Fixation, our serial fiction
The next installment of our short fiction tale…
The following weekend, round at Robbie’s flat, I was just plucking up the courage to tell him what had happened between me and Arabella when I was thrown off course by the leisurely emergence of an unashamedly tousle-haired woman from Robbie’s bedroom. I raised an eyebrow at him. He just smiled back in his infuriating way, so I decided to push my luck.
‘Did you, you know?’ I mouthed, my back to the guest as she took a seat on the sofa.
Robbie wrinkled his nose. ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ he said, as I snorted, unable to pretend I was serious any longer. Of course they hadn’t, I knew that, but she certainly seemed to have slept over. ‘Yasmin,’ he said, raising his voice, ‘this is my sister, Morgan, who seems to have forgotten her manners.’
‘Hiya! Great to meet you!’ She patted the sofa cushion next to her. ‘Come and talk to me while Robbie makes us lunch.’
Yasmin turned out to be cheerful and bubbly, without being annoyingly so, and as much as I wanted to dislike her, the way Robbie seemed to have taken against Arabella, I found I couldn’t. We chatted about her job in retail – although she didn’t tell me, then, where exactly she worked, which somehow didn’t strike me as odd – and my part-time, unpaid occupation as a sorceress’s apprentice. It turned out she’d met Robbie when she’d popped out on her lunch break and found ‘this cute guy ahead of me in the queue’, she said, before apologising and acknowledging I probably found it a bit weird to hear her talk about my brother like that. They’d bonded over the selection of vegetarian sandwiches, and agreed to meet up later for a drink.
I smiled and nodded, genuinely pleased and undeniably nosy about this woman who’d made her way into Robbie’s bedroom and probably, perhaps unfortunately, into his heart.
Over lunch, the conversation turned to the absent guest.
‘Where’s Pop? What does xe actually do with xemself?’ I asked, wondering whether xe’d continue to be welcome if Yasmin became a more regular fixture in the flat.
‘Dunno. Xe’s not exactly forthcoming,’ said Robbie. A loud rapping on the door interrupted him. ‘Speak of the devil.’
Pop wandered in, looking slightly spaced out, as ever. Xe removed xyr hat, and swept a grand bow in our direction.
‘How would all of your good selves be inclined towards a short voyage through the ether?’ xe asked. Xyr faux old-fashioned accent was starting to grate on me, and I wasn’t sure how this supposed trip would work. I’d given up on the idea that Pop worked in film promotion, or family fun days, and now suspected xe was just a bit out of it. Although that didn’t explain the spangly special effects from the day xyr ship had landed.
‘Sure, sounds like fun,’ said Yasmin, who seemed to have been briefed about Pop. ‘Where are we going? Or should I say when? I don’t mean when are we going,’ she added hurriedly, ‘I mean when are we going to?’
‘The glorious era of the Knights of the Round Table?’ I suggested. ‘Or the future, to the age of cheap commercial space travel and colonisation of the moon?’ I tried not to sound too sarcastic. I suppose where I actually wanted to go was the world depicted in Robbie’s inked designs, the world of swashbuckling high seas and smartphones, yo-ho-ho and all mod cons.
‘Whichever you like, my good people. Only first, we must find the central widget from the ship’s calibrometer.’
I sighed. Clearly the offer had been too good to be true, and might be mysteriously forgotten about once we had tracked down the whatever-it-was. I recalled Robbie’s drawing: half star, half wheel, with a piece of gold chain attached.
‘We should first investigate the site of the unfortunate marooning of my ship,’ xe continued.
I made my excuses and left, reluctantly accepting that the chance to quiz Robbie about his new friend had gone.