John Marsden Writing Topic #263
The seventh daughter**
How We Got Here
Chapter 10: Elizabeth (Bethie)
How are you feeling? I hope you’re not nervous, you have no reason to be, Travis is awesome.
I wish I had memories of Dad but unfortunately when you’re two, memories aren’t easy to form let alone hold on to. When you first brought Travis home when I was six, I couldn’t understand why Michael was so territorial, why Lucas and Gwen were anxious and over welcoming and why the others were so up-and-down. Over time, I began to understand…that and everyone else eventually told me. Michael was territorial because we had just got into a routine and our lives were moving forward, especially since we were all at school or uni, and he was concerned that you would get hurt and that he would want to take over the fatherly role that he reluctantly took on, but also became accustomed to. Lucas and Gwen were pissed off at Michael for being so territorial and wanted to compensate by being extra nice, and they wanted you to be happy again. The others informed me that they didn’t know what to think or how to feel, the triplets were surprised that you wanted or even had time to date, Scott was pleased another man was around to balance out the “boy-girl ratio” and the twins didn’t really like him because he wasn’t Dad. As for me, I believed your explanation that he was your “special friend” as I didn’t understand what it really meant.
Both you and Michael made it clear to me, to all of us, especially me, the twins and Scott, that Travis wasn’t trying to replace Dad, but also wanted us to get use to him being around, just in case he became our stepfather. I personally always liked Travis and I liked having another “grown up” around. Michael tried so hard to be Dad because he kind of had to be. It’s not like I thought he was actually my Dad, I just felt that he bossed me around all the time and never understood why you let him get away with it. As you know my relationship with Michael is kind of distant…I know he loves me and I love him, but he’s more of a father to me than my older brother and he still is….I’m 18, I don’t need him to be my father anymore, I need him to be my older brother, he has his own child on the way and I’ve told him this, why doesn’t he listen?
Looking back on it, it seemed like Travis was more comfortable being a stepfather to me than anyone else. I’m guessing it’s because I was so young when I met him. He was always friendly in the early stages and helped me with everything—my homework, dance lessons—I did wonder whether he was overcompensating or trying to earn brownie points. However he turned out to be the fatherly role model I needed and he is a fantastic stepfather, even though my relationship with him, with you and everyone was tested only two years ago.
Over the years that I spent dancing my way through life under Lucas’ tutelage, almost all the boys that were sent to the studios were either forced to go by their mothers, genuinely interested but turned out to be gay, were trying to meet girls or didn’t want to dance with me because I was too young. When Kane walked through the door when I was 10, I had a crush on him instantly, however at 12 he definitely wasn’t interested in being my partner, and he only danced with me because Lucas made him. I’ve never forgotten coming home crying after every lesson because he was constantly making fun of me, it hurt more because I really liked him. I remember Travis told me, ever so quietly so the boys wouldn’t hear, that boys at that age are dumb around girls sometimes and that he would get you to talk to Lucas about finding me a new partner.
Lucas did find me a new partner in Jeffrey Speedleman, a stereotypical nerdy boy complete with big glasses but surprisingly light feet. He was a nice boy and I knew he really liked me, but I told him I wasn’t interested. I felt bad, especially as it was the first time a boy liked me, but he accepted it and developed crushes on all the girls, the poor guy kept getting friend zoned. He kept asking me why girls kept turning him down, being the true friend that I am, I told him it’s their loss. He would whinge about nice guys coming last and unfortunately I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was true, at least at that point, it was for me as I still pined for Kane, even though he pretended I didn’t exist when I wasn’t his partner anymore, especially as Lucas partnered him up with Ariel Kaflan.
Jeffrey and I stuck together, became best friends and won competitions, however when he started high school, wearing contact lenses and bulking up, I thought he would be another Kane. Unfortunately for a little while he was, all the new girls would want to dance with him, all the girls at school liked him and he stopped hanging out with me outside of the studio. With my crush towards Kane and his teasing, I did nothing, I wasn’t letting my best friend get away with this treatment and called him out on it. We had a huge argument as you know and didn’t speak for two weeks, when Lucas stepped in and put us in a competition we hadn’t been in before. We only spoke to each other when needed, however as the day drew nearer, we made up. He told me that he only acted that way because he spent years going unnoticed by all the girls and he wanted to enjoy being liked and stared at, that he didn’t mean to ruin our friendship and he didn’t want to be like Kane, who was apparently dating Ariel (somehow?).
We won the competition and it was the last one we competed in as a couple, I was angry and devastated when he told me that his family were moving away and we had another fight, but you and Lucas were right about making up with him and wishing him luck before he moved and I did. Thanks to Julie getting me into it, we managed to keep in touch on Facebook and I can’t wait to be in class with him again at the WAAPA next year.
