There were heaps of reasons why Paige was stark oppo to her big bro, and the fact he’d gone tearing up the apartment hall less’n a minute before their dreamcatchers went hey bye was a biggie. Now rolling her eyes so hard they shoulda got stuck inside her brain, she clapped just to be polite as the older teen marched up to meet Toby, feet squeaking on his rubber thongs every step up the way. What a niller.
Paige herself was dressed proper, like always. It was her first start-of-term feastie and unlike Joey, she knew first impressions (and fifths, and twelfths) were prime slots to fill. She’d picked out a purple halter-top romper with long swishy bottoms and nice sandals, and her robes on top had been fresh ironed before popping over, so they hung neat with perfect straight creases down the arms. And having used the word thirteen like a stabby stick upon her return to Oz, she’d finally talked her mum out of the sad Asian bowl cut, phew. Her longer black hair was now in more age- and fashion-appropriate pigtail buns tied on either side of her neck. Overall, she felt fine as.
This whole outfit had come round from weekend thrift sprees with Mira, her old NZAM roomie and best girl. Not only had they shopped a whole new closet outta one-notes (one benefit of bein’ a skint teen was learning how to make money stretch to the sun), they’d also caught each other up on all the goz, and there were some real gooders! She’d gone fly-catching to hear that larrikin Yates from Year Five was caught bum out on the astro tower, and Mira’d been shook right back to learn about RMI’s poison ep. Far as either of them could think, no one’d ever been poisoned at the New Zealand school, and her dad (who was an NZAM alum) confirmed he didn’t know of any from his days either.
‘Course, school was still in session in the south hemi, so weekenders were the main opp for them to meet, but they got a coupla weeks over the term break in July to link up for real. Mira’s parents let Paige sleep over and they had the most ace time with the whole works: swimming (and sizing up the surfers), going to movies (she’d missed big theatres and disgusting popcorn), staying up late with fairy bread for breakfast just cos they could (which was just as garbage but the yummiest ever), you name it.
In sum, while Joey’d been a total layabout wastin’ his whole vacay mashing faces with a Mugger, she’d used it up to the tiptop, and was right proud of herself for it.
Paige was in a pasta mood for lunch - well, dinner, here - and soon she’d tracked herself down a bowl of spag bol. Twirling the long noodles around her fork, she took a big mouthful, hummed in contentment for a moment, and then immediately her neck did a twitch thing and she spit it back into her bowl. “Whoops,” she announced to no one in particular, just cos it felt like she had to, and began twirling it back up to try again. This time she ignored the twitch and gulped down the entire mouth of spaghetti and meat sauce, and sighed happily before realizing someone was watching her. “Oy!” she acknowledged them with a bright grin. “You gotta try the spag bol, it’s ripe as.”