I suppose I owe you girls this much at least.
One of the reasons I became a writer was due to the fact that I had completely non-existent social skills. I hated people, I hated socialising, I didn’t really like mixing with people I am unfamiliar with. I’d rather stay at home and write. It brought me endless joy.
In a good way, I could be described as shy. In a bad way, I was anti-social. But whatever, I simply couldn’t be bothered with what people think of me.
As I encountered my first fan in Australia, I realised that I probably wasn’t the only one with this affliction.
We found ourselves in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state on their south-eastern coast, and were driving from Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport out into NSW’s second largest city, Newcastle, to meet our fan.
I had been to Australia a couple of times, but surprisingly I’ve never been to Sydney. Driving through the city, taking in the sights of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, your breath is simply taken away.
There was also a bustling feel to the city. Everyone seems to be in a rush, which is a bit of a surprise given that Australians are known for their laid-back nature. But I suppose that what you should expect in Australia’s most populous city. There were a good number of relaxation spots though, like parks and such, so I guess there is a good balance to the city.
Newcastle itself wasn’t that small either, and we spent a bit of time searching for the right suburb to locate our fan. But we eventually managed to do so.
I was given the numbers of all five girls so that I could contact them once I’ve arrived. I didn’t particularly like the idea, because I still had to call them with my phone on my Singapore phone plan, so it was like an overseas call, which as everyone knows is absurdly expensive. Besides, it also seemed quite invasive of their privacy.
Nevertheless, I bit the bullet, and called Ashley to see where she was.
“She’s at the library.” I told Melissa after determining her location.
“Ah, right. Of course.” she replied like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Ashley was sitting quietly in a corner of the library, by herself. I guess that sort of showed what she was into, and what she was like.
“Hi Ashley,” I said quietly as I went up to her, mindful of our surroundings.
“Hi” she replied softly.
“I’m Ben, as you know.” I introduced myself.
“Hi Ben” she greeted me back. I could tell she was quietly excited at meeting me, but of course, we were in a library. No screaming or shouting allowed.
I thought it was a good place to chat with this nice, young girl anyway. I do enjoy peace and quiet, although I was worried about Melissa, who really isn’t the quiet type.
“So, you like reading then?” I asked.
What a stupid question. I can be really dumb at times.
Truth be told, I wasn’t exactly the best at interviewing people, or even just plain talking to people. As I’ve explained earlier, this was partly why I became a writer, because I suck at people skills.
In a sense, I was also grateful for the presence of Melissa. She could, probably, help me out here.
“So, what else do you like to do Ashley, besides reading?”
“Oh, I love music. I also enjoy having a quiet time at the beach.”
Not much progress, but music. Aha, something to work with.
“Say Ashley, are you doing anything today?” I asked.
“Erm, not really, no.” she replied shyly.
“What do you say we take a walk somewhere and then we can talk?” I suggested.
“OK, sure” she agreed.
As we walked out of the library, I whispered to Melissa, out of Ashley’s earshot,
“Ooh....Somebody has a crush...!” Melissa teased.
But I shushed her before Ashley could hear anything.
We ended up heading to a nearby beach, because that’s where Ashley said she liked to have some quiet time. I guess that would make it easier to talk.
And it was indeed quiet. Ashley lived in a small town, with not much people. It was my kind of place really. And aside from what seemed like an abandoned canoe, there was nothing on the beach for miles. The cool blustery wind was blowing in, and it was a very nice sensation.
Ashley was dressed in mostly black. She had a black jacket, over her black shirt, and black boots. Only her blue denim shorts brought about a contrast in colour.
“Dark, much?” Melissa commented.
But I ignored her, and started to find out more about Ashley.
Ashley was as shy as I am, but I still managed to get decent conversation in.
“So, Ashley, what’s it like living here?”
“Umm...quiet I guess. My neighbours can be quiet noisy sometimes, but otherwise, nothing much happens.”
Cue silence, as I thought of something else to say.
“Oh, you love music right?”
“Yeah, absolutely! I hope to do something with music someday when I grow up.” Ashley’s eyes lit up at the topic.
When I grow up, I pondered over that phrase. It made me feel so old around these girls.
More silence followed.
“You know, you don’t actually have to spend the day talking if you’re not comfortable. We could all just sit here on the beach and enjoy the view.” Melissa suggested, with a slight tinge of sarcasm.
But we thought that was a great idea, so we sat down on a log and watched the sea.
“Oh God,” Melissa complained.
Few words passed between me and Ashley that day, but I got enough to know that she was into rock music, reading (obviously), and that she can be funny and a bit weird, with a good sense of humour.
But mostly I thought she was a very nice, shy girl who’s really cute. She’s a bit like me really, in that we both don’t actually talk much.
The three of us watched the sun set, and then we began to walk back to the town as it got dark.
One final question before I left her.
“What kind of guys do you like?”
“Oh, as long as they’re nice, and they don’t do drugs or smoke, I’m generally okay.”
Great, I thought
“I do have a boyfriend though.”
Damn, I thought.
“Aww...” Melissa sneered into my ear.
Nevertheless, I had a great time with Ashley, boyfriend or not, but sadly it was time to leave her back to her quiet Australian town, as we moved on to our next fan. We didn’t exactly have to travel that far though.
I'm taking a bit of time out from Booksie to sort myself out. I'm sorry girls. Please don't blame Mia too (yes she's the one). Hope you girls understand. :)