to my chest and wrapping my arms around them.

I haven’t realised that Gerard...likes me, as childish as that sounds. Well, I know he does because he wouldn’t have done what he has for me if he doesn’t, but...Not like that.

I’ve also not noticed that I like Gerard.

Gerard is still watching me, and then he speaks. “You look embarrassed.”

“I am.”


“You’re staring at me!”

“Why not?”

“I don’t look...”

“Don’t tell me your ugly.”

I gesture to my clothes. A baggy grey T-shirt and some baggy black jogging bottoms and fluffy socks. Oh yeah. Attractive.

He rolls his eyes. “You need some more confidence,” he tells me.

“I know...” He smiles, and then I realise he’s been leaning towards me throughout this, his lips getting closer. I can feel the hint of his breath on my face and one of his hands is moving up to cup my face and then –

Then my darling little brother and a load of his mates burst in singing loudly.

Sometimes, I could just kill my brother.