Kat and Eru are new in town and trying to find their way. Not easy when her mum’s in a relationship with his mum, and he’s not your usual sort of guy: Māori with the palest skin and blond dreads and – strangest of all – no ears. More moon than boy …
In this exclusive excerpt, Kat is unsure how she feels about getting a new step-brother, and when he turns up looking so … different, she finds it difficult to adjust.
from Chapter 2
At the end of the day I walk home slowly by myself. It doesn’t take me long – Haworth only has one main road. There’s a gas station, the Haas’ pharmacy, the Crimp’s butchery, a Glassons, a Hallensteins, a movie theatre, three lunch bars and an information centre. There’s also a historic pub called The Haworth and a couple of wine bars. Further along the road there’s an arcade with gift shops and an art gallery that exhibits local paintings and crafts. A few streets over is a huge supermarket.
As I walk towards the end of the road, our café comes into view. It doesn’t have the glitzy window displays or fancy signs of the other shops because Mum’s gone for the home-grown look. Beside the front door stand two large barrel halves planted with orange, pink and purple flowers and above the door is a sign that says Good 4 You. All the food we sell is good for you, and as much as possible is sourced locally. Mum and Mars are proud of the fact that they support local industries, and because they do we have a lot of community support. Tom and Tim, two beekeepers from down the road, supply us with all our honey, and Jack and Millie, who live about a kilometre away, grow and supply us with organic vegetables.
The holidays fly by and at first I am apprehensive that Tyler might reappear and I will have to face him. In one way I would like to see him to tell him what a jerk he is, but in another way I am glad he doesn’t appear. The incident on the beach was as much my fault as his. I could have said no to him but I didn’t. As I wipe out the sandwich cabinets and scrub baked-on food off the roasting pans, I thank my lucky stars that I’m not pregnant with his kid.
As I wipe out the sandwich cabinets and scrub baked-on food off the roasting pans, I thank my lucky stars that I’m not pregnant with his kid.
‘Eru’s coming!’ Mars announces out of the blue towards the end of the holidays. She is all excitement with this piece of information, and I smile back at her even though I won’t actually believe it to be the truth until I set eyes on the guy for real.
‘That’s great, Mars. When?’ Mum asks, looking up from making apple pie filling. ‘I thought he might have changed his mind.’
‘No, he’s still keen. He wants to stay for the first day back at school to say goodbye to all his friends, so I thought I’d go up Sunday and bring him back Monday night. How does that sound to you two?’
‘Fantastic.’ Mum hugs Mars and I hug her too. How exciting. Mythical Eru is finally coming.
‘Let’s nip into town and get some new linen for the spare room,’ Mum suggests. ‘Something blue – and we’ll look in at that second-hand mart and see if they have a bigger set of drawers. What do you say, girls? Let’s go shopping!’
‘Cool,’ I say as we head for the car. Anything that puts a smile on Mum’s face at the moment is fine by me.
Mars leaves early Sunday morning and on Monday I can’t keep my mind on anything at school. Soon there will be a real live male living in the house with us. A brother. I can’t wait.
‘Kat!’ Miss Walker, my English teacher, barks at me as I gaze out the window and fail to answer her question.
‘Sorry,’ I blink at her, ‘I wasn’t listening.’
The class snickers and my face blazes with embarrassment. I’m usually the first one with my hand up to answer questions, but not today. Today I am on another planet and can’t help daydreaming. I can’t wait to show him around school tomorrow. We can have lunch together. When school is finally over I scoot home as fast as I can and head straight for the shower. I dress in my best jeans and a fluffy pink sweatshirt, dab on mascara and a smear of lip gloss and even straighten my hair, which I only do on really special occasions. I can’t have my new brother thinking he has a dog for a sister; I want to look my best.
I dress in my best jeans and a fluffy pink sweatshirt, dab on mascara and a smear of lip gloss and even straighten my hair…
As the day creeps to a close I hear the groan of our old car as it drives up outside and then doors opening and slamming closed again. I glance at myself in the mirror one last time and skip eagerly along the hall to the living room. Mum is already there, dressed similarly to me in a sweatshirt and jeans, and we stand in the kitchen together and wait for Mars and Eru to enter. The room is silent apart from the clock ticking on the wall and my heart thumping a heavy rhythm in my chest. My new brother – he’s finally here. The front door bangs open and I hear Mars’ voice first and then a male voice, deep and cheerful. Mum looks over at me.
‘Are you okay, Kat?’ she whispers. ‘Why do you look so nervous?’ I don’t answer, just nod and look towards the door again, my mouth as dry as a bone. Mars comes in first carrying a suitcase in one hand and a coat in the other and Eru follows. He has a backpack slung over his shoulder and as he enters he slips his arms from the straps and lowers it to the ground. When he stands up, our eyes meet. I swallow, and blink, then blink again.
This is Mars’ son? There must be some mistake. He looks nothing like Mars. In fact, he looks nothing like anyone I have ever seen before in my life. He must be six foot tall, with dreadlocks that hang halfway down his back. They look like sea sponges and are the colour of bleached driftwood. His skin is the palest white and his eyes are a luminous sky blue. His face is moon-shaped and his lips are so full they look inflated – I can hardly believe someone could have lips like that. This is definitely not the brother I’d planned on. Who is this stranger?
He must be six foot tall, with dreadlocks that hang halfway down his back. They look like sea sponges and are the colour of bleached driftwood.
‘Come and meet everyone, Eru,’ Mars says, holding her arm out towards Mum. ‘This is Vick.’
‘Hi, Eru,’ Mum smiles at him as he walks forward with his hand out. ‘It’s really nice to finally meet you.’
‘Tēnā koe.’ Eru shakes Mum’s hand and kisses her on the cheek. Yuck. I hope he doesn’t try to do that to me. Mum moves aside and motions towards me. ‘This is my daughter, Kat.’ Eru’s eyes meet mine and it’s like I’m looking into two pools of the clearest blue water.
‘Tēnā koe, little sister,’ Eru holds out his hand to me.
How dare he! ‘I’m not your little sister,’ I snap. ‘We’re the same age so you can’t call me that.’
Eru blinks a couple of times and lowers his hand. This is obviously not the greeting he expected – or the greeting I hadexpected to give him. …
Reproduced with permission from Moon Boy by Kathy Sutcliffe.
Published by Submarine, an imprint of Mākaro Press. Text © Kathy Sutcliffe, 2017.
By Kathy Sutcliffe
Published by Submarine