If you have been following our stories about Gladys, you'll know that her three sisters are in a girl band - but although Gladys is younger and not a performing member, she is the brains behind the band. In the last episode, Laura, who is the lead singer, has walked out. Gladys has promised their manger, Arny, that she will persuade her to return soon so that they can continue working hard to get to the top.
Read by Natasha. Story by Bertie (with lots of inspiration from Natasha). Proofread by Claire Deakin. Picture of Laura the Solo Sister for Storynory by Tania Fernandes
After Laura walked out of the band, it was almost as if she had left the family too. She still lived with her sisters and their dad in the same house, but she came in out very quickly and spent a lot of time on her own in her room. Music that was louder and stranger than before blared out from under her door. Ever since she had met Ming, her new boyfriend, her taste had changed a good deal. She listened to what she called “real” music. Many of bands she liked were “unsigned,” which meant they didn’t yet have contracts with recording companies and you could download their music off the web for free. Often they sounded like they were playing in an echoing garage, and in some cases, they probably were. Her favourite came from Newcastle and were called The Droopies. Their lead singer was a girl, and Gladys had to admit that she had a beautiful voice that soared over the thrashing guitar chords – but she couldn’t catch more than the odd word from the lyrics.
Laura was plugged into her iPod while she ate her breakfast, standing up by the toaster. Although she still travelled to school with the others, she didn’t join in their conversations. Often she would strut out in front of her sisters as they walked along the pavement. She wore a look of strong concentration on her face. Gladys thought she looked too old and too beautiful to be wearing school uniform, and no doubt Laura thought so too.
In a way, it was a relief for Gladys to put the chiX’s ambitions on hold. She no longer felt tired, because they didn’t have to get up at 6am for rehearsals. She had time to catch up on her school project and she started reading books again. Her sisters were less weary and less grumpy too. Even Sam started being quite nice to her.
But it also seemed that everything was a little bit, well, hanging in the air. The chiX had split, but Gladys had promised Arny, their manager, that they would soon be back together again. Whenever she thought about Arny, she felt guilty, because he had believed in Gladys and the chiX and she didn’t want to let him down.
One Friday evening she went to see Laura in her room to talk to her about it. “Look Laura, don’t you see? We owe it to Arny to get back together.”
Laura was busy looking in the mirror and applying her smudgy eye shadow before going out with Ming. She said, “Don’t bother about Arny. He’s a businessman. He was planning to rip us off one day anyway.”
Gladys thought that was unfair, because Arny had only helped them. But she knew her sister, and understood that there was no point in trying to persuade her to do anything. She thought that she ought to ring Arny and say that she was sorry, there was no chance of the chiX getting back together – but somehow she couldn’t quite bring herself to make the call.
On Saturday evening, Gladys, Mandy and Sam watched a talent contest on television. It seemed like the biggest show on TV at the moment. The girls thought that most of the acts weren’t bad – they were just boring.
When a singer came on, Sam commented, “Core, she hasn’t even shaved her armpits.”
Mandy said, “I really think the chiX could have made it.”
“Sure,” said Sam. “We were much better than anyone on this show.”
“No we weren’t,” said Gladys, “because we didn’t stick at it.”
They turned off the television because it was all too depressing. Gladys and Sam went to bed early. Only Mandy stayed up until Laura got home.
On Sunday morning, when Gladys was doing her homework, Mandy knocked on her door softly and came in.
“Guess what?” She whispered. “Laura came home in a right temper last night. She was banging around the kitchen. I think she’s split up with Ming.”
And Gladys said, “Well he lasted longer than most. They’ve been going out for almost five weeks.”
Although Laura didn’t say anything about it, they could tell from her mood than Ming hand dumped her, because when she dumped her boyfriends she was usually in the best of tempers, but now she looked not sad, but furious, and she even shouted at Dad, which nobody ever did, because Dad was one of easiest-going dads that you could imagine.
The next weekend Laura went out on her own, and when she came back she plugged her iPod onto Dad’s stereo in the living room so that her sisters could hear it play. This was quite unusual, because normally she listened to music on her own.
It was a very thin sound; mostly drums and bass with the occasional guitar chord. Then a girl’s voice sang:
“I’m me, I got to be, oh so free, because you see, I’m only me, so don’t go telling nothing to me.”
Occasionally her voice was turned into a chorus so it sounded like several people singing at once, but the lyrics repeated over and over again.
The girls recognised the voice - It was Laura’s! When the track finished the girls were silent.
Eventually Laura said, “Alright, I know it’s pants. Don’t tell me what I know. I’m not stupid.” And she went up to her room.
On Monday, when Gladys came out of School, Arnold Lane was waiting for her in his limousine. He opened the door and said, “Hop in Gladdy. I’ll give you a lift home.”
Gladys asked him to wait. She rang her dad to say that Arny was giving her a lift – only her dad didn’t answer, so she called Mandy instead because she understood that was really important that somebody always knew what she was doing and who she was with.
When she had told Mandy that she was getting a lift with Arny, she got into his car. It was huge in the back – almost like a living room. He had a opened a little fridge and said, “Well girl, what can I offer you? Something Fizzy? Cola? Tropical smoothie more your style?”
“Yes please,” said Gladys.
“How’s Sister Solo getting on?” He asked. Gladys was used to his strange way of talking. She understood that he meant Laura.
“Terrible,” she said.
“Thought so. We’ll see if this gets her running and skipping back. I’ve entered the chiX for the first round of the Eurovision song contest. You girls are going to be on TV in six weeks’ time. So you’d better get practising.”
“Oh dear,” said Gladys. “I don’t think Laura will like that. She’s into indie music these days.”
Arny chuckled. “Nobody’s acutely into Euro pop. Well perhaps they are in Bratislava, I don’t know because I’ve not been there. Nobody’s into it here, but everyone loves it all the same. Tell her it’s all in the spirit of Post Modern irony.”
“Post-what did you ma-call it?”
“Ok. Well don’t tell her that. Tell her it’s so un-cool that it’s super, ultra-cool. She’ll get it.”
Gladys thought that Laura probably wouldn’t get it, but she promised Arny that she would tell her that all the same.”