When Jeffrey left I felt so alone in the dance studio, I was 15, my best friend and teacher moved away and once again, Kane and I were partnered up again, at least for the few weeks that Ariel was injured. Kane was actually nice to me, although knowing what he was like over the years, I thought he was pretending and I didn’t say a word, it also didn’t help that Ariel was trying to coach from the sidelines and was constantly having a go at me. In one of our many text chats, Jeffrey pointed out to me it was because she saw me as a threat, as our partnership was developing. When Ariel was told her injury hadn’t healed enough for her to be able to compete, she just lost it. She just called me a talentless bitch, dumped Kane and didn’t come back to the studio until her injury healed. Kane went after her and yelled at her, I’d never seen him so angry before, he came back into the studio and started dancing again…I knew not to say anything.
A week before the competition we were in, he called me out on my choice not to speak to him. I didn’t hold back, I told him that I missed Jeffrey and about the crush I had on him all those years ago, only for him to treat me like crap and that after all that and having his trashy girlfriend yelling at me every day, that I just wasn’t in the mood to talk. I just wanted to dance, win and find another partner. I couldn’t believe his reaction, he was actually shocked and calm. He was shocked that I had a crush on him (Travis was right, boys at that age are dumb around girls sometimes), he was sorry that I was sad and he told me all about Ariel. He didn’t diss her entirely, but some of the things he told me about her and how she treated him, as well as how he felt about her, explained a lot. That day was a real turning point and we were actually more relaxed around each other and ended up winning that competition.
When Ariel eventually came back, she came back with Oliver Marsden—nice guy, one of the most talented dancers in Melbourne and always overkills with the tanning lotion and hair gel—to try and make him jealous. I really thought it would be the end of our brief, but great partnership, but he wasn’t falling for it. He told me that we needed to keep training and we did, Ariel tried to provoke us for a while but when she saw it wasn’t working, she got bored and gave up. When she graduated from school early and moved to London, everyone in the studio breathed a huge sigh of relief, including Kane.
Kane and I never expected to be friends, let alone anything else. It wasn’t until school started the next year that things really changed. He was in year 12, I was in year 10, we both had heaps of exams and competitions, and we were constantly stressed out. Luckily, he was going to a different school, so we had a break from each other, but for several weeks he was cranky and we kept having fights. However he didn’t fight about what was important, we got through training, we worked hard and placed in our competitions, things really changed when we were chosen to do a rhumba for a one-day dance event. We had both danced plenty of rhumbas during our time, but it was the first time we were dancing a rhumba together.
It shouldn’t have felt weird, it was just any other dance, but this time it wasn’t….you could cut the tension with a knife. When we finally got the dip right, that’s when he kissed me, it was weird but not in a bad way, it was weird in that it felt right.
I didn’t anticipate when I told everyone that I would be judged and told not to date him. I was 16 and he was 18, I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal, it was a two year gap not four and we’d known each other for years. I’m guessing you and Michael were worried that he was only after “one thing”, that was a concern for me too you know, growing up the youngest of ten, with six older sisters, you learn a thing or few about dating in high school before you have to learn it for yourself.
What really surprised me was that Travis defending me, at that point he had been my unofficial stepfather for ten years and while he voiced his own concerns, he stood up for me by reminding you, Michael and everyone that just because I’m young, it doesn’t mean that I’m naive and also pointed out the fact that Kane and I had already known each other for six years. I know he defended me because he loved me, but I also think it’s because I was the one he felt he was a real father to. I didn’t realise how persuasive he could actually be until that point because as you know, you all backed off and gave me some faith and trust.
In regards to everyone’s concerns, I’ll spare you the details but we waited for three months before finally “doing it” and the fact that we’re still happily together two years later should absolve all of your concerns completely. Next year, we’ll be living in a flat together, working at Lucas’ and Blake’s studio, studying at the WAAPA and making our lifelong dream come true…completing in Blackpool for the first time. I don’t know what the future holds for us, who does know what their future holds, but I know it’s looking bright. Don’t worry about me, I’ll look after myself, please stop with the checklists, I’m not your first “baby” to move away, surely you’d be happy that you and Travis finally have the house to yourselves!?
I know the future looks bright for you and Travis….my staunchest defenders. In regards to Dad, although I never knew him, I know he loves you, he would be watching over you right now and would want you to be happy.
By the way, I love Travis to pieces, but he really can’t dance, I’m looking forward to the reception :p
Lots of Love Always.
**Reference: Marsden J 1998, Everything I Know About Writing, Pan Macmillan, Australia.